Thursday, April 30, 2009
Why do Sandhyavandanam at all ?
I know many Brahmin friends who ask me “ What is the use of Sandhyavandanam at all ? It is not like meditation which shows results instantly. In this we sprinkle water or partake it in some routine and murmur some hymns. What benefit at all do we get ?”
This is the Kali yuga and such words from Brahmins themselves are to be expected only. But in order to answer my friends, I have written this post . As I myself was an atheist in my twenties and who never did sandhya till about three years back, such knowledge is reassuring to myself first . Read on:
Nadis and the Sandhya time
Sandhya means the time of union of the day with the night. They usually are in the evening and early morning. But, why do Sandhya at this these times only ? It is these times that one is in an empty stomach which is a condition for any spiritual exercise.
The standard explanation of our acharyas on the Sandhya time is in this post.
The recent psychological experiments have confirmed the existence of the nadis of the spine viz “ Ida , Pingala and Sushumna”. These nadis are not physical entities but are part of our astral body and can be seen by those endowed with special vision. Even advanced yogis can see these nadis.
These nadis ida and pingala are the paths of flow of Prana or life force. They are in a continued state of agitation during the daytime but, tend to follow a uniform path during the sandhya periods. Hence such periods were chosen for Sandhyavandanam to derive maximum concentration.
Achamanam and mental focus
The achamanam is a scientifically proved technique of cooling our body and also in focusing our mind. Read this old blog post here on achamanam.
Pranayama and deep concentration
Pranayamam is the next. Pranayama is to be done with mentally chanting the extended Gayatri. The Puraka, Kumbaka and Rechaka type of Pranayama was originally suggested and practiced but nowadays even the Puraka and Rechaka themselves are sufficient to derive benefit. The kumbaka has to be learnt only with the help of Gurus who are becoming rare these days.
The steady intake of Breath is called Puraka and steady exhaling is called Rechaka. Usually Rechaka is best done at twice the time of Puraka. Let me illustrate the power of breath.
Prana regulates the temperature of the Body: In early morning even in cold climates, you can splash cold water on your body by taking a deep breath and keeping it inside while taking bath. You will not feel cold at all. Just remember those days when the oldies used to close the nostrils while taking a dip in the river or pond !
Next try this: Close your eyes, sit erect, but not stiff. Think of the sound AUM. Pronounce it mentally, very slowly. A…….U………..M. Do it for five to ten minutes. Now without opening your eyes, notice your breath. You will be surprised. It has become very slow, very rhythmic and feeble ! In the same way, notice how a child breathes in sleep. Very rhythmic , steady and VERY SLOW.
What do you gather ? when the thoughts are focused, the breath is slow and rhythmic. In the same way, when the breath is made rhythmic and slow, your thoughts (mind) will be focused and clear ! Apart from single pranayamas at the beginnings, the gayatri japa is tucked in between two sets of three pranayamas each at the beginning and end respectively. Look at the subtlety of our Rishis !
The Gayatri chanting part is the central part of the Sandhyavandanam and many volumes can be written on this alone. Gayatri is a most sacred and mysterious mantra that can activate twenty four spots of the human body. Look at this picture where the individual sounds of the gayatri are marked on the body of the sadhak. The working of gayatri is very subtle and it was said that a Brahmin need not do any sadhna if he does gayatri.
Then there is Arghyam. This is a beautiful kriya in Sandhyavandanam and it is as subtle and scientific as Gayatri japa. Considering its beauty and importance, I am planning to bring it as a separate post.
Net links for Sandhyavandanam:
You can download this pdf book on Sandhya from this website.
My dear readers, I believe you enjoyed this post. If a good portion of you realize the import of doing Sandhyavandanam and start doing this, I will be happy. If you encourage others to do it, I will be doubly happy. If you enjoy doing it realizing its depth , I will be most happy. It is just a twenty minute routine in the morning and evening.
(pictures taken from the internet)