Significance of the Sandhyavandanam in our Ithihaasa and Puranaa
The significance of the Sandhyavandanam was portrayed with examples from Mahabharatam, Srimad Bhagavatham and other sastras.
In the Mahabaratham Sri Krishna is said to be in Moorchai on two occasions,
1.When Draupadi calls out for his help during Vastrapaharanam and the other during the post war period.
2 The scene was when Yudhistira approaches Sri Krishna after the war and the later was in Meditation. Suddenly Sri Krishna goes into Moorchavastha and upon inquiry by Yudhishtira, he replies that Bhishma was remembering him, since Ratha Saptami was approaching. It was time for Bhishma to start his Swargarohanam. Krishna takes Yudhishtira along with him to the presence of Bhishma. Yudhishtira, with heart full of guilty feeling for the war that ended and for Bhishma’s situations itself, seeks with Bhishma the details of Dharma and how to uphold the same. It is well known that Bhishma concluded by reciting the Vishnu Sahasranamam, but prior to that Bhishma tells him that the most important thing to observe daily is Sandhyopasana and this upasana is the basis for all other Karmas.
Another incident from the life of Bhishma is when Amba approaches Sage Parasurama, for fighting Bhishma. Parasurama created his own Chariot, Horses, Weapons etc with the power of Gayatri. The fight went on for many days and the stage came when Bhishma could no longer with hold the battle. Bhishma prays to his Pitrus for advising him whether he will win or not and in case not he will run away from the scene. The pitrus appear in the dream of Bhishma and invest him with a mantra, which Bhishma recites the same next morning. The mantra prevents Sage Parasurama from doing his Sandhya and eventually he is not able to face Bhishma and he then withdraws from the battle.
An incident related to Sri Parameswara and Sri Parvathi was also narrated. After the marriage of Lord Mahadeva and Sri Parvathi, Sri Parameswara was taking her around Kailasa, his abode. As the sun started descending down Sri Parameswara, suddenly stopped and took leave Sri Parvathi. Upon her inquiry about where he was leaving, he said that it was time for him to offer his Sandhya worship at the Manasarovar where the Rishis have already proceeded to offer their sandhya worship. Such is the importance of the Sandhya worship.
The significance of the topic is also discussed in the Srimad Bhagavatam, where it describes how Lord Mahavishnu incarnated as Vamana. Vamana was invested with the sacred thread at the age of seven, when Brihsapati gave him the ‘Hip wear’, Akasha gave him the umbrella, since the ears of a Brahmin should not get heated, it has to be covered from the sun. Kubera gave him the Kamandalu, since a Brahmin should always carry water. Vamana had to take the Aiswaryam of the great King Mahabali, the descendant of Prahlada, hence Kubera himself gave the Kamandalu. ‘Surya’ himself gave Brahmopadesam to Vamana. Mother Annapoorneswari gave the Bhiksha annam. It is to portray the importance of Upanayanam that sage Vyasa has elaborated on the subject in srimad Bhagavatham.
Q: Can Sandhyvandhanam be performed at the office?
A: Yes, mentally through Bhava we can purify ourselves and offer Arghya mentally. Chanting can be restricted to mental chanting.
It can be seen from the following incident from Mahabharatha. Duryodhana insists on continuing the war even after the sunset on the 14th day of Mahabaratha war. He insists on continuing the war even when Bhishma and Dronacharya advise him to stop for Sandhyavandhanam. Yudhishtira then offers the sand of the battle field as Arghyam to the setting sun. It portrays the importance of doing Sandhya even in the battle field and that even sand can be offered as Arghyam. It is more important that we start offering Arghyam.
Q: Should we chant Achutaya Namaha or Achutaya Swaha as chanted by some people in the North India?
A: Our practice is to chant Achutaya Namaha, as laid down by our forefathers and it is better to follow as laid down by them. The practice in the North India is a result of the difference in the Sutras, Sakhas that they follow.
Q: Is bathing mandatory for Sandhyavandhanam?
A: It is better to take bath before Sandhya and in extreme cases where we cannot take bath, it can be relaxed.
Q: Is Sandhya to be performed on all times?
A: It is said that it is to be performed even in a house where death has taken place. The Marjanam, Arghyam and Pranayamam can be avoided during such period and it can be limited to Chanting of Gayathri Mantra.
Q: What is the Ideal age for Upanayanam?
a: The ideal age is 7. If the upanayanam is delayed and performed after 16, is deemed as a sin committed and it goes to the parents and the kid alike. Similarly if a person invested with sacred thread do not perform sandhyavandhanam it is also deemed as a sin committed.
More resources about the Sandhyavandanam can be found at https://thapas.wordpress.com/category/sandhyavandanam/