Archive for July, 2012

July 29, 2012

Ayurveda: The Art of Being – 1.45 hours. – Excellent Documentary Movie

Ayurveda is one of the oldest holistic medical systems in the world. It is indigenous to India where it has been practiced for over 5,000 years. The term in Sanskrit means “science of life.” It combines medical and spiritual approaches to promote health and balance between mind, body, and soul.

This fascinating documentary written, edited, and directed by Pan Nalin was filmed in India, Greece, and the United States. It features stories, interviews, and a multidimensional overview of this ancient system that has been called “the mother of all healing systems.”

Inline image 1

In the opening sequences, sixty-seven-year-old Brahmanand Swamigal is diagnosing a patient through examination of pulse, tongue, face, eyes, lips, and nails. This deeply spiritual healer has been practicing Ayurveda for 55 years. He learned it from various gurus and in one scene is seen meditating near a waterfall. His assistant who gathers the herbs for treatments thanks God for these medicines. Swamigal even prays over the package of remedies before handing them to the patient.

In Ayurveda, therapies work to improve health by restoring balance, enhancing energy, promoting mental and emotional equanimity, and fostering greater patient self-awareness. Dr. Nicolos Kostopoulos, a Greek Ayurveda practitioner, discusses the early emphasis in this healing modality on the neurological system.

Meanwhile Vaidya Narayan Murthy is shown dispensing medicinal remedies from the forest — mainly bark from various trees — to large numbers of patients for no cost. He reveals that he’s content with his work and has no need to profit from the suffering of others.

Dr. Scott Gerson, who has practiced Ayurveda in the U. S. for over 20 years, is convinced that it has great potential to address the physical, mental, and emotional problems connected with stress, fast-paced lifestyles, and over-nourishment.

Inline image 2

In addition, the documentary demonstrates the large panoply of therapies used in Ayurveda including diet and nutrition (based on three body types), herbology, bodywork and massage, mind-body medicine, and treatments using gems.

Among the most interesting segments are those dealing with the curing of a little girl with misshapen legs, an ancient mud bath used to diagnose physical maladies, a laughing regimen to promote better health, and the treatment of mental illness in a man by waking up the mind rather than using drugs to put it to sleep as is done in Western psychiatry. Ayurveda: The Art of Being provides a rounded and revealing overview of this ancient holistic healing system.

July 8, 2012

Upakarma – Avani Avittam – Significance & Some guidelines

Upakarma – Avani Avittam – Significance & Some guidelines

(The significance of rites involved in Upakarma, thala Avani Avittam, Gayatri Japam, minimum details one should know about the Poonal, some guidelines,etc are given here)

– By: Sarma Sastrigal. ID:

The moment this wonderful annual function Avani Avittam comes to our mind, some of us may think that this occasion is just for change of poonal. Is it so? While it is true to some extent, it doesn’t end up there. This beautiful occasion has several rites. A particular one has powerful mantras for shedding of all sins and making a new beginning. It also involves the renewal of our pledges to keep our Vedic duties, in addition to one’s individual Veda Adhyayana, towards society and humanity at large. Perhaps that could be one of the reasons for celebrating it together, Samashti, at a common place like river bed, community hall, temple premises etc.

Rites involved in the Upakarma:
1. Kamokarsheet Japam:
2. Brahma Yagnam
3. Maha Sankalpam
4. Yajnopaveeta dharanam
5. Khandarishi tharpanam
6. Khandarishi Homam (includes Veda reciting)
7. Acharya Sambhavana

Two rites are further explained:
* Kamokarsheet Japam:It is a wonderful prayer cum japam. The repetition of this mantra, at least 108 times, with related Sankalpa is to remind oneself that it is lust & anger that are the root cause of all sins. One should always be careful and vigilant.

* Khandarishi tharpanam:Here we offer tharpanam to seek the blessings of Maharishis who are the sources for various Khandas of Vedas. Ancestors also are invoked here to seek their blessings.

A word aboutthe Pradhama Sravanam(thalai Aavani avittam):
For the first Avani Avittam, ie., that comes immediate after one’s Upanayana, Naandi Sraaddha also is to be performed – in hiranya rupam. In addition to this, there are some more rites specifically prescribed. However it may be noted that there is no Kamokarsheen Japam for the boys who have Pradhama sravanam. Also it is advisable to get the thalai Aavani Avittam is performed with the same Acharya, Vadhyar, who has conducted the Upanayana (Brahmopadesa) for the boy

Poonal-How it is given shape?:
We are all aware that the adornment of the Yajnopaveeta or the sacred thread is one of important parts of the Upanayana. It is interesting to see how the yajnopaveeta, the sacred thread, is given shape. The basic material for the yajnopaveeta, also known as poonal in Tamil, is cotton thread woven by persons who are qualified to preach Vedas. Married women including widows are also qualified to do this job. A Brahmin then takes the woven material, sits in a clean place, and spins the thread around his fingers in such a way that each loop is 4”. He makes 96 such loops, folds the total length 3 times and presses the shortened length till it achieves the desired stiffness. Next he makes this into three circular loops. The edges are knotted twice to make the final product – a circular thread with two knots. While doing so a particular mantra is chanted silently by theperson who ties the knot, known as Brahma-mudichchu.

Not below the navel: The poonal is worn across the body, from the left shoulder to the right hip. It should not go below the navel: and if it does (this can happen to shorter persons), the extra length should be folded and knotted again, to reduce the length.

The number: A Brahmachari wears one(with 3 strands) . A Grahasta two (with 6 strands).

One important and interesting point to note is that a grahasta should never be without a tritiya vastram or a third garment over the top of his body in addition to the regular veshti and uttariya. It may happen that he finds himself without a tritiya vastra at times, and so some grahastas wear a third poonal, just so that their niyamas are not disturbed. This is an extra role played by the poonal.









Adorement of the Yajnopaveeta (When one can change?):
1) On the day of Upakarma:On the day of Avani Avittam, Upakarma, Poonal has to be necessarily changed. (This year, 2012, Yajur Upakarma falls on Aug 1st , and the Rg Upakarma falls on the next day. For Sama Vedis, the date is 24th July as per Vaakya Panchangam. As per the Srirangam panchangam it is 17th sept.)
2) If it tears or becomes useless: If the poonal tears or becomes useless, as it happens sometimes, it should be replaced at once, and the new one should be worn with the chanting of the proper sankalpa and mantras.

3) Valid reason is a must: The yajnopaveetam should not be changed without a valid reason. Before commencement of rituals like Upanayana, Vivaha, Graha Pravesa, Specific Homams and Sraaddha karyams, the pradhaana karta has to change his poonal. Of course after one’s tainted period (theettu) gets over, he has to necessarily have a new one.
4) Tying keys, dollars: Tying keys, pins or dollar coins to the yajnopaveeta is strictly prohibited.
5) It is a must: After Upanayana, any karma done without the poonal in place will not get the desired result.

Sandhyavandana (Gayatri Japam)-This is the pivotal karma:
After performance of his upanayana a person should compulsorily do Sandhyavandana.
Dharma sastra is categorical on this point: it clearly says that a Brahmin who does not do Sandhyavandana is impure and unfit for any Vedic karma.

At least do Key Sections: People who complain of not having time to do the full Sandhyavandana can at least do the key sections – arghya, pranayama, maarjana, praasana, tarpana and Gayatri japa. These will take just 15 minutes altogether, and these parts can be easily learnt. If these sections are done consistently, one’s interest will develop in doing it the proper way.

No alternative: It should be understood that there is no alternative to Sandhyavandana. Going to a temple or attending a bhajan or any other form of devotion does not exempt one from Sandhyavandana. Bhakti marga is truly great, but cannot be in lieu of this key karma.

July 1, 2012

Timing of Sandhyavandanam

Timing of Sandhyavandanam worship

The name suggests Sandhya , the meeting time of Day with night, which is just before and during sunrise and sunset.

‘Ajyotisho darsanat sandhi, jyotisho bhanutare’

The above statement of the shastra means ‘Sandhi is the time when the sun and the stars are together visible’

The practical thing therefore will be to start

  1. In the morning before sunrise, give Arghyam( explanation later) during sunrise and finish just after sunrise.
  2. In the evening, begin before sunset, give Arghyam during sunset and finish later.

For those who always are inconsistent with their timings, Shastra says

Uttama tarakopeta madhyama lupta taraka 

Adhama urya sahita prata: sandhya tridha mana’

To do PrAtha ( morning) sandhyA vandanam when the stars are visible is Uttama (first grade.); Maddhyama (middle grade) when doing without the stars; and Adhama ( least grade when Sun is visible)

“Uttama suryasahita maddhyama anudita taraka

Adhma tarakopeta sayam sandhya tridha mata”

To do Sayam( evening) Sandhya Vandanam , It is Uttama doing while the sun is still shining; Maddhyama when doing before stars are visible; Adhama after the stars are fuly visible.

Sri Abhinava Theertha swamigal says whatever be the grade, it is always best to do it regularly. Otherwise, he warns, one’s Brahmanathva itself is wasted.

The morning and evening sandhis are also ideal since, traditionally and habitually, a person’s stomach will be empty doing both sunrise and sunset. An empty stomach is achieved after four hours of a solid meal. An empty stomach is a prerequisite for Sandhyavandanam since there are at least three sets of pranayama totaling 15 in one full routine. A loaded stomach will interfere with pranayama greatly resulting in indigestion, sleepiness etc. Even the madhyahnikam ( noon) routine is done with an empty stomach before the meal.

There are three types of Karmas- Nithya, Naimithika, and Kamya karmas.

  1. Kamya karma is one which is done with a desire to achieve, like a yagya for long life etc .Even if kamya karmas are not done , there is no papam.
  2. Naimithika karma is one which is not shastra bound and not niyamic, i.e., a necessary duty , such as taking bath after an eclipse.
  3. Nithya karma is one which is ‘niyata nimitta’ meaning ‘ that which is done which is shastra bound’ . Sunrise and sunset are the reason for doing Sandhya vandanam. Hence this is classified in the Nithya karma, which has to be done daily , lifelong.


More information about SandhyaVandanam Timings from Viprasamhitha Google group
Tamil Siddhar verse
In tamil there is a sidhar paadal “KAnAmal KonAmal Kandu kodu”
The above statement means :
“Perform prAtassandhyA before seeing the Sun, MAdhyAnhikam when the Sun is right above the head and SAyamsandhyA when the Sun is still not set”.
Sandhya Timings based on Gunas
उपास्ते संधिवेलायां निशायां दिवसस्यच 
Morning sandhya and evening sandhyavandana both are timed at sandhi kaala,the meeting of day and night.
When Eshwara created this world,a day was divided into 3 parts.
Satvaguna: Morning 4am to 8am. Afternoon 4pm to night 8pm totalling 8 hours is satvaguna
Rajoguna Morning 8am to afternoon 4pm,again 8 hours
Tamoguna Night 8pm to morning 4am 8 hours
For us,the sleep state is the most relaxing part.But it happens in a tamoguna time.In order to come out of tamoguna,morning sandhyavandana is prescribed between 4am to 8am.If we do gayatri mantra,one gets the blessings of the mantra.
It is still better to do after the satvaguna time to atleast give madhyama results.
taittariya samhitha says अग्निः पूर्वरूपं आदित्य उत्तररूपं 
Agni is suryadeva’s first part  ,for morning surya is AdhiDevata, for night,Agni is adhidevata
अग्निर्जोति र्ज्योतिरग्नि स्वाहेति सायं जुहोति  सुर्योज्योति र्ज्योतिसूर्य स्वाहेति प्रातरिति
Sayam kala is moksharoopa. When a man gets moksha,he gets into sayam sandhya tatva and gets the real gnaana.
Therefore,sayam sandhya is equally very important and has profound basis behind.