Archive for ‘SandhyaVandanam’

October 30, 2015

Sandyavandanam – Many resources in one place – mp3 – articles, how to, audio etc.

Namaste

Here is a collection of Sandhyavandanam resources ( documents, manuals, books, audio, videos) in one place.
Please email at hari.ramasubbu at gmail dot com to add sandyavandanam related content so that everyone will benefit.

p92a

 

http://tinyurl.com/sandyavandanam

The link has three parts, articles , audio and how-to manuals. Please click the above link to see all and download.

Special Mention on Audio: The audio directory has some useful audio but Swami Paramarthananda’s Sandyavandanam audio talks is worth a mention.
Swamiji’s audio content is a treasure for those who want to truely understand this important nithya karma.

Here is a direct URL to Swami Paramarthananda’s Sandyavandanam audio talks.

http://tinyurl.com/SPji-Sandyavandanam

 

 

More articles are published also at
https://thapas.wordpress.com/category/sandhyavandanam/

http://tinyurl.com/sandyavandanam

One stop source for see many Sandhyavandanam related info.

Namaste
Hari
thapas.wordpress.com

August 24, 2015

Avani Avittam – 2015

Avani Avittam 2015.

Here are couple of links for resourses related to Avani avittam.

http://vedabhavan.org/yajur-upakarma-avani-avittam-2015-text-and-mp3-downloads/

Many documents in one location regarding Avani Avittam 2015. Thanks to K Raman ji for compiling this.

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/iy71hxynrhf9s/Avani_Avittam_related

Namaste
Hari

​​

This year’s Avani Avittam is slated on

Rig veda avani avittam – 28 Aug 2015

Yajur veda avani avittam – 29 Aug 2015

Sama veda avani avittam – 15 Sept 2015

Gayatri Japam for Rig and Yajur – 30 Aug 2015


I tried to compile as much on Avani avittam and uploaded. These can be downloaded, shared and viewed too on line.

https://www.mediafire.com/folder/iy71hxynrhf9s/Avani_Avittam_related

You are free to share the above link.


Just one file is attached.​

Greetings and best wishes.​
K.Raman.

kramansmail@gmail.com

August 2, 2015

Importance of Gayatri Manthra. Published on “Arulamudam” book by Rama.Aranganathan in Tamil.

Quotes from various sources on the Importance of Gayatri Manthra. Published on “Arulamudam” book by Rama.Aranganathan in Tamil.

Sharing this in the interest of reviving Nithya Karma and Karmanushtana as advocated by our Shastras and Guru parampara.

More resources on Sandhyavandanam and Gayatri can be found at
https://thapas.wordpress.com/category/sandhyavandanam/

Namaste

Hari Ramasubbu

November 24, 2014

Sandhyavandhanam – Sringeri Acharya – I cannot change Dharma Shastra – Do atleast minimum 108 Gayatris.

Sringeri Jagadguru on Sandhyavandhanam

Gayatri Devi Goddess - Gayatri Mantra

In several Anugraha Bhashanams, Sringeri Jagadguru emphasized the importance of doing Sandhyavandhanam.

A rough translation below:

  • “People say they don’t have any time to do Sandhyavandhanam. But they have time to watch TV, read newspaper and engage in gossip. So to say that there is not enough time for Sandhyavandhanam is wrong.
  • The Shastras prescribe two pakshas: Mukya Paksham and GowNa Paksham
  • To do 1008 Gayatri Japam is Mukya Paksham. People used to do this for 3 kaalas in the olden days.
  • If there is not sufficient time, then the Shastras prescribe GowNa Paksham of doing 108 Gayatri Japam.
  • If there is further little time, then the Shastras prescribe doing at least 32 Gayatri Japam.
  • But people usually ask for an alternative and a way to leave Sandhyavandhanam. For that, there is no other alternative.
  • For a person who has had Upanayanam and Brahmopadesham (according to Shastras), he has to do Sandhyavandhanam till the end.
  • If he says he can’t do or has no time to do, it will become a grave mistake.
  • The reality is people don’t have the will to do Sandhyavandhanam and hence give various reasons.
  • In Kannada, there is an old saying: “Where there is will, there is way.” (Manasu irindal margam irukum)
  • What one needs is real Shraddha to do Sandhyavandhanam and not other reasons.”

Links of Sringeri Jagadguru’s Anugraha Bhashanam on Sandhyavandhanam:

Tamil: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3tsyqzMFsF8

Kannada: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1g0BKdLEo6A

Telugu: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnZaovlUjbU

​Source of this article: Sringeri Videos page in Facebook

More articles about Sandhyavandanam from Kanchi Mahaswami and others can be found here

https://thapas.wordpress.com/category/sandhyavandanam/

Namaste

February 26, 2014

Importance of Gayathri Manthra by Swami Dayananda Saraswathi.

Swami Dayananda talks about the importance and meaning of Gayathri Manthra.

Part of the 2013 Anniversary Talk titled ‘Living In the Present’.

The Gayathri Manthra topic from 19th minute of this 4o minute audio lecture.

Audio of the lecture

http://www.mixcloud.com/thapas/importance-of-gayathri-manthra-19th-minute-onwards/

The Gayathri Manthra topic from 19th minute of this 4o minute audio lecture.

Transcript from the lecture

Why is Gayathri Manthra a great prayer ?

You can prayer for wealth, power etc. Gayathri does not have that kind of a prarthana. The one who burns all confusions and ignorance is called Bhargaha.

Yo Bargaha , naha Asmakam , prachodanam kuryath.
May that lord who burns all confusions make our minds decide properly. To be at the right time right place is not in your hands.

In an intersection of a road, When we seen the green light, the assumption is someone else has seen the red light and responded to it also. That is why Prachodayat. Lord, bless to decide me properly. Between the two rights, what will work is another decision.

When a boy is 9 years old, the whole life is open for him. What prayer he has got. O lord, bless me to make decisions properly, to be at the right place at the right time. Every successful man was at the right place at the right time. Really true. It is not in your hands.

Therefore Gayathri prays for you to be at right place at the right time.  It is important to know that it is not in your own hands to be at the right place at the right time. Therefore one has to do One has to do.

There is no sharing karma, your karma is yours. You have to do it. You are doing what you have got to do. Decisions can become very painful. You do not have the heard to dismiss. It is allowed in Dharma to dismiss this person for helping in some other way. So this painful decision , the first thing should be painful decision.

Therefore when I told this to an audience, one fellow told me, ” I have been procrastinating, I have lost jobs, relationships. So I missed out a possible marriage, your talk was inspiring. So from next week onwards I’m not going to procrastinating”.

From NOW on make it a point to do what is to be done from NOW on. However painful it is, do it first. May the lord help you.

Om is the lord – Avathi , rakshathi ithi ohm.
Om is the bhu – Om is the earth, the lord is the earth.
Om is bhuva – Om is the all above the earth
Om is svaha – Om is all that is beyond our perception.
That is OM.
That Varenyam – Only in India it is possible. That OM thatvam , that lord has to be understand. You have to choose to know. Nowhere in the world, Bhagawan is to be understood. For us what it is here is easwara. Om is Bhuhu, Bhuvaha, Suvana.

God is to be understood not to be believed. Pending understanding, it is ok to be believe.

Dheemahi – we meditate up on. We include others also. We include all of them. Savitha is the sun, the solar system, and the whole universe.
Savithuhu – the lord of the entire universe.
Sabaraha – The one who is all knowledge and who burns all ignorance.

Make our minds think properly, decide properly, understand properly. Let there be no corners in my mind on what is to be done.

What is real and what is not real? Let there be no confusion about that. That’s how we should use the time. Time is available for what you are interested in. What is TO be done, it does not depend on your interest, and it should be done.

What choice you have got to play the role of a mother. You have no choice. What choice you have got. Just play the role.
There is no choice. What is to be done is Easwara. May the lord help to do what is to be done IN TIME.
———

August 19, 2013

AvaniAvittam/Upakarma – Importance – Kanchi Mahaswami & Others

Namaste , Some useful information about Avani Avittam /Upakarma/ Sraavana Purnima

()()()()()()()()()()())()()()()()()()

Avani Avittam Importance By Kanchi Mahaperiyava

VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA (Regd.) Publication No. 24

This is the right name for it; not ‘Aavaniyavattam’. Though this is the right name, it does not convey the right meaning. We should call it ‘Aavani Purnima’; nay, even this is incorrect. We should in fact call it ‘Sraavana Purnima’.

Followers of Aapasthambha sutra should perform a karma called ‘Upakarma’ on the day of Purnima in the lunar month of Sraavana, if there are no blemishes on that day. Sraavana Purnima generally is found to occur on the day of Avittam star in the solar month of Aavani.

Hence that day is referred to as Aavani Avittam, further twisted in spoken parlance to ‘Aavaniyavattam’.

This same Upakarma should be performed by Rigvedis on the day of Sravana (Tiruvonam) star in the lunar month of Sraavana and by Samavedis on the day of Hastha star in the lunar month of Bhadrapada, which comes next to Sraavana.

What is the purpose of Upakarma?
The purpose of performing any karma will be known if we note the Sankalpa uttered by the Upadhyaya during that karma. When he utters Sankalpa, we should ask him for the meaning of the Sankalpa. Only then he will at least show interest in learning the meaning himself. Rigvedis’ sankalpa is as follows:
“Adhitanam chandasam ayatayamatvaya adhyayana viryavattartham”

Import of this: That which is not ‘yatayamam’ is ‘ayatayamam’. What is ‘yatayamam’? Even in Bhagavadgita, we come across “Yatayamam gatarasam puti paryushitam cha yat”. One yamam means three hours. Food loses its efficacy after three hours after cooking. Based on this, the term ‘yatayamam’ is used to denote objects which have become useless with time. For food it is three hours; similarly various materials have different limiting times upto which they are useful. If these time limits are crossed, their efficacy diminishes.

Same with Vedas. After Upanayanam, study of Vedas commences on the first Aavani Avittam day. Utsarjana karma is done in the following Pushya (Thai) month, study of Vedas is halted and in the next six months, as much as possible of the six Vedangas, viz. Siksha, Vyakarana, Chandas, Niruktam, Jyotisham and Kalpasutram is studied.

Then in the Sraavana month of the following year, on the day of Upakarma, Upakarma is performed and study of Veda mantras is commenced again. This karma of starting study of Vedas is known as Upakarma. Only if Upakarma is performed in this manner, will the meagre store of Veda mantra with us have power. If not, it will become ‘yatayama’ like the food described in Bhagavadgita.

If at least the Gayatri mantra which is with us is to have power, we must perform the karma of Upakarma without mistakes in mantra and with understanding of meaning. Only because Upakarma is not performed with sincerity, some karmas done these days become useless owing to loss of power of mantras. Hence Upakarma should certainly be performed.

If we are to commence uttering a mantra, it will bear fruit only if we worship the Rishis and Devatas who gave us that mantra at the beginning and receive their blessings. Their power of Tapas (austerity) will accrue to us through that mantra. There are three ways of worshipping them. One is invoking them in an object (kurcha of darbha, purna kumbha, lemon, betelnut fruit or lump of clay) and worshipping them with sixteen specified upacharas.

The second method is doing ‘Tarpanam’ with water for those Rishis. The third method, more powerful than the previous two, is to perform ‘Homam’ in Agnimukham for them.

Hence during Aavani Avittam, we should arrange for an additional Upadhyaya to explain to Grihasthas during the progress of Homam the Rishi or Devata for whom oblations are being given in Agni by the main Upadhyaya.

More important action required:

On a Sunday prior to Aavani Avittam Grihasthas should assemble in a place and learn as far as possible from knowledgeable Upadhyayas the Upakarma procedures properly and completely with meaning and intent; on the day of Upakarma, they should observe those procedures without forgetting the meaning.

VEDA DHARMA SASTRA PARIPALANA SABHA

Translated by: P R Kannan, Navi Mumbai
Source: www.kamakoti.org

()()()()()()()()()()())()()()()()()()
கல்வித் திட்டத்தில் கால அளவைகள்

http://www.kamakoti.org/tamil/part4kural76.htm

கல்வித் திட்டத்தில் ஒவ்வொரு வருஷத்தையும் இரண்டு டெர்ம்களாகப் பிரித்திருந்தார்கள். முதல் டெர்ம் சுமார் ஐந்து மாஸம் கொண்டது. இரண்டாவது டெர்ம் சுமார் ஏழு மாஸ காலம். முதல் டெர்முக்கு ‘உபாகர்மம்’ என்றும் இரண்டாவது டெர்முக்கு ‘உத்ஸர்ஜனம்’ அல்லது ‘உத்ஸாகம்’ என்றும் பெயர்.

உபாகர்மம் என்றவுடன் சில பேருக்காவது ‘ஆவணியாவட்டம்’ – அதவாது வருஷா வருஷம் புதுப்பூணூல் போட்டுக் கொள்ளும் நாள் – என்று நினைவுக்கு வரலாம்.

இது ரிக் வேதிகளுக்கு ச்ராவண மாஸத்தில் ச்ரவண நக்ஷத்ரம் வரும் நாள். ச்ராவண மாஸம் என்பது ஆடி அமாவாஸ்யையிலிருந்து ஆவணி அமாவாஸ்யை வரையுள்ள காலம். ச்ராவணி என்பதன் திரிபுதான் ஆவணி.

யஜுர் வேதிகளுக்கு உபாகர்மம் என்பது ச்ராவண மாஸப் பௌர்ணமியன்றாகும்

ரிக் வேதிகள் ச்ரவண நக்ஷத்ரத்தை வைத்து நாளை நிர்ணயிக்கிறார்கள். யஜுர் வேதிகள் பௌர்ணமித் திதியை வைத்து நிர்ணயம் செய்கிறார்கள்.

மிகவும் பூர்வ காலத்தில் ச்ராவண மாஸப் பூர்ணிமை தப்பாமல் ச்ரவண நக்ஷத்ரத்தன்றேதான் வந்து கொண்டிருந்தது, அதனால்தான் அந்த மாஸத்துக்கே அப்படிப் பேர். தப்பாமல் ச்ரவண நக்ஷத்ரமும் பௌர்ணமியும் ஒன்றாகவே இருந்த காலத்தில் அந்த நாளில்தான் ரிக் வேதிகள் யஜுர்வேதிகள் ஆகிய இருவரும் உபாகர்ம டெர்மை ஆரம்பித்தார்கள். அப்புறம் க்ரஹக் கோளாறில் அம்மாஸப் பௌர்ணமியன்று ச்ரவண நக்ஷத்ரத்துக்கு அடுத்ததான அவிட்டம் வந்தபோதும் யஜுர் வேதிகள் பெனர்ணமித் திதியிலேயே உபாகர்மாவை வைத்துக் கொண்டார்கள். தர்ம சாஸ்த்ரங்களில் குறிப்பாக ‘ச்ராவண பூர்ணிமையில் உபாகர்மம் செய்யவேண்டும்’ என்றே சொல்லியிருப்பதால் (பூர்ணிமைத்) திதியை யஜுர் வேதிகள் முக்யமாக எடுத்துக் கொண்டிருப்பதாகத் தெரிகிறது. அதனால் அவிட்டத்தில் அந்தப் பூர்ணிமை வந்தாலும் அன்றைக்கே உபாகர்மா செய்தார்கள்.

இதுதான் “ஆவணி அவிட்டம்” – அதாவது “ஆவணியாவட்டம்” என்று நாம் சொல்வது.

ரிக்வேதிகள் இப்போதும் திதியைப் பார்க்காமல் சரவண நக்ஷத்திரத்திலேயே உபாகர்மாவை “ச்ராவணம்” என்றே சொல்வது இதனால்தான். இப்படியாக, ரிக்வேதிகளுடைய உபாகர்மாவுக்கு அவிட்ட ஸம்பந்தமேயில்லை. ஆனாலும் தக்ஷிணத்தில் யஜுர்வேதிகளே பெரும்பாலாராயிருப்பதால் அவர்கள் கொடுத்த “ஆவணியாவட்ட”ப் பெயரையே ரிக் வேதிகளும் தங்களுடைய உபாகர்மாவுக்கும் சொல்கிறார்கள்.

இப்போதும் சில வருஷங்களில் ச்ராவண மாஸப் பௌர்ணமி ச்ரவண நக்ஷத்ரத்திலேயே வருகிறது. அப்போது ரிக் வேதிகள் யஜுர்வேதிகள் ஆகிய இரண்டு பேருக்கும் ஒரே நாளில் உபாகர்மா வருகிறது.

ஸாமவேதிகள் இதற்கு ஒரு மாஸம் தள்ளி (ஆவணி அமாவாஸ்யையிலிருந்து புரட்டாசி அமாவாஸ்யை வரையுள்ள ஒரு மாத காலமாகிய) பாத்ரபத மாஸத்தில் ஹஸ்த நக்ஷத்ரத்தில் உபாகர்மா செய்கிறார்கள். அநேகமாக அது பிள்ளையார் சதுர்ததியாகவோ அல்லது அதற்கு ஒரு நாள் முன்னே பின்னேயோ இருக்கும். ஹஸ்தமும் பஞ்சமியும் ஒன்று சேர்ந்திருந்தால் விசேஷமென்று சாஸ்த்ரங்களிலிருந்து தெரிகிறது. ச்ராவண மாஸ்ப்பூர்ணிமையும் ச்ரவணமும் தப்பாமல் சேர்ந்தே வந்த அக்காலத்து பாத்ரபதமாஸத்தில் ஹஸ்தம் பஞ்மியிலேயே வந்திருப்பதாகத் தோன்றுகிறது. தற்போது அது அநேகமாகப் பிள்ளையார் சதுர்த்தியன்றோ, அல்லது அதற்கு முதல் தினமான த்ரிதீயையாகவோ வருகிறது.

உபாகர்மம் என்பதே இப்போது பல பேருக்குத் தெரியாத வார்த்தை. (தாங்கள் என்ன வேதம் என்பதுகூட அநேகம் பேருக்குத் தெரியாமலிருக்கலாம்) தெரிந்தவர்களில் பெரும்பாலாரும் அது பழைய பூணூல் சிக்குப்பிடித்து அழுக்காவி விட்டதே என்று புதும் பூணூல் மாற்றிக் கொள்கிற ஒரு நாள் என்றுதான் நினைக்கிறார்கள். உண்மையில் பூணூல் மாற்றிக்கொள்வதென்பது உபாகர்மாவிலே ஒரு சின்ன அங்கம்தான்.

உபாகர்மா என்பது அந்த ஒரு நாளோடு போகாமல் அடுத்த ஐந்தாறு மாஸங்களான ஒரு டெர்முக்கு ஆரம்ப நாளாக இருப்பதாகும்.

இந்த முதல் டெர்மில் மூலமான வேதத்தை மட்டும ஆசார்யர் கற்றுக் கொடுத்துச் சிஷ்யர்கள் சொல்லிக் கொள்வார்கள். அதாவது ‘ச்ருதி’ என்றே சொல்லப்படுவனவான தேவதஸம்ஹிதை, ப்ராஹ்மணம், ஆரண்யகம், உபநிஷத்துக்கள் ஆகியவற்றில் பாடம் நடக்குமூ. புஷ்யமாஸம் என்கிற நம் தை பிறக்கும்வரையில் இந்தப் பாடம் தொடரும். (புஷ்யத்துக்குத் ‘தைஷம்’ என்றும் பெயர் உண்டு. ‘தைஷம்’தான் ‘தை’ ஆயிற்று.)

அப்போது ‘உத்ஸர்ஜனம்’ என்கிற கர்மாவைச் செய்து ச்ருதி பாடத்தை முடிப்பார்கள். புஷ்யமாஸம் பூர்ணிமையிலாவது அதற்கு முன்வரும் ரோஹிணியிலாவது உத்ஸர்ஜனகர்மா செய்யவேண்டும். ஸாமகர்கள் (அதாவது ஸாமவேதிகள்) புரட்டாசியில்தான் உபாகர்மம் செய்வதால், அத்யயன டெர்ம் ஐந்து மாஸமோ அல்லது குறைந்த பக்ஷம் நாலரை மாஸமோ இருக்கவேண்டும் என்ற விதிப்படி, அவர்கள் மாக பூர்ணிமையில் உத்ஸர்ஜனம் செய்யவேண்டும். தை அமாவாஸ்யைக்குப் பதினைந்து நாட்கள் கழித்துவரும் பௌர்ணமியே மாக பூர்ணிமை.

உத்ஸர்ஜனம் என்றாலும் விஸர்ஜனம் என்றுதான் அர்த்தம் – அதாவது “விட்டு விடுவது”. வேத அத்யயன – அத்யாபனங்களை ஒரு கட்டத்தில் விட்டுவிடுவதற்காகச் செய்யும் வைதிக கர்மா உத்ஸர்ஜனம். மறுபடி ஏழு மாஸம் கழித்து அடுத்த “ஆவணியாட்ட”த்தில், விட்ட கட்டத்திலிருந்து வேத பாடத்தைத் தொடங்கவேண்டும். ‘உபக்ரமணம், என்றால் தொடங்குவது என்று அர்த்தம், அதனால்தான் அன்று செய்கிற கர்மாவுக்கு ‘உபாகர்மா’ என்று பெயர்.

வேதத்தில் புதுப்பாடங்கள் இல்லாத இந்த ஏழு மாஸந்தான் இரண்டாவது “டெர்ம்”. இதில் வேதாங்கம் எனப்படும் வேதத்தின் ஆறு அங்கங்களான் சி¬க்ஷ, வ்யாகரணம், சந்தஸ், நிருக்தம், ஜ்யோதிஷம், கல்பம் ஆகியவற்றில் பாடம் நடத்துவார்கள். ஏனைய எல்லா வித்யைகளைக் கற்றுக் கொடுப்பதும் இந்த டெர்மில்தான். உபாகர்மாவுக்கான நாள் வந்தவுடன் இதை நிறுத்திவிட்டு, வேத பாடங்களுக்குப் போவார்கள். அதை உத்ஸர்ஜனம் பண்ணினவுடன் மறுபடி இந்த வேதாங்கங்களிலும் காவ்யம் முதலான இதர வித்யைகளிலும் விட்ட இடத்திலிருந்து ஆரம்பிப்பார்கள், இந்த உத்ஸர்ஜனம்தான் வடக்கே “ஸரஸ்வதி பூஜா” என்று சொல்லும் வஸந்த பஞ்சமி.

தற்போது “ஆவணியாவட்டம்” என்று பண்ணுவதில் போளியும் வடையும்தான் முக்யமாயிருக்கின்றன. ஒரு டெர்ம் முழுதும் கற்க வேண்டிய வேத பாடங்களில் ஆரம்ப ஸ¨க்தத்தை மட்டும் உபாகர்மாவன்று வாத்யார் சொல்ல, மற்றவர்கள் தப்பும் தவறுமாகத் திருப்பிச் சொல்லி விடுகிறார்கள். அதுமட்டுமில்லை. ‘விட்டு விடும்’ உத்ஸர்ஜன கர்மாவையும் அன்றே பண்ணி (இப்படி ஒன்று வாத்யார் பண்ணி வைப்பதாகக்கூடப் பல பேருக்குத் தெரிவதில்லை) , வேதாங்கங்களிலும் ஒவ்வொன்றில் ஒவ்வொரு ஸ¨த்ரத்தை மாத்ரம், வாத்யார் சொல்வதைத் திரும்பவும் உளறிக் கொட்டிவிட்டு முடிப்பதாக ஏற்பட்டிருக்கிறது. ஒரேயடியாக இந்த ஆவணியாவட்டத்துக்கே ‘உத்ஸர்ஜனம்’ செய்யாமல் எதனாலோ விட்டு வைத்திருக்கிறார்கள். வடை, போளிக்காக இருக்கலாம் இப்படி நாமே நம்மைப் பரிஹஸித்துக் கொள்ளும்படியான துர்த்திசையில் இருக்கிறோம்.

((((((((((((((()))))))))))))))))))))))))))((((((((((((((((((((((()))))))))))))))))))))))

()()()()()()()()()()

Excellent upanyaasam in Tamil rendered by Nannilam Sri Rajagopala Ghanapatigal (Editor of Vaithikasri magazine) on the importance of Avani Avittam & Gayatri Japam at Nanganallur, Chennai on 18th August, 2013.

September 16, 2012

Significance of Arghyam in Sandhyavandanam

Significance of Arghyam in Sandhyavandanam

http://sanatanavenkat.blogspot.com/2010/06/significance-of-arghyam-in.html

Inline image 1

Arghyam literally means ‘offering’. Like Achamanam, mArjanam, and prAsanam, this is also a water based one. Water is taken in the right palm of the sAdhaka and (slightly) thrown skyward after chanting the gAyatri mantra. This offering is thrice per session. Smartha sandhyAvandanam has one extra arghyam for any errors in the offering time- the kAlAtheetha prAyaschitta arghya pradhAnam.
I have known through many readings that the sandhyAvandanam , though done by the brAhmaNa, is in fact for the welfare of the humanity at large. This kriya, Arghyam, is no different. The sAdhaka’s chanting of the gAyatri while holding the water in the palm is a selfless kriya and aimed at the world. The agent to which it is given is Surya (sun).

I will try to give the traditional, philosophical as well as scientific background for Arghyam.

Traditional Understanding

Garuda purANa states that a kind of asuras called mandeha , who originally reside in an island called aruNa are trying to destroy Surya in the day at daybreak and sunset. The arghyam given at these times serves as a weapon to destroy them.Look at the following slokas (1-213-62)

“A Brahmachirin shall bathe only once a day. Having performed the rite of Achamanam, and invoked the sacred pools therein, one shall take a bath in the river. Thirty million is the number of the malignant spirits, called Mandehas, who manifest a desire of devouring the sun at day break. He, who does not attend to his Sandhya rite at the meetings of the day and night, verily kills the sun, inasmuch as the libations of consecrated water (offered unto the sun-god in the course of a SandhyA) tend to consume these monsters (Mandehas) like streams of liquid fire.”

Philosophical Significance

The philosophical significance is in the symbolism. The Mandehas are nothing but the man- dehas or mind body which are clouding the sun of resplendent atman in us. The gayatri purifies us by this offering so that the inner light can be perceived by us. Also, the sAdhaks , after the arghyam, say, ‘asAvAdityo brahma, brahmaiva ahamasmi” (the sun is verily the brahman. Brahman is myself). In the adhyAtmic sense, arghyam is a reminder of the brahman in us and its honouring by the offer of mantra and water.

Scientific Significance

The scientific meaning is even more interesting. Only recently I chanced upon the work of Mr Masaru Emoto of Japan who did some critical experiments with water.He took a glass of water and spoke ‘thank you’ to it. He then freezed the water. When he magnified the crystallized water, he was amazed to see symmetric patterns.Curious, he then cursed a glass of water with , ” I hate you” and crystallized it. This time the magnified image of crystals were ugly and random.

He then used Tibetan Sutras and the resulting image was of a beautiful pattern.

It was here that I wondered at the wisdom of our Maharishis. All of our Sandhyavandanam is water based. We either partake or offer water while uttering sacred mantrams. Imagine the effect of these mantrams on the water !

During Arghyam, we chant the greatest of all mantrams- the Gayatri. Though Mr Emoto did not experiment with Gayatri mantra, we can guess what will happen. The thought waves generated by the Arghya Danam will penetrate all the three worlds. The same explanation will hold for our Achamanam , prokshanam, kalasa pooja, temple teertham etc. I also would like to add a speculation here. Like water, all the pancha Bhootas must have memory. In our yagyas, Agni is called ‘havya vahana’ since it carries the havis to the devas.Soon, our scientists will declare that air, earth and space has memory !

I have heard that Rishis chant Gayatri ceaselessly. They do so for protecting the mankind and for preserving the Surya (sun) from extinguishing ! In Dhanur Vidya (Archery and missile warfare), only the variants of Gayatri mantra were used for launching the sastras – right upto the most potent Brahmastra !
This is another great aspect of our Sandhya Vandanam. Arghyam is not a meaningless exercise but a profoundly meaningful, spiritual Kriya that is also physically purifying. Arghyam later was adapted into daily upasana in Temples and homes. It is one of the ‘sodasa’ upachara (sixteen honours) to Paramatman.

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: sarmasasthrigal@gmail.com

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.

http://sanatanavenkat.blogspot.com/2007/11/sandhyavandanam-time.html

——————————————

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.
———-
April 1, 2012

Sandhyavandanam benefits by Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar

Tamil Audio with English subtitles on the importance and benefits of doing Sandhyavandanam (Nithya Karma).

This lecture is by Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar , one of the greatest Bhagavataas of the current century.

These videos describe the benefits of doing Sandhyavandanam regularly.It also describes the adversity one faces when the duties are not performed.

Vidoes with english subtitles – 7 minutes each

Audio

Click here to download the mp3 files

Biography

Sengalipuram Brahmasri Anantharama Deekshithar was born on 02-07-1903 at Pathur village in His maternal grand father’s house in Thanjavur District (in the month of Aadi of Sobhakrit year in Anuradha star) to Sri Subramanya Deekshithar and Smt. Subbalakshmi. Sri Deekshithar learnt Vedas from His father, Sri Subramanya Deekshithar.

He mastered all the Saastras ordained by our Sages. He had His course on Tatra Saastra from Sri Vishnupuram Swaminatha Sastrigal who also taught it to Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal (Sri Paramacharyal) of Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt. Apart from complete knowledge of Saastra, Vedas and Astrology, He mastered out Puranas. In giving Purana discourse, He utilized it mainly to propagate Vaidika Dharma and the cult of Bhakthi. His propagation of Sri Narayaneeyam and the glory of Sri Guruvayurappan continues to draw lakhs of devotees to Guruvayur.

On the divine wishes and direction of Sri Guruvayurappan, the presiding deity, He has performed many Srimadh Bhagavatha Saptaahams at Guruvayur. The Sringeri Sankaracharya Sri Abhinava Vidya Teertha Swamigal too eagerly participated in the Navaaham conducted at Tiruprayar Sri Rama Temple at Kerala, as this was performed as ordered by the presiding deity, Sri Rama Himself. In fact, every one was thrilled to know the personal involvement of the Lord in the Navaaham. His discourse attracted tens of thousands of apt listeners, which was unusual till then.

The available portions of the recordings of His discourses rendered in public were brought out in cassettes as per the gracious directions of Sri Kanchi Paramacharya. Now, the contents of the tapes have been processed using softwares and the result is a far improved audio quality. The improved contents are brought now in both the forms of Compact Discs and also of cassettes. The proceeds are to be used for Sri Adhishtaanam of Sri Deekshithar who attained Sidhi on 30-10-1969 (in the month of Thula, Krishna Sashti tithi) after taking Sanyasa on 21-10-1969. Daily poojas are performed at Sri Adhishtaanam at Chinnathirupathi, Salem Town. His divine presence is still felt there where He answers the prayers of devotees.

http://www.vittalrukmini.org/gurusmaranam-srideekshithar.php

Namaste
Hari

April 1, 2012

Useful SandhyaVandanam Resources – in English and Tamil

We all know that SandhyaVandanam is an important Nithya karma for those who wear Yagnyopaveetham.

Here are some useful resources that might motivate and help a person to get started , on this very important duty that benefits the world around us and the world inside ourselves.

Sandhyavanadam – Must hear Upanyasam by Shri Krishna Premi
(Tamil Audio mp3 – 2 hours)

Gayathri and Sandhyavandana Mahimai by Kanchi Mahaswami
(Tamil Document)

Meaning of every manthra in Yajur Sandhyavandanam by Swami Paramarthananda
(English Audio mp3 – 10 tracks)

http://pravachanam.com/audio/by/album/sandhyavandanam

Brahmana Lakshnamam – Upanyasam by Shri Krishna Premi
(Tamil Audio – 8 mins)

Yajur Sandhyavandanam manual from Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam forum and approved by noted priests in Chennai.
(English document with good tips and techniques for doing SandhyaVandanam)

Namaste
Hari

March 22, 2012

Sringeri Acharya – Coimbatore talk – 30 mins – in Tamil

Must watch Anugraha Bhashanam in Tamil for 31 mins delivered by

Jagadguru Shankaracharya Sri Bharati Tirtha Mahaswamiji

upon his arrival at Coimbatore on March 21, 2012 during the Dakshina Bharata Vijaya Yatra undertaken in 2012.

http://youtu.be/6ywDTCIN0eY

Watch for Sringeri Acharya talking about Sandhyavandam at 7th and 18th minute of the above talk.

Sringeri Acharya also talks about “why do pooja and how it is related to Shankara Advaitha”

Move videos can be found at this youtube channel. http://www.youtube.com/user/sharadapeetham

I will try to translate it into English shortly.

Namaste
Hari

March 10, 2012

Women performing Veda Samskaaras – By Kanchi Mahaswami

What about Women ?

http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part17/chap14.htm

I said that the twice-born must perform sandhyavandana with the well-being of women and other jatis in mind. I also explained why all samskaras are not prescribed for the fourth varna. Now we must consider the question of women, why they do not have such rituals and samskaras.

Even though we perform the punyaha-vacana and namakarana of newborn girls and celebrate their first birthday, we do not conduct their caula and upanayana nor the other samskaras or vows laid down for brahmacarins. Of course, they have the marriage samskara. But in other rites like sacrifices the main part is that of the husband, though she (the wife) has to be by his side. In aupasana alone does a woman have a part in making oblations in the sacred fire.

  1. Why is it so?
  2. The rites performed before a child is born are intended for the birth of a male child (niseka, pumsavana, simanta). Does it mean, as present-day reformers and women’s libbers say, that Hindu women were downgraded and kept in darkness?
  3. What reason did I mention for the fourth varna not having to perform many of the samskaras?

That these were not necessary considering their vocations and the fact that they can work for the welfare of the world without the physical and mental benefits to be derived from the samskaras. If they also spend their time in Vedic learning and in sacrifices, what will happen to their duties? So most of the samskaras are not necessary for them. They reach the desire goal without these rites by carrying out their duties.

“Svakarmana tam abhyarcya siddhim vindati manavah“, so says the Gita. I have spoken to you about this earlier.

Just as society is divided according to occupations and the samskaras are correspondingly different, so too there are differences between men and women in domestic life. Running a household means different types of work, cooking, keeping the house clean, bringing up the children, etc. By nature women can do these chores better than men. If they also take an active part in rituals, what will happen to such work? Each by serving her husband and by looking after her household becomes inwardly pure.

In truth three is no disparity between men and women, nor are women discriminated against as present-day reformers allege.

Work is divided for the proper maintenance not only of the home but the nation on the whole; and care has been taken not to have any duplication.

There is no intention of lowering the status of any section in this division of labour.

The body, in the case of certain people, is meant to preserve the mantras and there are samskaras which have the purpose of making it worthy of the same.

Why should the same rituals be prescribed for those who do not have such tasks to carry out?

Glassware to be sent by railway parcel is specially taken care of since it is fragile. Even greater care is taken in dispatching kerosene or petrol. If the same precautions are not taken in transporting other goods, does it mean that they are poorly thought of?

Astronauts are kept in isolation before being sent up in space and after their return. Mantras have their own radiation that is even more powerful than what is found in space. If you appreciate this fact, you will understand why Brahmins are separated from the rest and special samskaras prescribed for them.

The body of a Brahmin (male) is involved in the nurturing of mantras. So from the time of conception itself it is to be made pure through samskaras like pumsavana, simanta and so on. There are samskaras with the same objective also after the boy child is born.

The vocations have to be properly divided for the welfare of mankind. If everybody paid attention to this fact, instead of talking of rights, it would be realised that the sastras have not discriminated against women or any of the jatis.

*********************

Upanayana for Girls

http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part18/chap2.htm

If brahmacarya prepares boys [or young men] to live according to dharma, what about girls?

A girl has neither Upanayana nor Brahmacaryasrama. Should not a woman’s mind also be disciplined like a man’s. If you echo the criticism of reformers and say that injustice has been done to woman by denying them the Brahmacaryasrama and Upanayana, my answer is “No”.

Men marry after their Upanayana and student-bachelorhood. Now for women marriage itself is Upanayana.

Just as a boy dedicates himself to his guru, a girl must dedicate herself to her husband from her childhood until the start of their conjugal life and beyond. The Manusmriti says: “Strinam upanayanam-sthane vivaham Manurabravit” (Manu says that for women marriage is in place of upanayana).

If you ask for an external sign of this like sacred thread worn by the men, we may at once point to the married woman’s mangalasutra.

I said that “Upanayana” means “taking near”, taking a boy near his guru for his brahmacaryasrama. A woman’s guru is her husband. Being joined to him in wedlock is her upanayana.

According to the sastras, a boy’s upanayana must be performed when he is seven years old. A girl must be married at the same age.

If a boy is to be initiated into brahmacarya before his mind is disturbed by kama, a girl is to be married before she feels the carnal urge. She must also accept her husband as her guru.

According to sastras, the guru must be looked upon as Isvara. In the same way a child bride must think of her husband as both guru and Isvara and dedicate herself whole-heartedly to him.

She will be able adopt such an attitude only when she is married very young. Later she might start to reason about things, ask questions and develop egoistic feelings.

Laying oneself at the feet of the guru or Isvara — in short surrender — is the best means of liberating oneself. This concept of surrender is proclaimed in the carma sloka of the gita, surrender to Isvara, guru or husband: once you surrender to an individual or deity you no longer own any thing. Isvara will give you his grace through the one to whom you surrender.

According to the system devised by sages, a boy is made to surrender to his guru at the time of his upanayana ceremony, while a girl does the same to her husband at the time of her marriage.

It is not that the girl is considered inferior and asked to surrender to a man, that is her husband. The boy too is asked to surrender as a child to the guru.

It is the view of the sastras that the age at which the girl is married and surrenders to her husband must be the same as that at which the boy surrenders to the guru.

Talking of the husband and the wife, the question whether the one is superior to the other or inferior is of no consequence.

Equally unimportant is the question of rights and status. If this is realised surrender will be seen to be of the utmost importance.

We must appreciate the fact that it is in keeping with this view that the concept of upanayana has taken shape in the case of boy’s and marriage in the case of girls.

 

March 2, 2012

Gayatri and Sandhyavandana — Kanchi Mahaswami

Gayatri and Sandhyavandana

http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part17/chap12.htm

If the Gayatri has not been chanted for three generations in the family of a Brahmin, they cease to be Brahmins. The quarter where such Brahmins live cannot be called an “agrahara”. It is perhaps not yet three generations since Brahmins gave up the Gayatri. So they still may be called Brahmins.

In the same way if the Brahmin family has not performed sacrifices for three generations its members will be called “Durbrahmanas”, degenerate Brahmins. Even though degenerate the label “Brahmin” sticks to them. There are prayascittas (expiatory rites) by means of which the corrupted Brahmins will be remade true Brahmins. But there is no such hope for a Brahmin in whose family Gayatri has not been chanted for three generations. A member of such a family ceases altogether to be a Brahmin and cannot be made one again. He is just a “Brahmana- bandhu”, a kin or a friend of Brahmins. The same rule applies to Ksatriyas and Vaisyas with regard to the Gayatri mantra; they become “ksatriya-bandhus” and “Vaisya-bandhus” respectively.

The spark I mentioned earlier must be built into a fire. The spark by itself does not serve any purpose. But it has in it the potential to grow into a bright flame or a radiant fire. At least on Sundays, all those who wear the sacred thread must do Gayatri japa a thousand times. They must not eat unclean food, goto unclean places and must atone for lapses in ritual observances and in maintaining ritual purity. Henceforth they must take every care to see that their body is kept chaste and fit for it to absorb mantric power.

Even in times of misfortune the Gayatri must be muttered at least ten times at dawn, midday and dusk. These are hours of tranquility. At dawn all creatures including human beings rise and the mind is serene now. At dusk all must be restful after a day’s hard work: that is also a time of calm. At noon the sun is at its height and people are at home and relaxed and their mind is calm. During these hours we must meditate on Gayatri, Savitri and Sarasvati.

In the morning the dominant presence is that of Visnu, at noon that of Brahma and at sundown of Siva. So we must meditate on Gayatri in the morning as Visnu personified, at noon as Brahma personified and at dusk as Siva personified.

Gayatri contains in itself the spirit and energy of all Vedic mantras. Indeed it imparts power to other mantras. Without Gayatri-japa, the chanting of all other mantras would be futile.

We find hypnotism useful in many ways and we talk of “hypnotic power”. Gayatri is the hypnotic means of liberating ourselves from worldly existence as well as of controlling desire and realising the goal of birth. We must keep blowing on the spark that is the Gayatri and must take up the Gayatri-japa as vrata. The spark will not be extinguished if we do not take to unsastric ways of life and if we do not make our body unchaste.

Gayatri-japa and “arghya” (offering libation) are the most important rites of sandhyavandana. The other parts of this rites are “angas” (limbs). The least a sick or weak person must do us to offer arghya and mutter the Gayatri ten times. “Oh only these two are important aren’t they? So that’s all we do, offer arghya and mutter the Gayatri ten times a day. ” If this be our attitude in due course we are likely to give up even these that are vital to sandhyavandyana.

A learned man remarked in jest about the people who perform arghya and mutter Gayatri only ten times thus applying to themselves the rule meant for the weak and the unfortunate: “They will always remain weak and be victims of some calamity or other”. Sandhyavandana must be performed properly during right hours. During the Mahabharata war, when water was not readily available, the warriors give arghya at the right time with dust as substitute.

Arghya must be offered before sunrise at noon and at sunset. Once there was a man called Idaikattu Siddhar who grazed cattle.

He said: “Kanamal konamal kandu kodu aadukan pogudu par ”

“Kanamal/r” means before you see the sun rise and “konamal/r” means when the sun is overhead and “kandu” is when you see the sun before sunset. These are the three times when you ought to offer arghya. “adu” means “niradu”, bathe in the Ganga. “kan” here means “visit Setu” or have ” have darsana of Setu”. “Pohutu par”- by bathing in the Ganga and by visiting Setu your sins will be washed away. Here is mentioned the custom of going to Kasi, collecting Ganga water there and going to (Setu) Ramesvaram to perform the abhiseka of Ramanathasvamin there.

Only by the intense repetition of Gayatri shall we be able to master all the Vedic mantras. This japa of Gayatri and arghya must be performed everyday without fail. At least once in our lifetime we must bathe in Ganga and go on pilgrimage to Setu.

If a man has a high fever, people looking after him must pour into his mouth the water with which sandhyavandana has been performed. Today it seems all of us are suffering all the time from high fever! When you run a high temperature you have to take medicine; similarly Gayatri is essential to the self and its japa must not be given up at any time. It is more essential to your inner being than medicine is to your body. Sandyavandana must be performed without fail everyday. Gayatri-japa can be practised by all of us without much effort and without spending any money. All that you require is water. Sandyavandana is indeed an easy means to ensure your well being. So long as there is life in you, you must perform it.

Gayatri must be worshiped as a mother. The Lord appers in many forms to bestow his grace and compassion on his devotees Mother loves us more than anybody else. We know no fear before her and talk to her freely. Of all the forms in which Bhagavan manifests himself that form in which he is revealed as mother is most liked by us. The Vedas proclaim Gayatri to be such a mother.

This mantra is to be repeated only by men. Women benefit from the men performing the japa. Similarly when the three varnas practise gayatri-japa all other jatis enjoy the benefit flowing from it. We may cease to perform a rite if the fruits yielded by them are enjoyed exclusively by us.

But we cannot do so if others also share in them. Those entitled to Gayatri mantra are to regard themselves as trustees who have to mutter it on behalf of others like women and the fourth varna who are not entitled to it. If they fail in their duty of trustees, it means they are committing an irremediable offence.

The mantras are numerous. Before we start chanting any of them, we say why we are doing so, mention the “fruit” that will yield. The benefit we derive from the Gayatri mantra is the cleansing of the mind (cittasuddhi). Even other mantras have this ultimate purpose, but cittasuuddhi is the direct result of Gayatri-japa.

Even in these days it is not difficult to perform sandhyavandana both at dawn and dusk. Office goers and other workers may not be at home during midday. They may perform the madhyahnika (the midday vandana) 2 hours 24 minutes after sunrise that is called “sangava kala”.

We must never miss the daily sandhyavadana unless we find it absolutely impossible to perform. When we fall ill, in our helplessness we ask others for water or kanji in the same way, we must ask our relative or friend to perform sandhyavandana on our behalf.

Let us all pray to God that he will have mercy upon us so that the fire of mantras is never extinguished in us and that it will keep burning brighter and brighter.

Inline image 6

Other Aspects of Sandhyavandana

http://www.kamakoti.org/hindudharma/part17/chap13.htm

“Astra” and “Sastra” are terms used in Dhanurveda (military science) to denote two types of weapons. Knife, arrow, spear, club and so on-real weapons-come under the term “sastra”.”Astra” is what is energised by a mantra into a weapon. If you discharge just a darbha or a blade of grass chanting or muttering the appropriate mantra it will be turned into a weapon. Sastras are also discharged similarly with mantras. If you hurl something at a object or person muttering the mantra proper to it, the object or person will be destroyed when hit.

The twice-born (Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas) have the duty of discharging “Astras” every day to destroy asuras or the evil forces besieging mankind. Does not “Astra” mean that which is discharged, thrown or hurled? What is the “Astra” which is to be thrown or discharged [by the twice – born]? We throw water so as to drive away or destroy the demons or evil forces that have taken hold of the minds of people. This water, the astra, is the same as the libation offered during sandhiyavandana. We must keep this purpose in mind when we offer arghya : “May sinfulness and falsehood be annihilated. May the sun of knowledge shine brightly. May those obstacles that keep the sun of knowledge dim in us to be demolished. “Whatever you do or do not do, you must perform this arghya thrice a day. Do it somehow ” holding your breath”

When a person does a job earnestly and whole-heartedly, we say that he does it “holding his breath”. As a matter of fact sandhyavandana is to be performed holding one’s breath. If we do this all the evil forces will be destroyed. Nowadays all we do is to hold our nose with our fingers. The sastras do not say, “Nasikam ayamya”, but say, “Pranam ayamya. ” It means, instead of merely holding the nose, control the vital breath, the prana itself or the life force.

Inline image 5

All work must be done with one-pointedness. There must be such one-pointedness of the mind to turn water into a weapon(astra). The breath is controlled for this purpose.

You will ask: “How is it that if you control your breath the mind will be still? “

We see that when the mind is still the breath also stops. When our wonder is aroused, when we are grief-stricken or when we are overjoyed, the mind becomes one-pointed. We exclaim “Ha” and the breath stops for a moment. But soon we breathe fast. We do not stop breathing with any effort on our part-the stopping is involuntary. The mind stops when it is enwrapped or absorbed in something. Then we heave a sigh-take a long breath-making up for the momentary stoppage of breathing. We learn from this that, when breathing momentarily stops, the mind becomes one-pointed. This is the reason why the breath is controlled when arghya, libation, is offered.

If we practice pranayama we will train ourselves to have mental concentration. This is important to yoga. Practicing pranayama for long is difficult and it must be done under the guidance of a guru. In sandhyavandana we do it only ten times. For some rites it is performed three times as a preliminary step. If we had practiced pranayama regularly from the time of our upanayana we should have become yogisvaras by now.

What we do we must do properly. When we practice pranayama as a part of sandhyavandana we must stop our breath for 30 seconds or so, not more. When the vital breath stops, the mind will become still. If the arghya is offered in this state the evil forces will be truly be driven away. The water that we pour or throw when our mind is still will turn a weapon to destroy all evil.

After employing the arghya weapon against the evil forces, we must perform Gayathri-japa. Pranayama we must do according to our ability, holding the breath for a while, then realising it: this process may be repeated without controlling the breath for too long a time.

All the steps in sandhyavandana- samkalpa, marjana, arghya-pradana, japa, stotra, abhivandana-have for their purpose the blessings of Isvara: this is stated in the samkalpa that we make at first. From beginning to end sandhyavandana is dedicated to Paramesvara and pranayama is an important part of it.

According to the sastras even the sick must do pranayama three times a day. This means that breath-control is not such as to cause trouble or discomfort. Indeed it could mean a cure for the illness and a prescription for long life.

Rsayo dirgha-sandhyatvad dirghamayuravapnuyuh Prajnam yasasca kirtim ca brahmavarcasameva ca – Manusmrti, 4. 94

In abhivadana we mention the name of the sage from whom we are descended. It is our duty to observe Vedic rituals at least for the fact that we belong to the gotra of that sage. After him there have been so many rsis in the line. We use the terms “trayarseyam”, “pancarseyam”, “ekarseyam”, meaning that, in the gotras concerned, there were three sages, fives sages, one sage. . . They must have lived long and secured knowledge, fame, Brahmic lustre and spiritual eminence by performing sandhyavandana. This is what the Manusmrti stanza means.

By our neglect we should not sever the thread, the tradition, handed down to us uninterruptedly. We must perform sandhyavandana as an offering to Paramesvara and must do so understanding its meaning and with faith and devotion. There must be one-pointedness in it and no mantra must be left out.

We sin with our mind, speech and body. I told you that these sins must be washed away by performing rites with the same mind, speech and body.

In sandhyavandana we mutter the mantras with our mouth and, even as we repeat the Gayatri, we meditate on it with our mind and in such rites as marjana (sprinkling of water) we acquire bodily purity.

Sandhyavandana is karmayoga, bhaktiyoga and jnanayoga combined [it unites the three paths of karma, devotion and knowledge].

Inline image 7

February 25, 2012

Sandhyavandanam references in Smrithis

http://www.orkut.com/CommMsgs?cmm=5364283&tid=5580353511976909747&start=1

Importance of Sandhyavandanam as mentioned in our Smrithi granthaas

Yajnavalkya smriti
विप्रो वृक्षो मूलस्तस्य सन्ध्या वेदाः शाखा धर्मकर्माणि पत्रम्

यस्मान्मूल यत्नतो रक्षणीयं छिन्नेमूले नैव शाखा नैव पत्रम् ,-याज्ञवल्क्य

Brahmin is a tree,sandhyaa is the root,4 veda are 4 branches,dharma karma(yajna,daana,tapasya,

japa,upasana etc) are its leaves.If the root dies no branches and leaves willl survive

Daksha smriti
नोपतिष्ठति यः पूर्वं नोपास्ते यश्च पश्चिमां
स शूद्रवद् वहिः कार्यः सर्वस्माद्द्विज कर्मणः,-दक्ष स्मृति.
The brahmin who never does sandhya at sun rise or sun set,make him out from all brahminical sacrifices treating him as a shoodra

Shatatapa Smriti
संध्या येन न विज्ञाता संध्या नैवाप्युपासिता
जीवन्नपि भवेच्छूद्र मृतः श्वा चाभि जायते ,-शातातप स्मृति
he dont know sandhya,who never does it..becomes shoodra till his death and after death takes birth from the canines(dog)

Harita Smriti
सूतके मृतके चैव संध्याकर्मं समाचरेत्
मनसापि स्मरेन्मन्त्रं कुशवारि विवर्जीतं ,-हारीत स्मृति

even during death or birth in family when all observe ashoucham,brahmin should also do sandhya,but without kusha and water..only mental japa of mantras are done

In other parts of India many smritis like apasthamba,baodhayana, hiranyakeshi,rishyashringa,Dalabhya,Vasishta etc are followed

Samvarta Smriti
जो सन्ध्या और अग्निकार्य नहि करते व कभी छुट जाता है तब् स्नान आदि करके संकल्प के साथ् आठ हजार गायत्री जप करना चाहिये.

Those who dont do sandhya and Agnikaarya(samidhadaana/agnihotra etc) or miss it should bath and do 8 thousand gaayatri japa ,then they are eligible for sandhya

Manu smriti

यो अन्यत्र कुरुते यत्नं धर्म कार्ये द्विजोत्तमः

विहाय संध्यां प्रणतिं स याति नरकायुतं ,-मनु स्मृति
Those brahmins who do other upasana without sandhya,they go to hell

February 17, 2012

Significance of the Sandhyavandanam in our Ithihaasa and Puranaa

Significance of the Sandhyavandanam in our Ithihaasa and Puranaa

http://govindarajapuram.com/?p=609

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.

 

PARASURAMA

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/

August 24, 2011

Devotion to Vaidika Karma anuShThAnam

There is a person even in these days of commercialization of human life, devotedto the adherence of vaidika karma anuShThAnam.

http://www.advaitin.net/Subrahmanian/Agnihotri%20Ranganathan.pdf

||Sri Gurubhyo Namaha||

Pradosha Pooja Group, Bangalore, recently honoured Agnihothri Sri Ranganatha Sarma on his completing 60 years of age. Sri Ranganthan, prior to moving to Mysore on official work, was an active member of the group.
Sri Ranganathan born on 23 Dec 1950, at Coimbatore, has walked on this planet for over sixty years.

Combining the characteristics of modernity and Dharmic-Vedic traditions, he has been a torch-bearer for many spiritually inclined fellow-men. He is what one may call “Nitya Agnihotri”, a rarity in these times practising Agnihotra Karmaanushtaanaas and maintaining the Aupasana Agni from day one of his marriage (1985) with sustained enthusiasm, albeit starting his Vedic education from the age of twenty (1970). His father (Late) Sri S Ganesha Sastri was a well known Vedic Scholar and had kramaantha adhyayanam from Palghat Chittur Paatashaala. His wife Smt.Bhuvana‟s father, an octogenarian Sri H.S.Krishna Dixit, is still in the services of Lord Srikanteshwara at Nanjangud temple. It is small wonder therefore that Sri Ranganathan was destined to accede to his inner call and follow his chosen path of divinity with such deep fervor. Mention must also be made of his two engineer sons, who are well versed in Yajurveda Samhitha and assist him in performing Ishti.

Sri Ranganathan cites an incident which at a later date lit the dormant fire in him, apparently answering his life’s ‘Why & What for?’ To quote his own words, ” I used to attend Upanyaasaas during younger days where I gathered informations regarding our Nityakarmaanushtaanas viz. Snaanam, Sandhya, Japam, Homam, Vaiswadevam/atityam Devata pooja et al. I had this nagging doubt regarding daily Homa. How come that our offering of Naivedya, is ultimately consumed by us without being able to feed Gods directly? That‟s when my father explained to me about Aupasana wherein Gods indeed get directly fed. I was also informed that Aupasana is to be taken up only after marriage.”

True to the saying “Udara nimittam bahukrita vesham”, Sree Ranganathan too had to don many a hat during his life’s professional Karma-trek. Basically a Chemical Engineer and a MBA (Finance) he worked initially in a private firm; thereafter successfully ran his own small scale industry; and finally joined KSIIDC, Bangalore from where he took VRS in Apr 2005 while he was still a DGM, all because he wanted to take up Agnihotra.

His Maargadarshin-s were Seers, men of divinity, spiritual seekers and scholars. He has been personally blessed and guided by the then pontiff of Sringeri – Jagadguru Abhinava Vidyateertha MahaswamgaL through Dr. Lakshminarayana Pandit. Sri Ranganathan has had occasions of visiting ishtis conducted by the latter, the then practising Agnihotri at Mysore, who
impressed upon him the sanctity of Agnihotra and the divinity in performing various yajnas for the betterment of society.

A few words about Agnihotra may not be out of place: The word Agnihotri is from agni (fire) and hotra (a ritual carried out in fire). Agnihotri means “one who carries out rituals in fire”, i.e. the Agnihotra. The one who performs Agnihotra daily with faith and full trust in the Almighty can be called an Agnihotri. The one who means it when he says “idem, na mama” ((O Lord, all this is Yours, NOT mine) is a true Agnihotri. Agnihotra is a Vedic Yajna mentioned in the Atharvaveda (11:7:9) and described in detail in the Yajurveda Samhita.

The central part of the Agnihotra consists of making two offerings of milk/Ghee/Rice into the fire exactly at, slightly before, or even after the time of sunset and sunrise, along with Vedic mantras that relate the fire and the sun to each other: This preserves the sun over night, which is also one of the interpretations of the ritual given in the Samhitas.

This small rite is surrounded by a large number of additional actions and is followed by the worship of other sacred fires (agni-upasthāna). The ritual is performed by a Brahmin for his own or for the benefit of a sponsor (yajamāna) and the universe as a whole.There is a simplified version of the Agnihotra in the Grihyasutras and in later post-Vedic texts. Having created Yagnaas along with mankind, the Creator expressed: “The Yagnaas are created with an intention of helping Devaas and manushyaas mutually for eternal happiness/prosperity.

Let manushyaas perform yaagaas to feed devaas (through Aahutis) who in turn would provide all necessities of life (like Sun, rain, wind, heat, environment etc) to the manushyass for their happy living on earth.
We marry in the presence of Agni which is maintained till death. All married people are to perform a homa in this Agni both at sunrise and sunset and this karma is called Aupaasanam.

And the Agni is called smaartha agni. All samskaaras pertaining to the yajamaana and his family are to be performed in this Aupaasanaagni. This Aupaasanaagni is split into two portions – – one portion is maintained as Aupaasanaagni and the second portion is developed – through a ritual called AgniAadhaanam- into a Srouta-Agni and maintained till the death of the Yajamaana. In this Srautaagni only all the 400 yagnaas described in Vedas are performed.

A yajamaana who maintains both Smartha as well as Srouta Agni and performs both Aupaasaman and Agnihotram daily is called an Aahitaagni (meaning embodiment of Agni). Srautaagni is generally maintained without quenching in a place called Gaarhapatya. At the time of Agnihotram Garhapatyaagni is further developed into two portions and kept in places called Aahavaneeyam and Dhakshinaagni where aahutis are offered through Vedic chanting.

Agnihotram is a nitya karmaanushtaanam like Snaanam, Sandhyaavandanam, Gaayatri Japam, Vaiswadevam, and Nitya panchaayatana poojaa. Agnihotra homa properly done reaches Surya; from Surya through antariksham it rains. From rains anna (food) grows on earth; and anna (food) affords happiness to all. Thus Agnihotri secures and ensures the well being of the universe as a whole. Agnihotra is the result of vedaadhyayanam. All the karmas / prayogas in the agnihotra are based on chanting of vedic mantras. Krishna yajurvedaa deals wholly with the concepts of performing various yagas for which agnihotram is the foundation.

In Mahabharata sage Daumya declares “O king Dharmaputra- if you want to witness all the pure rivers as well as all the devas together, please visit any house where Agnihotra is performed. Siva Geeta confirms that all japas performed in agnihotra sannidhi shall result in poorna phala.” Siva Rahasya confirms
the omnipresence of Siva in the 8 forms – 4 directions, Sun Moon, Nakshatraas and Agnihotri/ Aahitaagni.

That‟s why perhaps it is stated that “Agnihotra samo dharma: na bhootho na
bhavishyati” There is no karma ever equivalent to agnihotra. And as for Agnihotri himself, the benefits he reaps would seem the ultimate; for having realized the essence of these nishkaamya karma and continuing the anushtaanaas attains brahmasaakshaatkaara or brahmaswaroopi:

Brahmaarpanam Brahma havi: brahmaagnau brahmanaa hutam. Brahmaiva tena gantavyam brahma karma samaadhinaa. (BhagavadgItA 4.24)

[The ladle is Brahman. The knower of Brahman perceives the
instrument with which he offers oblation in the fire as Brahman
Itself. The oblation is Brahman, the offering is poured by Brahman
in the fire of Brahman. Brahman alone is to be reached by him who
has concentration on Brahman as the objective, as the goal to be
known and attained.]

P.V.ANANTANARAYANAN

August 24, 2011

Vedic Chanting – a Perfectly Formulated Oral Tradition — Dr. S. YEGNASUBRAMANIAN

Very informative article on Vedic Chanting. Please read attached pdf which has samskritham references that are not available in the inline text shown below.

The author Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian (President, SVBF) is a scientist at Bell Labs., NJ. He has been teaching Vedic recitation & vedanta for several years.

Vedic Chanting – a Perfectly Formulated Oral Tradition — Dr. S. YEGNASUBRAMANIAN
http://www.svbf.org/journal/vol1no2/chanting.pdf

Our tradition believes that the Vedas are the breath of God Himself!

With that belief, our Rishis exercised enormous care to preserve the Vedas in its original form without the infiltration of any errors. Especially in the absence of writing, and through only an oral transmission from father-to- son or teacher-to-disciple, for thousands of years, this is an accomplishment of unimaginable proportion! Considering the vast magnitude of mantras contained in the vedas, such a preservation, with built-in safeguards, is mind boggling!

It is believed that the complete benefit of Veda mantras could be achieved only when the following conditions are met:
¨ Correct pronunciation of letters (words)
¨ Correct duration for utterance of letters (words) – and,
¨ Correct intonation of letters,

Our Rishis prescribed several fool-proof methods to correctly recite the veda mantras.

Six ways of recitation were considered incorrect and they are :

One who chants in a sing-song fashion , who chants fast , who nods his head up and down without actually raising or
lowering the pitch , who reads from a book , who chants without knowing the meaning , and who chants in a feeble voice , are considered incorrect .

They believed that altering the pitch even (without any change in words and duration), might lead to diametrically opposite effects, as related in the story of Vrtra who, instead of killing Indra, got killed by Indra by just a change in the intonation alone of the mantras chanted by Vrtra’s father, Tvashta.

The rules of correct pronunciation and articulation of sounds are given in the Vedanga, known as Seeksha. Seeksha deals with varNa (letters), svara: (pitch); [there are essentially three svaras, namely,
anudatta (gravely accented or low pitched), udatta (high pitched or
acutely accented), svarita (circumflexly accented)] maatraa (duration – a prosodial unit of time); balam (strength or force of articulation); saama (uniformity); and santaana: (continuity) during recitation.

Our ancestors devised unique methods to protect and maintain the basic Veda mantras in its original form through various patterns and combinations of recitation. The basic mantra is called vakya or samhita paatha which is a full sentence.
Splitting them word by word is known as pada paatha , which gives the knowledge of each word to the student.

Next is krama paatha , where the first word of the mantra is added to the second, the second to the third and so on, until the

whole mantra is completed. This method enables the student not only to know individual words but also how to combine words in recitation and the changes in svara that occur as a result of such combination.

Both Pada and Krama methods of chanting retain the natural order of words of the samhita paatha and so, are known as prakrti or natural. For example, if we take sentence consisting of six words a-b-c-d-e-f, in samhita paatha, it will be chanted as six separate words a, b, c, d, e and f in pada paatha will be recited as a-b, b-c, c-d, d-e, and e-f in krama paatha. Actually, a reciter proficient in chanting in the krama format is honored as a kramavit !

In addition, they devised eight other combinations which do not follow the natural order, and are known as vikriti or
artificial order. The vikritis are given in the following verse: They are, jataa, maalaa, sikhaa, rekhaa, dhwaja, danda, ratha and ghana.

Among these only jataa and ghana are prevalent (or, only !) practices in the Krishna Yajur Veda which is mostly predominant in the South. In Sukla Yajur Veda, which is mostly predominant in Banaras and in the North, (the Madhyandina and Kanva schools) all the eight vikritis were practiced.

However, today, there may not be any scholars at all who might know all these vikritis Jataa (braid) paatha In the above example, the six words in the line, when chanted in the jataa format becomes, a-b-b-a-a-b; b-c-c-b-b-c; c-d-d-c-c-d; d-e-ed-d-e; e-f-f-e-e-f and so on. As can be seen, the forward-reverseforward arrangement of words resemble the way ladies braid their hair, and so this practice of chanting is termed jataa!

Two types of maalaa (garland) exist: a)krama maalaa and b) pushpa maalaa.

This is simialr to krama paatha in that two-word units with the characteristic overlapping are the foundation. sikhaa
(top knot) is similar to jataa except that, instead of two words being repeated forwards and backwards, three words are linked.

Recitations in rekhaa (row), dhwaja (flag), dand (staff), and ratha (chariot) are more complex and the reader can refer to Wayne Howard [2] for details.

Mention can be made here that there are three of ratha, namely, dvipaada (two wheels), tripaada (three wheels) and catuspaada (4 wheels). Each wheel corresponds to a quarter verse (paada) of the text. Among these, dvipaada catuspaada varieties are the ratha types most widely cultivated today.

Ghana (bell) paatha
This is one of the most popular format of recitations and requires years of learning and practice by the student. A scholar proficient in recitation in this format is honored as a ghana paathi . Here the arrangement of words take the shape of a bell.
For example, the group of words a-b-c-d-e-f mentioned earlier, when chanted in the ghana format will be, a-b-b-a-a-b-c-c-b-a-a-bc; b-c-c-b-b-c-d-d-c-b-b-d; and so on.

The earliar illustration of six words, when written in ghana format will appear as follows:
Please note that, what was originally six words in the samhita, evolve in to about sixty words in the ghana format – a ten fold
increase in this case – that gives an idea of how complex the chanting can become with larger sections of the mantras !! We can

now appreciate the rigor a ghana pathi has to go through in his education to learn, by heart, the thousands of mantras, to be able to recite in ghana format.

Our Rishis devised all these elaborate and complicated system of chanting in order to preserve the purity of the sound, word,
pronunciation, intonation , pitch and sound combination of the veda mantras which are the foundation for our sanaatana dharma itself.

Also, repetition of words in many ways, the correct tally of words was also maintained which ensured the purity. They also believed that higher merits (punya) accompany greater complexities in chanting – for example, a ghana recitation is several orders higher in merit than jataa recitation, which is higher in merit than krama recitation and so on.

Wayne Howard [2] noted in the preface of his book, “Vedic Recitation in Varanasi”, “The four Vedas (Rg, Yajur, Sama and
Atharva) are not “books” in the usual sense, though within the past hundred years each veda has appeared in several printed editions.They are comprised rather of tonally accented verses and hypnotic, abstruse melodies whose proper realizations demand oral instead of visual transmission. They are robbed of their essence when transferred to paper, for without the human element the innumerable nuances and fine intonations – inseparable and necessary components of all four compilations – are lost completely. The ultimate authority in Vedic matters is never the printed page but rather the few members … who are today keeping the centuries-old traditions alive.”

It is unfortunate that there is very little subscription to this education these days and it is an important duty of all of us to
ensure that this education is encouraged and adequate support is given to promote and propagate it.

References

1. “The Vedas”, Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay 1988.
2. “Veda Recitation in Varanasi”, Wayne Howard, Motilal Banarasidass, Delhi 1986.

Dr. S. Yegnasubramanian ( President, SVBF) is a scientist at Bell Labs., NJ. He has been teaching vedic recitation & vedanta for several years.