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SANDHYA UPASANA

The importance of Sandhya Upasana and the meaning relating to the Krishna Yajurveda Sandhya Vandana - Mantras therein.
Our Vedas propagate Santana Dharma (code of righteous conduct). They guide us to attain knowledge of the Self. Vedas show the way to attain the desired objectives and for removal of all our Sins and impediments in life. They also show the way to know the Real Truth which is beyond our perceptions and inferences. Dharma Bodha is the main ingredient that differentiates human beings from animals. It is good for us to see that animal within us dies so that man within us lives. It is well known that Vedas are pramanam for all our doubts. ( Veda Akhilo Dharma Moolam).Righteous code of conduct as prescribed in vedas is Dharma. Those who protect vedas will certainly get divine blessings. Vedic injunctions are permanent and cannot be altered. (Dharmo Rakshati Rakhitah).
Vedas are treasure trove of Hindu religion; tradition and culture containing code of righteous conduct. They are eternal commands for shaping man's good conduct and for developing impeccable character. Smrithi has divided Dharma into 6 parts. They are Varna Dharma Ashrama Dharma, Varnasrama Dharma, Guna dharma, Nimitha Dharma and day to day Sadharana Dharma.
Ahimsa-Truthfulness-Non-stealing- Soucham-Control of mind- all come under normal Sadharana Dharma. According to Varna Dharma the daily six routine duties are Sandhya,Japam, Homam,Devatha Poojanam,Adhithyam and Vaiswadevam. The duties ( karmas) under the head of Vedas are classified as follows:- NITHYAM- NAIMITHIKAM - KAMYAM AND PRATHISHIDHAM.
Nithyakarma:- by performing this no special punya ( moral good) is acquired-But by not performing the same papas ( sins) are accrued.
Naimithikam: - Karma to be performed because of special occasions like Tharpanam during Eclipse etc.
Kamyam: - This is performed to obtain the desired result. Like invoking Lord Varuna in the sacrifice to get rain.
Nishidham: - Such karmas which should not be followed or performed.
By performing daily karmas with sradha and devotion one can obtain Chitha Sudhi which is a preliminary requirement to progress further in our life.
Sandhya is the best time to perform Dhyana or meditation. The twilight time between the day and night is called Sandhya. Sandhya is also called as Sakthi from which entire world has come into existence and is beyond Maya and formed out of three tatwas i.e. Jeeva-Eswara- and Nature. Sandhya Upasana is a vaidheeka karma by which one pray the Supreme Lord to forgive us and to remove all our sins. Tejas is a derivative of Jnanam. Similarly water is the derivative of worship. While performing Sandhya Upasana we offer water as worship to the Supreme Lord and by doing that we surrender ourselves to Him in totality. Long life ; Knowledge; Fame; Name; and Brahma Tejas can be acquired by performing Daily Sandhya with Sradha and devotion. Sandhya Anushtanam is a must daily duty and the real strength of the Brahmanism is in the this worship. Earlier days ARGHYAM- GAYATHRI JAPAM- AND DHYANAM (MEDITATION) were the main ingredients for all followers of Veda. But on later stages different methods came into existence.
To mention a few additions that came into existence are Jalaprathana Mantra, Devatha Tharpanam, Slokas from puranas, Siva Vishnu and Yama Vandanams etc. Upasthana Mantras also vary from one Veda Shaka to another. Whatever it may be the ultimate aim is to acquire Chitha Sudhi. By this one can get rid of one's sins and this lead to Jnanam which in turn leads to Moksha in the end.
In Sandhya Upasana a person who knows that the sun is the same as the Supreme Brahman meditates on the sun and perform circumambulation enjoys all happiness.He who knows this secret of identity that he himself is Brahman, attains Brahman. Sandhya means the time when day and night meet and vandanam means thanks giving to the Lord Supreme. Performing of Madhyahnikam is an orthodox derivation.
The first and foremost function in the Sandhya upasana is Achamanam. They are of three types ( Sruti – Smrithi- Purana) Sruti achamanam is mentioned in the Taittareeya Aranyaka- where it is said that the following mantra " Vidhyudasi Vidhya may Papmanam ritaat sathya Mupaimi" is chanted and water is touched. Meaning of this rik is as follows: - You are lightening. Remove my sins. Through truth I attain unto Truth. After washing hands -Three time achamanam is followed by two time lips wash and again after washing of palm head,eyes,ears,nose,heart etc. are touched (This system is followed during Brahma Yagna). Smrithi Achamanam is of two types. Srauta and Smartha. In srauta, achamanam is followed by recitation of three pada Gayathri then 21 parts of the body are touched. While performing mantras are recited- nine ablingas by apohista mantra seven vyakruthees-Three pada Gayathri and ending with Om apo jyotheerasa: Amrutam Brahma. In Smartha achamanam laid down by Manu/Yajnavalkya and others-achamanam is performed two times then lips are washed twice and then cleaning palm, mouth and other sensory organs are touched. In Purana achamanam-Water is sipped thrice and several parts of body touched. Each single operation being accompanies by repetitive of a distinctive names or Lord Vishnu or Lord Siva. (practice differ from place to place).
After Lord Ganapathy Dhyanam, pranayama is done by mentally reciting the mantra. Sankalpa – determination with mental resolve to perform the Sandhya upasana is followed thereafter.( In some places Jala Prarthana " Apo va idagum Sarvam…"mantra is chanted that too only for the morning Sandhya).
MARJANA MANTRA: - It is well known that You the deities of water are the cause of great happiness. Please nourish us with the divine vision which brings glory and loveliness. Please make us worthy of imbibing the auspicious bliss even as a mother feeds her children. We approach you with eagerness for that bliss, to distribute, which you have taken a form and are shining. Bestow on us the boon of a next life sanctified by knowledge.
PRAASANAMANTRA: - They are three in numbers for each time zone. (Morning Sun God- After noon Holy water and in the evening Lord Agni). May Sun /Agni'/Varuna and the God of anger and the Lords presiding over anger; save me from the sins caused by anger. Whatever sins I have committed; by mind, speech, hands, feet, belly, and the sensual organ may the Lord of the departed night/day remove all that and whatever other sins that may be in me. I sacrifice in the Self, illuminous light, the eternal first cause. As an emblem of such sacrifice, I pour down this consecrated water as libation in my mouth , which shall be the sacrificial fire. May this sacrifice of mine become well offered.( Here water represents the sinner and all his sins and pouring down of water typifies the act of sacrifice)
It is said in the vedas that energy of the sun passes on to Agni in the evening. Hence the substitution of Agni Lord for Surya in the evening Sandhya Upasana
In Madhyahnikam Sandhya Upasana praasana mantra meaning is as follows:-May the waters purity the earth by pouring down rain. May the earth thus purified make me pure. May the waters purify my spiritual preceptor and may the Veda as taught by him purify me. Whatever impure food I may have taken, whatever I may have received as gift from the unworthy, may the waters destroy all that sins and purify me; and for this purpose, I pour this sanctified water as libation down my mouth as sacrifice.
Then come second Marjanam (Punarmarjanam):- I make obeisance to the Supreme Person who supports, rules and sustains all the worlds, who is ever victorious and who has taken the form of Hayagreeva the repository of all knowledge. May He make our faces and other organs fragrant. May He protect our lives. (the remaining meaning - as stated in the first Marjanam).
The performer after attaining his outer and inner purification then offer Arghyam ( offering water respectfully to the Supreme Lord). The sanctified – water-consecrated- by chanting of Gayathri mantra and thrown upwards with both hands ; becoming thunderbolts, hurl the evil spirits to an island called Aruna ; where dwells the evil spirits called Mandehas. (By this act entire world is protected)
Meaning of Gayathri Mantra: We meditate on the adorable light of the supreme creator of the universe. May He (existing in our mind in the form of light) guide our intellects in the pursuit of the Truth.
Prayaschitha Arghyam is followed for not offering the arghyam on time.
Aikyanusandhanam: Asavadityo Brahma Brahmmaeva Ahamasmi. Means:-The Sun is Brahman and I too am Brahman.
Next comes Tharpanam to Navagraha and Dwadasa names of Vishnu, This Tharpanam is considered as Puranic additions and no reference is made to them in the Taittareeya Aranyaka ( as opined by learned people) Hence it is stated that these additions are inconsistent with the spirit of the Vedic Sandhya- which is a prayer directed to the "one alone " without a second.
(Here ends the first part of the Upasana called Sandhya . The second part is called Japam.)
It is reported by learned people that popularly known as Three pada Gayathri has got a turiya ( Fourth) pada also. This should be revealed only to the one who is properly initiated. Meaning of this pada "PARORAJASE ASAVADOM" - He who is beyond all phenomenon, He is Bliss , He is eternal OM. This fourth pada is hidden in the Vedas-Hence not visible. ( Mantra Drashta for the turiya pada of the Gayathri is Vimala Rishi- Chandas is Tureeyam and Devatha is Paramatma.)
Gayathri Avahanam: May the Goddess Gayathri Devata-who grants all our desires come to us to make known to us the eternal Lord, who is revealed to us only through the scriptures. May the Gayathri the mother of all the vedas reveal to us the eternal Truth.
Devi Gayathri – you are the source of all spiritual strength . You are the power that drive away the evil inclination which are my enemies You are conducing to a sound mind which conduces to a sound body. You are the light of the Gods; that dispel my intellectual darkness and illuminate my heart with divine wisdom. You are everything. You are Eternal Truth that destroys all our sins. You are the pranava that reveals to me the unknown, Come to me Oh! Goddess Gayathri and make me wise.
After invocation of Gayathri comes enumeration of the four principal characteristics of the Gayathri Rik. Mantra Drashta: (Rishi)- Chandas ( metre) –Devatha ( praise of the Devatha it sings)- Viniyoga( The purpose to which the Rik is applied)
For Gayathri Mantra consists of Pranava ( OM)- Vyakruthees ( Bhu: Bhuvaha: Swaha and Savithri mantra- which already existed . This combination was revealed to Sage Viswamitra who in turn gave this to the world. He is the mantra Drashta –Chandas ( metre) the number of letters in the Savithri mantra equally divided into three parts of eight letters each and has 24 letters. Devatha for Gayathri is Savithri- the supreme Lord Paramatma. Viniyoga: Prayer for sayujya or absorption through knowledge into the universal soul. ( There are Angannyasa and karannyasa that are followed by few, before chanting of Gayathri mantra- elders say that these are of tantric origin).
After completion of Gayathri Japa Gayathri Upasthana follows:-
The Goddess Gayathri resides on a lofty peak on the summit of mount Meru in the earth. Oh! Goddess take leave from the persons who have worshiped you and who have been blessed with your grace and go back to your abode as comfortably as possible.
Morning Upasthana Mantra Meaning:- We sing the adorable glory of the Sun God, who sustains all men by causing rain, which glory is eternal and most worthy of being adored with wonder.
The sun well knowing the inclinations of several men directs them to their several pursuits, the sun upholds both heaven and earth. The sun observes all creatures and their action ( Karma Sakshi) without ever winking to this eternal being . We offer the oblation mixed with clarified butter. Oh! Sun God may that man who through such sacrifice offers oblation to you become endowed with wealth for he who is under your protection is not cut-off by untimely death. He is not vanquished by anybody and sin has no hold on this man either from near or from far.
MADHYAHNIHA UPSTHANA MANTRA :- The Lord Savita daily appears in the heaven. He sustains Gods and Men ( He confers on men eternal Bliss or a mortal body once more accordingly as they acquit themselves on earth) He comes in golden chariot illuminating all worlds. Adoring the Sun God among the Gods, the loftier light that rests above darkness or Sin, we attain most excellent light. His rays bearing him a lot, the God who knows the ways of all living beings; Surya, that all my look on Him adore Him- and become wise. The wonderful collection of rays has risen ( the orb of light). This orb is the eye of the earth, air, and heaven. This orb has filled the earth ,air, and heaven with light everywhere. Sun God is the soul of all things that move and all that move not. This brilliant eye the orb of the Sun ,on whom as lord of sacrifices; the devas depend for their oblations, rises in the east. May we live a hundred years to see Him. May we live plenty through His grace. May we be happy in His presence for a hundred years. May we through His grace live secure in our homes. May we learn the secrets of Vedic theosophy from our guru, and may we gladly impart the same to our disciples. May we never meet the reverses, and may we long live to see and adore Him. May He who rises with resplendent glory from the midst of waters, out of the eastern ocean- the bright eyed and all wise Surya, who shower all blessings on His worshipers, may make me pure in mind.
EVENING UPASTHANA MANTRA:- Hear Oh! Varuna Lord this prayer of mine. Be gracious unto me this day, longing for your protection. I pray to you. ( This prayer rik is said to have been taught by Sage Viswamitra to Sunassephah, when he was tied to the sacrificial post and about to be immortalized by Harischandra to appease the wrath of Lord Varuna. This prayer saved him from death.) Adoring you with prayer, I beg long life from you, the sacrificer does the same with oblations he offers to you; therefore, Lord Varuna without indifference in this matter, take my prayer into your kind consideration and do not cut off our lives. Oh! Lord Varuna, whatever law of yours we, as men, violate day after day, forgives us for those trespasses. ( The ethical consciousness of human frailty and the appeal for mercy and forgiveness based on such consciousness find a beautiful and simple earnest expression in this Rik). Oh! Lord Varuna whatever offence we, as men, have committed against divine beings, whatever work of yours, we have neglected through ignorance, do not destroy us, for such sins. Whatever offence is attributed to us by our enemies as by gamblers at dice, whatever sins we may have really committed and what we may have done without knowing , please destroy all those sins. Also pray that we shall become beloved to You.
Then follows prayer to Gods residing in all directions. Kamam Akarsheet Manyu Akarsheet mantra follows. This a shortened version of the actual mantra in the Veda. Whatever sins I have committed, has been done by passion or anger and not by me- hence forgive me. Oh! Lord I bow to you again and again.
Sandhya prayer now closes with Abhivadanam or salutation. The practice of reciting at this stage a few slokas from puranas and slokas in praise of Lord Vishnu, Siva, Yama does not form integral part of Vedic Sandhya Upasana. After Raksha mantra the whole ceremony is brought to a close by an internal purification of the body by Achamanam and dedicating the entire service gone through to Para Brahman.
Summing up: - Sandhya Upasana service is simply a thanks giving and a prayer to the Universal Lord. It begins with external purification of body by sprinkling of water by chanting few hymns, and internal purification by sipping few drops of consecrated water. We pray all sins committed during the preceding 12 hours be washed away.
After conducting purificatory functions, the worshiper feel that he is worthy of approaching the Supreme Lord and pays his adorations to Him, by offering of water according to traditional usage. He looks at the Sun Lord and makes his offering. His offerings are really to the Paramatman, the nameless one. Sun is only visible symbol of God's power and glory. He praises with Vedic hymns and implores Him to forgive him; his sins and vouch safe to him- His grace and Blessings.
Sandhya Vandanam is one of the few remaining links that unite us to a glorious past. It is duly rendered imperative by solemn voice of Vedic injunction. It is a distinctive badge for us.
P.S.Notes:-
Na annam udagam dhanam na thithir dwadasee samaha: Na Gayathrya paro mantrah: Na Mathur daivadam param.
The highest Dhanam on earth is Anna Dhanam. Similarly nothing is more important than Dwadasee Thithi, Gayathri Mantra, and Mother.
Achuta Ananta Govinda Namocharana Bheshajad Nasyanthi Sakala Rogath Sathyam Sathyam Vadamyaham.
Chanting of Glory of God is considered as medicine for all diseases. Hence the importance of achamanam by chanting the Lord's name. This is called Nama Trayee Vidhya.
As we are doing the Nithya karma without expecting any result in return and by totally surrendering to the Lord and in a samarpana Bhavana we invoke the Lord name by chanting Parameswara Preethyartham in the Sankalpa.
Gayathri mantra protects the person one who sings His Glory. Another version is Gayan Pranan trayatheethi Gayathri. i.e. Mantra Gayathri protects the pancha pranas. It contain 24 vaidheeka Chandas. Hence it is called Gayathri. Each 8 padas are taken from the Rik,Yajus and Sama Veda respectively in that order. Sarva Veda Saram is Gayathri Mantra. Gayathri mantra is hidden inside the Vyakruthees and Vyakruthees are hidden inside Pranava "OM". And that OM is Paramatman.
There are three types of methods to do Gayathri Japam.
Vachikam- Upamsu- Manasam.
Chanting letters and padas clearly with swaras like Udhatham,Anudhatham,swaritam and Prachaya is called Vachikam.
Moving the lips and the chanting can be heard by only the kartha is called Upamsu.
Reciting in the mind without producing any sound whatsoever is called Manasam. Maximum result and effect can be obtained by this method.
Sandhya Upasana is a sadhana ( spiritual practice) to bring about the conjunction ( Sandhi) of the individual self with the Cosmic Self to realise the unity of both. ( Aham Brahmasmi) ( Brahmeva Sathyam).Sandhya Vandanam is a Yoga Sadhana for union of the individual with Supreme Reality. Sandhya Upasana incorporates the elements or features of all the four main ingredient of Yoga, such as Karma, Bhakthi, Dyana and Jnana. This upasana as such is devised to lead one to both physical and spiritual advancement.
The Supreme divinity is within oneself. Whatever one intensely thinks or meditate upon that one becomes is the psychological law (Yath Dhyathi Tat Bhavathi)
In Raksha Mantra that comes in the end of Sandhya Upasana prayer to the Supreme Lord to bestow prosperity including many children, prayer to remove the cause and the effect of bad dreams, prayer to remove all sins and to bestow on us what is good for us are included.
Present Sandhya Upasana practices for Yajur Vedees contain the following::-
1Achamanam 2. Ganapathy Vandanam 3. Pranayama 4. Sankalpa 5. Jala Prarthana ( selective) 6. Marjanam/Prokshanam 7. Prasanam 8. Punar Marjanam9. Arghya Pradhanam 10. Prayaschitha Arghyam 11. Atma Pradakshinam12. Atma Anusandhanam 13. Navagraha/ and Devatha Tharpanam 14. Brahmarpanam.
Japa parts consist of the following:-
Achamanam 2. Ganapathy Vandanam 3. Sankalpa 4.Pranayamam 4. Gayathri Avahanam 5. Gayathri Japam 6. Gayathri Upasthanam 7. Surya Upasthanam 8. Samasti Abhivadanam 9. Dig Devatha Vandanam 10. Yama Vandanam 11.Harihara Vandanam 12. Suryanarayana Vandanam 13 Samarpanam 14. Raksha .

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