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Re: Sandhyavandhanam timings

From: Mani Varadarajan (mani_at_alum.calberkeley.org)
Date: Wed Aug 01 2001 - 18:49:33 PDT

Vinod Parthasarathy wrote:
> Further to discussion with the elder generation of my family on 
> sandhyavandhanam timings, i have been advised that to do sandhyavandhanam 
> beyond a certain time after sunset is adharmam. 

Dear Vinod:

Your elder must have said what he did only to spur
you to do sandhyAvandanam at the ideal time.  According
to the shastras as I have studied them, it is never 
considered "adharma" to do sandhyAvandanam.  It is 
naturally preferable that this sacred worship be performed
at the appropriate time -- i.e., before sunrise in the
morning, when the sun is at its zenith for the midday
arghyam, and before sunset for the evening worship --
but the overwhelming majority of us are unable to adhere
to such a rigorous schedule, and the merciful shastra
makes accomodations for us as well.

To tell you the truth, the rules actually go one step further. 
The arghya-pradAnam (offering of water with the gAyatri-mantra 
to the Lord within the sun) in the morning should ideally be 
performed while the stars are still visible -- i.e., before dawn 
has broken.  The gAyatri-mantra-japa should then be performed
*until the sun has fully risen!* Only after the complete
orb of the sun is visible should the upasthAna mantra be 
recited.  Typically, this is a full 1.5 hours for just the
morning sandhyAvandanam. In fact, Apastamba Maharshi recommends 
japam of 1008 gAyatris every morning!

Naturally, this is impossible for virtually all of us. So, should
we offer the arghya late (after sunrise or sunset), we recognize
our imperfection and perform a 'prAyaScitta' (atonement) in
several ways. Apastamba recommends fasting in lieu of the next meal. 
Sri Gopala Desika mentions this as well as another, easier
option, offering an extra arghya, which is what all of us do 
these days. 

In short, Vinod, you are correct -- there is no exception to
the rule "one must perform sandhyA everyday without fail".
We must do it whenever we can, even if late.

aDiyEn rAmAnuja dAsan,
Mani


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