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[sv-rituals] Sandhyavandanam

From: sadagopaniyengar (sadagopaniyengar_at_eth.net)
Date: Sun Jun 09 2002 - 20:24:18 PDT

 
Srimate SrivanSatakopa Sri Vedanta Desika Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:

 

         Sandhyavandanam

 

     Shri Mani's present series on Sandhyavandanam is most informative. Here are a few more points- as adiyen has been out of touch with the lists for some time, please do pardon adiyen if the following is a repetition.

 

     "Adou VedA: pramANam", Vedas are the first and foremost pramanam for everything. And almost all the rituals we perform today have their roots in the Vedas, in some form or the other. In fact, there are two prasnAs in the Yajur Veda, (Mantra Prasnam) devoted to the mantras to be uttered for performing various vaidIka karmas, be it upanayanam, vivAham, chouLam, or the apara kriyAs.

 

     SandhyAvandanam too is dealt with in the Taittiriya Aranyaka, in the third (or is it the fourth?) prasna of ArunA. In two anuvAkAs,  (beginning with "RakshAgumsi ha vA purOnuvAkE tapOgram") the Veda Purusha describes the reason d etre" of Sandhyavandanam.

 

 Once upon a time the asurAs performed sincere and intense penance or tapas. PrajApati appeared before them and queried them as to their wishes. The AsurAs told Prajapati that they wished to fight with AdityA. "So be it," pronounced Prajapati.  From that day, the Asuras started fighting with Soorya at every sunrise and sunset. Due to this constant battle, Adiya started weakening. Concerned at the disastrous consequences to the universe of Soorya being disabled, Prajapati devised a way of saving Soorya from gradual decline.

 He ordered Brahmins to perform Sandhyavadanam at sunrise and sunset, with the important component of "arghya pradAnam", that of throwing water held in joined palms at the Sun. This concerted throwing of water by all brahmins, turns into a weapon as powerful as the VajrAyudhA , and attacks the asurAs, bundling them off to a remote island known as the "MandEhAruNa dveepam", where they lie vanquished. However, this defeat is not permanent, and is only till the next SandhyA, so that the boon granted by Prajapati to the asurAs does not go waste. Come the next Sunrise, the asurAs are back in full vigour to fight with the Sun.

Again, the Brahmins perform Sandhyavandanam and the concerted arghyA banishes the asurAs to the aforesaid island. And the process goes on infinitely.

 

We often hear people say that Sandhyavandanam does not bestow any special merit on the doer, but its non-performance results in sin, ("akaraNE pratyavAya janakam") this being an "AgyA kainkaryam", or one that we are ordained to perform. However, the Aranyaka says that every Brahmin, who performs Sandhyavandanam and japam at all sunrises and sunsets, is blessed with all that is auspicious ("sakalam bhadram asnutE"), is freed from all sin ("tEna pApmAnam avadhoonvanti") and attains the Ultimate ("BrahmApyEti").

 

Thus Sandhyavandanam occupies a very high place in our list of priorities, and, as should be clear from the aforesaid, is done for the benefit of society. This is why the Shastras prescribe this karma as a preliminary to all others, without the performance of which the yajamAna does not acquire eligibility to do anything else-

"SandhyA heenO asuchi: nityam, anarha: sarva karmasu"-

 A person who does not do Sandhyavandanam is perennially impure and is ineligible to perform any karma, vaidIka or otherwise. 

 

The story narrated above also emphasizes the need for the  timely performance of this important ritual, for, it is precisely at sunrises and sunsets that the Sun is at danger from the asurAs, and only timely arghya pradAnam would vanquish the latter.

 

Adiyen has a question to the learned bhagavatas of the list- the aforesaid anuvAkAs deal with prAtah: and SAyam sandhyavandanam, but say nothing about the "MAdhyAhnikam" that we perform regularly. What is the pramANA in the Vedas for this?  "MadhyAhnikam appears to have the sanction of Smriti (Dharma Sutras, etc) and of "SishtAchAram" (the practice of great people), which should be enough for us. However, is there a mention about it in the Vedas?

 

Srimate SriLakshmINrisimha divya paduka sevaka SrivanSatkopa Sri Narayana Yatindra Mahadesikaya Nama:

 ------dasan, sadagopan.