PS: ** REF: **(Devi Puraanam, By VedaVyaasa Skandha XII, Adhyaaya IX)
kaale Brahma samaahitam
kaalo ha sarvasya eeswaaro ya: pitaasiit prajaapathe:.”
— Atharva Veda XIX, 53, 8.
(In Time is energy, in Time the highest good. In Time is the Holy Utterance. Time is the Lord of all that is, the Father, he, of the Creator.)
Gautama, Brahmins, Kali Yuga, and Gayatri Mahima!
“O vile Brahmins! When you all got together mischievously only to cause distress to me, then let you be averse to meditate upon and do japam of the Devi Gayatri, the Mother of the Vedas. For your (this) despicable act, never will you all be eager to perform any Vedic sacrificial acts or any action concerning thereof. There is no doubt about that. You will be always averse to the mantras or the Tantras of Siva (Sive sivasya mantre cha sivasaastre tathaiva cha). You will be always averse to Moola Prakriti Sri Devi. (Moolaprakrutyaa: Sridevyaa: tatdhyaane tat kathaasu cha)”
“You will be wholly indifferent to practise the right ways of living as prescribed in the Vedas and Smritis, (Srautasmaartha sadaachaare jnaanamaarge) to preserve your conduct good and to observe the path of knowledge to Advaita Jnaanam (Advaithajnaana nishtaayaam), to practise restraint of senses and continence, to the daily practices of Sandhya Vandanam, (nityakarmaadi anushtaane) to performing the Agnihotra ceremonies (Agnihotraadi saadhane), to the study of the Vedas according to one’s own Shaakhaa. You will sell your father, mother, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters and even your wives too!” (Pitru maatru suta bhraatru kanyaa vikrayina:)
“You will sell the Vedas, (Veda vikrayina:) Tirthas and your Dharma. You will not feel ashamed in any way to sell all these. You will certainly have faith in Kaapaalika (Kaapaalikamataasaktaa) and Bauddha – opinions, Paancharaatras and Kaama Saastras (Kaamasaastre). O vile Braahmanas! You will not hesitate to go to your mother, daughters or sisters (Maatrukanyaagaamina: bhaginii gaaminaha) and you will always be licentious with others’ wives and spend your time in that. (Parastree lampataa:) This is not to you only but to the women and men, all that will come in your families. Let the Gaayatrii Devi be always indignant with you and let you all go in the end to the Andha Koopa hells, etc”. (**verses 55 to 75)
Rings a bell somewhere? Well…….
Thus cursed Rishi Gautama…who had become angry like ‘Rudra at the time of dissolution’ (paramam kopam pralaye Rudrakopavat..sasaapa Rushiin sarvaan kopasa rakta lochana: **verse 55); his eyes were reddened and he cursed the Brahmins, …..In fact the next **25 verses each ending with Adhamaa: Braahmanaa: are nothing short of heavy doses of curses hurled at the Brahmins (refer above for the gist) …all for their undoing on the otherwise gentle Gautama Rishi!
But then thereby hangs a tale!…..What’s that?
Soon the Navaraatri festival would be on. Many of you may be dusting off the books on Devi and preparing to read them…..be it Devi Mahaatmyam or Devi Bhaagavatam (Also called Devi Puraanam). I myself did that and my eyes fell on those last few pages of **(Devi Puraanam..By VedaVyaasa, Skandha XII Adhyaaya IX)……..amazingly enough….I thought I was staring at the answers and very reasons why the ‘Brahmins are at the Crossroads” today and why “they are like that only!” and how Devi Gayatri’s blessings need to be sought to redeem ourselves!…….. sort of a light at the end of the tunnel.
I propose to post in parts (because it is a bit longish) the entire episode…seems more like a story but with quite a bit of substance..to help each to derive his own meanings….and perhaps ponder. In any case they are from Devi Bhaagavatam….and so perhaps does carry its own inner message for the observant. Those learned many, I seek their indulgence.
Vyaasa said: — O King Janamejaya! Once upon a time, on account of an evil turn of Fate (Karma) of the human beings (Praaninaam Karma vasa: na vavarsha sathakratu:) Verse 1, Indra did not pour out rains on this earth for over fifteen years. Owing to want of rain, a horrible famine appeared; and almost all the beings lost their lives. There were countless number of dead in every house. (Gruhe gruhe savaanaam tu sankhyaa kartum na sakyate) Verse 2. Out of hunger the people began to eat horses; some ate bears and pigs (Aswaan varaahaan va Bhakshayanthi), Verse 3, some others the dead bodies while few others carried on any how their lives.
O King! The Braahmanas then united and after due discussion, came to the conclusion that they would go to the hermit Gautama who would be able to remove their distress. So all of them wanted to go quickly to the hermitage of the Muni Gautama (sarvam militvaa gamtavyam Gautamasya aasrame) they began to say: — “We hear that there is no famine in the hermitage of Gautama. People are running there from different quarters.” Thus coming to a conclusion, the Braahmanas went to Gautama’s Aashramam with their cows, servants and relations.
The Rishi Gautama bowed down to them (drushtvaa samaajam vipraanaam prananama sa Gautama:) and gave them a cordial welcome and offered them appropriate aasanaas, etc. When all took their seats and things became calm and quiet, Gautama enquired about their welfare and the cause of their arrival. (chakaara kusalaprasnam tatascha aagamakaaranam). They described everything about the dire famine and their own sad states and expressed their deep regret. Seeing them very much distressed, Gautama Muni gave them his word not to have any fear.
Vyaasa said: — O King Janamejaya! Thus consoling the Braahmanas, the Rishi Gautama began to worship the Gaayatrii Devi with rapt devotional trance (Gayatriim praarthayaamaas Bhaktisannatamkara) Devi! (Hleemkaararupinii….Praathar-baalaam raktavarnaam, maddhyaanhe yuvatiim paraam, saayaanhe Krishna-varnaam taam vrudhaam, nityam namaamyaham) (Does it ring a bell about trikaala vandanam we do?) Obeisance to Thee! Now show favour on us (Kshamasva Parameswari) at this severe famine time when all the beings are well nigh on the way to destruction.” Thus praised and worshipped, the Universal-Mother appeared (Jaganmaataa pratyaksham darsanam dadau) and gave to the Rishi one vessel (cup) full to the brim (poorna paatram dadau) by which every one can be fed and nourished. The Mother told the Muni: — “This full vessel, given by me to you will yield whatever you wish.” Thus saying, the Devi Gaayatrii Higher than the Highest, vanished.
Then, according to the wish of the Muni, came out from that cup, mountains of cooked rice, various curries and sweetmeats, lots of grass and fodder, silken clothings , various ornaments and various articles and vessels for sacrificial purposes. In fact whatever the Muni Gautama wished, that came out of the brimful cup, given by the Devii Gaayatrii. Then the Muni Gautama called the other Munis that came there and gave them wealth, grains, clothing, ornament, and the sacrificial ladles and spoons and cows and buffaloes for the sacrificial purposes.
The Devas, on the other hand, became very much satisfied by the various Yajnaas and extolled the Muni’s greatness. So much so, that the famous Indra, the Lord of the Devas, came in the midst of the assembly and extolled his greatness, thus: — “This Gautama has fulfilled all our wishes and has verily become a Kalpa Vriksha (celestial tree yielding all desires). (Aho ayam na: kila kalpapaadapo manorathaan poorayathi pratishtitha:) O King Janamejaya! Thus the Muni Gautama fed and nourished for twelve years (ithvam dwaadasa varshani puposha munipungavaan) all the Munis and Brahmanas, like his sons and that place came to be recognised as the chief centre (the Head Quarters) (Gaayatryaa: paramam sthaanam chakaara) of the Gaayatrii Devi.
Then once upon a time, Narada of best conduct came there playing on his great Veena and singing in tune the highest glories of Gaayatrii and took his seat in the assembly of the Munis. (Tatra ekadaa samaayato Narado munisattama:)
Seeing the tranquil hearted Naarada coming there, Gautama and the other Munis received him with due respect and worshipped him with ‘Paadyam and Arghyam’. In the course of their conversation, Narada began to describe the glories of Gautama muni and said: — “O Best of Munis! I have heard from the very mouth of Indra, in the assembly of the Devas, your glories; as to your supporting and feeding the pure-hearted Munis and I have come only to be in the midst of you all and witness these good deeds (Tvaam drashtum aagatha:). Devarshi Naarada entered into the temple of the Devii Gaayatrii (gaayatri sadanam yayau) and with eyes gladdened by love, saw the Devii there (dadarsa Jagadambaam taam) and offered due hymns in praise of Her and then ascended to the Heavens.
Here, on the other hand, the Braahmanas that were fed by Gautama became jealous (asooyayaa khedam aagata:) at so much honour showered on Gautama. So much so that they tried their best so that no further honour be paid to him. They further settled among themselves not to stay any longer in his Aashrama, and move out when the next good harvest season comes.
O King! Some days passed when good rains fell and there was an abundance of crops everywhere and the famine ended. Hearing this, all the Braahmins united, alas! O King! to curse the noble Gautama. Oh! Their fathers and mothers are blessed in whom do not arise such feelings of jealousy! (Dhanyo teshaam cha pitarau yaya: utpatti: iidrusii) All these are the wonderful plays of the powerful Kaala purush; it cannot be expressed by any person. (Kaalasya mahimaa..vaktum kena hi sakyathe)!!!!
O King! These Braahmins created, out of Maayaa, an aged cow, who was to die and pushed her in the sacrificial hall of the Muni Gautama at the time of the Homa ceremony. (Gau: nirmitaa maayayaikaa mumooshu: Jarathi). Seeing that cow entering into the enclosure where the Homa was being performed, Gautama cried out “Hoom Hoom” when the cow fell then and there and died. (Hoom hoom sabdai: vaaritaa saa praanaam tathyaajya tatkshane). And the other Braahmanas instantly cried out “Look! Look! The wicked Gautama has killed the cow.”
Seeing this inconceivable event, Gautama was greatly nonplussed and, completing his Homa ceremony, entered into Samaadhi and began to meditate and thus discover about the cause of it. Then, coming to know that this has been concocted out of the Maayaa perpetrated by the Braahmins, (krutam sarvam etad dwijai: iti) he became angry like Rudra at the time of dissolution; his eyes were reddened and he cursed the Brahmins, thus:–
“Oh vile Brâhmins!… (.verse 55 to 75)….as in part 1 of the story. Which I had given….
Vyaasa said: — O Janamejaya! Thus taking the water symbolising the true rules and laws of creation, and cursing the Braahmanas, the Muni Gautama sprinkled water there and went hastily to see the Gaayatrii Devii (Vaakdandam iidrusam krutvaa api upasprusyaa jalam tata:) and, on arriving at the temple there bowed down to Her. The Devii, too, became surprised to hear of the brahmins’ actions. O King! Even to day Her Lotus Face looks similarly astonished! (adyapi tasya vadanam vismayayuktam cha drusyate……..next time you go to Gayatri temple you may watch out for this on the countenance of Devi).
Then the Gaayatrii Devi told Gautama with amazement: — “O Gautama! The venom of the snake does not become less if you feed the serpents with milk; (Bhujangaa-yaarpitam dugdham vishaayaiiva upajaayate) so never mind all these things; the Karmas take their peculiar turns; it is hard to say when and what things would happen. Now be peaceful. (Saanthim kuru mahaabhaaga) Do not be sorry.” Hearing these words of the Devii, Gautama bowed down to Her and went thence to his own Aashrama.
GREATNESS AND THE FAME OF GAYATHRI:
[GAYATRI RESTORES ALL THAT HER DEVOTEE HAS LOST IN HIS LIFE]
“Gayatham Thraayathey Ithi Gayathri”. It means, Gayathri protects everyone who pronounces/chants it with Swaram. Gayathri, Ushnik, Anushtup, Bruhathee, Pankthee, Thrishtup, Jagathee are all Chandas (Grammar) which are mentioned in the Vedas. As per my knowledge, these Chandas are concerned with the Moola Mathrams and other Manthrams of all Devathas. ‘Sri Rudram’ comes under Anushtup Chandas; Ganapathy Moola Manthram comes under Gayathri Chandas etc. Even in Sanskrit poetry, there are Anushtup, Arya, Indra Vajra, Vasantha Thilakam Chandas`.
Chandas are those which specify that there should be certain number of characters and certain syllables (Maathra Kaalam) in any structure. Among them Gayathri is also a Chandas. Initially it was stated to have 4 characters every paadam. Later it got transformed to have 8 characters. So, Gayathri has 3 paadams with 24 characters. This principle is told to us in the Vedas in the form of a story in Krishna Yajurvedam, 6th Canto; 1st Prasnam; 6th Anuvakam:
There were 2 sisters namely, Kathru & Suparni. They had an argument as to who were the beautiful of the two. They agreed that whoever lost, will become a slave to the other. Kathru won and made Suparni her Slave.
Kathru settled that, if Suparni could get her the flower called ‘Somalatha’ from the 3rd world she would be freed. Suparni had a few sons who were in the form of Chandas`. She called them and told them that they need to get the ‘Somalatha’ in order to free her. They obeyed. The first son, who was the form of 14 character Chandas, Jagathee, went to get the flower. But not only did Jagathee fail, but also lost 2 characters and returned as one having only 12 characters.
Next went Thrustup, with 13 characters. Thrustup too lost 2 characters and returned as having only 11 characters.
Then came the turn of Gayathri Chandas, which had only 4 characters. It not only got ‘Somalatha’, but also brought the 4 characters which were earlier lost by Jagathee and Thrushtup and stood having 8 characters.
So, Gayathri, in spite of being small in age and size, Gayathri proved to be greater of the 3, as often concluded by the ‘Brahma-Vadis’.
As per this story, Gayathri became a Chandas with 8 characters. So, the Gayathri Manthram has been formulated in such a way that it has 3 paadams with 8 characters each, to complete the structure into 24 Aksharas. Here, Gayathri is the only Manthram which is in the true and full-fledged form of the Gayathri Chandas.
There is a speciality for the character 24 itself in our Mythology. It is keeping this number as base, that Valmiki wrote Ramayana in 24,000 verses. Even Thyagarajar is believed to have sung 2,400 Keerthanams. Jayadevar wrote 24 Ashtapathis. There is another type of the Ramayana. It consists of 24 paragraphs, with 2 lines in every Paragraph. The beginning of the every paragraph corresponds to the number in the Gayathri Manthram and begins with the Aksharam that the number corresponds to, in the Gayathri. It is called as ‘Gayathri Ramayanam’.
Every Aksharam is like a jewel in itself.
On Wed, 17/11/10, S. Seshadri wrote:
From: S. Seshadri email@example.com
Subject: [BRAHMINASSOCIATION] Fw: காயத்ரி மந்திரம்
Date: Wednesday, 17 November, 2010, 11:49 AM
— On Sun, 7/11/10, murali subramanian wrote:
From: murali subramanian
Subject: காயத்ரி மந்திரம்
To: “BRAHMINASSOCIATIONfirstname.lastname@example.org BRAHMINASSOCIATIONemail@example.com”
Date: Sunday, 7 November, 2010, 2:29 PM
ஐந்து முக தெய்வமான அன்னை காயத்ரியை வணங்க மந்திரம் இருக்கிறது.
தத் ஸவிதுர் வரேண்யம்
பர்கோ தேவஸ்ய தீமஹி
தியோ யோ நஹ் ப்ரசோதயாத்
இதன் பொருள் என்ன? எல்லா பாவங்களையும், அறியாமையையும் போக்குகிறவரும், வணங்குவதற்குரியவரும், இவ்வுலகத்தைப் படைத்த கடவுளையும், அவரது புகழையும் தியானிப்போமாக. அவர் நம் புத்தியை வழிநடத்துவாராக.”
வேதங்களின் தாயே காயத்ரி. பசுவின் பாலை விடச் சிறந்த உணவு கிடையாது. அதுபோல காயத்ரி மந்திரத்தை விடச் சிறந்த மந்திரம் வேறில்லை. காயத்ரி மந்திரத்தின் அதிதேவதை சவிதா.
விஸ்வாமித்திரரே ரிஷி. அதிகாலைப் பொழுதில் கிழக்கு அல்லது வடக்கு முகமாக அமர்ந்து ஜபிக்கவேண்டும். நீராடியபின்
ஜெபிப்பது சிறப்பு. முடியாவிட்டால் பல்தேய்த்து கால், கைகளை சுத்தம் செய்துவிட்டு சொல்லத் தொடங்குங்கள். மந்திரத்தை தெளிவாகவும், தவறின்றியும் உச்சரிக்கப் பழகுங்கள். முடியாவிட்டால், பொருளை மனப்பாடமாக்கிக் கொண்டு தொடர்ந்து சொல்லி வாருங்கள். இந்த மந்திரத்தை ஜபிக்க மனத்தூய்மை பெருகும். மனம் வலிமை பெறும். ஞாபகசக்தி அபரிமிதமாக உண்டாகும். உங்களுக்குப் பிடித்தமான எந்த தெய்வத்தையும் மனதில் தியானிக்கலாம். காயத்ரி பெண்தேவதை என்பதால் சக்தி வழிபாட்டுக்குரியதாக பலரும் எண்ணுகிறார்கள். ஆனால், தெய்வ நம்பிக்கை கொண்டவர்கள் யாராக இருந்தாலும், நம்பிக்கையோடு இம்மந்திரத்தை ஜபித்து நன்மை பெறலாம்.
Gayatri and Sandhyavandana — Kanchi Mahaswami
Gayatri and Sandhyavandana
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 is 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 gave 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 idukkan pogudu par ”
“Kanamal” means before you see the sun rise and “konamal” 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. “Idukkan” means problems one faces in day-to-day life. “Idukkan pogudu par” means, your day-to-day problems vanish on their own, you can experience it for yourselves”.
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 appears 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.
Other Aspects of Sandhyavandana
“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.
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 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 releasing 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.