(This is written for Brahmins by S Swaminathan. If they do Sandhyavandhanam everyday, they will understand it better.)
(Sandhyavanhana Bhashyam by a layman)
I do Sandhyavandhanam everyday in London (on the banks of River Thames). Every morning I wonder shouldn’t the Brahmins get an entry in to the Guinness Book of Records for using from Astronomy to Zoolatry in their life on day today basis?
1. A for Astronomy is in our blood. The day , one was born the parents cast one’s horoscope. When I asked about the stars ,my dad showed me the Orion constellation and showed me the red star as Arudra (Betelgeuse) and the three stars as Mrigashirsa. Below which the V shaped constellation with red colour Rohini (aldebaran) and twinkling six stars Karthika (Pleiades) are seen. Which culture in the world use astronomy and astrology from the day of their birth till the day of death. So we must be entered in to the book of records for this knowledge.
2. When one gets married the priest shows us the Arundhathi and Vashista stars in the Saptarishi mandala (Known as Ursa Major or Great Bear constellation). To identify it easily, he shows us the Dhruva star (Pole Star). To identify the northern direction he points out the Tri Shanku (Sothern Cross Constellation) in the opposite southern direction.
Now that I live in London I can’t see Tri shanku stars and the Agastya star (Canopus) because I am away from equator and the Southern sky is not visible here. Which culture in the world has this Star watching ceremony in their wedding? So we must be entered in to the Book of Records for our use of astronomy.
3. We are the one who use Panchangam on day to day basis. The eclipses are calculated precisely well in advance. Though other cultures like Sumerians and Babylonians calculated eclipses we are the ones that use it continuously to find out the good and bad. Those Middle Eastern civilizations have become a history now their clay tablets and gods are in museum.
4. A for Arts : Every Brahmin family use arts every day. Whether it is the Kolam (rangoli) or flower garlands to Gods, or singing with Ragas in front of Gods- the art is mingled with our life. No culture in the world uses this as everyday business. Don’t we deserve a place in the Book of Records?
5. B for Biology is in our blood. Brahmins used to feed ants with some rice in the ant hill every day. I asked the elders why they did this. They told me Brahmins must do Pancha yagna (Five sacrifices) every day and one of them is Bhutayagna (looking after living beings). He told me that was the reason women throw food to the crows every morning and our grandparents giving Agathikeerai to the cows every day. I wondered which culture had this in their day to day life. So we must get an entry in to Book of Records for this Bhutayagna alone.
6. Everyday Brahmin women cleaned the kitchen with fresh cow dung. Now we knew it is a powerful anti bacterial agent. This is the only animal excretion which doesn’t emit any bad smell which can be used even in the kitchen! Once they even drank cow’s urine almost on daily basis knowing that it is a powerful anti bacterial agent. Now we follow this custom only on the day of Punul Kalyanam as Panchakavyam. No animal’s milk is used on a mass scale as cow’s milk which is the closest to mother’s milk. The Brahmins not only domesticated this animal but also classified it as a holy animal. Which culture in the world does this?
7. C for Castes: The status of a Brahmin is not decided by caste alone but by virtues. In the Vedic period ,a born Kshatriya Viswamitra became a Brahmarishi and at last Vashista himself called him a Brahmarishi (Vashistar vaayaal Brahmarishi is a phrase in Tamil equivalent to from the horse mouth in English).The most powerful mantra of all the three Vedas is composed by this Viswamitra. Brahmins recite this mantra every day, This shows Brahmins never bothered about castes, but allowed anyone to become a Brahmin by following virtues and controlling passions. Brahmins were the first to throw the caste barriers in to wind. So they deserve a palce in the Book of Records for this achievement.
8. C for Chemistry in our blood. Elderly people like grandparents are fasting on Ekadasi day and next day they eat only certain type sof food .When I asked them the reason ,they told me that it would soothe the empty stomach. Now I know that they did it because of acidity in the empty stomach, they used Agathi keerai to bring the acidity down. We deserve an entry in to book of records for following chemistry in our day to day life.
9. D for Dreams and Sleep: Psychologists and scholars like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and William Donhoff interpreted dreams from a different angle. But Brahmins knew that dreams can’t be avoided by any one as it happens to everyone during REM sleep (Rapid Eye Movement) we pray every day at the end o f the Sandhyavandhanam to get rid of Dus swpnam ( nightmares, bad dreams) only. Ref Mantra Adhyano deva savita—–.
In Western countries, proper sleep is a rare commodity. A lot of people are on sleeping pills. We know that sleep is more important than anything and we pray for ‘sayanam cha me’ (good sleep) in Rudram and Chamakam. Who else pray for good dreams and good sleep in their daily prayers? Even if you don’t say Rudram and Chamakam every day, Brahmin priests
in every Shiva temple around the world do it for us. Don’t we deserve a place in the Book of records for following it?
10. E for Environment: Go to any South Indian temple and you will see one local tree associated with the temple or god. I went to various temples in Madurai. One god was under Neem Tree another god was under Peepal tree (Ficus Religiosa) and main god Sundaresa had a Kadamba tree. The Ganesh was under a Banyan tree (Ficus Indica). Devotees collect Vilva and Tulsi for Puja. Devotees never ever harm these divine plants. Now I know they cared for environment more than the modern man. That is the reason every temple has a particular tree as Sthala Vriksha. We must get an entry in to the Book of records for this knowledge about environmental protection.
11. F for Full circle: When one does Sandhyavandhanam one does a full circle worshipping all the four directions . Which race in the world worship East,South,West and North praying for good news from all the four directions. Perhaps we were the one who discovered clocks and clockwise direction. We do go round temples in clockwise direction. In addition to four directions we add two more up and down and the middle too(aparaya,antharikshaya , Bhumyai nama:) Who in the world worship earth (Bhumi) every day? Don’t we deserve a place in the Book of Records? We show respect to every direction.
12. G for Geography is in our blood: When we do Puja in London or India we always start with a sankalpa (Intention to do…..) and this vow has full geography of the place where we do it. Bharata Varshe, Bharata Kande, Mero: Dakshina Parswe.. etc. Now that I live in London I slightly change it to Mero: uttare parswe. I marvelled at the way our mantas are structured. Which culture in the world says their geographical location when they do the Prayer. Even before the GPS system was invented we used our own GPS and said that we do the puja in this particular place on the earth. What a marvellous and amazing geographical sense we have. We must definitely be in the Book of Records for using geography for our daily rituals.
13. G for Grammar: When we do the Gayatri Japa we do touch our nose and say Gayathri (24 syllables) , Ushnik (28), Anushtub (32), Bruhathi (36), Pankthi (40), Trustub (44), jagathi (48 syllables)–all these are Vedic meters. Grammar for writing poetry-prosody. Who in the world use grammar (prosody) term for worship? Don’t we deserve a place in the Book of Records for using grammar for our daily rituals?
14. H for Homeopathy: In the olden days Brahmins went from village to village to perform pujas and other ceremonies. They have to drink different types of water from different sources like rivers, wells and tanks. The water contamination gave them a lot of diseases. So they invented ACHAMANAM. Achamanam is sipping water in tiny quantity reciting god’s names. If we drink this way no water infection will affect us. This is the basic principle of Homeopathy: Like cures Likes. If you take the disease causing agents in small quantity that won’t harm your body, because your body develops immunity. Even when they go to temples, they do achamanam first, sprinkle the water on the head and then dip in to water. We must get an entry to the Book of Records for this Homeopathic practice.
15. H for Heritage: Finding your roots has become a craze in the Western countries. Genealogy websites are doing roaring business. Brahmins touch their heads and recite the names of Seven Rishis (Atri, Bruhu, Kutsa, Vashista, Gauthama, Kasyapa, Angirasa) in their daily ritual. Human beings came from these seven rishis/seers. We have been doing this recitation for ages. This practice matches with the latest Western theory that the entire humanity came from seven mothers.
16. H for History is in our blood. No culture in the world has so much historical sense as we have. We even know the cyclical nature of TIME. So we start from Manvatara and finish with Kali yugam, year, month, thithi , star etc. The Manvantara calculation goes back to the time of The Big Bang. We must be entered in to Book of Records for using the History of our earth in our every day puja/prayer.
17. I for Indra: Thousands of years ago our ancestors did worship Indra on the banks of River Saraswathi and Sindhu. Indra is praised in all the four Vedas. He is mentioned as one of the gods of the Tamils in the oldest Tamil book Tolkappiyam. He is later praised in Purananuru and Tirukkural. Brahmins worship Indra every day in their Sandhyavandhanam. When Sumerian, Egyptian, Babylonian gods have gone in to the window showcases of museums we still worship Indra. Indra’s name is still used in the naming of new born children as Surendran, Rajendran, Mahendran etc. on the subcontinent. Brahmins deserve a reference in the Book of Records for this continuity.
18. I for India : India is in our blood. Indian constitution begins with the line INDIA ,THAT IS BHARATH. Brahmins use it in their sankalpam. Even when we do a ritual inEurope or USA our priests always start the sankalpa mantra “ Bharatvarshe, Bharata kande.” Brahmins will never forget the holy motherland India (That is Bharat) wherever they go. For this patriotism we must be entered in to the Book of Records.
19. J for Japa: When one does Gayathri Japa everyday day one doesn’t stop praying for oneself only. The mantra says ‘we’ ,’us’ ( Na: ). So we pray for all the humanity. That is why Kings of ancient days always funded the Brahmins. Who else in the world pray for ‘us’ in plural in any part of the world in their daily prayers? Don’t we deserve a place in Book of Records?
20. K for “Kayena vacha manasendhriyair ——Narayanaethi Samarppayaami”: Bank Clerks count millions of rupees every day, jewellery shop assistant sells very expensive gems and gold every day, sari shop lady assistant displays expensive silk saris everyday but all these people know that the goods are not theirs. Whatever we do or enjoy in this world is not ours. So we dedicate everything to the God at the end of all our ceremonies including Sandhyavandhan. The mantra ‘Kayena vacha’ reminds us this every day. Nothing is mine and nothing is done by me. If we develop this attitude there won’t be any worries. Who teaches us on day to day basis?
21. K for “Kamo Karsheet manyura karsheen namo nama:”: Watch any crime film or read any crime story in the newspapers. They were all based on two things: Kama/desire-greed and manyur-anger. We are reminded of this every day by this mantra. (The meaning of the mantra is-The sins generated through desire and anger from ignorance may please be forgiven”). If one sheds these two vices, one becomes God. Aim High is the teaching of Sandhyavandhan. Who does it every day other than Brahmins? Don’t they deserve a place in the Book of Records?
22. L for Language: When we do Sandhyavandanam every day we use Sanskrit like Christians use Latin in Catholic churches and Muslims use Arabic in mosques. But my teacher told me Sanskrit is the only language in the world which was not named after an ethnic group. That means it belongs to the entire humanity. It is the language of the Gods-Deva Bhasha. We have been using the same Vedic recitation for more than 3500 years without a break. I also thought the person who called Sanskrit a ‘dead language’ must be an idiot. Hindu priests use it every day in the prayers like Latin is used by the Pope. For this language reason alone we must get an entry in to the Book of Records.
23. Living Fossil: Brahmins are like living fossils. Jurassic Park of Michael Crichton created a lot of interest in Dinosaurs when Steven Spielberg made a film on it. The reason was people thought one day we can produce even Dinosaurs from the plant resin which contains the gene of a dinosaur. Brahmins who preserve the ancient heritage – The Vedas- are like the plant resin and they may create wonders one day. Kanchi Mahaswamikal said in one of his speeches that Brahmins must preserve this rituals even if they don’t understand the full meaning of it. One day an Adi Shankara may come again and spread our name and fame far and wide.
24. M for Mathematics: Everyday in the Madhanhika/noon time Sandhyavandhanam we pray to the sun god to give us 100 years of life. Pashyema sharadash-shatam,Jeevema sharadash-shatam,nandaama sharadash-shatam, modaama sharadash-shatam, bhavaama sharadash-shatam, shrunavama sharadash-shatam, prabravaama sharadash-shatam, ajeetaasyaama sharadash-shatam, jok cha sooryam drushe is a beautiful mantra.(Meaning: We must be able to see, live, speak, hear, enjoy, praise the glory of god for one hundred years). Even Kannadasan has used it in one of the Tamil film songs as Nuuraanduk kaalam vaazka, Noy nodi illaamal vaazka நூறாண்டு காலம் வாழ்க,நோய் நொடி இல்லாமல் வாழ்க. I used to wonder how we use decimal system even in our dally prayers. In addition to it, we pray to Lord Ganesh as Surya Koti Samaprabha meaning He is as brilliant as 10 million suns. Now the astronomers say that millions of stars in the sky are suns! Even when someone curses they say “ that must break in to Hundred pieces “ (decimal again). For using mathematics in daily prayers ,we must get a place in the book of Records. Tell me which culture uses the decimal system in the daily prayers?
25. N for Numbers : Brahmins read Vishnu or Lalitha or Shiva Sahasranamam (decimal system again). But they have found the mystic number 9. So instead of just 100 or just 1000 they added 8 to make it 108, 1008. Even when Gayatri is recited in the daily Sandhya we do 108 or 1008.
26. N for Nature Worship : Worship of nature is part of Hinduism. Sun light, particularly Sandhya/twilight, gives us a lot of peace. It elevates our thoughts. Newer and newer meanings are found for the mantras and our practices at that time .A Brahmin does it every day if he sticks to the saying Kaanaamal konaamal kandu kodu காணாமல் கோணாமல்கண்டு கொடு. (Kaanaamal- without seeing the sun-just before sunrise, konaamal-without getting your shadow-exactly at 12 noon, kandu-seeing the sun-just before sunset, kodu-give the water argyam-do Sandhyavandhanam).
27. O for OM: Hundreds of pages of articles are available to understand the greatness of this primordial sound. From The Vedas to The Gita, we read it, we recite it. A Brahmin recites this in the Sandhyavandhanam a number of times. Who else does it every day?
Don’t we deserve a place in the Book of Records for all the above categories?
28. P for Pranayamam: Pranayamam is part of our daily Sandhya. By this breathing exercise we increase our life span. Now the Yoga, Meditation and TM of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi are taught throughout the western world. Even if I want to learn it in London, most of the teachers available are British Whites! If you have learnt it from your father or family priest, your mental health will be far better than many people. Probably in100 year time foreigners will be teaching Pranayama to us in India.
29. Q for Quest for truth:
Sandhyavandhanam is a proof for Brahmin’s quest for truth. The word BRHMIN has got several meanings: one who has knowledge of god, one who knows god and one who seeks Brahman/God. I will go by the last meaning because two thousand year old Tamil literature has beautifully translated the word as PAARPAAN and ANTHANAN. The meaning is very clear: one who looks inward one who is seer. In the Sandhya , a Brahmin invokes over fifty Gods and 15 Rishis(seers) thrice a day. If the repetitions of God’s names are also taken in to account one will say God’s names hundreds of times. If one recites Gayathri 108 or 1008 times that must be added to the above statistics. The structure of Sandhayvandhanam is amazing. A great genius must have developed this. If one does Sandhayavandhanam that
itself will give him the status of a Brahmin, because he is always seeking Him/Brahman.
30. R for river Narmada : Worship of river Narmada river is included in the Mantra “Narmadayai Nama: It is strange that we have not included the holy Ganges or Sindhu or Saraswathi. It may be due to the Yagna conducted on the banks of Narmada. There is scope for research on this mantra. I hope some intellectual throws more light on this mantra.
31. S for Seven and S for Serpent: Seven is the most sacred number is many religions. Number seven is used more times than any other number in the Indus Valley Civilisation which proves its Hindu origin and religiousrepeat Seven Rishis, Seven Chandas and Seven Gods in the mantra ‘Atri,Bruhu……’.
In the above said Narmada mantra the historical clash between the Naga race and the Kuru race is explained. To avenge the death of his father Parikshit, Janamejaya started killing Nagas (euphemistically called serpents).But a sage called Astika stopped that killing and peace prevailed over thereafter. Every day Brahmins recall this 3000 year old historical clash. Who in the world remembers a peace agreement in this way in their daily prayer? That is why I say Brahmins deserve a mention in the Book of Records
32. S for sin and confession: Confession (paava mannippu in Tamil) and atonement are part of Hindu worship. A Brahmin prays for this every day in the mantra Suryascha or Agnnischa mamnyuscha, many kruthebya: paapebyo Rakshanthaam…….
33. S for Sindhudwipa/Indus valley civilisation: Each Hindu mantra has a rishi, chandas and devata. The rishis for Apohista Mayo Bhuva: is Sindhudwipa Rishi-probably a seer from the Indus Valley area. This takes the origin of Sandyavandhana to the Indus valley. The Sandhyavandhana also proves that he Brahmins were original inhabitants of Indus valley. Because from birth to death they use water in all the ceremonies. Even before eating, they sprinkle water around the leaf or plate with a mantra. If they were from any cold area like Central Asia they wouldn’t use water for each and every thing. They would have frozen to death. Brahmin ladies can’t survive without water. If they touch any cooked food they wash their hands. This proves they were from a riverside culture, not cold areas.
34. T for Twelve/Dwadasa Namam & Touching twelve places: When Brahmins do Achamanam, they touch their bodies with cold water in twelve places. They also recite twelve names of Lord Vishnu starting with Kesava,Narayana——-. Each of these names has a detailed story.
Touching 12 places in the body with cold water makes a person alert. Even Christians do it but touching only three places. It is an abridged version of what Brahmins do.
35. T for Twilight: The very word Sandhya means twilight. Nature can take anyone to SAMADHI and give concentration power very easily. One day Sri Ramkrishna Paramahamsa was walking along the ever green paddy fields of West Bengal. The sky was darkening due to gathering thick clouds. At that time, beautiful white cranes were flying in the sky. Emerald green Paddy fields, Dark blue clouds, Pure white cranes- When Ramakrishna looked at this beautiful colour combination as creation of God , he fell in to Samadhi. His disciples had to carry him home. Knowing the power of Nature ,ingenious Brahmins selected the twilight time for Sandhya.
36. U for Upanishad Mahavakyas: The ultimate aim of all the Hindu prayers is to elevate man to the status of GOD. Our Vedas have four Maha Vakyas.
(a)PRAJNANAM BRAHMA: Consciousness is Brahman (Aitareya Upanishad of Rik Veda)
(b)AHAM BRAHMA ASMI: I am Brahman (Brihadaranya Upanishad of Yajur Veda)
(c) TAT TVAM ASI : That Thou Art (Chandokya Upanishad of Sama Veda)
(d)AYAM ATMA BRAHMA: This self is Brahman (Mandukya Upanishad of Atharva Veda)
When Brahmins say Asavaadityo Brahma, Brahmaivahamasmi, it reminds us of the highest goal. பிரக்ஜ்நானம்பிரம்ம , அஹம் பிரம்மாஸ்மி, தத் த்வம் அசி , அயமாத்ம பிரம்ம
Even Valluvar says man can become God: வையத்துள் வாழ்வாங்கு வாழ்பவன் வான் உறையும்தெய்வத்துள் வைக்கப்படும்
37. V for Vedic Gods : Throughout Sandhya Vandhana we invoke all the Vedic Gods from Agni to Varuna. Veda starts with the letter A. AGNI MEELE PUROHITHAM is the first mantra of Rik Veda. Lord Krishna says in the Gita ‘Aksharanam Akaarosmi’-I am the first letter of the alphabet. Tamil Poet Valluvar also says அகர முதல எழுத்தெல்லாம் ————-
The beauty in the Sandhyavandhana is all the ancient Gods like Agni, Vayu, Indra, Yama, Varuna and the later Gods like Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva(Rudra) are all covered.
We can’t see such higher thoughts anywhere else in the daily prayers. That is why I think Brahmins deserve a place in the Book of Records.
38. W for Water:
The use of water by the Hindus, particularly Brahmins, remains a mystery. From Birth to Death they use it in all the ceremonies. No one can imagine doing Sandhyavandhana without water. Ancient Rishis used it to bless, curse, donate, wed, purify, to satisfy the departed souls and cleanse. Though Christians use it for Baptism, Brahmins use it for everything. How can water get so much power when it is used in a curse or in a blessing (Prokshanam), no one knows.
W for We: Most of the Vedic mantras including Gayatri pray for the entire mankind. It is always ‘We’ and not ‘I’.
39. X for Who are you? : Another beauty of Sandhyavandhanam is the self introduction. When unknown value is mentioned, we always use X and Y as we do in Algebra. With the Brahmins no one needs to ask’ Who are you?’ From Sandhyavandhanam to meeting elders (Except Sanyasins) a Brahmin introduces himself by saying Abhivadaye—- which indicates his Kulam, Gothram, Vedam etc. What a beautiful system we have. Who else in the world do it in their daily prayers?
40. Y for Yamaya Nama: Everyone is afraid of death. But for Brahmins even death is a subject of worship. He faces South and prays to Yama everyday in his Sandhya and praises him as Dharmarajan-A king of Justice! This mantra will drive away the fear of death. No one else worships the God of Death every day. This reminds everyone that Life is short and Art is long. It motivates us to do more good. Which community in the world does it?
41. Z for Zodiac and Z for Zoolatry : Nine planets travelling through twelve zodiac signs are worshipped by the Brahmins every day to ward off their evil influence. The beauty of the worship lies in the order of the heavenly bodies in Sunday (adityam Tarpayami) ,Monday (somam),Tuesday (angarakam),Wednesday (budham),Thursday(bruhaspathim) ,Friday(sukram) and Saturday (sannaischaram tarpayami). We invented the days of the week. Neither the Egyptians nor the Europeans invented this. They haven’t got the heavenly bodis for all the seven days. Norse gods and Roman gods take the place for several days. Whereas our system has been the same from the Vedic days. Even Thirugnana Sambhandhar sings this in his KolaRu Thiruppathikam
ஞாயிறு திங்கள் செவ்வாய் புதன் வியாழன் வெள்ளி
சனி பாம்பிரண்டும் உடனே ஆசறு நல்ல நல்ல அவை
நல்ல நல்ல அடியாரவர்க்கு மிகவே
–கோளறு பதிகம் (சம்பந்தர்)
Zoolatry is the worship of animals. We do worship the snakes in the Narmadhayai nama: mantra. The mantra is actually done on two planes. One is the Naga race Vs Kuru race clashes as explained earlier. The other is actual snakes which ancients wanted to avoid.
So Sandhyavandhanam contains all sciences from Astronomy to Zoolatry. We must get an entry in to the Guinness Book of Records for carrying out this practice for several thousand years.
(Posted inuntil 3rd December 2011 in 9 parts over nine days)