Thursday, February 23, 2017

Gita and Gayatri

A friend said something that many people have told me in the past "Why study Bhagawad Gita now? It is for old age". I always smile at that statement and I ask do we ever get old in that sense? Because, I have found that those who make that statement never seem to get "old", i.e. they will probably never touch Bhagawad Gita in their lives. Many people express pity that I am encouraging my kids to learn Gita now. They are supposedly "too young" for that. All I do is smile and chuckle :) I am not saying that they or anyone should read Gita but I am just amused by their statement or a stereotype as to when one should or should not study something. If one is inclined, age does not matter. My kids are naturally curious because they have seen me taking it quite seriously. And, I do not FORCE it on them but I want them to be exposed just as my father exposed it to me. I was a near atheist or agnostic for a majority of my life (and I confess that I went to temples only to see some beautiful girls in their traditional attires), and it took one read of Gita to change my perspective, as if it was meant to be. I thank my father everyday because he practice daily Sandhyavandana, without miss (even when he was sick). I do not have as much discipline as my father had but he set a great example. By not exposing my kids to Gita I feel I am depriving them of something amazing. They will hopefully learn to appreciate what is in it and not tell others "why study Gita now"?

Each of us has his/her own reason for why we study Gita, and I have my own. I started studying Gita by accident, as a rebel. I wanted to prove someone wrong, and that his perspective was misplaced. In fact, he challenged me to read Gita once and then come for a discussion with him. After my first read, I was simply bowled over. Why? I have no idea. I went for the discussion but my perspectives had changed. This may not happen to everyone, and each of us will have a different experience. Ever since then I have read Gita 100s of times and each time it provides a new perspective that I had not thought of the previous occasions. So, why I study Gita is for the connect I get every time I read it; it provides a perspective that no other text provides.

I cannot comment on something without having experienced it. For example, if I have not read Harry Potter, how can I ask someone to read it or not read it? I can just talk about why I have not read it [the secret is, I just cannot get into the plot of a novel, and I feel its a waste of time, but those who love it will disagree with me and I respect that]. So, when one has not studied Gita, when they do not know what is in it, then they are simply basing their statement on their pre-programmed notion or stereotype. So, I simply smile at their statement and respect their perspective. Sometimes, I think it rude and a case of ignorance and arrogance (speaking down on something without knowing much about it). I somehow feel that they are as ignorant as a male chauvinist saying "women are weak". Once a "friend" said "never trust important things with women, they are not just meant to handle serious stuff", and I was simply appalled by the mean, stupid and stereotyping statement. I felt he knew nothing about women or his perspective about women was distorted; he was probably programmed that way from an young age. So, if someone says "Gita is for old age", I do not even argue because someone told them that and they are simply parroting it. I smile back because they have an opinion without experience; they are speaking simply out of what they have been programmed. If they say "I have read Gita but did not like it [or did not understand this aspect, or do not agree with it etc]" then there is some room for discussion.

Anyway. I am going a little too long. So, I will stop here by simply saying, there is no age restriction for studying Gita. Younger the better. By studying Gita one will not become a sanyaasi. In fact, a good understanding of Gita will make you better in everything that you do. So, please practice it with your kids as early as possible. Avoid making blanket statements without experience :)

And then, today morning someone told me "Gayatri is not to be chanted loud. Its a secret, and too holy to be chanted loud". I am not saying one should chant loud but if you understand the meaning of Gayatri, it does not matter whether you chant it loud or do not chant it at all (i.e. you say it in your mind, in silence). It is not that one "should not" but ones who know "would not" chant aloud because there is no need to. It is like saying "I love you" loudly. It does not matter how loud you can shout "I love you" if you do not feel it from within. There is no need to but if you want to then there is no restriction. So, the idea that it should not be chanted loud because it is holy or that it is a secret is misplaced according to me. What is important is to understand the meaning of Gayatri and to realize it within. It is called a "secret mantra" and the way it is transferred (covered in a cloth and whispered in the ears) tends to make it even more enigmatic. Yes, any mantra is ideal to be chanted in silence so that you can meditate on it. However, if you do not understand what it means then it means nothing (yes, there are some benefits to chanting it without knowing its meaning but not as effective as if you do), whether you chant it silently (secretively) or loudly. One who understands this will not see the need to chant it loudly because realization is deep within. In fact, in the beginning stages one is encouraged to chant some of the mantras loudly so as to engage all the senses, even though this is not prescribed for Gayatri. Just to re-emphasize, there is no need to chant it loudly because this is a matter of within (andar kee baath hain), however it does not matter even if you want chant it loud. I will write a separate post on my understanding of Gayatri sometime in the near future.


Hare Krishna :)

Lovingly.
Girish


Monday, January 16, 2017

Sandhyavandana - Part 5 - preparation for gAyatri mantra

[Through "arghya", we have invited / invoked auspiciousness inside us. "agni" lightens the world outside and the keep the body alive, 'surya' lightens everything and gives the energy for us to perform duties, and 'Saraswati' illuminates the mind and the intellect. We now seek the blessings of Goddess Saraswati and Gayatri devi, and all the deities to enable us to be enlightened. ]

आयातु वरदादेवि अक्षरं ब्रह्म सम्मितम् । छन्दसां मातेदं ब्रह्म जुषस्वमे । यदहन्नात्कुरुते पापं तदहन्नात्प्रतिमुच्च्यते । यद्रात्र्यात्कुरुतेपापं तद्रात्र्यात्प्रतिमुच्च्यते । सर्ववर्णे महदेवि संध्यविद्ये सरस्वति ।

May the boon-bestowing (benefactor, Goddess of benediction; Saraswati devi in this case), who resembles (same as, corresponding to, incessantly, perpetually) the imperishable (immutable, word) 'brahma' (supreme spirit, the Lord, absolute), enter (come near, approach) us | May you, the mother of the vedas (brahma, spirit, soul, absolute) formed in this sacred hymn (meter, will, intention, longing) be pleased (jushat - attach, be satisfied, be favorable, enjoy) [with me] | Whatever pApa (mischief, misdeed, sin, inauspiciousness, vile, evil, guilt) has been committed by the day (in light, intentionally, consciously), that has been freed by the day. Whatever pApa has been committed by the night (ignorance, darkness), that has been released by the night | Oh the all-colored (varna: letter, character, sound, beauty, form, quality etc), the "twilight science" (enlightening knowledge), supreme deity Saraswati |

ॐ। ओजोसि सहोसि बलमसि भ्राजोसि । दॆवानां धामनामासि । विश्वमसि विश्वायुः सर्वमसि सर्वायुः । अभिभोरोम् । गायत्रीं आवाहयामि ।  सावित्रीं आवाहयामि । सरस्वतीं आवाहयामि । छन्दर्षीं आवाहयामि ।  श्रीं आवाहयामि । बलम् आवाहयामि । गायत्र्याः गाय्त्रीश्छन्दः विश्वामित्र ऋषिः । सविता देवता । अग्निर्मुखम् । ब्रह्मशिरः । विष्णुःहृदयं । रुद्रः शिख । पृथ्वी योनिः | प्राणापान व्यानोदान समान सप्राण श्वेतवर्ण सान्ख्यान सगोत्र । गायत्री चतुर्विम्शत्यक्शरा त्रिपाद षट्कुक्षिः । पञ्चशीषोपनयने विनियोगः ॥

Om! You are the energy (vigor, bodily strength, power, vitality, strength, luster). You are the force (victor). You are the might (ability, robustness, stamina). You are the brilliance (glitter, shine). You are indeed the abode of the deities. You are the world (all gods collectively, omnipresent, whole, universal), the all pervading air (all people). You are everything, bestowing all life. We bow down to you. I invite/invoke goddess gAyatri (deity of the vedas). I invite/invoke goddess sAvitri (the ray of light from the Sun; one who stimulates). I invite/invoke goddess saraswati (one who enables knowledge). I invite/invoke the goddess of metrical science (who provides the rhythm). I invite/invoke goddess laxmi (fortune, success, radiance, glory, wealth, majesty, dignity). I invite/invoke the power of articulation (bala is also one of the vishvedevAs). Gayatri is the meter for this gAyatri mantra, and Vishwamitra the sage (the seer). savitA (the light in the Sun god) is the deity. agni (deity of fire) is the mouth (upper part, introduction, beginning, cause).  brahma is the head. vishNu the heart. rudra the tuft of hair (the root, the summit, pinnacle, chief, ray of light, flame). Earth is the reproductive organ (abode, home, uterus, womb, seed, home, seat).  [The sustenance through panchaprAnas - prAna, apAna, vyAna, udAna, samAna] Inspiration (inward air; the driving force), expiration (outward air; one that enables ejection and elimination; without the apAna vAyu one lacks motivation), the air that keeps us erect, the air that keeps us in balance, air that controls the metabolism, the very living (life), in the lineage of the one with the bright hued appearance [the spirit]. Through gAyatri, the 6-bellied, 5-headed, 23 syllable meter, I execute the sacred ceremony.

ॐ भूः । ॐ भुवः । ॐ सुवः । ॐ महः । ॐ जनः । ॐ तपः । ॐ सत्यं । ॐ तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गोदेवस्य धीमहि धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ।


Sunday, January 15, 2017

Sandhyavandana - Part 4 - arghya pradhAnam


अर्घ्य प्रदान (respectful offering to something valuable; water offered at the respectful reception of a guest)

[Sun is an important part of human existence. The Sun that lightens the world outside, enlightens the world within. This is the process of inviting and invoking the Sun within. The water that is being offered is sanctified with the energy of the same Lord who energizes the sun. In the previous section we saw how the fire is visualized in the water, and here we offer water to the supreme fire; the source of both is the same pundarikAksha anyway]

<keshavAya swaha .....>

मम उपात्त समस्त दुरितक्षय द्वार श्रीपरमेश्वर प्रीत्यर्थे अर्घ्य प्रदानं करिष्ये ।

I engage in the arghya process (respectable welcome to Sun in the horizon and into our hearts) for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord so as to remove all my accumulated impediments (sins, evil, discomfort).

ॐ भूर्भुवस्सुवः । ॐ तत्सवितुर्वरॆण्यं भर्गो दॆवस्य धीमहि । धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् । भास्कराय नमः । इदमर्घ्यम् ॥ (3 times)

[taitariya upanishad provides an interesting perspective of Om Bhurbhuvahsuvah! 

१) ऒमिति ब्रह्म । ओमितीदं सर्वम्  | 

Om is Brahma, Om is everything that is there.

२)  भूरिति अयम् लोकः । भुवः इति अन्तरिक्षं । सुवः इति असौ लोकः । भूरिति अग्निः । भुवः इति वायौ । सुवः इत्यादित्ये । भूरिति वै प्राणः । भुवः इति अपानः । सुवः इति व्यानः: 

There are many ways to look at these ideas, the most popular are "Bhu is this world. Bhuvah is the interspace. Suvah is the heavenly (far off, spirit world). Or, they could be seen as "agni" (deity of fire), vAyu (deity of air), and aaditya (the all absorbing deity of Sun) 

There are many ways to translate the Gayatri but the easiest one according to me would be].

[meditating upon] "Om" (shabdha brahma; the all pervading cosmic sound), the gross physical universe (earthly planetary system), atmosphere, and the heavenly planets. I meditate upon that Lord, who is the source of the most excellent effulgence of that Sun, [may He] inspire our intellect. 

[Please note that "ॐ तत्सवितुर्वरॆण्यं भर्गो दॆवस्य धीमहि । धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्" is the actual Gayatri Mantra]

ॐ इत्येकाक्षरं ब्रह्म | अग्निर्देवता ब्रह्म इत्यार्षम् । गायत्रम् छन्दम् । परमात्मं स्वरूपं सायुज्यं विनियॊगः ॥

Om, thus is the sacred monosyllable supreme spirit [in Gita, Krishna says it is Him alone that one needs to remember when chanting Om] | "Fire [vaishvAnara, who presides over the digestive faculty; the all purifying prakriti of the Lord] is the deity", thus is the declaration of the Rishi's (sages) | "gAyatri", the meter [the deity that is to be invited / that is worthy of praise]. The mandate is the oneness in the form (one should meditate upon) of the Supreme Lord Himself.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Sandhyavandana - Part 4

In this we will continue on the previous partial discussion around punarmArjanam: Sandhyavandana - Part 3

यासां देवा दिवि कृण्वन्ति भक्षंया अन्तरिक्षे बहुदा भवन्ति । या पृथ्वीं पयसॊऽन्दन्ति शुक्रस्तान अपःशग् स्योना भवन्तु ।

[It is this water - the nArAyaNa udaka] through which the "gods" in the heavens know to nurture, to make the rain waters much giving (munificent) that makes the earth fertile (strong) to spring out and enable the seed [giving ability] of animals, May this water be the bed of auspiciousness.

शिवेनमा चक्षुषा पश्यतापश्यिवया तन्वोऽप स्पृशत् त्वचं मे । सर्वाग्ं अग्नीग्ं रप्सुषदॊ हुवेवो मयि वर्चो बलमोजो निधत्त ॥

[Its beautiful how Sanskrit verses manifest different meanings depending on the arrangement of words and their meanings. One of the many meanings of chakshus  is "eye of mitra and God of Water" that I will use in this context, however it can also mean the very faculty of seeing, or it could mean light or the very act of seeing. So, we could focus on the act of seeing and pray for focus, or pray to our faculty or the deity which presides over the faculty by enabling it for inner insights. pashyat often is translated as "seeing" but beholding seems more relevant in the given context; remember that we are holding the water in our hands and beholding through our eyes - bhAhya and antar perspectives acting together.

sarvaga means water that goes everywhere but it also manifests in many ways such as omnipresent, all-pervading, spirit, soul. However it gets more interesting when we observe that sarvagm is the adjective for agnigm, and that is followed by "apsuShadah", i.e. which dwells in water.]

Oh Mitra, the deity of water, behold me by your blissful grace, your auspicious sight, and may my self and skin be sanctified by your touch. May the all pervading, the water dwelling agni [the vaishvAnara] install (and preserve) brilliance (energy, form), strength and vigor (vitality, luster, splendor, bodily strength, emphatic expression) within me. 

पाप पुरुष विसर्जनं

["paapa purusha" can be observed at two levels: cause and effect. First it is all in the mind, and influences all the sinful actions we engage in, including the negative thoughts. Its effects can be experienced as karma, in the body and mind; in the form of pride, pain, sweat, mucous, negative thoughts etc. Interestingly, we start with the easier option, i.e. the external and then address the internal root cause and pray that we are cleansed at both levels. "paapa purusha" manifests again and again, and this is why one is advised to do Sandhya three times to cleanse him like we cleanse sweat and other impurities]

द्रुपदादिव मुञ्चतु । द्रुपदादिवेन्मुमुचानः । स्विन्न स्नात्वी मलादिव । पूतं पवित्रेणॆवाज्यम् ।आपश्शुन्धन्तु मैनसः ॥

May I be liberated from pain and other tortures, be delivered from arrogance (pride, madness), through this ablution (process of getting wet) just as a bath cleanses the sweat (svinna) and other impurities. May this water cleanse [me] by the sacred prowess [of this process; like the clarified butter] from sins [and sinful inclinations] of the mind.

[Till now we would have touch the eyes, ears and other aspects with the water during aachamana, here we smell the water to cleanse from within; some people seem to indicate that "paapa purusha" resides at the edge of the nose, that I may not completely agree with but take the spirit of the idea]

aachamana .... <keshavAya ....>

To be Continued ....

Sandhyavanada - 3

Continued from the previous 2 posts:
Sandhyavanadana - Part - 2 
Sandhyavanadana - Part - 1
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[After the initial purification, we keep water in our palm and chant these prayers pleading deities to destroy the sins; which is an internal cleansing process]

ॐ सूर्यश्च मा मन्युश्च मन्युपतयश्च मन्युकृतेभ्यः पापेभ्यो रक्षन्ताम् । 
यद्रात्र्या पापमकार्षं मनसा वाचा हस्ताभ्यां पद्भया्मुदरेण शिश्ना रात्रिस्तदवलुम्पतु। 
यत्किञ्च दुरितं मयि इदमहं माममृतयोनौ सूर्ये ज्योतिषि जुहोमि स्वाहा ।।

Om! May Surya, pride, and the faculties that preside over emotions (i.e. "gods of emotions") protect (save, guard) me from "rage" (resentment, meanness, anger, distress, grief, wrath, passion, mood), and from the all the sins perpetrated out of "rage".

May rAtri/"night" (the presiding deities of darkness; "one of the forms of Brahma") crush (devour, swallow, suppress) whatever sins that I [may have] committed at night through mind (thoughts, will, intention, intelligence, temper), through speech (sound, language, voice, words), hands, legs, belly (stomach), genital organs.

Whatever minute wickedness (evil, sin, discomfort) that reside in me, this ego (conceit, pride, arrogance) and myself, I offer them as oblations in sacrifice into the effulgence of Surya.
---------------------------------------------o-----------------------------------------------------

This is an important purification process. "paapa prajna" (guilt) can stop us from making progress. It will hold us back. So, it is important to cleanse the mind before proceeding further. Interesting to see how emotions are seen as a way to guard against emotions. 

Night is a great opportunity to reboot our system, to get rid of any disasters of the day. "Night" also represents ignorance, so a lot of the "sins" are committed due to ignorance, and ignorance can only save us from ignorance. So, in essence four level refuge is sought for relief from "sin": Surya (cleansing agent, energizer, that represents enlightenment and knowledge), emotions, emotional roots, and night. 
---------------------------------------------o-----------------------------------------------------

<keshavAya swaha ... >

[As we sprinkle the water over us we need to realize that we invoke the pundarikAksha rupa or the paramapurusha who resides in the sanctified waters to purify us internally and externally, so "yaH smareth puNdareekAksham" is essential part of the process]

ॐ दधिक्रावण्णो अकारिषम् । जिष्णोरश्वस्य वाजिनः । सुरभि नो मुखाकरत् । प्राण आयूँषि तारिषत् । 

Om! I have sung the praise of dadhikrAvan [the swift strong horse] (or, Lord Hayagriva; Sun in the form of a horse born in the east from the mahodadhi, the curd ocean) | I thus sprinkle this potent (procreative, spirited) [water, in the name] of this 'horse' (ashva also refers to number seven, that represents the 7 reins of the Sun God) | May our faces be lightened (or, may this take us to the peak of excellence, may this help us excel in our speech and pronunciation) | May it also fulfill (save, rescue) our life and lifespan |

[I found in some old discussions on the topic that dadhikrAv is the agni devata or agni rupa purusha avatara of paramatma that presides over dadhi - curd. This deity is often invoked for purity in speech or vaak shuddhi and as such the following verse subrabhi no mukhAkarat. This is also probably why there is a practice of eating curd in some places before going for an exam or a presentation.]


ॐ आपो हि ष्ठा मयो भुवः । ता न उर्जे दधातन । महे रणाय चक्षसे । यो वश्शिवतमो रसः । तस्य भाजयतेह नः । उशतीरिव मातरः । तस्मा अरं गमाम वः । यस्य क्षयाय जिन्वथा । आपो जनयथा च नः ।

Om! Its on water (or pious action) alone that this world is sustained | That [water] preserves the vigor to make one refreshed (to be happy, to be powerful) | For the radiantly abundant pleasure (movement) | Oh water, you bestow the most auspicious essence (nectar) that gets distributed in this [body] of ours, just like a wishing mother [who sustains the child] |  We swiftly move towards (to partake) for the consumption of that rasa that you enable us to, and water helps us beget (reproduce, generate).

हिरण्यवर्णा शुचयः पावकाः यासु जातः कश्यपोयास्विन्द्रः | अग्नि आगर्भं दधिरेविरूपा स्तान अपःशग् स्योना भवन्तु ॥ 

[HiraNyavarNa literally means "golden colored" and it also means "a river". Interestingly it is used in context of a "paavaka" - typically "fire", which is also hiraNyavarNa. We need to remember that we are holding in hand a few drops of "purifying water". Some tests praise fire or heat or sun as the source of water. And, taking into considering the Rigveda texts such as 1.59.5 आ सूर्ये न रश्मयो धरुवासो वैश्वानरे दधिरे.अग्ना वसूनि in context .... syOna is a beautiful word that means several things such as tender, happiness, sun, delight, comfortable seat etc but given that it is in association with staana I am taking the last of the meanings listed. And, I also found somewhere that "hiranyavarnah" is nArAyaNa rupa udaka which is also of the form of agni, cleanses all sins, and thus He and His names alone is purifying - "hiraNyavarNaah suchayah"]. 

It is from the all purifying fires that Kashyapa Muni and Indra were born. May this water that was born of that fire be a comfortable seat to all the variegated purifying and sanctifying / auspicious qualities [or in simple words "may all the purifying and auspicious qualities come and reside in this water with delight"].

यासाग्ंराजा वरुणोऽयाति मध्ये सत्यानृते अवपश्यं जनानाम् । मधुःश्च्युतः श्युचयोयाः पावका स्तान अपःशग् स्योना भवन्तु ॥ 

In the middle, Varuna Deva, the adhipati (the presiding deity of water) of the sanctified water, enters as a witness to the truth and untruth of the human beings. May the all purifying Lord in the form of madhuschyuta (agni rupa paramAtma in the divine blissful form) take a comfortable seat in this water to sanctify and create auspiciousness.

..... To be continued ....

Friday, December 23, 2016

Sandhyavandana 2 - significance of water.

<Continued from the previous post where we set up the stage: http://gita-god-hinduism.blogspot.ca/2016/12/sandhyavandana-1.html>

मम उपात्त समस्त दुरितक्षयद्वार  श्री परमेश्वर प्रीत्यर्थं प्राथः संध्यां उपास्ये ।

I engage in morning sandhyavandana for the pleasure of the Supreme Lord so as to remove all my accumulated impediments (sin, evil, discomfort).

[At this time we look at the water, sprinkle it all over us body and appreciate its role in our existence]

ॐ आपॊहिष्ठा मयो भुवः । ता न ऊर्जे दधातन ।  महे रणाय चक्षसे ।  यो वः शिवतमॊ रसः ।  तस्य भाजयतेह नः । उशतीरिव मातरः। 

Om! Its on water (or pious actions) alone that this world is sustained | That [water] gives (preserves) the vigor to make one refreshed (to live, to be happy, to be powerful) | For the radiantly (clear*) abundant pleasure (delight, joy, movement) | Oh water, you bestow the most auspicious (prosperous) essence (nectar) that gets distributed in this [body of] ours just like a wishing mother [who sustains the child willfully] |

[I discovered here that chakshas could also refer to a spiritual guru who opens one's eye to see] 

तस्मा अरं गमाम वः। यस्य क्षयाय जिन्वथ। आपो जनयथा च नः॥
[तस्मै॑  अर॑म्  ग॒मा॒म॒  वः॒  यस्य॑  क्षया॑य  जिन्व॑थ  आपः॑  ज॒नय॑थ  च॒  नः॒ ॥]

We swiftly (suitably, readily) move towards (to partake, to perceive, to receive) for the consumption (diminution, establish) of that [rasa] that you enable (impel, help, incite, promote, animate, liven, refresh) us to, and water helps us beget (produce, create, generate). 

[It is water that enable us, gives the vigor to move, to be happy, to live, to gain clarity and abundant pleasure. It is water that creates auspiciousness and prosperity, that is distributed [as blood] within us satisfying the various wishes (of the various organs) like a mother (satisfying her children). We swiftly partake in the consumption of that essence because it enables us to*, and to also help us procreate (generations)].

*We forcefully, helplessly move towards water and it is energy in the water that enables us to... It is no surprise that water was central to our activities, and civilizations always prospered around water. 

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It took me a while to wholly appreciate the beauty of this composition. It is literally impossible to translate as it is because these verses manifest in various forms depending on how we see them and put them together. Its like bouquet of flowers. It is like a jigsaw puzzle. Your ability to put them together will reveal something that best suits your abilities at that time. 

Sarvam Shri KrishNArpaNam! 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sandhyavandana - 1

Doing Sandhyavanada everyday is a discipline that I have been cultivating for the past few years. In the next year or so our son will be ready for upanayana, so I wish to be a role model to him as my father was to me. First step towards that I thought was knowing the meanings of what we chant because my son has already started to express keen interest in the meaning. This blog is more for myself than anyone else so that I can help my son if he needs.

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Sandhyavandana is a way to salute and thank the Sun for his contribution to our existence. It is not just the external sun that Sandhyavandana salutes. It is the sun within. Hindu ideology believes that what is outside is within, so whatever is done externally is also to be internalized.

It involves multiple phases:

  1. Purification and Conviction: begin with purification - external (bAhya) through water and Internal (abhyantara) through bhagawad nAma and prANAyAma; making the sankalpa (determination)
  2. Invocation and Welcome: preparing the stage and inviting the auspicious deities within; welcoming; giving the arghya (respectful reception of a "guest")
  3. Meditation or mantra japa: gAyatri japa is central to the sandhyavandana, and the above preparations are vital before doing gAyatri; offer oblations
  4. Conclusion: thank all the deities, give a graceful sendoff, re-invite them the next time, extend apologies for any shortcoming and conclude by offering everything to the Lord, Sri Krishna.

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Here are some of the most important elements of Sandhyavanadana:

[start by purification process: external through water and internal through the Lord's names]

अपवित्रः पवित्रः वा सर्व अवस्थां गतॊपि वा ।
यः स्मरॆत् पुण्डरीकाक्षं सबाह्य अभ्यन्तर शुचिः ॥

Whether one is pure or impure (bathed or unbathed, wearing the sacred thread or not, sinful or sinless), whatever state (jAgrt/swapna/shushupti, bAla/kaumAra/yuva/vriddApya/mrityA, brahmacharya/grihasta/vAnaprastha/sanyAsa etc) one has reached, one who remembers (remembers, recollects, recites, thinks of, is mindful of) the Lotus Eyed One (the Lord, Sri Krishna, Sriman Narayana), he/she is purified (shines, glows, gleams) from outside and from within.

केशवाय स्वाह | नारायणाय स्वाह | माधवाय स्वाह |

केशवाय स्वाह - offering to Lord with fine luxuriant hair (hair likened to the rays of the Sun; the Supreme Being) i.e. to Lord Sri Krishna 


नारायणाय स्वाह – offering to the Lord who pervades us from within (described as one who keeps the blood warm and responsible for circulation; He is described as the eye of the world, the world itself, the indestructible, supreme abode, eteral, unending, soul of the universe, last resort, the ultimate one who is to be known, the root, imperishable, supreme brahman, infinite, limitless, all knowing etc.), i.e. to Lord Sri Krishna

माधवाय स्वाह – offering to the Lord who is sweet like honey (the all attractive, the most fragrant one), i.e. to Lord Sri Krishna.

(offering made to the external aspect, the internal aspect and the deep inner core which is likened to honey)

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गोविंदाय नमः – Salutations to the one who gives pleasure to the senses (one who is the chief herdsman), i.e. to Lord Sri Krishna

विष्ण्वॆ नमः – Salutations to the one who is all pervading, all embracing, i.e. to Lord Sri Krishna

मधुसूदनाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who slayed Madhu demon, i.e. to Sri Krishna (who like the bee collects honey for the living beings to consume)

त्रिविक्रमाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who strides over the 3 worlds (bhu, bhvah, suvah; who can push His devotee out of the 3 worlds and the 3 modes of material nature)

वामनाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who came in the form of a dwarf (complementing trivikrama)

श्रीधराय नमः – Salutations to the Lord of Fortune (one who is all splendor, intellect, fame, glory, grace, luster, virtuousness, excellence; posseses all wealth)

ह्रिशिकॆशाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord of the organ of senses (one who delights, and creates happiness)

पद्मनाभाय नमः – Salutations to the Lotus Navel'd Lord (the causal root of the entire creation)

दामोदराय नमः – Salutations to the Lord with a rope around the waist (Sri Krishna)

संकर्शणाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who beholds the entire universe (Lord from who all the manifestations or incarnations supposedly happen; Anantashesha, who is born as Lord Balarama) (Sri Krishna)

वासुदॆवाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord of Soul (vAsu: “The Soul”; the soul of the universe; the supreme being), the son of Vasudeva (Sri Krishna)  

प्रध्युम्नाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord of Intellect, of love, the per-eminently mighty one, who radiates or illuminates (also, the son of Krishna and Rukmini, and Krishna Himself) (Sri Krishna)

अनिरुद्धाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord one who cannot be suppressed, stopped, confined, i.e. who is self-reliant and self-willed (also, the son of Pradhyumna, said to have close resemblance to his grandfather Sri Krishna )

पुरुशोत्तमाय नमः – Salutations to the Supreme Spirit (highest being, best among all that is) (Sri Krishna)

अधोक्षजाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who never falls down or dishonored or undermined (Sri Krishna)

नारसिम्हाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who is nArasimha (man-lion), the great warrior (Sri Krishna)

अच्युताय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who is imperishable, firm, fixed, permanent; almighty being; (Sri Krishna)

जनार्दनाय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who excites, motivates, inspires all that is born; one who annihilates all that is born. (Sri Krishna)

उपेन्द्राय नमः – Salutations to the Lord who as the younger brother of Indra descended as vAmana; who is Indra Himself. (Sri Krishna)

हरये नमः – Salutations to the Lord (also the Lion, Indra, Brahma, beautiful, fire, wind, the sun) (Sri Krishna)

श्री कृष्णाय नमः – Salutations to Lord Sri Krishna (the all attractive; who is in essence all the above names and more).  

<to be continued>