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Sandhyavandanam (Sanskrit: संध्यावन्दन saṃdhyāvandana) is a religious practice performed by Hindu men initiated into the rite by the ceremony of Upanayanam, and instructed in its execution by a Guru (a qualified spiritual teacher). Sandhyavandanam is to be performed thrice daily. One during sunrise(when day proceeds from night), next during midday(which is the transition from ascending sun to descending sun) and during sunset(when night takes over from day).

It is known by a different name at each hour - in the morning (prātaḥsaṃdhyā), at noon (mādhyānika), and in the evening (sāyaṃsaṃdhyā). Sivaprasad Bhattacharyya defines it as the "Hindu code of liturgical prayers."[1]

The term is a Sanskrit compound consisting of saṃdhyā, meaning "union", or more specifically the union or junctions of day and night which takes place in the morning or evening twilight,[2] and vandanam meaning worship.[3][4] In addition to dawn and dusk, noon is considered the third juncture of the day, and hence meditations and prayers are performed daily at those times.

The term saṃdhyā is also used by itself in the sense of "daily practice" to refer to the performance of these devotions at the opening and closing of the day.[5][6]

Chanting of the Gayatri mantra, 28, 32, 54 or 108 times, depending upon the prescriptions of the practitioner's Veda and Sutra, is an integral part of Sandhyavandanam.[7] In addition to the mantra, the ritual of saṃdhyā also includes certain other rites that are purificatory and preparatory (Sanskrit: śuddhi mantras), serving to prevent distracting thoughts and bring focus to the mind. Some of these are: propitiatory libations of water to the Gods of the planets and of the months of the Hindu calendar, atoning for Sandhyavandanams not performed and atoning for sins committed since the last hour of Sandhya. In addition, one of the most important rituals of Sandhyavandanam involves worshiping the Sun as Mitra in the morning and worshiping Varuna, in the evening.

Furthermore, Brahmacharis (brahmacārin) are required to perform a fire-sacrifice, the Samithadhanam, on the conclusion of the main portion of the Sandhyavandanam.

Other aspects of the ritual, though, speaking strictly, not to be included in Sandhyavandanam, may include meditation, chanting of other mantras (Sanskrit: japa), and devotional practices specifically for divinities that are preferred by the practitioner.[8] Regarding the connection with meditation practices, Monier-Williams notes that if regarded as an act of meditation, the sandhyā may be connected with the etymology san-dhyai.[9]

Notes

  1. For definition see: Bhattacharyya, Sivaprasad. "Indian Hymnology", in: Radhakrishnan (CHI, 1956), volume 4, p. 474.
  2. For definition of saṃdhyā as "twilight devotions, morning or evening prayers" see: Macdonell, p. 334.
  3. For derivation of compound saṃdhyā and definition as morning and evening prayers, see: Apte, p. 957.
  4. For definition of vandanam as worship see: Apte, p. 829.
  5. For use of the term saṃdhyā as meaning "daily practice" see: Taimni, p. 7.
  6. For saṃdhyā as juncture of the two divisions of the day (morning and evening), and also defined as "the religious acts performed by Brahmans and twice-born men at the above three divisions of the day" see: Monier-Williams, p. 1145, middle column.
  7. For chanting of the Gayatri mantra as part of saṃdhyā practice see: Taimni, p. 1.
  8. However, these are entirely at the discretion of the performer and carry no ritualistic sanction whatsoever. For meditation, japa, and chosen deity practices, see: Taimni, pp. 171-204.
  9. For san-dhyaisee: Monier-Williams, p. 1145, middle column.

References

  • Balu, Meenakshi (2006). Rig Vaeda Trikaala Sandhyaavandanam. Chennai: MB Publishers. ISBN 81-8124071-5.  (fourth revised & enlarged edition).
  • Apte, Vaman Shivram (1965). The Practical Sanskrit Dictionary. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. ISBN 81-208-0567-4.  (fourth revised & enlarged edition).
  • Radhakrishnan, Sarvepalli (Editorial Chairman) (1956). The Cultural Heritage of India. Calcutta: The Ramakrishna Mission Institute of Culture.  Second edition, four volumes, revised and enlarged, 1956 (volume IV).
  • Taimni, I. K. (1978). Gāyatrī. Adyar, Chennai, India: The Theosophical Publishing House. ISBN 81-7059-084-1.  (Second Revised Edition).te:సంధ్యావందనం

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