Saturday, October 11, 2014

PROLOGUE TO SANDHYAVANDANAM RITUALS OF HINDUS


Prologue to Sandhyavandanam Rituals of Hindus
(Compilation for a discourse by N.R. Srinivasan, Nashville, TN, USA, October 2014)

Sandhyavandanam is a Nityakarma (daily ritual) prescribed by Hindu Sastras to all who have undergone Upanayana Samskaram and who are called Dwijas. It is Karmayoga, Bhaktiyoga and Jnaanayoga combined says Jagadguru Chndrasekharananda.  It unites the three paths of Karma, devotion and Knowledge.

Sandhyavandana ritual procedures as is practiced to-day and earlier described in my 3 discourses are not found in Vedas or Upanishads as such. But all the important mantras contained in them are found in various Upanishads and particularly in Mahanarayana Upanishad which is otherwise known as Yajniki Upanishad as it contains almost all ritual mantras used in Hindu worship. Also Kesavaadi Tarapana, Japa and Achamana are based on Paanchaatra Doctrine of Bhaagavata Tradition which has found favor with all later sectarian traditions like Bhagavadgeeta. Some of these Veda and Puranic sources are given below:

There are references in the Veda  in  Second Prasna, Second Anuvaka of Taittareeya Aranyaka (Yajur Veda)  explaining procedures of worship by  offering "Arghya" (water in the palms of both hands being  thrown up), at the time of sunrise and sunset, meditating on Aditya (Sun).
Eesaavasya upanishad of Shukla Yajurveda also refers to Sun worship as above at sun rise and sunset in mantras 15 and 16.

Chandogya upanishad says Aditya is Brahmapurusha and one may meditate upon Sun alone as Brahman.  It also    explains the importance of meditation of Sun or Aditya at sunrise   and sunset. Chapter 3, Section 12 of this Upanishad explains meditation of Aditya through Gayatri Sadrisyaanuroopa Vidya. It also explains that the sun in the horizon outside and the sun element inside us are one and the same and there is no difference and the identity should be kept in mind while meditating with the help of Gayatri Mantra. This is the meaning of "Asavadityoe Brahma" recited during Sandyavandanam there by meaning Brahman is within all of us.

Several mantras contained in Mahaanaaraayana Upanishad (MNU) formed the basis for Sandhyaavanadana  Prayer  Mantras   without making any reference to Upanayana ritual,   compiled by Smritis  later where these mantras along with Gayatree mantra are inducted during Upanayana—Aaachamana mantra (sipping water for purification);Invocation of Gayatree (Aayaatu); Three types of Pranaayaama (Gayatree) Mantras and Upasthaana Mantra of Gayatree (Farewell to Gayatree). MNU also says the Supreme Power of Vishnu is signified by the names Rik, Yajus and Saaman; this trinity burns all sins and that resides resplendent in the Sun who should be meditated upon as Brahman.

Taittariya samhitha says: agnih poorvaoopam adityah uttara roopam--Agni is Suryadeva’s first part; Aditya is his later part. For morning Surya is the presiding deity; for night, Agni is the presiding deity (as prescribed in Sandhyavandana ritual)
Agnirjyotiragniswaahaa iti saayam juhoti sooryojyotisoorya swaahaa iti pratariti
Saayankaala is moksharoopa. When a man gets moksha, he gets into Saayam sandhya philosophy   and gets the real knowledge (Jnaana).  Therefore, Saayam Sandhya (evening prayer) is equally very important and has profound basis.
Sage Agasthya explains to Sri Rama, the merits of worshipping Aditya in Valmiki Ramayana Yuddhakanda. Aditya protects everyone, helps them in their duties, gives luster, removes ignorance and provides happiness. He is friend of water and resides in every living being.

Garuda Puraana states that   asuras (evil forces) called Mandeha, who reside in an island called  Aruna  are trying to destroy Surya   at daybreak and sunset. The water oblation thrown upwards during Arghyam ritual   serves as a weapon to destroy them. 

The philosophical significance behind this story of Garuda Purana is worth examining even if we do not believe in the story.   Mandeha   means, man+ deha or mind + body which are clouding the Sun of resplendent Aatman (Self) in us.   Gayatri Mantra purifies us by this offering so that the inner light can be perceived by us. Also, the performer, after the Arghya ritual says, 'asaavaadityo brahma, brahmaiva ahamasmi" (the sun is verily the Brahman; Brahman is myself). In the Advaita sense, Arghyam is a reminder of the Brahman in us and Arghya is  its honoring by the offer of mantra and water.

Astra and Sastra are the two types of weapons described in Dhanurveda employed to kill enemies.  One who performs Sandhyavandana as Dwija (that includes, Brahmins, Kshatriyas and Vaisyas) have the duty of discharging astras every day to destroy Asuras or the evil forces besieging mankind. Astra means that which is discharged, hurled or thrown. Arghya is a ritual in which water is thrown to drive away or destroy the demons or evil forces that have taken hold of the minds of people. This is what the story in Garuda Puraana signifies. 


A critical experiment with water by   Mr. Masaru Emoto of Japan is interesting. He took a glass of water and spoke 'thank you' to it. He then freezed the water. When he magnified the crystallized water, he was amazed to see symmetric patterns. Curious, he then cursed a glass of water with   "I hate you" and crystallized it. This time the magnified image of crystals were ugly and random. He then used Tibetan Sutras and the resulting image was of a beautiful pattern. Someone should study similar effects of Arghya mantras. Holy water in Hanuman temple is used to drive away diseases and fear in children, a common scene!


Lord Krishna who was known as Nandakumara, son of Nanda who was a Sudra was invested with the sacred thread at twelve as we learn from Bhagavata.  Progressively Sandhyavandana ritual became restrictive and now it is mostly restricted to male Brahmins by birth alone. Gayatree Japa is also restricted to men only by orthodox school of thought today. They say women benefit from the men performing the Japa. Also they say  when the three Varnas practice Gayatri-japa all other Jatis (castes and sub-castes) enjoy the benefit flowing from it.  It is also interesting to note that girls in orthodox Nambudri families undergo Upanayana Samskara even to-day. In Vedic days we hear of many renowned lady Vedic Scholars. Vedic teachers irrespective of their birth caste or sex were revered for their knowledge and excellence contrary to the modern compartmentalization. Vexed by orthodox and conservative views, many ladies pursuing Bhaktimarga   regularly recite equivalent of Sanskrit Vedas, Tamil Nalaayara Divyaprbhandam by Azhwars which are not prohibited like Vedas for ladies.  It is also interesting to note that Nammazhwar who is a Sudra was Guru of Orthodox Brahmin Ramanuja and was an authority on Vedas.

Gaayatree Japa and Arghya (water oblation) offering are the most important rites of Sandhyavandanam. Gaayantam traayate yasmaat Gayatree ityabhideeyate”—whosoever sings Gaayatree is protected say the Saastras. This mantra is the most powerful of all the mantras employed in prayers with the added Om. It has twenty-four letters of three feet (paadas) of each eight letters and is called Tripaada  Gaayatree. Each foot is the essence of a Veda—Rigveda, Samaveda and Yajurveda. Atharvaveda has its own Gaayatree and people undergo second Upanayana to receive the Atharvaveda Mantra.

Sandhyavandanam is the obeisance directed to Sun God at the meeting of the stars and sun in the twilight periods of mornings (sun rise), evenings (sunset) and at noon when Sun is at his peak on the horizon as visualized by us. Sun does not move but earth moves.   Twilight is sacred iHinduism.   It is also called Go-dhuli-vela or cow dust time. Many rituals including Sandhyavandanam and Puja are performed at twilight hour. Eating of food is not advised during this time. Sometimes it is referred to as Asura-sandhyaa vela. It is believed that Asuras  (evil forces) are active during these hours. One of the avatars of Lord VishnuNarasimha is closely associated with Twilight period. According to Hindu Scriptures a daemonic king Hiranyakashipu performed penance and obtained a boon from Brahma not to be killed during day  or night times and neither by human nor animal. As Godhulivela or twilight is not regarded as day or night, Lord Vishnu ended the life of Hiranyakasipu  during these hours.

Dawn, Midday and Dusk are hours of tranquility. At dawn all living beings including humans wake up and the mind is serene. At dusk all must be restful after day’s work. At noon sun is at its zenith and people remain at home, relaxed and rest for a while. During these hours we must meditate on Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswati says Jagadguru Chandrasekharananda Saraswati.  In the morning the dominant presence is that of Vishnu, at noon that of Brahma and at sundown of Siva. So we must meditate on Gayatri in the morning as Vishnu, at noon as Brahma and at dusk as Siva.

Traditionally Gaayatree is the name given to That Deity in the forenoon, Saavitree in the mid-day and Sarasvatee in the evening.  Gayatree is explained as that which protects the person who recites it from the various sins—(Gaayantam traayate iti  Gaayatree). The midday deity is called Saavitree because it represents Savitar who illumines the creation. The evening deity is called Sarasvatee because it represents the world in its aspect of speech. Whatever way it may be viewed the Supreme is worshiped through the Gaayatree Mantra. Traditionally Soorya,  worshiped in Sandhyaavandana is  interpreted   to denote the Supreme Being  by the Sun. Even the word Raatri is interpreted to denote the Supreme Being—ra means to give and trai means to protect. It means the protector of the Universe who confers the Purushaarthas (aspirations) to the devotees.


Gayatree is also known as Saavitree and Sarasvatee.  The Supreme Being as the in-dweller and impeller of all creations is known as Savitar and hence the passage  in praise  of him is called Saavitree. The Vedas are represented as a lake or Saras which gives the waters of life and hence the Gaayatree, as the essence of the Vedas, is called Sarasvatee. These two terms magnify Gaayatree as the object  of worship.

Hindu Saastras enjoin that Nityakarmas like Sandhyavandana should be performed at specified time.  
If such Karmas are performed otherwise, although they may   not cause injury they certainly will not be efficacious. Therefore you will find in Sandhyavandana mantra a provision made for any such time lapses: kaalaateeta praayaschittaartham tureeya arghyapradhaanam”- fourth water oblation for the late performance not sticking to observed time. This late observance should not be made into a regular habit. It is thus obvious Sandhyavandanam has to be done at appropriate time in the mornings, mid-days and evenings.

Let us now examine what these auspicious hours are for offering water oblation to Sun God:
In Tamil there is a Siddhar’s  (Sanyaasi)  recitation: “Kaanaamal Konaamal Kandu kodu”
The above statement means: “Perform morning prayer of Sandhyaavandanam  before seeing the Sun, Maadhyahneekam (Mid-day Prayer)  when the Sun is right above the head and Evening Prayer  when the Sun is still not set”.

Day based on Trigunas:

Morning   Sandhyavandana     and evening Sandhyavandana   are timed at sandhi kaala, the meeting of day and night.

When Easwara created this world, whole day was divided into 3 parts.

Satvaguna: Morning 4 AM to 8 AM. Afternoon 4 PM., and night 8 PM., totaling 8 hours is Satvaguna

Rajoguna: Morning 8 AM to afternoon 4 PM., again 8 hours

Tamoguna: Night 8PM to morning 4 AM-- 8 hours

For us, the sleep state is the most relaxing part. But it happens whn  Tamoguna time prevails. In order to come out of Tamoguna, morning Sandhyavandana is prescribed between 4am to 8am(Ushaakala) when one chants Gayatreemantra, one gets the benefit of the mantra to overcome Tamoguna.
It is still better to do after the Satvaguna time to at least give medium results. Thus Sandhyavandana practiced 3 times during day time helps in overcoming the effects of Rajo and Tamogunas and increase the Satva content.

The right time to perform Sandhya Vandanam:

What is the apt time for doing Sandhyavandanam? The name "Sandhya" means the meeting time of Day with night or night with day which is just before   sunrise and sunset.  At dawn stars disappear from our view and Sun appears which we call Arunodaya. At Dusk the sun disappears and Stars appear.

Ajyotisho darsanat sandhi, jyotisho bhanutare-- Sandhi is the time when the sun and the stars are together visible. The practical thing therefore will be to start:
i) In the morning start Sandhyavandana  before sunrise, give Arghyam during sunrise and finish just after sunrise.
ii) In the evening, begin before sunset, give Arghyam during sunset and finish later.

For those who cannot cope up with their timings, Shastra says for praatha (morning) Sandhyavandhana:

Uttama tarakopeta madhyama lupta taraka | Adhama urya sahita prata: sandhya tridha mana

Praatah  sandhyaavandanam (Morning Prayer): when the stars are visible, yet before full Sun rise, it is called Uttama (first grade.); Madhyama is, (middle grade) when doing without the visibility of stars; and Adhama (least grade when Sun is visible) i.e. after full sun rise of the day.
Similarly: Uttama suryasahita maddhyama anudita taraka |Adhma tarakopeta sayam Sandhyaa-tridhaa-mata 

Saayam  Sandhyavandanam (evening Prayer): it is Uttama i.e. perfect to do while the sun is still shining; Madhyama when doing before stars are visible; Adhama after the stars are fully visible.

The morning and evening Sandhis (meeting points) are more ideal since, practically, a person's stomach will be empty at both sunrise and sunset, when a person takes his meals systematically and punctually every day.  An empty stomach is achieved after four hours of a solid meal. An empty stomach is a prerequisite for Sandhyavandanam since there are at least three sets of Praanayama (controlling of Vital forces totaling 15 in one full routine. A loaded stomach will interfere with Praanayama greatly resulting in indigestion, sleepiness etc. Even the Madhyahneekam (noon) routine is done with an empty stomach before the meal. 

Sandhyaavandana is to be performed holding one’s breath. If we do this all evil forces will be destroyed. But in practice what we do is to hold our nose with one finger. The sastras do not say “naasikaam aayamya” but Praanaan aayamya” It means instead of merely holding the nose, control the vital forces, the Praana (five vital forces or vital breath).
I have not come across references to  Sandhyavandana Rites and Rituals  or Upakarma Sacrament   as is in vogue to-day  in Vedas or Upanishads. Perhaps  these have been progressively introduced by later by  Smritis  based on Brahmopasana, Adityopasana and Gayatree Upaasana found in various Upanishads,  worship of Elemental deities  like Prithvee, Aapah , Agni etc. and also compartmentalized by orthodoxy of Caste-system.

Sankalpa, Aachamana, Praanaayaama, Kesavaadi Japa, Gayatree Japa, Gayatree Arghya, Kesavaadi tarpana and Abhivaadana seem to be the essentials in Sandhyavandana. Despite various traditions, Vaaishnava, Saiva, Smaarta and Sakta, Achamana and Kesavaadi Japa and Tarpana are followed by all traditions in spite of being directed to Chaturvimsati concept of Pancharatra Vaishnavism. Arghya is pouring water upwards directed to Sun in the morning and afternoon  prayers facing east  employing Gaayatree mantra and facing North directed to Agni in the evening prayers. Arghya is always to Gayatree and employs first two paadas (2 steps of 8 syllables) of Praanaayaama mantra of 3 steps of 24 syllables. Kesvaadi Japa and Kesavaaadi Tarpana (water oblation to please the Lord; Tarpana means to satisfy)   restricts itself mostly to twelve names of Vishnu out of twenty- four classical forms of Vishnu.  These twelve names are also used to sanctify twelve parts of the body with Kesavaaadi mantra and to energize.  The twenty-four classical forms of Vishnu correspond to twenty-four syllables of Praanaayaama Gayatree mantra. (Please refer to my discourse on Vishnu in Pancharatra Concept). Very orthodox Srivaishnavas employ all the twenty-four names of Vishnu along with the 24 names of their spouses during Sandhyavandana.  It is also interesting to note that warriors in Mahabharata War performed Arghyapradhaana with dust (soil) as water source was not available in the battle-field.

According to Pancharatra doctrine, each of the four Vyuhas or primary emanatory forms of Vishnu bring forth three other forms, which are regarded as Vyuhaantara or secondary and emanatory:  1) From Vasudeva emanate Kesava, Narayana and Madhava; 2) from Sankarshana     emanate Govinda, Vishnu and Madhusudana; 3) from Pradyumna emanate Trivikrama, Vamana and Sridhara;    4) from Aniruddha emanate, Hrishikesa, Padmanabha and Damodara. These are the twelve names used in sanctifying the twelve body parts, Kesavaadi Japa and Kesavaadi Tarpana. The twelve secondary emanations are together called Moortyaantara or Dwaadasa-Moorti. From these twelve secondary forms 8 other manifestations of the four primary   Vyuha-moortis arise. Together they form 24 Moortis (including 4 Primary Vyuhas) to correspond 24 syllables of Gayatree praanaayaam mantra.


Physical Benefits and Health Improvement

Regular recitation of Sandhyavandanam helps regulating the blood pressure and the postures in which these the entire practice is performed helps in overall muscle rejuvenation.
Sandhyavandana   routine includes Breathing exercises (inhaling/breathing from one nostril and releasing the carbon-di-oxide through other nostril and alternating vice versa  called Praanaayaamam, thus expanding and enlarging one’s  lungs, and improving his blood circulation level. Because of this routine practice every one who undergoes this sort of training learns to control his breath and learns to control his entire body mechanism.

While doing so, he is made to recite the Supreme Japam called "Gayatri"   verse that cleanses the 
inner soul by repeated chanting.  By reciting this "Gayatri" for a specific counts of times (say 108 or 1008 times, thrice a day) improves  individual’s  skills and ability, increases ones memory power, and protects him from any major ailments. It looks as though Quote from Memory and memorizing poetry and multiplication tables etc., found in present day school practices are the result of long and ancient  religious training in memorizing Mantras.

The practice of Sandhya Vandanam in itself is daily performed without fail at a calm peaceful atmosphere or in knee-deep waters. This enables the practitioners to control their emotions and temperament.  Sun being a Star, passes its rays all the time, whether day or night.  Without its power, none on the earth can exist.  Vedic scriptures teach using these powers for the good of humanity.  Solar energy can be used not just to produce electricity for batteries etc., but also to recharge one’s own body mechanism.  As the body too produces electricity and magnetic phases, it is no wonder that sages in Vedic age sought after fittest way to live, healthier and longer with their scientific religious practices.  

During the noon prayer or Maadhyaanika Sandhyaavandanam, it is also necessary to perform Soorya Namaskaaram (Worshiping the Star Sun). There is a systematic way to view the Sun with finger   window arrangement for an aperture (Yama paasa mudra)   and to absorb the rays (solar energy) into the body while chanting the mantra “Pasyema saradassatam…. jyokchasooryam drise”.  It is widely believed that this Surya Namaskaram cleanses the eye lenses. This practice prevented ancient people from early blindness. (Looking at the Sun directly may blind your sight and damage your eye lenses, so please learn it from a person who knows it well). While doing this too, they had to chant a prayer dedicated to the Lord and Star Sun, and this vibration, combined with viewing the Sun in a methodical way, increases one’s physical strength.

REFERENCES:
1)  Jagadguru Chandrasekharananda Saraswati, Dharma, Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan, Mumbai, India
2)  Ramachandra rao, S.K., VishnU Kosha, Kalpataru Research Academy,  Bengaluru, India.
3)  Varadaraja Tirumale, Veda Marga, Sri Lakshmi Hayagrieva Trust, Bengaluru, India.
4)  Swami Harshananda, The Ten cardinal Upanishads, Ramakrishna Math, Bengaluru India.
5) Ananta Rangacharya, Principal Upanishads< Bengaluru, India.
6) Various Internet Sources--Wikipedia, Sanatana Dharma, Srivaishnava site etc.

APPENDIX

I  received an  interesting article on Sandhyavandana   titled "Vedic Sandhya-vandana Upasana" in Malayalam by Brahmasri P.S.Ramanathan-Disciple of Brahmasri. Sangameswara Sastrigal published in 1985 at Calicut Following Sayana Bashyam, sent by one of my learned participants to my regular E-mail <nadipuram@hotmail.com>


The author of this book  names this  as Vedic Sandhyopasanam and feels in our current practices we have been too much influenced by Puranas like in all our rituals and worship. Let us hear  to what he Says:
 
APPENDIX  I


Critical Review of Sandhyaavandana Mantras in  the light of Vedic Mantras
It is well known that Vedas are authority f for all our doubts. (Veda Akhilo Dharma Moolam). Righteous code of conduct as prescribed in Vedas is Dharma. Those who protect Vedas will certainly get divine blessings. Vedic injunctions are permanent and cannot be altered. (Dharmo Rakshati Rakhitah).
Smrithi has divided Dharma into 6 parts. They are Varna Dharma,   Ashrama Dharma, Varnasrama Dharma, Guna dharma, Nimitha Dharma and day to day Sadharana Dharma.
Ahimsa; Truthfulness; Non-stealing; Soucham; Control of mind—all these come under  routine duties which  are Sandhya, Japam, Homam, Devatha Poojanam, Adhithyam and Vaiswadevam. The duties (karmas) under the head of Vedas are classified as follows:- NITHYAM- NAIMITHIKAM - KAMYAM AND NISHIDDHAM.
Nithyakarma:- by performing this no special Punya ( moral good) is acquired; but by not performing the same papas ( sins) are accrued.
Naimithika  Karma: - Karma to be performed because of special occasions like Tarpanam  (oblation) during Eclipse etc.
Kaamya Karma: - This is performed to obtain the desired result.  For example,  invoking Lord Varuna in the sacrifice to get rain.
Nishiddha Karma: - Such karmas which should not be followed or performed.
By performing daily karmas with Sraddha (sense of involvement) and devotion one can obtain Chittha Sudhi  (mind purity)which is a preliminary requirement to progress further in our life.
Sandhya is the best time to perform Dhyana or meditation. The twilight time between the day and night is called Sandhya. Sandhya is also called as Sakthi from which entire world has come into existence and is beyond Maayaa (illusion) and formed out of three tattvas (principles) i.e. Jeeva-Eswara-and Nature. Sandhya Upasana (worship) is a vaidheeka (vedic mandate) karma by which one prays the Supreme Lord to forgive us and to remove all our sins. Tejas (glow) is a derivative of Jnanam. Similarly water is the derivative of worship. While performing Sandhya Upasana we offer water as worship to the Supreme Lord and by doing that we surrender ourselves to Him in totality. Long life; Knowledge; Fame; Name; and Brahma Tejas (greatness of Brahaman) can be acquired by performing Daily Sandhya with Sraddha and devotion. Sandhya Anushtanam (performance) is a must daily duty and the real strength of a Brahmana   which is in the this worship. During early period ARGHYAM- GAYATHRI JAPAM- AND DHYANAM (MEDITATION) were the main ingredients for all followers of Veda. But later different methods came into existence.
To mention a few additions that came into existence are Jalapradhaana Mantra (water oblation), Devata Tarpanam (oblations to deities), Slokas (hymns) from Puranas, Obeisance  to Siva Vishnu and Yama etc. Upasthana (concluding) Mantras also vary from one branch  of Veda  to another. Whatever it may be the ultimate aim is to acquire purity of mind (Chittha Suddhi).   By this one can get rid of one’s sins and that leads to Jnaanam (divine knowledge) which in turn leads to liberation (Moksha) in the end.
In Sandhyavandanam ritual a person who knows that the sun is the same as the Supreme Brahman meditates on the sun and performs circumambulation enjoys all happiness.  He, who knows this secret of identity that he himself is Brahman, attains Brahman. Sandhya means the time when day and night meet and vandanam means thanks giving to the Lord Supreme. Performing of Madhyahnikam is an orthodox derivation.
The first and foremost function in the Sandhyaavandana ritual is purification of mouth and lips (Aachamanam ritual). They are of three types (Sruti – Smrithi- Purana). Sruti achamanam is mentioned in the Taittareeya Aranyaka- where it is said that the following mantra “Vidhyudasi Vidhya may Papmanam ritaat sathya Mupaimi” is chanted and water is touched. Meaning of this  mantra is as follows: - You are lightening. Remove my sins. Through truth I attain unto Truth. After washing hands -Three times aachamanam is followed by two times lips wash and again after washing of palm head, eyes, ears, nose, heart etc. are touched to signify the intention to purify (This system is followed during Brahma Yagna).  Smrithi Achamanam is of two types. Srauta and Smaarta. In Srauta, aachamanam is followed by recitation of three pada Gayathri then 21 parts of the body are touched. While performing mantras are recited- nine ablingas by apohistha mantra seven vyahruthees-Three pada Gayathri and ending with Om apo jyotheerasah Amrutam Brahma (Please refer to the ritual procedure). In Smaarta achamanam laid down by Manu/Yajnavalkya and others--achamanam is performed two times then lips are washed twice and then cleaning palm, mouth and other sensory organs are touched. In Purana achamanam-Water is sipped thrice and several parts of body touched. Each single operation being accompanies by repetitive of a distinctive names or Lord Vishnu or Lord Siva. (Practice differs as per trade tion).
After Lord Ganapathy Dhyanam, pranayama is done by mentally reciting the mantra. Sankalpa – determination with mental resolve (sankalpa) to perform the Sandhyavandana is followed thereafter. (In some places water worship-- Jala Prarthana “Apo va idagum Sarvam…” mantra is chanted that too only for the morning Sandhya).
MARJANA MANTRA (invocation): - It is well known to you that the deities of water are the cause of great happiness. Please nourish us with the divine vision which brings glory and loveliness. Please make us worthy of imbibing the auspicious bliss even as a mother feeds her children. We approach you with eagerness for that bliss, to distribute, which you have taken a form and are shining. Bestow on us the boon of a next life sanctified by knowledge.
PRAASANA MANTRA (expiation): - They are three in numbers for each time zone. (Morning Sun God; After noon Holy water; and in the evening Lord Agni). May Sun /Agni’/Varuna and the God of anger and the Lords presiding over anger; save me from the sins caused by anger. Whatever sins I have committed; by mind, speech, hands, feet, belly, and the sensual organ may the Lord of the departed night/day remove all that and whatever other sins that may be in me. I sacrifice in the Self, illuminating light, the eternal first cause. As an emblem of such sacrifice, I pour down this consecrated water as libation in my mouth, which shall be the sacrificial fire. May this sacrifice of mine become well offered!(Here water represents the sinner and all his sins and pouring down of water typifies the act of sacrifice)
It is said in the Vedas that energy of the sun passes on to Agni in the evening. Hence, you find the substitution of Agni for Lord Surya in the evening Sandhyavandana.
In Madhyahnika Sandhyavandana expiation mantra meaning is as follows:-May the waters purify the earth by pouring down rain.  May the earth thus purified   purify me! May the waters purify my spiritual preceptor and may the Veda as taught by him purify me. Whatever impure food I may have taken, whatever I may have received as gift from the unworthy, may the waters destroy all that sins and purify me; and for this purpose, I pour this sanctified water as libation down my mouth as sacrifice.
Then comes the second-time Marjanam (Punarmarjanam):- I make obeisance to the Supreme Person who supports, rules, and sustains all the worlds, who is ever victorious and who has taken the form of Hayagreeva the repository of all knowledge. May He make our faces and other organs fragran! May He protect our lives!  (rest of the meaning - as stated in the first Marjanam).
The performer after attaining his outer and inner purification then offers Arghyam   (offering water oblation respectfully to the Supreme Lord). The sanctified – water-consecrated- by chanting of Gaayatree mantra and thrown upwards with both hands; signifying thunderbolts, hurl the evil spirits to an island called Aruna ; where dwells the evil spirits called Mandehas. (By this act entire world is protected)
Meaning of Gaayatree Mantra: We meditate on the adorable light of the supreme creator of the universe. May He (existing in our mind in the form of light) guide our intellects in the pursuit of   Truth.
 Expiation Water oblation (Prayaschitha  Arghyam) is followed for not offering the arghyam on time.
Aikyanusandhanam (Oneness with Brahman) Mantra: Asavadityo Brahma Brahmmaeva Ahamasmi. Means:-The Sun is Brahman and I too am Brahman.
Next comes Tarpanam (Oblation) to Navagraha and twelve names of Vishnu. This Tarpanam is considered as Puranic additions and no reference is made to them in the Taittareeya Aranyaka (as opined by learned people) Hence it is stated that these additions are inconsistent with the spirit of the Vedic Sandhya- which is a prayer directed to the “one alone” without a second.
(Here ends the first part of the Upasana called Sandhya. The second part is called Japam.)
It is reported by learned people that popularly known as Tripaada  Gayathri has got a turiya (Fourth) pada also. This should be revealed only to the one who is properly initiated. Meaning of this pada “PARORAJASE ASAVADOM” - He who is beyond all phenomenon, He is Bliss, He is eternal OM. This fourth pada is hidden in the Vedas-Hence not visible. [Mantra Drashta (author) for the fourth step  of the Gayathri is Vimala Rishi- Chandas is Tureeyam and Devata (deity)   is Paramatma.]
 Inviting Gaayatree (Aavaahanam): May the Goddess Gaayatree Devata-who grants all our desires come to us to make known to us the eternal Lord, who is revealed to us only through the scriptures. May the Gayathri the mother of all the Vedas reveal to us the eternal Truth.
Devi Gayatree– you are the source of all spiritual strength. You are the power that drive away the evil inclination which are my enemies You are conducing to a sound mind which conduces to a sound body. You are the light of the Gods; that dispels my intellectual darkness and illuminates my heart with divine wisdom. You are everything. You are Eternal Truth that destroys all our sins. You are the Pranava that reveals to me the unknown, Come to me Oh! Goddess Gaayatree and make me wise.
After invocation of Gaayatree comes enumeration of the four principal characteristics of the Gaayatree : Rik (Mantra); Drashta (Rishi); Chandas ( meter); Devata (propitiating   the deity it sings)- Viniyoga( The purpose to which the Rik is applied)
 Gaayatree Mantras consist   of Pranava (OM); Vyahrutees (Bhuh Bhuvahah Suvaahah and Savitri (savitar) mantras- which already existed. This combination was revealed to Sage Viswamitra who in turn gave this to the world. He is the mantra Drashta;  Chandas (meter) the number of letters in the Savitri (Savitar) mantra equally divided into three parts of eight letters each and has 24 letters.  Devata for Gaayatree is Savitri (Savitar)- the supreme Lord Paramaatma. Viniyoga: Prayer for sayujya or absorption through knowledge into the universal soul. (There are Angannyasa and karannyasa (hand and body gestures) that are followed by few, before chanting of Gaayatreemantra--elders say that these are of tantric origin).
After completion of Gayatree Japa Gaayatree sending off follows:- The Goddess Gayathri resides on a lofty peak on the summit of mount Meru in the earth. Oh! Goddess takes leave from the persons who have worshipped you and who have been blessed with your grace and go back to your abode as comfortably as is possible.
Morning Upasthana (send-off) Mantra Meaning:- We sing the adorable glory of the Sun God, who sustains all men by causing rain, which glory is eternal and most worthy of being adored with wonder.
The Sun well knowing the inclinations of several men directs them to their several pursuits; the Sun upholds both heaven and earth. The Sun observes all creatures and their action (Karma witness) without ever winking to this eternal being. We offer the oblation mixed with clarified butter. Oh! Sun God may that man who through such sacrifice offers oblation to you become endowed with wealth for he who is under your protection is not cut-off by untimely death. He is not vanquished by anybody and sin has no hold on this man either from near or from far.
MADHYAHNIKA UPSTHANA(Send-off) MANTRA:-- The Lord Savitar daily appears in the heaven. He sustains Gods and Men (He confers on men eternal Bliss or a mortal body once more accordingly as they acquit themselves on earth) He comes in golden chariot illuminating all worlds. Adoring the Sun God among the Gods, the loftier light that rests above darkness or Sin, we attain most excellent light. His rays bearing him a lot, the God who knows the ways of all living beings; Surya, that all my look on Him adore Him- and become wise. The wonderful collection of rays has risen (the orb of light). This orb is the eye of the earth, air, and heaven. This orb has filled the Earth, Air and Heaven with light everywhere. Sun God is the soul of all things that move and all that move not. This brilliant eye the orb of the Sun, on whom  as lord of sacrifices the Devas depend for their oblations, rises in the East. May we live a hundred years to see Him! May we live plenty through His grace! May we be happy in His presence for a hundred years! May we through His grace live secure in our homes. May we learn the secrets of Vedic theosophy from our guru, and may we gladly impart the same to our disciples. May we never meet the reverses, and may we long live to see and adore Him. May He who rises  with resplendent glory from the midst of waters, out of the eastern ocean- the bright eyed and all wise Surya, who shower all blessings on His worshipers, may make me pure in mind.
EVENING UPASTHANA MANTRA:- Hear Oh! Varuna Lord, this is my prayer. Be gracious unto me this day, longing for protection. I pray to you. (This prayer rik is said to have been taught by Sage Viswamitra to Sunassephah, when he was tied to the sacrificial post and about to be immortalized by Harischandra to appease the wrath of Lord Varuna. This prayer saved him from death.) Adoring you with prayer, I beg long life from you, the one who performs the sacrifice does the same with oblations he offers to you; therefore, Lord Varuna without indifference in this matter, take my prayer into your kind consideration and do not cut off our lives. Oh! Lord Varuna, whatever law of yours we, as men, violate day after day, forgives us for those trespasses. (The ethical consciousness of human frailty and the appeal for mercy and forgiveness based on such consciousness find a beautiful and simple earnest expression in this Rik). Oh! Lord Varuna whatever offence we, as men, have committed against divine beings, whatever work of yours, we have neglected through ignorance, do not destroy us, for such sins. Whatever offence is attributed to us by our enemies as by gamblers at dice, whatever sins we may have really committed and what we may have done without knowing--please destroy all those sins. Also pray that we shall become beloved to you.
Then follows the prayers to Gods residing in all directions. Kamam Akarsheet Manyu Akarsheet mantra follows. This is a shortened version of the actual mantra in the Veda. Whatever sins I have committed, has been done by passion or anger and not by me- hence forgive me. Oh! Lord I bow to you again and again.
Sandhya prayer now closes with Abhivadanam or salutation. The practice of reciting at this stage a few slokas from puranas and slokas in praise of Lord Vishnu, Siva, Yama does not form integral part of Vedic Sandhyaavandana. After Raksha (protection) mantra the whole ceremony is brought to a close by an internal purification of the body by Aachamanam and dedicating the entire service gone through to Para Brahman.
Summing up, Sandhya Upasana service is simply a thanksgiving and a prayer to the Universal Lord.  It begins with external purification of body by sprinkling of water by chanting few hymns, and internal purification by sipping few drops of consecrated water. We pray all sins committed during the preceding 12 hours be washed away.
After conducting purification functions, the worshiper feel that he is worthy of approaching the Supreme Lord and pays his adorations to Him, by offering of water according to traditional practice of Arghya,  He looks at the Sun Lord and makes his offering. His offerings are really to the Paramatman, the nameless one. Sun is only visible symbol of God’s power and glory. He praises with Vedic hymns and implores Him to forgive him; his sins and vouch safe to him- His grace and Blessings.
 Sandhya Vandanam is one of the few remaining links that unite us to a glorious past. It is duly rendered imperative by solemn voice of Vedic injunction. It is a distinctive badge for us.
 Concluding Remarks
Na annam udagam dhanam na thithir dwadasee samahah Na Gayathrya paro mantrah: Na Mathur daivatam param.
The greatest charity  on earth is Annadaanam (food charity). Similarly nothing is more important than Dwadasee Tithi (12th day of fortnight), Gaayatree Mantra, and Mother.
Achuta Ananta Govinda Namoccharana Bheshajad Nasyanti Sakala Rogaat  Satyam Satyam Vadaamyaham.

 Chanting of Glory of God (Achyuta, Ananta Govinda) is considered as medicine for all diseases. Hence, the importance of Achamanam  by chanting the Lord’s name. This is called Nama Trayee Vidya (the three names teachings.

(Discourse on Sandhya Vandanam in Malayalam by Brahmasri  P.S.Ramanathan- Disciple of Brahmasri. Sangameswara Sastrigal published in 1985 at Calicut Following Saayana Bashyam.  May God bless you!)                                                           

                                                        APPENDIX II

Sandhyavandana calls  for worship of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra together
(N.R.Srinivasan)

In this context may I recall my remarks that irrespective their following (Vishnu, Siva or Sakta) in Sandhyavandna all chant the name Achyuta, Ananta and Govinda in Aaachamana though traditions interpret them to their convenience (see my 16-steps Pooja).   Similarly, Kesavaadi Japam and Tarpanam are employed, to oblate, purify or electrify by  cold water. If you go through my discourse on “Some Vedic Mantras used in worships and rituals in Hindu Temples and Homes” there are several mantras which are applicable to Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra all directed to Parabrahman which are employed in all sectarian traditional worship though they do not use normally Rudram min Vishnu temple and Purushasooktam in Siva temples by tradition or compulsion quoting Aagamas.   I am not an Aagma expert and I do not know whether these sectarian views are correct. But it is interesting to note a particular mantra in MNU which pertains to Gayatree mantra which has been abridged to suit sectarian views :

Ojoci sahohoci balamaci bhraajoci devaanaam  dhaamanaamaaci viswamaci  viswaayuh sarvamaci sarvaayuh abhibhoorom gaayatreem aavaahayaami saavitreem aavaahayaami sarasvateem  aavaahayaami Chchndarsheen aavaahahyaami sriyam  aaavaahayaami Gaayatriyaa gaayatree chchandoe viswaamitra rishih savitaa devaagnir-mukham  brahmaa siro vishnur-hridayam rudrah sikha prithavee yonih praana-apaana-vyaana-udaana samaana sweta-varna saankhyaanasa-gotraa gayatree chaturvimsati-aksharaa tripadaa shatkukshih panchaseersha Upanayane viniyogah ||

Oh Gaayatree, Thou art the essence of strength. Thou art patience. Or the subduing power.  Thou art physical capacity. Thou are splendor.  Thou art the abode of gods and their name.  Thou art the insentient universe.  Thou art the full span of life or the lord of all.  Thou art the living thing.  Thou art the life span of all.  Thou art the vanquisher of all that is hostile to us. Thou art TRUTH by the Pranava.   I invoke Gaayatree into my heart. I invoke Savitri. I invoke Sarsvati. I invoke the Meters, the Rishis and the Gods. Of Gaayatree the meter is Gaayatree, the Rishi is Viswamitra, and the Dity is Savitri. Fire (Agni) represents the mouth; the four faced Brahma, the head, Vishnu, the heart; Rudra (Jathaadara), the crown-hair; Earth, the source; the in-breath, the out-breath, the diffused breath, middle breath, the up-breath and the breath. Gaayatree is fair in hue and is of the same family of Prqamaatman attained by the Saankhyaqas—the illumined sages. The deity Gaayatree has twenty-four syllables, comprised in three feet, six sheaths or cavities and five heads. It is employed in Upanayana, or initiation into Vedic studies or studentship.

Unfortunately this full Mantra in not included in usual Sandhyavandana Mantras, knowingly or unknowingly like the Kamokarsheet and manyurakarsheet mantras which I have discussed. Now you know why Kesavaadi Japa and Aaachmana though contains Vishnus names of Puranas are universally applicable to all who want to study Vedas irrespective of caste or creed. Incidentally this is the Mantra that inspired Grihya Sootras to come with elaborate details of Upanayana   Samskaara.   I have already explained why Gaayatree is also addressed as Savitri and Sarasvati in discourses on Sandhyavandana Mantras. 
.                                                                      

                                                                  APPENDIX III

    HOW CAN WE MAKE YOGA SUITABLE TO ALL FOR SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT

Everybody loves Yoga, irrespective of the religion they follow, for its benefits to grow in Body and Mind. What they do not like is its spiritual direction by way of chanting Om and breathes’ control using Gaayatree Mantra. Recently I was taken by   surprise by the broad outlook and wise approach of an immigrant  Muslim Yoga teacher from Saudi Arabia who is at the same time a devout Muslim. Her understanding of Gaayatree Mantra based on an English translation is as follows:

Who pervades the Universe and sustains all. The Creator and Energizer of the whole Universe, the Giver of happiness, Who is worthy of acceptance, the most excellent, Who is Peace and Purifier of all, let us embrace that very God, so that He May f direct our mental faculties in the right direction”.
She replaces OM with her own mantra Ameen and recommends similarly Amen to Christians and Jews. My own Christian Yoga Master ends the class with three peace invocations: Peace within, peace in the outside world and peace of God which passes all understanding.
I believe these guidelines should be pleasing to all who are celebrating International Yoga Day doing Surya Namaskar and meditation with various Yoga postures. Incidentally the objection to Surya Namaskar is not to the yoga posture but to the name. Here again this posture is not  for worshiping Sun as it is also performed in closed rooms. As you all know there is a separate mantra in Mid-day Sandhyavandana to look at sun with a hand gesture and aperture to look at him and pray which I quote from my discourse: 
"Then with Yamapaasa mudra, an aperture to look at sun made with both the hands and fingers  (consult your parents or priest-- ) chant the mantra: Pasyema saradassatam | jeevema saradassatam | nandaama saradassatam |  moedaama saradassatam |  bhavaama saradassatam srinavaama saradssatam |  prabravaama saradssatam| ajeetaasyaama saradssatam jyoekcha-sooryam drise || ya udagaan-mahatoernavaat-vibhraajamaanah sareerasya-madhyaat samaa vrishabhoe roehitaakshah sooryoe vipaschin manasaa  punaatu ||  
 [Let us live looking at Soorya for hundred years, let us live for hundred years, let us rejoice for hundred years let us enjoy for hundred years let us hear for hundred years!  May   Lord Soorya glowing like a fireball purify our mind.]  This act not only seeks blessings from Soorya but is also recommended for the health of the vision in Ayurveda by limited exposure to naked eye.
 My own Christian American Yoga  teacher calls it vertical tree posture.  Those who do not like Sun may call it Chandra Namaskar, since Moon shines because of the borrowed light from Sun and a satellite of Earth. I believe no body objects to the word “Namaste” as Christianity also believes in God is within you! My Yoga class happily ends with the word Namaste being repeated by all participants drawn from multi-religion and multi-culture. May be this word is repeated to pay tribute to Hindu culture that gave Yoga to the world thinking it as Indian way of greeting!