Our Nitya karmas are meaningful and contain scientific truths.
It isn’t with any intention of concealing the benefits of the vedic path that our forefathers did not explain the material benefits of performing nitya karma-s. The reason is that the knowledge of the veda-s can be used both for constructive and destructive purposes. It is believed that GERMAN Scientists and in particular Atomic Scientists drew a lot from the veda-s to create weapons of mass-destruction like the atom bomb. Therefore, the veda-s and our forefathers do not lay all facts bare. It is for this reason that the veda-s are also called CHANDAS — knowledge that is secret. Also, our forefathers eschew the idea of obtaining any material benefits from the path of the veda-s. We are supposed to use the veda-s entirely for spiritual upliftment — to lead us to the path of salvation.
Benefits of Sandhyavandanam
Let us now dwell on the benefits one reaps from the most important nitya karma — sandhyavandanam. Why on earth does one need to perform sandhyavandanam everyday? The sastra-s simply say –
Sandhyaa-heenah ashuchir nityam anarhah sarva¬karmasu Yadanyat kurute karma na tasya phalam ashnute
(A person, who does not perform sandhyavandanam regularly, is impure. He is unfit to do any other rite. Any other rite that he performs is a waste)
Does that convince us? Not quite. So let us look at some of the material benefits that one gets by performing sandhyavandanam and analyze what the of its salient aspects are. In its essence, sandhyavandanam is the perfect means to living the adage — a healthy mind in a healthy body.
Sandhya — the time of its performance
The veda-s extol the virtues of the times of the day when sandhyavandanam is expected to be performed — viz, sunrise, midday and sunset.
The right time to perform the pratah (morning) sandhya for instance is prescribed to be the time just before sunrise. Scientific studies have shown that the pre-dawn time is the time in which the availability of ozone is at its peak. It has also been proved that there is an abundant release of beneficial energy at sunrise and withdrawal of non-beneficial energy at sunset. The performance of sandhyavandanam at the right time enables us to reap these benefits.
Purification of the body and mind
The key aspect of sandhyavandanam is its purificatory faculty. There are two primary purificatory rites that form part of sandhyavandanam. These are the aachamanam and the pranayarnam. Aachamanam involves the sipping of water from the palm of one’s hand. The exact amount of water ingested with the mantra-s prescribed has been shown to induce the flow of bioelectricity in the body. This bioelectricity increases one’s sensory perception and purifies the body. It also involves touching twelve specific parts of one’s body. This process of touching one’s body has been prescribed with the intent of activating specific nerve endings that energize one’s body. This is what is called the activation of the plexus (chakra-s)— something that has gained much popularity in recent times. Many modern meditation methods start with the activation of these chakra-s, which has immense physical benefits. This, in fact, is another of the benefits of donning the twelve thirumann-s, in twelve specified places in one’s body.
The other major purificatory act is the pranayama — which does not need much explanation. The benefits of pranayama have been demonstrated, far and wide, by the teachers and students of yoga. One benefit of pranayama, which is often ignored, is the impact it has on one’s mind. It is widely known that doing pranayama well is an excellent breathing exercise and that it helps regulate one’s heart and one’s breathing. What is often ignored is that performing pranayama meticulously helps control one’s mind. Controlling one’s breath regularly helps channelize one’s mental energies and achieve what is commonly known as concentration. At a more sublime level, it helps one divert oneself from less important things and achieve control over one’s senses.
The Gayatri Mantra
The most crucial aspect of sandhyavandanam is perhaps the GAYATRI MANTRA and its chanting. The benefits of the GAYATRI MANTRA have been extolled by one and all. The most interesting of these encomiums appears in the most unanticipated of sources — the AKBARNAMA, which we will discuss next month.
(to be continued)