SHRIMAD DEVI BHAGAVATAM | BOOK 11 CHAPTER 16

THE ELEVENTH BOOK

Chapter XVI

On the description of Sandhyā Upāsānā

1-24. Nārāyaṇa said:

Now I am speaking of the very holy Sandhyopāsanā method of Sandhyā worship of Gāyatrī, the Presiding Deity of the morning, midday and evening, and of the twice-born. Listen.

The greatness of using Bhaṣma has been described in detail. No further need be stated on the subject. I shall talk, first of all, of the morning Sandhyā.

The morning Sandhyā is to be done early in the morning while the stars are visible. When the Sun is in the meridian, the midday Sandhyā is to be performed; and while the Sun is visibly going down, the evening Sandhyā is to be recited over.

Now again, the distinctions are made in the above three Sandhyās:

The morning Sandhyā with stars seen is the best; with stars disappeared, middling; and with the Sun risen above the horizon, inferior.

So the evening Sandhyā, again, is of three kinds: best, middling, and inferior.

When the Sun is visibly disappearing, the evening Sandhyā is the best; when the Sun has gone down the horizon, it is middling and when the stars are visible, it is inferior.

The Brāhmaṇas are the root of the Tree, the Sandhyā Vandanam; the Vedas are the branches; the religious actions are the leaves.

Therefore its root should be carefully preserved. If the root be cut, no branches or leaves of the tree will remain.

That Brāhmaṇa who knows not his Sandhyā or who does not perform the Sandhyās is a living Śūdra. That Brāhmaṇa after his death verily becomes a dog.

Therefore the Sandhyās must be observed every day. Otherwise no right comes at all to do any action.

At the sunrise and the sunset the time for Sandhyā is two Daṇḍas (48 minutes) and if Sandhyā be not done or rather neglected in the interval, the Prāyaśchitta (penance) is to he paid duly (performed duly).

If the proper time for Sandhyā expires, one more offering of Arghya is to be made in addition to the three Arghayas daily made or the Gāyatrī is to be repeated one hundred and eight times before the Sandhyā is commenced.

In whichever time any action ought to be done, worship, first of all, the Sandhyā Devī, the Presiding Deity of that time and do the actions proper to that time afterwards.

The Sandhyā performed in dwelling houses is ordinary; the Sandhyā done in enclosures of cows is middling and on the banks of the rivers is good and the Sandhyā performed before the Devī’s temple or the Devī’s seat is very excellent.

The Sandhyopāsanā ought to be done before the Devī, because that is the worship of the very Devī. The three Sandhyās done before the Devī give infinitely excellent fruits.

There is no other work of the Brāhmaṇas better than this Sandhyā.

One can rather avoid worshipping Śiva or Viṣṇu; because that is not daily done as obligatory; but the Sandhyopāsanā ought to be done daily.

The Gāyatrī of the Great Devī is the Essence of all the mantras in the Vedas. In the Veda Śāstras, the worship of Gāyatrī is most definitely pronounced.

Brahmā and the other Devas meditate in the Sandhyā times on this Devī Gāyatrī and make a japam of that. The Vedas always make Japams of Her. For this reason the Gāyatrī has been mentioned as the object of worship by the Vedas.

The Brāhmaṇas are called Śaktas inasmuch as they worship the Primal Śaktī (Force) Gāyatrī, the Mother of the Vedas. They are neither Śaivas nor Vaiṣṇavas.

Firstly make the ordinary Āchamana three times, and, while inhaling, drink a little of the water of Āchamana, repeating:  “Om Keśavāya Svāhā, Om Nārāyaṇāya Svāhā, Om Mādhavāya Svāhā.”

Then wash your two hands, repeating: “Om Govindāya Namaḥ, Om Viṣṇave Namaḥ.”

Then by the root of the thumb rub the lips repeating: “Om Madhū sūdanāya Namaḥ, Om Trivikramāya Namaḥ.”

So rub the mouth, repeating: “Om Vāmamāya Namaḥ, Om Śrīdharāya Namaḥ.”

Then sprinkle water on the left hand, saying: “Om Hriṣīkeśāya Namaḥ.”

Sprinkle water on the legs, saying: “Om Padmanābhāya Namaḥ.”

Sprinkle water on the head, saying: “Om Dāmodarāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the mouth with the three fingers of the right hand, saying: “Om Samkarṣaṇāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the nostrils with the thumb and forefinger saying “Om Vāsudevāya Namaḥ, Om Pradyumnāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the eyes with the thumb and ring-finger, saying “Om Aniruddhāya Namaḥ, Om Puruṣottamāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the ears with the thumb and ring finger saying:  “Om Adhokṣajāya Namaḥ, Om Nārasimhāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the navel with the thumb and little finger saying: “Om Achyutāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the breast with the palm, saying: “Om Janārdanāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the head saying: “Om Upendrāya Namaḥ.”

Touch the roots of the two arms saying: “Om Haraye Namaḥ, Om Kṛṣṇāya Namaḥ.”

25-50. While sipping the Āchamana water on the right hand, touch the right hand with your left hand; otherwise; the water does not become pure.

While doing Āchamana, make the palm and the fingers all united and close, of the form of a Gokarṇa (the ear of a cow) and spreading the thumb and the little finger, drink the water of the measure of a pea.

If a greater or less quantity be sipped, then that would amount to drinking liquor.

Then thinking of the Praṇava, make the Prāṇāyāma, and repeat mentally the Gāyatrī with her head and the Turīya pāda, i.e., Āpojyotiḥ rasomritam Brahmā Bhur Bhuvaḥ svarom.

Inhale the air by the left nostril (Pūraka); close both the nostrils (Kumbhaka) and exhale the air, by the right nostril (Rechaka). Thus Prāṇāyāma is performed.

While doing Pūraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka repeat the Gāyatrī every time; hold the right nostril with the right thumb and hold the left nostril with the ring finger and little finger (i.e., don’t use forefinger and middle finger).

The Yogis who have controlled their minds say that Prāṇāyāma is performed by the three processes: Pūraka, Kumbhaka and Rechaka.

The external air is inhaled in Pūraka; air is not exhaled nor inhaled (it is retained inside) in Kumbhaka; and air is exhaled in Rechaka.

While doing Pūraka, meditate on the navel, the four-armed high-souled Viṣṇu, of the blue colour (Śyāma) like the blue lotus.

While doing Kumbhaka, meditate in the heart lotus the four-faced grandsire Brahmā Prajāpati, the Creator seated on the lotus

and while doing Rechaka meditate, on the fore-head, on the white sin-destroying Śankara, pure as crystal.

In Pūraka, the union with Viṣṇu is obtained; in Kumbhaka, the knowledge of Brahmā is attained and in Rechaka, the highest position of Īśvara (Śiva) is attained. This is the method of Āchamana according to the Purāṇas.

Now I am speaking of the all sin destroying Vaidik Āchamana. Listen.

Reciting the Gāyatrī mantra “Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ,” sip a little water; this is the Vaidik Āchamana after repeating the seven great Vyārhitis:

Om Bhu; Om Bhuva, Om Sva, Om Maha, Om Jana, Om Tapa, Om Satyam,

repeat Gāyatrī and the head of the Gāyatrī - Āpojyotiḥ Rasomritam Brahmā Bhur Bhuvaḥ svarom and practise Prāṇāyāma three times. Hereby all sins are destroyed and all virtues spring.

Now another sort of Prāṇāyāma Mudra is described:

The Vānaprasthīs and Grihasthas would do Prāṇāyāma with five fingers, holding the tip of the nose; the Brahmachārins and Yatis would do Prāṇāyāma with the thumbs, little finger, and ring finger (avoiding middle and fore).

Now I am speaking of the Āghamaṣaṇa Mārjana mantra. Listen.

The Mantra of this Mārjana is “Āpohiṣṭhā Mayobhuvaḥ, etc.”

There are three mantras in this. There are three Pādas in every mantra, prefix Om to every pāda (thus nine times Om is to be prefixed); at the end of every pāda sprinkle water on the head with the sacrificial thread and the Kuśa grass. Or at the end of every mantra do so.

By the above Mārjana (cleaning) the sins of one hundred years are instantly destroyed.

Then making Āchamana (taking a sip of water to rinse the mouth before worship), repeat the three Mantras “Om Sūryaścha mā manyuścha, etc.” By this act, the mental sins are destroyed.

As Mārjana is done with Praṇava, Vyārhiti, and Gāyatrī, so make Mārjana by the three mantras “Āpohiṣṭhā, etc.”

Make your right palm of the shape of a cow’s ear; take water in it and carry it before your nose and think thus:

“There is a terrible sinful person in my left abdomen, his colour is dark black and he is horrible looking.”

Recite, then, the mantras:  “Om ritamcha satyamchābhīdhyāt, etc.” and “Drupādādiva Mumuchāna, etc.” and bring that Sinful Person through your right nostril to the water in the palm.

Don’t look at that water; throw it away on a bit of stone to your left. And think that you are now sinless.

Next, rising from the seat, keep your two feet horizontal and with the fingers except forefinger and thumb, take a palm full of water and with your face towards the Sun, recite the Gāyatrī three times and offer water to the Sun three times.

Thus, O Muni! The method of offering the Arghyas has been mentioned to you.

51-80. Then circumambulate, repeating the Sūrya Mantra.

The one thing to be noted in offering Arghyas is this:

Offer once in the midday, and three times in the morning and three times in the evening.

While offering the Arghya in the morning, bend yourself a little low; in offering the arghya in the midday, stand up; and while offering the arghya in the evening, it can be done while sitting.

Now I will tell you why the Arghya is offered to the Sun. Hear.

Thirty Koṭi Rākṣasas known as the Mandehas, always roam on the path of the Sun (the mental Sun also). They are great heroes, treacherous and ferocious. They always try to devour the Sun, while they assume terrible forms.

For this reason the Devas and the Riṣis combined offer the water with their folded hands to the Sun, while they perform the great Sandhyā Upāsānā.

The water thus offered, becomes transformed into the thunderbolt and burns the heads of the cruel demons (and throws them on the island Mandehāruṇa) Therefore the Brāhmaṇas daily do their Sandhyopāsanā. Infinite merits accrue from this Sandhyā Upāsānā.

O Nārada! Now I am speaking to you of the Mantras pertaining to the Arghya. No sooner they are pronounced the full effects of performing the Sandhyās are obtained.

I am That Sun; I am That Light; I am That Ātman (Self); I am Śiva; I am the Light of Atman; I am clear and transparently white; I am of the nature of all energy ; and I am of the nature of Rāsa (the sweetness, all the sweet sentiments).

O Devī! O Gāyatrī! O Thou! Who art of the nature of Brahmā! Let Thee come and preside in my heart to grant me success in this Japa Karma.

O Devī! O Gāyatrī! Entering into my heart, go out again with this water. But Thou wouldst have to come again.

Sit thus on a pure seat and with a single intent repeat the Gāyatrī, the Mother of the Vedas.

O Muni! In this Sandhyopāsanā, the Khecharī Mudra ought to be done after practising the Prāṇāyāma. Hear now the meaning of the Khecharī Mudra.

When the soul of a being leaves the objects of senses, it roams in the Ākāśa, i.e., it becomes aimless when the tongue also goes to the Ākāśa and roams there; and then the sight is fixed between the eyebrows; this is called the Khecharī Mudra.

There is no Āsana (seat) equal to Siddhāsana and there is no Vāyu (air) equal to the Kumbhaka Vāya (suspension of air in the body).

O Nārada! There is no Mudra equal to the Khecharī Mudra. One is to pronounce Praṇava in Pluta (protracted) accents like the sound of a bell and, suspending his breath, sit quiet motionless in Sthirāsana without any Ahaṁkāra (egoism).

O Nārada! I am now talking of Siddhāsana and its characteristic qualities. Hear.

Keep one heel below the root of the genital and the other heel below the scrotum; keep the whole body and breast straight and motionless; withdraw the senses from their objects and look at the point, the pituitary body, between the eyebrows.

This posture is called the Siddhāsana and is pleasant to the yogis.

After taking this seat, invoke the Gāyatrī:

“O Mother of the Vedas! O Gāyatrī! Thou art the Devī granting boons to the Bhaktas. Thou art of the nature of Brahmā. Be gracious unto Me.

O Devī! Whoever worships Thee in the day gets his day sins destroyed and in the night, night sins destroyed. O Thou! Who art all the letters of the alphabet! O Devī! O Sandhye!

O Thou who art of the nature of Vidyā! O Saraswatī! O Ajaye! O Thou immortal! Free from disease and decay. O Mother! Who art all the Devas! I bow down to Thee.”

Invoke the Devī again by the mantra “Ojosi, etc.,” and then pray:

“O Mother! Let my japam and other acts in Thy worship be fulfilled with success by Thy Grace.”

Next for the freedom of the curse of Gāyatrī, do the things properly.

Brahmā gave a curse to Gāyatrī; Viśvāmitra gave a curse to Her and Vaṣiṣṭha also cursed Her. These are the three curses; they are removed in due order by recollecting Brahmā, Viśvāmitra and Vaṣiṣṭha.

Before doing Nyāsa, one ought to collect oneself and remember the Highest Self:

think in the lotus of the heart that Puruṣa (Person) who is Truth; who is all this Universe, who is the Highest Self and who is All knowledge and who cannot be comprehended by words.

Now I am speaking of the Amganyāsa of Sandhyā; Hear.

First utter Om and then utter the mantra.

Touch the two legs, saying: “Om Bhuḥpādābhyām Namaḥ

Touch the knees, saying: “Om Bhuva Jānubhyām Namaḥ

Touch the hip, saying: “Om Svaḥ Kaṭibhyām Namaḥ

Touch the navel, saying: “Om Mahārnābhyai Namaḥ

Touch the heart, saying: “Om Janaḥ Hridayāya Namaḥ

Touch the throat, saying: “Om Tapaḥ Kaṇṭhāya Namaḥ

Touch the forehead, saying: “Om Satyam Lalāṭāya Namaḥ

Thus perform the Vyārhiti Nyāsa.

Next perform the Karāmganyāsa thus:

Om Tat savituḥ ramguṣṭhābhyām Namaḥ (referring to the thumb);

Om Vareṇyam Tarjanībhyām Namaḥ (referring to the forefinger);

Om bhargo devasya madhyamā bhyām Namaḥ (referring to the middle finger);

Om Dhīmahī anāmikābhyām Namaḥ (referring to the ring finger);

Om dhīyo yonaḥ Kaniṣṭhābyām Namaḥ (referring to the little finger);

Om Prachodayāt Kara Tal pristhābhyām Namaḥ (referring to the upper part and lower part of the palm and all over the body).

81-106. Now I am speaking of the Amganyāsa. Hear.

Om tat savitur Brahmātmane Hridayāya Namaḥ (referring to the heart.)

Om Vareṇyam Viṣṇuātmane Śirase Namaḥ (referring to the head);

Om bhargo devasya Rudrātmane Śikhāyai Namaḥ (referring to the crown of the head);

Om Dhīmahī Śaktyātmane Kavachāya Namaḥ (referring to the Kavācha);

Om dhīyo yonaḥ Kālātmane netratrayāya Namaḥ (referring to the three eyes);

Om Prachodayāt sarvātmane Astrāya Namaḥ (referring to the Astra or armour, protecting the body).

Now I am speaking of the Varṇanyāsa.

O Great Muni! Hear. This Varṇanyāsa is performed by the letters in the Gāyatrī mantra. If anybody does this, he becomes freed of sins.

Om Tat Namaḥ” on the two toes; (touching them).
Om Sa Namaḥ” on the two heels; (touching them).
Om Vi Namaḥ” on the legs;
Om Tu Namaḥ” on the two knees;
Om Va Namaḥ” on the two thighs;
Om re Namaḥ” on the anus;
Om ṇi Namaḥ” on the generative organ;
Om ya Namaḥ” on the hip;
Om bha Namaḥ” on the navel;
Om Rgo Namaḥ” on the heart;
Om De Namaḥ” on the breasts;
Om va Namaḥ” on the heart;
Om sya Namaḥ” on the throat;
Om dhī Namaḥ” on the mouth;
Om ma Namaḥ” on the palate;
Om hi Namaḥ” on the tip of the nose;
Om dhi Namaḥ” on the two eyes;
Om yo Namaḥ” on the space between the eye-brows;
Om yo Namaḥ” on the forehead;
Om naḥ Namaḥ” to the east;
Om pra Namaḥ” to the south;
Om cho Namaḥ” on the west;
Om da Namaḥ” on the north;
Om yā Namaḥ” on the head;
Om ta Namaḥ” on the whole body from head to foot.

Some Jāpakas (those who do the Japam) do not approve of the above Nyāsa. Thus the Nyasa is to be done.

Then meditate on the Gāyatrī or the World-Mother:

The beauty of the body of the Gāyatrī Devī is like that of the full blown Java flower. She is seated on the big red lotus on the back of the Hamsa (Flamingo); She is holding the red coloured garland on Her neck and anointed with red coloured unguent.

She has four faces; every face has two eyes. On her four hands are a wreath of flowers, a sacrificial ladle, a bead, and a Kamaṇḍalu. She is blazing with all sorts of ornaments.

From the Devī Gāyatrī has originated first in the Rig Veda.

Brahmā worships the virgin Gāyatrī; on the idea of Śrī Parameśvarī Gāyatrī has four feet:

 The Rig Veda is one; the Yajurveda is the second, the Sāmavēda is the third and the Atharva Veda is the fourth foot.

The Gāyatrī has eight bellies; the east side is the one; the south is the second; the west is the third; the north is the fourth; the zenith is the fifth; the nadir is the sixth; the intermediate space is the seventh and all the corners are the eighth belly.

Gāyatrī has seven Śiras (heads):

Vyākaraṇam (Grammar) is one; Śikṣā is the second (that Amga of the Veda, the science which teaches the proper pronunciation of words and laws of euphony); Kalpa is the third (the Vedānga which lays down the ritual and prescribes rules for ceremonial and sacrificial acts); Nirukta is the fourth (the Vedānga that contains glossarial explanation of obscure words, especially those occurring in the Vedas); Jyotish or astronomy is the fifth; Itihāsa (history) and Purāṇas is the sixth head; and Upaniṣads is the seventh head.

Agni (fire) is the mouth of Gāyatrī; Rudra is the Śikhā (the chief part); Her gotra (lineage) is Sāmkhyāyaṇa; Viṣṇu is the heart of Gāyatrī and Brahmā is the armour of Gāyatrī. Think of this Maheśvarī Gāyatrī in the middle of the Solar Orb.

Meditating on the Gāyatrī Devī as above, the devotee should show the following twenty-four Mudras (signs by the fingers, etc., in religious worship) for the satisfaction of the Devī:

(1) Sanmukh; (2) Sampūṭ; (3) Vitata (4) Vistṛita; (5) Dvimukha; (6) Trimukha; (7) Chaturmukha; (8) Pañchamukha; (9) Ṣaṇmukha; (10) Adhomukha; (11) Vyāpaka; (12) Anjali; (13) Śakaṭa (14) Yamapāśa; (15) fingers intertwined end to end; (16) Vilamba (17) Muṣṭika; (18) Matsya; (19) Kūrma; (20) Varāha; (21) Simhākrānta; (22) Mahākrānta; (23) Mudgara; (24) Pallava.

Next make japam once only of one hundred syllabled Gāyatrī:

Thus twenty-four syllabled Sāvitrī, “Jātavedase sunavāma, etc.,” forty-four syllabled mantra; and the thirty two syllabled mantra, “Tryambakam Yajāmahe, etc.” These three mantras united make up one hundred lettered Gāyatrī. (The full context of the last Mantra is this: Om Haum Om yum saḥ - Tryambakam Yajāmahe Sugandhim Puṣṭi Vardhanam/ Urvārukamiva bandhanān mrityo mūkṣiya mamritātBhur Bhuvaḥ. Svarom Yum Svaḥ Bhur Bhuvaḥ Svarom Haum.)

Next make japam of Bhur Bhuvaḥ Svaḥ, twenty four lettered Gāyatrī with Om.

O Nārada! The Brāhmaṇas are to perform daily the Sandhyopāsanā repeating Gāyatrī, completely adopting the rules above prescribed and then he will be able to enjoy completely pleasures, happiness and bliss.

Here ends the Sixteenth Chapter of the Eleventh Book on the description of Sandhyā Upāsānā in the Mahāpurāṇam Śrīmad Devī Bhāgavatam of 18,000 verses by Mahāṛṣi Veda Vyāsa.