Samdhya Meditation and Agnihotra

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian balasr at YAHOO.COM
Fri Nov 2 11:43:38 CST 2001

Recently there has been a lot of discussion on SandhyA
and other karmas. Here's my 2c worth.

The sandhyA and agnihotra are nitya karma-s or
obligatory for dvijas in the first three Ashrama-s.
The fire worship is samidAdhAnam for unmarried and
aupAsana for householders. Apart from this brahma
yaGYam is also a nitya karma. pa.ncAyatana pUjA is
also obligatory for married householders. However,
only the head of the family needs to do this. If there
any other pUjA-s (say a special gaNesha pUjA) which
were done by the ancestors, that too becomes
obligatory (via shishhTAchAra). The nitya karma-s are
to be done even if one does not desire anything.

The reason is that we do many things against dharma in
life. The adharmic actions may not be intentional, or
may only be mental, but they will nevertheless have an
effect. Does fire not burn if a child puts it's finger
inside it? The effects of adharmic actions like
improper desires may not be immediately apparent, but
it can manifest anytime in the future. It is to
compensate for these that the nitya karmas are

When the child is young, the parents do many rituals
to compensate for the mistakes the child may have done
(eg, killing an insect) unknowingly. Just because it
is a child, does not excuse it from the law of karma.
So "I didn't know it, so it won't affect me" kind of
arguments (put forth by many in this list) is not a
valid excuse and against the basic tenets of our

Anyway, the nitya karmas have to be done daily. There
were many quotations from various books on when
mAdhyAnnikam is to be done etc. Different books say
different things. The late mahAsannidhAnam of Sringeri
who was a GYAni and an authority on all branches of
learning has suggested doing it in the morning along
with the morning sandhyAvandanam for people like us.
Sri Narayanananda Bharati Swami told me that unless
trikAla sandhyA is performed (even with errors is Ok),
nothing else will bear fruit. And better to do sandhyA
with many errors than not at all. No need to worry
about where to throw the water and so on. The kitchen
sink is good enough if there's nothing else.

It takes 20 minutes to do the morning sandhyA,
afternoon sandhyA and the brahma yaGYam *with proper
svaram* and 32 gAyatrI-s in each sandhyA. I have been
doing that pretty much everyday from age 8. With a few
months practice anyone can finish all three in 20
minutes. And surely this is not a great burden on
anyones time? If it is a burden, the solution is
simple: get up 20 minutes earlier!

Of course, the agnihotra part is tricky. Being in an
apartment in the US practically precludes it due to
fire regulations.


PS: It is never too late to do upanayanam, better late
than never. The statements from smr^iti-s have to be
carefully interpreted and not taken literally.

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