The Sandhya vandana ritual is performed for Goddesses Gayatri, Savitri, and Saraswati, thrice a day:
- just before dawn
- at noon
- in the evening when the sun is half set
The steps in the ritual may differ as per the instructions of your kula-Guru (family’s religious teacher). Generally, it includes performing pranayama, offering arghya to Surya, and chanting of the pranava mantra Aum with the Gayatri mantra. After the Sandhya vandana ritual, the person can perform an Agnihotra or other prescribed yagnya, and proceed for routine work. A person who regularly performs Sandhya vandana with devotion, obtains a healthy life.
Who can perform Sandhya vandana as per the epic Ramayana?
- Son of a Vaishya and Shudra
While hunting, Dasharatha fatally hurt Shravana by mistake. Dasharatha then informed his aged parents. Shravana was the dutiful son who took meticulous care of his blind and dependent parents. Shravana’s Vaishya (merchant) father and Shudra (service-oriented) mother were grief-stricken because he was a devoted child and their only support. His sad ascetic father remarked that Shravana used to do his Sandhya vandana and yagnya rituals every day. He then cursed Dasharatha to die pining for his son. Indra himself came in an aerial chariot to take Shravana to Deva-loka.
- Brahmana-s and Kshatriya-s
Rishi Vishwamitra took Shree Rama and Lakshmana to the forest to deal with the Rakshasa-s who were disturbing their Brahmanical rituals. The trio performed the Sandhya vandana rituals at dawn before travelling further. After many Rakshasa-s were killed, they reached the kingdom of Videha where Rama married Seeta.
- Sumantra, a charioteer
Just before Rama’s coronation, Kaikeyi wished for his exile, and her son Bharata’s kingship. Rama, Lakshmana, and Seeta decided to leave the lavish palace of Ayodhya. Dasharatha’s charioteer Sumantra escorted them out of the city towards the forest. In the evening, Sumantra unyoked the horses and performed his Sandhya vandana rituals. The next day, he dropped them at Shringaverapura on the banks of River Ganga, and returned.
- Ravana, the son of a Brahmana and a Rakshasi
Ravana worshipped God Shiva who reluctantly granted him the Atma-linga. While carrying it, Ravana felt a tremendous urge to urinate due to God Shiva’s powers of maya. Ravana saw a young cowherd and asked him to hold the Atma-linga while he completed the job, which took quite a long time. The cowherd was God Ganesha in disguise who ran away with the Atma-linga, with Ravana in pursuit. Further, God Vishnu clouded the sun, making Ravana stop for his Sandhya vandana evening prayers. The cowherd called out Ravana 3 times as pre-decided and put down the heavy Atma-linga. The furious Ravana hit out at the boy. When God Ganesha appeared in his true form, Ravana apologized. Ravana then tried his best to dislodge the Atma-linga but failed.
- Vali, the monkey king
Vali was the brave and strong ruler of Kishkindha. Once, he was reciting his Sandhya vandana prayers at the confluence of 3 oceans in the south. Ravana had attacked him from behind, only to have Vali toss him all around the world. The Rakshasa swore that he will never attack Vali again and begged for his friendship which the vanara granted. Ravana later abducted Seeta, and Vali kidnapped his brother Sugreeva’s wife Ruma.
- Seeta, the Queen of Ayodhya
When Hanuman was searching for Seeta, he reached the beautiful Ashoka vatika. It was almost daybreak. Thinking she might come to a water stream for her Sandhya vandana, he decided to wait on a nearby tree. There, he found and recognized Seeta since he had seen her fly past in the Pushpaka vimana. Later, Hanuman burned down Lanka and reported the events back to Rama. This led the vanara sena to construct the auspicious Rama Setu, and the start of the war against the Rakshasa-s.
- Hanuman, the vanara God
When Shree Ram and Lakshmana were hurt on the battlefield, Hanuman carried a mountain with the sanjeeevani herbs to cure them. While returning the mountain back, Hanuman took a break for his Sandhya vandana prayers. Later, Lakshmana killed Indrajit who wanted to perform an Asuric yagnya, and Rama killed Kumbhakarna and Ravana.
- The royal couple
Rama and Seeta returned to Ayodhya and sat on the throne. Their daily routine concluded with the performance of the Sandhya vandana ritual in the evening, having dinner, visiting temples for devotional worship, and resting at night.
Thus, Ramayana shows that a person from any of the 4 varna (profession) or 4 varga (stages of life) can perform the Sandhya vandana rituals.