The crux of Hindu practice of Sandhyavandanam lies in the repeated chanting - with utmost concentration - of the sacred ‘Gayatri Mantra’. The repetition range is anywhere from 11 to 101 to 1001. At a highly superficial level, this is what you are told to do when you are 7-year old and this is what you do in the initial stages after the sacred thread ceremony [also called Upanayanam]. But this manual chanting of the Gayatri Mantra - repeated chanting of anything, come to think of it - is more often than not associated with the wanderings of the mental state to the oh-so-wonderful materialistic tastes that go with the modern life, and this defeats the very purpose of Sandhyavandanam [SV]. And so, after some years of blindly following the ritual, you feel that it is not really enhancing the spiritual in you and so, the 1001 comes down to 101 to 11 and then even 1 and finally – if you come abroad, especially – you stop performing the Sandhyavandanam ritual completely. This is exactly what happened to me.
As I grew older, the science around me tried to tell me that SV is not just about repeating a sloka x number of times. It is about trying to “connect” to an almighty through your mental faculties. If you can do this, then the sloka is irrelevant and the x is irrelevant. But it is easier said than done, to get through this “connection”. It needs high amount of concentration and an absolute removal of yourself from everyone and everything around you. Like being “amidst the clouds” all by yourself. [It helps to picturise being “amidst the clouds” feeling if you travel abroad in an airplane. It is such a wonderful sight!]
Then I read this book called ‘The Secret’ by Rhonda. Concept encouraged in this book is that if you want something, act as if you already have it and feel it in you so much that you will eventually get it. Personally I didn’t like it so much and this is what I thought about it. Perhaps it was the way it was written. But the concept seemed interesting and almost believable. The missing thing in this book was of course exact science. And then, when I read Akbar’s blog, the science blended in beautifully.
Akbar wrote two blog posts: This concept of Manifestation and 15 minutes of meditation. He has written both extremely well. It all makes so much sense when you read them both.
To put it concisely, this is what the first blog post says: [refer to the pictorial graph in the first blog post link]: When you think of something and something alone hard in your mental state, you cause such a high amount of vibration within you that it breaks through your own negative barriers and belief system and eventually outputs the desired goal. The human mind has the power to create just by thinking! And how do you achieve this level of thinking? Normal thinking will not give desired goals because normal thinking wanders from one topic to another!
Akbar mentions that this level of thinking can be achieved by meditation. And, in the second blog post, he mentions how to meditate. And, if you think about it, the whole point of SV was about meditation. Concentrating on the Gayatri Mantra for a definite or indefinite period of time is actually nothing but meditation. Meditation, in its purest form, means not to “connect” to any God, but to improve the thinking process, to negate the belief system, to know that a human mind can create wonders just by thinking. Akbar himself talks about the advantages of meditation in his blog post. [Going one step further: yoga, meditation, vocal music and SV are all concentrated on the human breath. The more you can control your breath, the better control you have on your own life]
So, coming back to the multiple chanting of the Gayatri Mantra in the Sandhyavandanam:
Was the real intention of multiple chanting of Gayatri Mantra in Sandhyavandanam to get a better control of one’s own life by a strong mental state, to channelize the thought process to create what one wants in life and achieve one’s own goals?
It is a question to be pondered about...
1. Saw this video recently. Isnt this what we do (or we see people do) in temples?! Super Brain Yoga, indeed!!
2. The meaning of Namasthe. Courtesy: Nikhil's blog.