We had the opportunity of conducting the upanayanam of our younger son in the last week of April. I consider it a blessing to conduct for my son at a tender age of 7. My elder one had his, at the age of 8. All this is due to our kanchi periva’s blessing. In this post, I would like to elaborate about the importance of upanayanam and gayathri. Although, I am not an authority in it, I am writing this with a lot of seriousness and hearfelt emotions. The information is from upanyasams heard and introspection done
Upanayanam is a very special occasion for a brahmin boy. Not only brahmins, there are others sects which do have this function. It is considered to be a second birth for a boy child. From this day, he becomes a brahmachari eligible to learn the vedas, upanishadas and to know the brahman, the supreme. The right age for the upanayanam is between 8 years and 16 years. The one year in the womb of a mother is considered to be one year. Hence, when the boy is 7 years after his birth, he becomes ready for this thread ceremony. Some say, that odd numbered ages have to be considered. This is only a myth. This is not mentioned in our shastras. Also, the earlier, the better. Why? It is said before “kamam” is understood by the child, we have to divert him towards the supreme knowledge. So, it is always better to get this ceremony done when the child is before 9 years. It is more apt these days. Children in this generation ask too many questions. While it is our duty to answer them satisfactorily, as children grow, this questioning becomes more negative and argumentative than to know the truth. Hence, it is good to put it at a young and tender age when the child is still in its innocence.
Born as a brahmin alone is not sufficient. One has to be strict in his practices. He has to do sandyavandanam everyday three times a day, samitha danam twice a day, learn vedas, sleep on mat, no sleep during afternoons, live by bhiksha and many other restrictions. But many of these are not practical in this kali yuga. If one has to live by what has told by our shastras, we would not brahmacharis today. So, our gurus insist that at least the boy does sandyavandanam twice a day and do some basic learning of vedas. Why does the shastras lay such rigid rules on a small boy. There are always correct and scientific reasons for all that our shastras say. They are like mdecial prescriptions, whch may be bitter but cures us from this world of samsara. We don’t take it in the right sense because of the wrong influence that we have of the western culture
Doing sandyavandanam has many aspects. Of the many benefits is that pranayama or deep breathing. These days we spend huge amount of money on health and fitness. Doing sandyavandanam, helps the boy perform regular deep breathing which will help him control his senses and negative emotions. The chanting of the gayathri manthra with clsoed eyes increases the concenration. Each syllable in this manthra has tremendous vibration which when chanted with devotion and concentration gives immensed power: physically, intellectually, emotionally and physcologically. But friends, this chanting comes with a warning. It is not for ladies, nor for those without initiation. These days, this manthra is played as a song. We are making a gross mistake. Vedas are chants which are given to us by great rishis. They were not written but revealed. They chanting have many ups and low tones, long and short notes in the chanting. They generate a lot of heat which is not good for physical structure of ladies. Also, since it is the essence of the vedas, the manthra has to be taught in secrecy. Chanting it the wrong way will have a negative effect on us. So, please refrain fro chanting without initiation. If you happen to see it played as a song or in public, there is no harm is discouraging this act in the open. You will be doing a service to the society
So, having known the power of this divine act called sandyavandanam, it is also very sad that the count of children performing this karma is deteriorating down specially in cities. The function is conducted in a grand way like a social function, inviting all near and dear, spending lavishly on every aspect. But the duty aspect is forgotten soon after the function. Reason: no time. Parents are not serious about encouraging their child. At the first step, they are not convinced about the importance. The father of the house has left his duty long back, the mother is busy blaming the father for not assisting the child. But, my dear parents, just like how both of you take interest in every aspect of the child right from choosing his play school , it is the responsibility of both to ensure that the child does his duty. Blame game will help no one. It should be the true intention of the mother that her child gets the best and highest knowledge and assist, encourage, and educate the child in the importance. The father must be regular in doing his duties. I have some fathers do it just one month before the upanayanam and then maybe for a month after the function. This wont work. What is not a habit will not work for long.
I understand that as children grow, they have their own like and dislikes. Many of the stray away from their track. This is natural. But we as parents must advice them when they are small. The instruction given when they are small, will bring them back to their roots even if they change track in the middle. Gayathri will protect them. She doesn’t like to lose on anyone. But if parents themselves are casual about it, then GOD save them. One cannot see the effect fo chanting or non-chanting immediately. It is slow process of building inner strength. We all wait for 16 to 20 years to see our chlidren in full bloom, but we don’t want to wait for when it comes to discharging our duties to see its spiritual powers. So, friends, when it comes to performing the duties of the child, remember it is the responsibility of both the parents. Also, grandparents at home also must assist their children in getting these duties into a habit. Since they are elders of the family and are more experienced, they must help their children and grand children to discharging their duties. Claiming to be non-interfering or indifferent will not only leave children directionless but also set an example to future generations.
We are all in a busy world, we have time for everything but not for our spiritual duties. So, many parents tell their children to only chant at least the Gayathri and not do sandyavandanam. This is a mistake again. Gayathri cannot be chanted without praying to the sun god, without invoking Mother Gayathri into you or without inviting saraswati into you. Sandyavandanam is a very important aspect which cannot be missed
Doing sandyavandanam will not only do good for oneself but to the society. Brahmins are supposed to do ther duties of sandyavandanam, samitha danam, bharma yagnam , veda adhayananm for the welfare of the soceity. If they fail to do such things, the society is bound to persih slowly. “The reason for our society degrading to a large extent is due to brahmins not doing their duties”. I am not the author of this statement. Our kanchi maha periva has elaborated this in the book “Hindu Dharma” in a very beautiful way. Let no one drive their imagination. I would suggest all of you read this book.
So, friends, I have put down what I felt, what I have seen, read and experienced. I am sure all of us would want a comfortable, stress free, happy and peacceful life. Let us get back to where we actaully belong. Let us not lose the precious gems our rishis and elders have given us in the pursuit of materialistic, short lived happiness.