Sandhyopasana is the daily mandatory worship to be performed by those initiated into the Upanayana practice. Every man is born a shudra but transformed into a dvija (the twice born) by divine initiation. No one can become a dvija by simply wearing the sacred thread. Only one who has learned, practiced and reached the depths of the Twilight worship (Sandhyopasana) can be called a dvija, whereas the rest are mere actors.
Gaining proper understanding of the impermanence of both human life and the world is the real second birth. Wearing the sacred thread does not mean second birth. Through this understanding, a dvija practices his sadhana while he continues this worldly journey. The transformation process that brings about this understanding is called Upanayana.
Whatever may be the general meaning of the term Upanayana, I believe that it is a practice which aids in the awakening of the third eye. We find Devi and Siva having the third eye. This is the nerve center located in the forehead, directly in front of Ajna Chakra, which is the last of the six chakras located in the spine. Many people think that the third eye is the Ajna Chakra, but it is not. The fact that both are different is known only through experience.
One who has this chakra awakened in him, attains a state similar to that of a demigod. The tradition of wearing the dot on one’s forehead has come into practice to indicate the same. Dot is an indication of the awakened third eye, but, due to misunderstanding, we think that wearing a dot is unfashionable and it is the parents who are to be blamed for this state of affairs in their children. If the parents themselves are ignorant, how can they teach their kids?
Every one of us has this third eye, but it usually exists in a dormant state. If one can awaken this, he will be endowed with extrasensory perception. This means he can see what ordinary humans cannot see, hear sounds that others cannot, attune to subtle planes and acquire extrasensory powers. Simply put, he can see the light of God.
This is why the process of cleansing one’s samskaras which can awaken the additional eye (Upa-Nayana) was called Upanayana by our ancestors. However, we have totally forgotten this fact. The inner yogic meaning has been lost and the Upanayana ceremony has become a mere festivity celebrated with relatives. As this is a mandatory ceremony that needs to be performed before marriage, it has become a meaningless ritual done out of obligation. This is a totally wrong approach. Why did such a situation arise in the first place? This is mainly due to the influence of Kaliyuga on humans, leading us to give more importance to gratification of senses and to disregard spiritual practices.
It is hard to find a guru who can teach the inner meanings of this practice and even harder to find the disciples who are eager to learn.
As told by Yogi Vemana, there is a dearth of real gurus who can teach the inner meanings as well as disciples who can practice. That is why our religion has fallen into shallow rituals without any inner meaning, degrading into the current state of mere festivities, watching movies, videos and chit chatting about mundane things with relatives.
Let’s get back to our current topic. Twilight is a transitional period between two different states. Such twilights occur four times in a day i.e., morning, noon, evening and midnight. During these four periods, nature changes from one state to another, so this is the most favorable time for doing sadhana.
Reason? As long as a state continues, we remain in the illusion that it will be permanent. Its impermanence can be felt only when it undergoes a change. The same thing happens during twilight. Due to the ever changing state of Nature, the impermanence of the world can be directly experienced by us easily during twilight hours. Hence, not many people can bear this transitional state.
In the evenings, we see many people become restless and come out into the streets. Mingling with the crowd of the street, they feel a kind of false security. A sheep of the herd lives under the illusion that it is safe. But, it never realizes the truth that death is about to swallow it anytime. In spite of knowing this fact, it tries to escape from this awareness, by remaining with the herd. Even in humans, there are many people who are in a similar state.
A difference that exists between an ordinary man and a spiritual seeker is that a seeker seeks solitude and does not like to mingle with people. He prefers to face the reality of his inner world. Therefore, a seeker should never misuse these twilight times. He needs to forsake all other activities and utilize this time only for internal meditation.
Similarly, the twilight period also occurs in human life, four times. If we consider the full life span of a human, i.e., 120 years, a twilight occurs every 30 years. Some may have 96 years or 108 years of life span. They experience their twilights every 24 and 27 years respectively. These details are best understood by people who have a good understanding of Kalachakra Dasa of Vedic Astrology.
Kalachakra Dasa is one of the most important dasas among the ten dasas of Vedic Astrology. Sage Parasara gave much importance to this Dasa. This is a Rasi Dasa and not Star based Dasa. We can find the twilight time even in Astrology, as the four divisions in Rasi chakra. This twilight time coincides with the beginning of 1, 4, 7, and 10 houses of a chart.
Childhood, youth, middle age and old age are indicated through these divisions. Based on the significance of their innate nature, these four divisions have the lordship of the planets Mercury, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn respectively. This kind of integration is seen between life, nature and planets, both internally and externally.
The practitioners of Yogic meditation will get to know many more secrets in this form of worship. Even when we pass from the wakeful state to sleep state, there lies a twilight. Similarly, even when we are about to awaken from sleep, there is a twilight. If one can remain aware during this twilight, he can achieve spiritual progress very quickly. Indicating the same, our ancestors advise us to wake up slowly from sleep but never to wake someone up from sleep suddenly.
It is a good practice to chant or meditate before falling asleep. This helps not only to avoid bad dreams but also to continue the chanting or meditation in our inner consciousness, throughout the sleep and also to effortlessly wake up in the same state of continued chanting or meditativeness in the morning. Due to this, our mind gets purified very quickly.
However, there is a danger in this practice. The seeker should take care not to get into the habit of falling asleep as soon as he starts chanting.
Not even one in a million can experience the state I am about to mention now. It is the twilight that is even deeper than those mentioned earlier. While drifting from the dream state to deep sleep, there lies a twilight state, and also while returning from deep sleep to the realm of dreams. However, these two states are experienced only by seekers who have attained the depths of yogic meditation.
These deep states are beyond common people’s reach. In the current deranged society, these are the states that can only be understood intellectually but not through experience. That is why I already mentioned that this state can only be achieved only by one in a million. People of the present day, who watch television until midnight and who cannot go to sleep normally without taking the help of sleeping pills, alcohol or sex to fall into sleep, cannot understand these deeper states.
Let us look into some more deeper aspects of this matter. There exists a twilight between thoughts too. To discern this interval, one must have the ability to observe his thoughts continuously. Not everyone can do this. When a thought arises, ordinary people usually get carried away with the thought, but cannot remain as a witness and observe the flow of thoughts. This ability can only be acquired through years of meditative practice.
One who has such awareness can hold onto the blank state between two thoughts. If he becomes habituated to remain in such a state, he can achieve the thoughtless state which is very close to the state of samadhi. If he can take just one step further, he can attain samadhi. To do this, however, it requires the effort of several lifetimes. I cannot elaborate further on this matter, as this is a very secret knowledge and can only be communicated to a highly qualified disciple in person.
The secret doors of nature get opened once the state of thoughtlessness is achieved. So many wonders hitherto unseen, can be seen now. Subtle sounds of other worlds can be heard. They are so unique and melodious that these sounds cannot be produced by any musical instrument in this world. Various visions of colorful circles, and light like a fountain, can be seen.
If a seeker can attain such a state, everything in nature can be seen in a very lively form. One can talk to trees and stones; One can feel the affectionate touch of air; One can hear the talks of the subtle worlds in the sound of water. One can indeed experience the touch of God in everything.
Then, we can see a new world that is invisible to ordinary people, within this same world. But, we will appear as mad to the world. The world has marked many realized people as madmen when they were in this state.
If this twilight worship is done properly, it can bestow great elevation to the practitioner. However, gurus who can show this path, have become rare. And even if there is someone, the followers are even more rare. It would not be an exaggeration to say that our situation is akin to a rich man who forgot his wealth and is living like a beggar.
The practice of Sandhyopasana, which we have been neglecting, has such profound meanings. There is a lot more to be known about this practice. If I continue to write, it will turn out to be a book of multiple chapters. This is enough for now.
All rights reserved. This article has been translated by Ranganath D, which was originally posted in teluguyogi.net on January 14, 2010. The content or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express permission of the publisher.