How was sandhyavandanam performed before the age of Vishwamitra?

Since the two most important parts of sandhyavandanam - arghyam and Gayatri japam - involve the Gayatri (savitri) mantra, I was curious to know what our ancestors did before that.

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    I think before Vishwamitra, there were other rishis who similarly heard the Gayatri mantra during Tapasya. Still, there is the issue of what people did right before Vishwamitra discovered it, like during Vishwamitra's lifetime. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 6 '16 at 14:31
  • @KeshavSrinivasan But there should be a rishi to include in viniyoga process of gyatri gyatri. We say Savitrya Rishi Vishwamitra, but imagine that before Vishwamitra – Yogi Apr 29 '16 at 18:42
  • @Yogi Yeah, and I'm saying in earlier ages there must have been other Rishis whose name people would say rather than Vishwamitra. I don't know who they were though. – Keshav Srinivasan Apr 29 '16 at 18:43
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    Viswamitra divined the savitr gayatri. Previous to this, people worshipped Indra gayatri and prior to that bramha gayatri. – user1195 Aug 31 '17 at 2:35
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    @moonstar2001 has given the precise answer. – Rakesh Joshi Aug 31 '17 at 8:03

In every age the Gayatri mantra is heard by a sage named Vishwamitra.. In this section of Ramanujacharya's Sri Bhashya, his commentary on the Brahma Sutras, Ramanujacharya explains how sages with the same names hear the same mantras after undergoing Tapasya:

As words such as Indra and Vasishtha, which denote gods and Rishis, denote (not individuals only, but) classes, and as the creation of those beings is preceded by their being suggested to the creative mind through those words; for this reason the eternity of the Veda admits of being reconciled with what scripture says about the mantras and kândas (sections) of the sacred text having 'makers' and about Rishis seeing the hymns; cp. such passages as 'He chooses the makers of mantras'; 'Reverence to the Rishis who are the makers of mantras'; 'That is Agni; this is a hymn of Visvâmitra.' For by means of these very texts Pragâpati presents to his own mind the characteristics and powers of the different Rishis who make the different sections, hymns, and mantras, thereupon creates them endowed with those characteristics and powers, and appoints them to remember the very same sections, hymns, &c. The Rishis being thus gifted by Pragâpati with the requisite powers, undergo suitable preparatory austerities and finally see the mantras, and so on, proclaimed by the Vasishthas and other Rishis of former ages of the world, perfect in all their sounds and accents, without having learned them from the recitation of a teacher. There is thus no conflict between the eternity of the Veda and the fact that the Rishis are the makers of its sections, hymns, and so on.

The idea is the Brahma uses the Vedas as a blueprint for the creation of the world. In particular Brahma, knowing that certain mantras have certain sages' names associated with them, proceeds to create sages with those very names.

By the way, the fact that the Vedas describe things that are common to every age is the reason why the Vedas seem to refer to specific stories despite being eternal; see my answer here.

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  • This means that even the Jeevas like Bramha have a body and their body is repeated with different jeevas in each kalpa or manvantara. So this means that if my karma is good enough , Even I can become Vishwamitra in nextbirth? – Yogi May 1 '16 at 9:58
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    @Yogi Yes, you can become the next Indra, the next Brahma, the next Vishwamitra, etc. In fact Purva Mimamsakas expended great efforts in trying to become the next Indra. But Moksha is infinitely superior to all of those positions. – Keshav Srinivasan May 1 '16 at 15:21
  • Since you have mentioned Savitri in question do you know about Hiranyastupa angirasa and other savitri seers? – Yogi May 1 '16 at 15:47
  • What time period does every 'age' refer to? – Surya May 4 '16 at 2:14
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    @RakeshJoshi At least from my perspective as a Sri Vaishnava, I would say no. There is no "next" Vishnu. Vishnu is the eternal Brahman. – Keshav Srinivasan Aug 29 '17 at 11:55

I have heard in one of Courtallam Siddheshwarananda Swamiji's discourses that Indra Gayatri was chanted before Vishwamitra's Tripada Gayatri took precedence.

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Sandhyavandanam is relatively recent as compared to Agnihotra. Earlier it was Agnihotra that was the daily morning and evening ritual. But when exchange of cultures started happening during interaction with other countries and races, sun worship came into play, most probably due to the Maga priest influence from Persia. Savitri mantra was just a mantra used during Upanayanam, and people used it in different chhandas, most prevalent among them being Gayatri and Anushtup. But during Upanishad period, Gayatri version became more popular. In Sandhyavandanam, the focus was on offering water and praising the sun, using upasthana mantras, Gayatri was just a part of it. But after the Tantra age, some sects incorporated some famous Vedic mantras and built Tantric rituals around them and even invented a goddess Gayatri. They made it so that everything except Gayatri was useless. So now we have elaborate Sandhya rituals which the majority can't follow.

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In Sandhya vandhanam many slokas are taken from Lord Krishna's period .

Prathar narmadayai namo nisi
Namosthu narmadhe thubhyam trahi maam visha sarpatha
Apa sarpa sarpa bhadram the Dooram gacha maha yasa
Janamejayasya yagnanthe aasthika vachanam smaran
Jarath karer Jarath karvam samuthpanno maha yasa
Aasthika Sathya santho maam pannagebhyo abhi rakshathu.

The above shloka is cited during the Sandhyavandanam ritual as a part of Harihara Vandanam.


So, I think Sandhya vandhanam is just after Dvaapara yuga.

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  • These shlokas are not recited by all the people. Different sects follow different procedures. This shloka "Janamejayasya" is a part of Harihara Vandanam. This is not followed by all. Some shlokas are added after some cultural conditios. But doesn't mean that there is Sandhyavandanam is just after Dwapara yuga. – Sarvabhouma Aug 29 '17 at 7:41
  • No. Sandhya vandanam existed from time immemorial. It is mentioned even in the ramayana which predates dwapara yuga. – user1195 Aug 31 '17 at 10:26

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