Thursday, December 4, 2008

"How schools treat parents" series: School 2 - Venkat International Public School

Venkat International Public School is a CBSE school in Rajajinagar, Bangalore - about a kilometer away from National Public School. In the informal survey that my wife and I did, this school ranked somewhere in the middle of the shortlist (in terms of building, number of kids in a class, class room quality, etc.)

My wife and I had, sometime in Oct'08, registered our child's name for the first standard for Academic Year 2008-09.

This morning, my wife received a call from the school with the following instructions:
1. The child needs to be brought to the school on Saturday the 6th December (the day after tomorrow) at 10.00 AM for 'observation' (part of the admission process in most schools - the child is observed while playing and interacting with other kids.)
2. The parents must be ready to pay Rs. 40,000/- in cash immediately (on the same day) to the school. This is a non-refundable 'donation'.
3. The application form will also be issued on the same day, for Rs. 250/-.
4. They have not decided on the monthly fees yet, and will inform the parents of the monthly fees sometime after March'08.

I thought donation was legally prohibited by a supreme court judgement. Apparently the schools in Bangalore do not consider this a major impediment.

In any case, I am taking my daughter here just for the experience of an 'observation'.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Detailed procedure of Sandhyavandanam - 1 of 2


Sandhya Vandanam is a specially devised efficient spiritual ritual for the realization of the Divinity of the Self (Atman). It is a Nitya Karma or an obligatory daily ritual whose object is to bring about self-purification and attunement to Cosmic Reality. It is an all-round complete ritual which incorporates the principles of the Supreme Divinity (Brahman).


Each part of the ritual is meant to give expression externally to an internal mental attitude and spiritual feeling (Bhava). Some necessary changes are introduced in the Mantras and ritual according to the time of the Sandhya-- dawn, noon, or sunset, and according to the Veda (Rg, Yajur, or Sama) to which the votary is affiliated. However, the main purpose as well as most of the Mantras, the procedures, and rituals are all common.

The procedure involve :

1. Achamanam :

Sipping a little water, in the prescribed manner, for self-purification, remembering the Supreme All-pervading Reality.

2. Apo-Marjanam :

Invoking all the waters of the earth which form the cause of the emergence and sustenance of all life, by sprinkling water on oneself, to enable one to be attuned to the cosmic life and reality.

3. Pranayama :

Regulated breathings, as per prescription, for establishing psycho-somatic harmony, using the Gayatri-Mantra.

4. Punar-Achamanam :

Again sipping water with appropriate Mantras for the removal of all sins and obstacles, attuning oneself to the light-giving sun in the morning, to the life-giving waters at noon and to the heat-giving fire in the evening, which are the means of all our life and activity, and as such are termed as the sources of Immortality (Amrta-yoni).

5. Punar-Marjanam :

Again sprinkling water over oneself with the Gayatri and other Mantras praying for welfare here in the world and highest spiritual attainment hereafter.

6. Aghamarsanam :

Repeating the cosmic creation Mantras, feeling oneself as a part of it, to remove the limitations of personality.

7. Suryopasthanam :

Invoking the Sun-God who brings life and light to the world and attuning the mind to the Divine in the Sun and to all the cosmic surroundings.

8. Gayatri-Upasanam :

First the Divine Gayatri is invoked as the source of the Vedas and then the different Worlds and the Supreme Divinity are located in the various limbs of one's body by touching them while uttering the Gayatri-Mantra, along with the Vyahrti (Bhuh, Bhuvah, Svah). This process of locating is known as Anga-Nyasa.

This is followed by the Japa and meditaion of the Gayatri-Mantra for as long as one can do conveniently, fixing, however, a decent minimum number of times for the Japa. For meditation Gayatri is conceived in the form of a luminous Goddess illuminating the Heart and removing all darkness of Ignorance.

9. Visarjanam :

Valediction. Praying to the Goddess to retire, to return again when invoked. Salutations are offered with devotion.

10. Antya-prakaranani :

Ending. Now, concluding the Upasana, protection against all wrongs and evils is sought and salutations are offered to the Sun-God and other Cosmic divinities. Forgiveness is sought for any flaws or lacunae in the uttering of the Mantras and the performance of the rituals and the Supreme Being is remembered to make them complete. The Upasana is concluded with the offering of salutations.

Preparation for the Performance of Sandhya :

Before performing the Sandhya, one should be physically clean, mentally calm and restrained and have a prayerful attitude. One should sit in a clean quiet place on a mat or Deer-skin, in a straight position with legs tucked in (ordinary Padmasana).


1. Achamanam Sipping water sanctified by mantras

Sit in a squatting position, facing east or north. The hands should be between the knees. Bend all the fingers other than the thumb and the small finger slightly so that a hollow is produced in the palm. Take a very small quantity of water in the palm and sip, uttering the following three mantras (one sip for each mantra):-

Achyutaya namah
Anantaya namah
Govindaya namah

Utter Kesava and Narayana touching the right cheek and the left cheek respectively with the thumb of the right hand.
Utter Madhava and Govinda, touching the right eye and the left eye respectively with the ring finger.
Utter Vishno and Madhusudana, touching the right nostril and the left nostril respectively with the index finger.
Utter Trivikrama and Vamana, touching the right ear and the left ear respectively with the small finger.
Utter Sridhara and Hrsikesa, touching the right shoulder and the left shoulder respectively with the middle finger.
Utter Padmanabha and Damodara touching the naval and the head respectively with all the fingers.

Meaning 1:

By these actions the various parts of the body are sanctified and the person is made fit to proceed with the worship.

2. Vighnesvara Dhyanam - Meditation on Lord Vighnesvara

While reciting the following mantra, gently tap the two sides of the forehead with the fists five times with the thought that thereby the nectar (amrta) in the head flows down through all the nerves and invigorates them.

Shuklambaradharam Vishnum

Sasivarnam Chaturbhujam,

Prasannavadanam dhyayeh,


Meaning 2

For the removal of all obstacles I meditate on Lord Vighnesvara who is clad in white, is all-pervading, is white like the moon, sports four arms and is always of serene aspect.

3. Pranayamah

Regulation of breath

Bend the index finger and the middle finger and press the right nostril with the thumb and left nostril with the ring finger and the small finger. First draw in the breath through the left nostril while mentally chanting the following mantra. Then hold the breath within, mentally chanting the same mantra again. Thereafter, let the breath out through the right nostril, again mentally chanting the same mantra. These three actions of inhaling, holding the breath and exhaling, during which the mantra is chanted three times, together make up one Pranayamah.

Om Bhuh, Om Bhuvah, Om Suvah, Om Mahah

Om Janah, Om Tapah, Om Satyam

Om Tat Saviturvarenyam

Bhargo devasya dhimahi,

Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat

Om apo jyoti raso amritam Brahma

Bhur Bhuvas suvar om

Meaning 3

Om is all the lokas - bhuh, bhuvah, suvah, mahah, janah, tapah, satyam. We meditate on the adorable effulgence of the Lord who creates everything, so that it may energize our consciousness.

Om is water, light, the earth that yields tasty food, the air that sustains life, the all-pervading either and the mind, intellect and the 'I' sense marked by the terms bhuh, bhuvah and suvah.

4. Sankalpah


Place the left palm, turned upward, on the right thigh and place the right palm, turned downward on the left palm. Recite the following mantra :

Mamopatta samasta durita ksaya dvara sri paramesvara prityartham -

- In the morning Pratah sandhyam upasisye

- At noon Madhyahnikam karisye

- In the evening Sayam sandhyam upasisye

Meaning 4

I begin to worship the goddess of sandhya in the morning (at noon/in the evening) in order to merit God's grace which destroys all the sins acquired by me.

5. Marjanam
Purification of the body and mind

Uttering Om keshavaya namah, write Om on water with the finger and touch the spot between the two eyebrows with that finger.

Then, while reciting the first seven of the following nine mantras, sprinkle water on the head with the ring finger. While reciting the eighth mantra, sprinkle water on the feet. Again sprinkle water on the head while reciting the ninth mantra.

Aapo hi stha mayo bhuvah
Ta na urje dadhaatana
Mahe ranaya chaksase
Yo vah sivatamo rasah
Tasya bhajaya teha naha
Usatiriva matarah
Tasma aram gamama vah
Yasya ksayaya jinvatha
Aapo janayatha cha naha

Now take a little water in the palm and rotate the palm around the head with the following mantra:

Om Bhur bhuvah suvah

Meaning 5

It is well-known that you, the deities of water, are the cause of great happiness. Please nourish us with the divine vision which brings glory and loveliness. Please make us worthy of imbibing the auspicious bliss even as a mother feeds her children. We approach you with eagerness for that bliss to distribute which you have taken a form and are shining. Bestow on us the boon of a next life sanctified by knowledge.

6. Prasanam

Sipping water with mantra

Take a little water in the palm and sip, after reciting the following mantra :

(Pratah) Suryascha ma manyuscha manyupatayascha, manyukritebhyah.
Papebhyo raksantam. Yadratrya papamakarsam. Manasa vacha hastabhyam.
Padbhyam udarena sisna. Ratris-tadavalumpatu.
Yatkincha duritam mayi. Idam aham mamamarita yonau.
Surye jyotisi juhomi svaha

Meaning 6

(In the morning) May the sun who stimulates everything, anger which enslaves all and the gods who preside over anger, protect me from the sins committed through anger. May the deity of the night absolve me of the sins committed by me at night with the mind, lips, hands, legs, stomach as also of whatever other sins may linger in me. This "me" devoid of all sins, I offer as sacrifice in the effulgence of the sun who is the source of immortality. May this sacrifice be well done.

(Madhyahne) Apah punantu prithivim prithvi puta panatu mam.
Punantu brahmanas patirbrahma-puta punatu mam.
Yaducchistam abhojyam yadva duscaritam mama.
Sarvam punantu mamapo asatam ca pratigraham svaha

Meaning 6

(At noon) May the deity of water sanctify the earth which is its base. May the sanctified earth purify me. May it sanctify the teacher who is the channel for the Veda. May the ever pure Veda purify me. May the deity of water absolve me from sins incurred through consuming food left by others or food unfit to be eaten, through bad contact and through receiving gifts from the wicked. Thus purified I offer myself as sacrifice in the Supreme effulgence.

(Sayankale) Agnischa ma manyuscha manyupatayascha manyukritebhyah.
Papebhyo raksantam. Yadahna papamakarsam. Manasa vacha hastabhyam.
Padbhyam udarena sisna.
Ahastadavalumpatu. Yatkincha duritam mayi.
Idam Aham mamamrita yonau. Satye jyotisi juhomi svaha

Meaning 6

(In the evening) May the Fire who stimulates everything, anger which enslaves all and the gods who preside over anger, protect me from the sins committed through anger. May the deity of the day absolve me of the sins committed by me at day-time with the mind, lips, hands, legs, stomach as also of whatever sins lingering in me. This "me" devoid of sins, I offer as sacrifice in the effulgence of Truth who is the source of immortality. May this sacrifice be well done.

7. Punarmarjanam

Sprinkling water again

Sprinkle water on the head with the following mantra:

Dadhikravnno akarisam. Jisnorasvasya vajinah.
Surabhi no mukhakarat. Prana ayumsi tarisat.
Aapo hista mayo bhuvah……

End with Om Bhurbhuvah suvah

Meaning 7

I make obeisance to the Supreme Person who supports, rules and sustains all the worlds, who is ever victorious and who has taken the form of Hayagriva the repository of all knowledge. May He make our faces and other organs fragrant. May He protect our lives continuously. It is well-known.…knowledge (as in No.5 above)

8. Arghya-pradanam

Offering water

Morning :
Stand facing east. Take plenty of water in both palms and raising the heels a little, pour the water down through the tips of the fingers other than the thumb uttering the following mantra. This is to be done three times.

Om bhurbhuvas suvah. Tat saviturvarenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi. Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

[Meaning - see no. 3 We meditate .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. consciousness]

Noon :
Stand facing north and do the same twice

Evening :
Squat facing west and do the same three times

9. Prayaschittarghyam
Offering of water in atonement for failure to perform the worship at the proper time

Do Pranayamah once, as in No.3. Thereafter offer arghya once, as in No.8. Then uttering Om Bhurbhuvas suvah turn round once and sprinkle a little water around you.

10. Aikyanusandhanam
Meditation on the identity of the individual self and the Supreme Self

Sit down, close the eyes and mentally chant

Asavadityo brahma. Brahmai vaham asmi

Meaning 10
This sun is Brahman. I too am Brahman.
Do achamanam once, as in No.1.

11. Deva-Tarpanam
Offering of water to the devas

Morning: Squat, facing east.
Noon: Squat, facing north.
Evening: Squat, facing north

Pour water through the finger tips of both hands reciting the following mantras :

Adityam tarpayami
Somam tarpayami
Angarakam tarpayami
Budham tarpayami
Brhaspatim tarpayami
Sukram tarpayami
Sanaischaram tarpayami
Rahum tarpayami
Ketum tarpayami
Keshavam tarpayami
Narayanam tarpayami
Madhavam tarpayami
Govindam tarpayami
Vishnum tarpayami
Madhusudanam tarpayami
Trivikramam tarpayami
Vamanam tarpayami
Sridharam tarpayami
Hrsikesam tarpayami
Padmanabham tarpayami
Damodaram tarpayami

Meaning 11
I make my offering to the presiding deities of the nine planets - Aditya, Soma, Angaraka, Budha, Brhaspati, Sukra, Sani (who moves slowly), Rahu, and Ketu; and Narayana with twelve names - Kesava, Narayana, Madhava, Govinda, Vishnu, Madhusudana, Trivikrama, Vamana, Sridhara, Hrsikesa, Padmanabha, Damodara.
Do achamanam once, as in No.1.

An article I came across on Yajurveda Sandhyavandanam

SandhyaVandanam :: Forums @

PostPosted: Tue Aug 23, 2005 3:40 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
For those interested, sharing what i recd, with u all. Didnt know how to attach so please forgive me for the cut and paste thus making the text long

[color=darkblue]Nithya andNimithya Karmas
Dear All,

By His Grace and as guided by my Guru Brahmasri Ramji
Sathrigal, a note on the importance of Nithyakarmas is
You are humbly requested to download,store it in your
hard disc,read with utmost care and follow. This note
may please be passed on to relatives and friends to
enable them to reap the benefits.
The C.D. may be collected FREE of cost in case of
Sri Gurubhyo Namaha


Rishis after undergoing penance for years have brought into this world for the benefit of human beings Vedas that prescribe ways to lead a purposeful life. Epics show that those who have taken such a path have been successful and have had peace of mind. To lead a life as suggested for each person in accordance with one’s Varna and to follow the set examples is itself Dharma.

A person is born with three liabilities to Dhevas, Rishis and Pithrus and these are known as Runas. Performing Nithya Karmas and Pithrukarmas shall discharge one of these liabilities.

The root of Nithya Karmas i.e. acts to be performed daily is Sandhya Vandhanam with which only the other pujas, homas and Karmas get sanctified. In other words there shall be no effect to other Karmas without the basic that is Sandhyavandhanam.

Besides Sandhyavandhanam, Brahmayaganam i.e. Deva, Rishi Pithru Tharpanam is also to be performed once during daytime, which relieves one of the liabilities mentioned.

Aspects of Sandhya Vandhanam

Three important parts are a) Arghya Pradhanam b) Prnayamam c) Gayathri Japam.
Starting with prayer to Ganapathi, one purifies for acts if any done in the night, forenoon, and the after noon. Argyam is given with Gayathri Manthra and thereafter to Navagrahas and twelve aspects of Vishnu who represents AthiDhevatha of the twelve months. Prnava Japa and Pranayamas, Gayathri Avahanam, Nyasam, Japam and Gayathri Upasthanam follow this. It concludes with Prayers to Surya, Sandhya, Dhigdhevathas, Yama, Hara, Hari besides Sarpa Raksha manthram.

Importance of Sandhyavandhanam

1. Covers prayer to all manifestations of the Brahmam, in the form of Ganessh, Sakthi, Vishnu, Siva and Adhithya.
2. Prayers to Sun God with whose Grace only there is life in the universe.
3. In Vedas it is mentioned that there is perpetual war between Devas and Asuras . The Sun God, Devatha for Gayathri, with Argyapradhanam gets stronger to fight the evil and in turn shower His Grace on the performer. This is a cyclic occurrence as described in the verses beginning with ‘ Sahavai’ that is uttered before Brahmana Bhojanam in a Shradhdha.
4. Remembrance to Rishis who gave us this invaluable treasure.
5. Only those who have been initiated through Brahmopadhesam by a Guru could do Gayathri Japa, the essence of Vedas.
6. Gayathri Japa protects both self and the world.
7. While doing the Japa one needs to meditate. This meditation besides purifying ones soul gives the power of concentration.
8. Pranayams done in the proper way with the prescribed Manthras give the desired effects such as longevity, purification of lungs and heals any breathing problems.
9. Different postures followed during Sandhya Vandhanam such as sitting upright, bending, namaskarams, viewing the Sun are different physical exercises one does even without knowing.

Rules to be followed

1. Sandhya Vandhanam is done thrice a day in the morning, noon and the evening.
2. In the morning and noon one should do this standing while the evening one sitting.
3. Japa and Vandhana are done facing East in the morning and Noon while in the evening it is west you face.
4. Arghyam is given in the evening facing north.
5. Achamaniyam should not be done while standing or facing west or south.
6. It is important to have proper count of japams irrespective of the numbers.
7. This is to be done on all days even on days when one may have Aachoucham (Vridhdhi ot Theettu as known in Tamil). During this time one needs to do Argyam, 3 Pranayamas and 12 Gayathri and end with Gayathri upasthanam.
8. It is important that the rules and Prayoga (procedures) are followed with manthras properly uttered.

Our forefathers were performing till recently Nithya Karmanushtanas that started in Vedic period. It will not be difficult to set aside a few minutes daily amongst busy schedule to perform at least Sandhyavandanam and once it is part of daily routine it becomes much easier.

By such performance one should become an example to the next generation. There may be some that due to circumstances would have forgotten manthras or the rules or Prayoga and may be doing this karma occasionally but incorrectly.

To facilitate such people and also to guide fresh Brahmacharis a C.D. has been brought out by Brahmasri. Ramji Sasthrigal, of Aathma Vidhya Samajam, Nungambakkam son of Mannargudi Raju Sasthrigal.

The MP3 C.D. contains the following also.

Upakarma, Sravanam, AvaniAvittam:

This is being observed on Sravan Purnima (normally coincides with star Avittam) by Yajurvedhis, while Star Sravan at dawn is important for Rigvdhis. Samavedhis observe upakarma on the day when star Hastha is at dawn in Badhrapada sukla paksha.

On this day RECOUPMENT or REFRESHER COURSE OF VEDAS is undertaken.
One has to do Vedha Adhyana (learning) from Sravana Purnima in the year post upanayanam. From this day to Pushya Purnima one does Veda Adyayana and for the rest of the period till Sravan Purnima learns other aspects of Veda such as Vyakarna.

Veda adhyana that has been thus temporarily suspended (known as Uthsarjana) for six months, get restarted on the day of Upakarma.
It may therefore be noted Vedaramba or restart of Veda learning is the most important aspect of Upakarma.

Aspects of Upakarma.

1. Samithadhanam by Brahmacharis.
2. Kamokarshith Japa. This is done as prayaschitha for not performing Uthsarjana.
3. Brahmayagnam after Madhyaniham.
4. Mahasangalpam for getting rid sins performed during the year knowingly and unknowingly followed by Snanam / Prokshna Snanam for cleansing the body.
5. Yagnopavitha Dharanam – Changing the sacred thread.
6. Kandarishi Tharpanam- to thank all those Rishis and Devas who have given us Manthras for our welfare.
7. Puja for Vedavysa, Varuna and Homa for the Rishis and Devas.( This is normally done at the congregation by the Prohoit or priest.
8. Vedharambam or restart of Vedaadhyayana.
9. Gayathri Japam on the following day of Sravan Purnima. Followers of different Vedas perform this on this day.

Important rules to be followed.

1. Yagnopavitham is a sacred thread and due relevance should be given.
2. This should remain on the body always and preserved properly and kept clean.
3. It shall be changed as and when necessary say when gets broken or after an aachoucham, or before start of any important Karmas.
4. The Brahmamudichu or the knot should be resting on the top of the shoulder.
5. Since it is Sacred no external objects should be tied to this.
6. Yagnopavitham protects a person who respects its sanctity and observes nithya karmanushnaas i.e. daily rituals.

Sidhdhi Vinayaka Puja:
Alsoknown as Vinayaka Chathurthi is observed on Sukla Chathurthi in the month of Badhrapadha (August / September) as per English Calender.

Normally idol made of clay is worshiped and visarjan takes place on Anantha Chadhurdasi after 10 days. This custom is followed in Maharashtra while in south it is on the following day after Punar Puja.

Varalakshmi Vratham:

Families for the welfare of the husbands on the Friday preceeding Sravan Purnima observe this traditionally. Elders or Guru initiates the lady to the vratha in the year of marriage. If for any reason this is missed initiation takes place in the year when it falls in the Tamil month Avani.

Saraswathi (Dhurga, Lakshmi, Saraswathi) Puja:

This is observed to invoke the Goddess for proper education for the children and Gyna for elders. This falls on the Mahanavami day of Shardha Navarathri Festival.
In east Dhurga Puja is observed during Sharadha Navrathri, Lakshmi Puja on the Purnima following Vijaya Dhasami and Saraswathi Puja on Vasanth Panchami day.


More popularly known as Pongal in Tamilnad falls on the day when the Sun changes its path towards North or known as Uththarayana. Sun which gives life to all living creatures in the universe is worshipped at the auspicious time of the change as per the calendar.

Sathyanarayana Puja:

This is being observed in many households on Purnima evenings. It is more popular in Andhra and Karnanatka who conduct the Puja as a part of any important ceremony such as marriage.

Besides Sathyanarayana or Sathyavrathar prayers are offered at the start to Ganapathy, Brahma,Vishnu, Rudhran and Gowri (Pancha Lokapalas), Navagrahas, Ashtadikpalas
(Indhra, Agni,Yama, Nirurithi, Varuna,Vayu, Kubera or Soma and Easanan).

Recital of five stories after the main Puja is another feature and concludes with Palashruthi. It is compulsory for the visitors to accept the offerings.

The C.D. containing the above Nithya and Naimithya Karmas has been made for everyone to reap the benefits by performing regularly and correctly and can be had from:

Sri.Ramji Sasthrigal, New No.18 (old No 37), New Tank Street, Nungambakkam (Tel.28253664)

K.Balasubramanian, 6, (Old No 8/1), Avenue Road, Nungambakkam (Tel. 52137939)

Sri. K.Ramji, PACRIM Software Systems, 7 (Old No.16), Avenue Road, Nungambakkam (Tel. 28211181/ 28223147)

Jai Sriram[/color]

Har Har Mahadev