I have been searching the internet in the last two days to identify a source which would point out the “right way” of doing Sandhyavandhanam. As it turned out, there seems to be widespread differences in the way the procedure is performed. Without trying to get carried away with the information that is available on the internet, I looked for correspondence in the way I have been performing Sandhyavandhanam all these years with the sources on the internet. I have presented the information below only after verifying it from multiple sources. However, I request the readers to exercise discretion and get their doubts clarified from their Acharyan.
The procedure of performing Sandhyavandhanam differs across different Vedas. My discussion here will pertain to Yajur Veda alone. Sama Vedins may refer to the attached PDF document which neatly points out the points of divergence in procedure.
While the attached document by itself is self-explanatory, I shall add a few more points which don’t feature in the document:
1) While performing Madhyanikam, there is a divide among the community about the direction in which it should be performed. After going through a slew of articles, discussions and books on this topic, I have come across two ways in which Madhyanikam is widely performed:
Perform the entire procedure from Achamanam (Om achyutAya Namah…) to Punar Prokshanam (dadhikrAvNNO akAriSham..) facing the east. Arghyam and Kesavadhi Tharpanam must be done facing the north. Gayathri Japam, AvAhanam and upasthAnam must be done facing the east.
Perform the entire procedure from Achamanam (Om achyutAya Namah…) to Punar Prokshanam (dadhikrAvNNO akAriSham..) facing the east. Arghyam and Kesavadhi Tharpanam must be done facing the north. Gayathri Japam, AvAhanam and upasthAnam must be done facing the north.
2) However, there is no such confusion when it comes to performing SAyam Sandhyavandhanam. The entire procedure from Achamanam to Punar Prokshanam has to be done facing North. Argyam, Kesavadhi Tharpanam, Gayatri Japam, AvAhanam and upasthAnam have to be done facing the west. After the japam, the other procedures have to be done facing the north.
3) One must ensure that he is performing the japam at a place which is within a 40 feet radius to where he performed Argya Pradhanam.
4) During, Prathah: Sandhyavandhanam and Maadhyanikam, Gayathri Japam has to be done in standing posture. For SAyam Sandhyavandhanam alone, Gayathri japam has to be done in sitting posture.
5) For SAyam Sandhyavandhanam, do not perform Gayatri japam by sitting on the floor. Use a wooden plank, darbhai or a carpet/mat and sit on top of that.
As a general note, the “Abhivadhaye” introduction should not be chanted to the following people:
All women other than one’s mother
A ghoshti of elders