[Advaita-l] Brahmin culture under threat

Vidyasankar Sundaresan svidyasankar at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 14 11:09:39 CDT 2012

> Although a bit off topic I'm asking for the advice of learned Brahmins
> here. Some of you may already know this but let me highlight it again.
> The Brahmins in Haryana are in such a situation that they don't know
> anything about culture. There is no one to teach them even the
> Sandhyavandanam! Recently, a Brahmin from Haryana contacted me on
> facebook. He says that even though many Brahmins living there are
> interested in learning Sandhyavandanam, there is no one to teach them.
> All he knows is that he belongs to the Sandilya gotra. He doesn't even
> know which veda Shakha he belongs to. He wants the Sandhyavandanam
> mantras and procedure. I being a Rig vedi am facing a dilemma whether
> its acceptable to give the same mantras that I recite, especially
> regarding the Abhiivadanam part. Could some learned list members
> advice me here?

The first thing to do for such people who are interested in retrieving a lost
heritage is to search through their own family records and community lore.
For example, Sandilya gotra has multiple sub-divisions when it comes to the
pravara-s and hopefully some elder in the family knows which one it is. In
the process, other related details will also emerge. Or else, if the family or 
community has a tradition of making pilgrimages to Kashi or Gaya, priests
in these spots may have some memory of these details. This is getting
increasingly rare nowadays, but it is not impossible to find out.

If the person has undergone the upanayana saMskAra, then the priest who
conducted the ceremony should be able to provide some details. gAyatrI
japa should be done as the basis of the sandhyAvandana ritual. The other
prayoga-s in the sandhyAvandana that are specific to family/community
tradition can be left out till he gets clarity on these details. 
And I feel it is not necessary to get too hung up on veda SAkhA and sUtra
details. In the past, there were dvivedI-s, trivedI-s and caturvedI-s, who 
could not be classified under any one SAkhA/sUtra combination. Today, if 
a person is serious about learning at least some part of the veda, then he
should learn it in person from a qualified teacher, not from books/recordings.
And in that case, that teacher should decide what course that person needs
to follow.

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