Sandhya Vandanam: Daily prayers done at sunrise, noon and sunset.
What exactly is Sandhya? Sam means well and dhya is derived from dhyan and so Sandhya refers to the proper dhyana or intense meditation on the Lord. It means concentration on the Godhead. To fix the mind on God, the activities have to be controlled. For, success in that process of control one should overcome the handicaps of the Gunas, the Sathwa, the Rajas and the Thamas. When these faces of natural impulse predominate and try to direct along their channels, one must pray to God to negate their pull. That is the first duty of the man who strives towards God. It is the rule of nature, that the morning is the period of Sathwic quality, the "noon" of Rajasic nature and the "evening" hour of dusk of Thamasic nature. At dawn, the mind is awakened from the comfort of sleep liberated from agitations and depressions and so, the mind is calm and clear. At that time, in that mental condition, the dhyana of the Lord is very fruitful, as everyone knows. This is the reason why the Praathah-Sandhya is prescribed. But ignorant of the significance, men continue doing the ritual in a blind mechanical way, simply because the ancients have laid down the rule. The second duty of man is to perform the Sandhya-worship, after realizing the inner and deeper meaning of the same.
As day progresses, man is infused with the Rajoguna, the active effortful nature, and he enters the field of daily work and toll. Before he takes his noonday food, he is directed to meditate on the Lord again and to dedicate the work as well as the fruit derived through it, to the Lord Himself. He can start eating only after this act of devotion and grateful remembrance. This is the meaning of the Maadhyahnikam, the Noontime worship. By observing this ritual, Rajoguna is kept in check and it is overpowered by Sathwa nature. This is the third duty of all men.
Then, man is possessed by a third nature; the Thamas; when evening descends, he hurries home and eats his fill and sleep overpowers him. But, there is one duty still awaiting him. To eat and sleep is the fate of idlers and drones. When the worst of the gunas, the Thamas, threatens to rule, man must make a special effort to escape its coils by resorting to prayer, in the company of those who extol the Lord, reading about the glory of God, the cultivation of good virtues, and purposeful nursing of good rules of conduct. This is the evening Sandhya-vandanam, which is prescribed.
Therefore, the mind that emerges from the vacancy of sleep has to be properly trained and counseled; it must be made to feel that the bliss of Dhyana and the joy of being unaware of the outer world are much grander and more lasting than the comfort one gets by means of the daily dose of physical sleep. This bliss, this joy can be felt and realized by all; discrimination will bring this home to you. This is the fourth duty of man.
The man who, so long as he has life in him, observes the thrice a day Sandhya, is indeed of the highest type: he is ever glorious; he attains all that he desires. Above all, he is liberated, even while alive; he is jeevanmuktha