Wake up before dawn
Humanity's relationship with nature is unbreakable. We depend
on her for everything -- sunshine, rain, food, air, clothing
and more. Hence it is imperative that her laws are not flouted.
Myriad creatures arise before dawn, and this natural law is
applicable to humans too. If our mental and physical health
is to be preserved, it is essential that we abide by this
For us, it is ideal to awake before sunrise. As per the Hindu
scriptures, the devout Hindu visualises the Goddesses Lakshmi
and Saraswati and Lord Vishnu in the palms of his/her hands
and mentally prostrates to them, seeking their blessings in
Subsequently, they prostrate to the parents and the Guru. For those
who have surrendered to a Guru, all deities can be seen in the Guru.
The auspicious slokas or hymns for the morning can be chanted next.
(For the appropriate slokas, see "Immortal Light," a book
containing Amma's advice to householders.) Then we may brush our
teeth and have a bath or shower. Amma advises us to make use of
this time by chanting the mantra.
After this, we can light the lamp before the altar on which the
pictures of our Guru and beloved deity are installed.This is followed
by the chanting of the Gayatri mantra or the Lalita Sahasranama
(or any other recitation of divine names) and our individual mantra.The
surya namaskara can also be performed (the sun salutations, which
form a part of Hatha Yoga) according to our capacity. The ancients
regarded these as daily rites. Only if we rise before dawn can these
rites be performed unhurriedly, with a calm mind.
The one and a half hours just before sunrise is known as Brahmamuhurta.
At this time the expanse of the sky will have a rosy-red hue. A
few stars may also be visible. This sacred interval is also known
as the Amritavela. This is the best time to get out of bed and meet
the day. All the birds and animals that Mother Nature has assigned
to awake at this time are indeed up by then. Hence they are able
to enjoy the sacred bliss of those pristine moments during the Amritavela.
Isn't it a pity that the human being, the pinnacle of creation,
is the only creature that slumbers in sloth at this time?
Those who sleep at dawn will find that their intellect and senses
are weakened greatly. The body will be dogged by lethargy, the lustre
of the face will fade, and generally such people will not be prosperous.
This is stated in the Subhashita:
"He who wears unwashed and unclean clothes, does not clean
his teeth, eats too much, speaks harshly and unfeelingly, and sleeps
at dawn and dusk is forsaken by Goddess Lakshmi even if he be Lord
Vishnu, who is her own husband."
Bahvashinam nishthurabhashinam cha
Sooryodaye chastamite shayanam
Vimunchati sreer yadi chakrapanih
On the other hand, those who arise at this time will experience
increased health, strength and spiritual lustre. The following verses
from the ancient Hindu text, the Atharva Veda (9.68.22), makes it
clear that "Bathing in the rays of the rising sun at this time
will destroy many illnesses." ("Udyannaditya rashmibhih
Obviously the meaning here is that the rays of the rising sun have
certain special qualities that are not found in the sunrays at other
times. In many other places the Atharva Veda describes the curative
power of the rays of the rising sun:
"The rising sun removes all the factors which cause death."
"The rosy rays of the rising sun cure heart disease and paleness."
These are some examples. Similarly, the Rig Veda, the most ancient
Hindu text, also describes how the rising sun dispels all heart
disease and jaundice (Rig Veda 1.50.11).
The scriptures exhort us to sit facing the east at sunrise, to
perform worship (sandhya) and a fire sacrifice (homa). The Srimad
Bhagavata, the gold mine of devotion, says that the main means of
acquiring health through worship of the sun is the surya namaskara.
("Arogyam bhaskaradichhet.) The surya namaskara is also to
be performed facing the sun. All this can be completed only if we
wake up before dawn.
There is another health benefit which accrues from waking up early
at dawn. Most of us begin our work in the morning. Those who arise
late will have to rush in an unholy hurry to reach their place of
work or study in time. How much tension and anxiety they have to
suffer! All this will definitely take its toll on a person's health.
If we wake up early, perform all our personal disciplines and then
go to work and begin our job, how peaceful and secure we will feel!
How many diseases will thus be kept away!
Thus, if we arise before dawn, if possible at brahmamuhurta, and
perform our personal spiritual practice and then go to work, we
can be certain that our health will be the best it can be -- the
risks will be reduced significantly if not fully. Vaghbhata, the
grand teacher of Ayurveda (Ayurveda is the ancient Indian holistic
health and medicinal system. Ayurvedic medicines are usually prepared
from medicinal herbs and plants.), says in his text Ashtangahridaya:
"He who wants to live long and be healthy should wake up from
sleep at brahmamuhurta. Such a one will also accomplish great deeds."
Brahme muhurte utthishteth
(Ashtangahridaya: Sutrasthana, Chapter 1 on daily disciplines)
Let these words guide us towards the supreme goal of life.