In true Vaidica mystic style we have a strange story given out in the Taittiriya Upanishad aranyaka (Upasna kand). It explains the benefits of Chanting Gayatri and offering arghya (water) to the sun.
An island called “Arunam” is inhabited by a tribe of devils called “Manadehas”. Therefore, the island is also called ‘Manadeha Arunam.
Daily at dawn the devils fly out in thousands and flood space, almost reaching the sun. They darkly hover over the Sun, in an apparent bid to block its divine glow.
At that threatening moment the water arghya offered by the Gayatri-japists becomes like lightening and strikes down the devils, who retreat into their own island. To any educated mind, the story obviously sounds like from a children’s book. But so do written musical notes or mystic mantras!
Mana (Mind) Deha (Body) are the two actors in our entire field of activities; thoughts and actions. Every morning, hoards of thoughts spring forth into body actions. They fly higher and higher to fulfill the demands of our vasanas (desires).
Animal instincts, emotional appetites and passionate cravings veil the glory of the divinity (Sun) in us. These passions dull the brilliance of the human intellect. Then Gayatri (Gayantam trayate iti Gayatri) that which protects, becomes like the lightening that strikes these devils down and forces them back to their dark abodes.
Thus the water offering to the Sun (arghya), what the Sun sucks up daily as its food, and the invocation to the Supreme is what destroys the powerful evil passions and desires of the mind and calms down the feverish active pitch of the body.
The “inner-sun-of-life” is invoked to uncover the brilliance of the intellect and bless the devotee with the light of wisdom.
Prarthna Saran, President, Chinmaya Mission, Delhi.