The Gayatri Mantra
ॐ भूर्भुव॒ स्सुवः॑
भर्गो॑ दे॒वस्य॑ धीमहि
धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया᳚त् ॥
oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tat savitur vareṇyaṃ
bhargo devasya dhīmahi
dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt
– Rigveda 3.62.10
The other day I lead a Japa Meditation on the Gayatri Mantra, we repeated the mantra 108 times which is customary to do while chanting Japa Meditations. One of the students asked me who Gayatri was, and it surprised me that I did not actually know!
I decided to research this Goddess to whom this most famous mantra is dedicated and share with all of you some of her history but even more importantly to share with you the wisdom that comes while chanting this most prestigious mantra!
The Gayatri mantra is personified as a goddess and is one of the most revered mantras from the Rig Veda, dedicated to the Vedic deity Savitr. Gāyatrī is the name of the Goddess in which the verse is written. The Gayatri mantra is cited in many Hindu texts, such as the Śrauta liturgy, the Bhagavad Gita, Harivamsa, and Manusmṛti. The mantra is also closely associated with the Buddha. Many Hindu sects have popularized it and spread its importance making it one of the most widespread mantras there are today.
The Gāyatrī mantra is dedicated to Savitṛ, a Sun deity. Many monotheistic sects of Hinduism such as Arya Samaj hold that the Gayatri mantra is in praise of One Supreme Creator known by the name Om.
The Gayatri mantra has been translated many times and each translation various from one to the next:
Here are a few from well known Yogi’s…
• Swami Vivekananda: "We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may She enlighten our minds.”
• Monier Monier-Williams (1882): "Let us meditate on that excellent glory of the divine vivifying Sun, May he enlighten our understandings."
• Ralph T.H. Griffith (1896): "May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god: So may He stimulate our prayers."
• S. Radhakrishnan:
• (1947): "We meditate on the effulgent glory of the divine Light; may he inspire our understanding."
• (1953): "We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may She inspire our intelligence."
• Sri Aurobindo: "We choose the Supreme Light of the divine Sun; we aspire that it may impel our minds.” As well as…“The Sun is the symbol of divine Light that is coming down and Gayatri gives expression to the aspiration asking that divine Light to come down and give impulsion to all the activities of the mind."
• Stephanie W. Jamison and Joel P. Brereton: "Might we make our own that desirable effulgence of god Savitar, who will rouse forth our insights.”
Literal translations of the words are below:
• Om - Para Brahman (entire universe);
• Bhur - Bhuloka (physical plane);
• Bhuvah - Antariksha (space);
• Svah - Svarga Loka (Heaven);
• Tat - Paramatma (Supreme Soul);
• Savitur - Isvara (Surya) (Sun god);
• Varenyam - Fit to be worshipped;
• Bhargo - Remover of sins and ignorance;
• Devasya - Glory (Jnana Svaroopa ie Feminine / Female);
• Dheemahi - We meditate;
• Dhiyo - Buddhi (Intellect);
• Yo - Which;
• Nah - Our;
• Prachodayat: Enlighten/inspire.
While there are numerous mantras in the Vedic Tradition, there is none greater than the Gayatri Mantra. The Gayatri is dedicated to the aspect of the sun just before sunrise so that all the potential energy emanating from the entire cosmos is contained within Gayatri. It is said that meditation with the Gayatri Mantra burns away all the layers of impurities covering the mind, accumulated through countless births, and bestows upon you the vision of supreme consciousness.
The ancient texts say that meditation with the Gayatri Mantra develops within you the feeling of constantly living in the divine state of pure consciousness. When your heart is completely open to the Gayatri, all the actions you perform in the world will be transformed into highly noble actions dedicated to the divine. All desires are effortlessly fulfilled and you attain complete union with the supreme goddess of divine consciousness.
The mantra is personified as the goddess Gayatri Devi, usually depicted as having five heads and 10 arms, with a swan as her vehicle. Gayatri is considered a form of Parvati, the wife of Shiva and, in some texts, as a form of Saraswati making her the second wife of Brahma, the creator. It is said that she can even be seen by those who have mystic vision, and she is the bestower of all knowledge to those who worship her regularly.
In her goddess form, Gayatri is known as the “Mother of the Vedas”, the essence of the Upanishadic wisdom of enlightenment and the mother of the universe. While there may be many kinds of bodyguards in the physical world, you should never forget that the greatest and most important protection is that of Jagan Mata, mother of the universe. The repetition of the Gayatri Mantra with devotion and faith gives the spiritual seeker divine protection. It is said that worship of other forms of the mother goddess without the Gayatri is like worshipping other mothers and forgetting your own.
The Gayatri Mantra is also known as the Savitri Mantra, dedicated to Savitr, the sun deity, who represents the source, inspiration and life-giving force of the universe.
There are 24 seed syllables in the Gayatri Mantra, it is said that all of wisdom, knowledge, and the entire Vedas are concealed in these 24 seed syllables. They say that a whole lifetime is not enough to realize the hidden divine truths of any one of these seed syllables. One who has experienced the divine consciousness of these 24 seed syllables has nothing else left to hear, read, learn, or enjoy in this external world.
The Gayatri Mantra itself then merges in the great ocean the sound of “OM”, returning you to the silence of your true self.
The only way to believe and understand that this is true is to try it!
Chanting the Gayatri Mantra develops nada, a regular vibration in the channels of the subtle body, opening the various spiritual centers of your body. As a result, energy is awakened in the subtle body. Chanting the 24 seed syllables in the Gayatri Mantra generates a pulsating ringing so that powerful energy can flow from the chakras of the subtle body. This brings you Yoga Shakti, the energy of union with the divine.
The Gayatri is best chanted silently or in a soft, sweet voice with a gentle mind. As a result, your wishes, including those that have not been expressed yet, will all be fulfilled. Astrologically, the Gayatri protects her children from the negative influences of the rays of the nine planets, removing fear and helping you to successfully complete any task. She also maintains balance between air, fire, and earth, the three qualities or doshas in the body, ensuring good health. There is nothing more purifying than the Gayatri mantra. By meditating on the Gayatri Mantra, you will gradually realize that the whole universe is the radiance of mother divine, witnessed as the embodiment of your own soul. When you ascend to such an elevated state, you will never fall again. You will always be drenched in an ocean of divine bliss. This alone is the fulfillment of spirituality, which you can attain effortlessly by meditating on the Gayatri Mantra. This is why Gayatri is hailed as the mother of all mothers.
It is said that the best time to recite the Gayatri Mantra is early in the morning but that is said about all meditation practices, and it is true but I think it is easier to meditate on the Gayatri whenever you chose to.
If you can wake up and meditate during Brahma muhurta, between 3:30-4:30 a.m., this is the best time for practicing the Gayatri Mantra. If this isn’t possible for you, sunrise, noon, and sunset are also auspicious times. Although the Gayatri may be practiced at any time of the day. If you can only practice it one day each week, Friday is the best.
If possible, face east toward the rising sun in the morning and west toward the setting sun in the evening.
While chanting the Gayatri Mantra, try to pause slightly at the end of each line and at the end of each repetition, rather than rushing through it. When practicing the Gayatri Mantra, it is recommended to always repeat it at least three times, although you can repeat the Mantra as many times as is comfortable. I like to repeat the Gayatri Mantra throughout my day and most of my meditation practices. If that is too much to do originally then begin with three repetitions of the mantra daily.
Traditionally, the mantra is repeated silently. However, if you prefer, it may be chanted softly aloud, I do both. If it’s comfortable, when reciting the Gayatri, effortlessly visualize the sun’s rays streaming into the world, entering your heart, then streaming out from your heart’s center, sending blessings to the world.
The Gayatri is a life-enhancing prayer. The ancient texts say that repeating the mantra 10 times daily removes the sins of this life, 100 times daily removes the sins of your previous life, and 1000 times daily removes the sins of three yugas (innumerable lives).
Worth giving this a try?
It's so wonderful to do and it brings us so many blessings in return!!!
Here is a Japa Meditation that we did the other evening!
Hari Om Tat Sat