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Decoding the Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri mantra is one of the well-known mantras. As per the Smarta Brahmanas, the Gayatri mantra is a representative of Suryadev. According to Hari Bhakti Vilasa, the Brahma Gayatri mantra is a prayer to Gayatri Devi, the eternal consort of Sri Vishnu.

Written by Saumyaa Vardhan | New Delhi |
Updated: May 24, 2018 5:00:34 am
gayatri mantra, bhagwad gita, mantras, what is gaytri mantra, benefits of gayatri mantra, source of gayatri mantra, gayatri devi, lord vishnu, Vedic religion, sanskrit words, The Upanishads, Muktaka Upanishad, Srimad Bhagwatam, Skanda Purana, Puranic literature, indian express, indian express news The word Gayatri is composed of two words, “Gaya” which means “reveal” and “tri” which means “three Vedas”. (Source: Getty Images)

Mantras form an important part of the prayers in the Vedic religion. It represents a meaningful combination of Sanskrit words which are written and sung in a particular grammar and meter respectively. Chanting of Vedic mantras makes the people feel relieved from the material anxieties and they become spiritually inclined.

You shall be surprised to know that, in the Vedic literature, which comprises of the four Vedas, the number of mantras count upto 100,000. The Upanishads, being innumerable in number, contains innumerable verses, although the Muktaka Upanishad defines 108 principal Upanishads. According to Srimad Bhagwatam (12.13.4-9) and Skanda Purana, the Puranic literature has 525,000 mantras. Therefore, the total number of verses is alarmingly high.

Out of these above mantras, the Gayatri mantra is considered to be the greatest of all. According to Bhagwad Gita (10.35), “Of the hymns in the Sama Veda, I am the Brhat-sama, and of poetry I am the Gayatri. Of months I am Margasirsa (November- December), and of seasons I am flower-bearing spring.”

The Gayatri mantra is one of the well-known mantras. The chanting of this mantra can be heard as a part of the school morning prayer programme and other inauguration ceremonies.

Source of Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri mantra is found in the oldest Vedic literature, the Rig Veda (3.62.10). But, we don’t recite the mantra since it is not the complete version. We recite a more detailed version of the mantra, which is termed as Brahma Gayatri. It is the expanded form of Gayatri mantra.

The expansion of the few words has been added as per the description of Taittiriya Aranyaka (2.11.1-8).

Representation of Gayatri Mantra

The Gayatri mantra is also mentioned in the first verse of the Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.1.1) as dhimahi. Because the Gayatri mantra is especially meant for God realisation, it represents the Supreme Lord. The Gayatri is considered to be the sound incarnation of Brahman.

According to Hari Bhakti Vilasa, the Brahma Gayatri mantra is a prayer to Gayatri Devi, the eternal consort of Sri Vishnu. She is also called Laksmi, Sarasvati, Savitri and Sandhya. The devotee meditating on the Brahma-Gayatri is worshiping Gayatri Devi, and calling her from the sun planet into the heart. By this worship, the devotee receives her mercy and help in approaching Lord Vishnu.

The word Gayatri is composed of two words, “Gaya” which means “reveal” and “tri” which means “three Vedas”.

A more profound description is found in the Narada Pancharatra, which says “Gayati trayate iti Gayatri”. This means that Gayatri mantra sings the glories of the supreme personality of godhead and protects the devotee from all sorts of material contaminations.

As per the Smarta Brahmanas, the Gayatri mantra is a representative of Suryadev. In a deeper aspect, it represents the solar energy perspective of the supreme lord, as it is representative of Surya Narayana or the eye of the lord.

The Gayatri mantra is also a representative of Devi Saraswati since she teaches the devotee to pray to the supreme lord.

Origin of Gayatri Mantra

According to Brahma Samhita (5.27-28):

* Then Gayatri, mother of the Vedas, being made manifest, i.e. imparted, by the divine sound of the flute of Sri Krishna, entered into the lotus mouth of Brahma, born from himself, through his eight ear-holes.

* The lotus-born Brahma having received the Gayatri, sprung from the flute-song of Sri Krishna, attained the status of the twice-born, having been initiated by the supreme primal preceptor, Godhead himself.

* Enlightened by the recollection of that Gayatri, embodying the three Vedas, Brahma became acquainted with the expanse of the ocean of truth.

Parts of Brahma Gayatri Mantra

The Brahma Gayatri mantra comprised of three portions:

* Om: The Pranava or the basic syllable of Vedic mantras

* The three Vyahrtis: The representatives of higher planetary systems and levels of consciousness (bhur bhuva swaha)

* The Savitri mantra: The central mantra of Gayatri (tat savitur……)

Word by word meaning of Gayatri Mantra

The presentation of the detailed meaning of Gayatri mantra is as follows:

Om

It is the primordial sound which represents the supreme lord. It is the sound representative of Lord Krishna. This Omkara is known as maha-vakya, or the supreme sound.

Bhur

It represents the earth as the physical plane. It also represents Lord Krishna as the perfection of all qualities and his form of Lord Brahma as the creator.

Bhuvah

It represents the sky as the astral plane. It also represents Lord Krishna as the all-powerful and his form of Lord Narayana as the maintainer.

Svaha

It represents the heaven as the mental plane. It also represents Lord Krishna as the reservoir of pleasure and his form of Lord Shiva as the destroyer.

Tat

It addresses the Supreme personality of god.

Savitur

It represents the predominating deity of the sun, Hiranmaya i.e. Sri Narayana having a golden hue.

Varenyam

It represents the supreme person, who is worthy of all respects and worship and who illuminates the entire creation.

Bhargo

It represents the divine unalloyed pure effulgence of the lord. It also represents Srimati Radharani.

Devasya

It represents the all glowing personality of godhead, indifferent to this material creation.

Dhimahi

It represents the meditation or offering prayers unto him.

Dhiyo yo naha

It represents the inspiration given to the mind by the lord.

Prachodayat

It represents the guidance by the supreme lord Vishnu as per his will for our ultimate well-being.

The translation of Gayatri Mantra

Summarising all the definitions of the Brahma Gayatri mantra, Hari Bhakti Vilasa decodes the definition of the mantra as follows:

“Let us meditate {dhimahi) upon the Parambrahma (tat), who is the cause of all causes, (om), and the destoyer of all existence in the universe (bhur, bhuvah, svah). As the independent source of all energy and life (bhargo), He is the shining (devasya) Supersoul of the sun (savitur). Let us use our intelligence (prachodayat) to reach the transcendental world.”

Benefits of chanting Gayatri Mantra

We have been chanting Gayatri mantra since our childhood, but we were unaware of its benefits. The shastras illustrates the following benefits:

Gayatri is supplementary to the Vedas. It is the giver of bliss. Merely reciting Gayatri destroys heaps of sins; reciting it ten times removes the sins committed from birth; reciting one-hundred times destroys the sins of the previous life; reciting one-thousand times destroys the sins of the past three lives. (Yagyavalkya Samhita)

Upon placing Gayatri mantra and the Vedas on a scale, Lord Brahma found them to be of equal weight. (Padma Puran)

Markendeya Rsi said, ‘By chanting Gayatri one can achieve either material gain or liberation. The worshiper who is devoid of desires, however, attains the supreme abode of Lord Vishnu.” (Vishnu dharmottar Purana)

Fixing the mind on me, one should worship me by his various prescribed duties, such as chanting the Gayatri mantra at the three junctures of the day. Such performances are enjoined by the Vedas, and purify the worshiper of reactions to fruitive activities. (Srimad Bhagwatam 11.27.12)

Process of chanting Gayatri Mantra

The following rules are advised as per the scriptures.

* One can chant Gayatri mantra three times a day, during the Sandhya timings. Sandhya means the junction of two parts of the day.

* One should take a bath before chanting Gayatri mantra.

* One should sit on Asana of Kusha and recite the mantra silently.

* One can tie his brahmana thread around his right thumb and chant the mantra, moving his lips only, in an inaudible tone.

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