While there are numerous mantras in the Vedic Tradition, there is non 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 us the vision of Supreme Consciousness.
The ancient texts tell us that meditation with the Gayatri Mantra develops within us the feeling of constantly living in the Divine state of Pure Consciousness. When our heart is completely open to the Gayatri, all the actions we perform in the world will be transformed into highly noble actions dedicated to the Divine. All desires are effortlessly fulfilled and we attain complete union with the Supreme Goddess of Divine Consciousness.
Vedic concept of creation
The Vedic scriptures tell us that the non-dual OM emerged from the Supreme Unmanifest Absolute originally expressed as the three letters A U M. From these emerged the gross physical (Bhuh), subtle (Bhuvah) and celestial (Suvah) universes. These gave rise to the great Gayatri Mantra. From the Gayatri Mantra emerged knowledge of the transcendental nature of the Cosmic Being (Purusha) giving us the entire meaning of the Vedas. And finally, from the Vedas, Brahma created the manifest Universe as we know it. Gayatri appears as a verse in the Rig Veda and is the name of the Vedic meter or rhythm in which the verse is composed.
Gayatri is said to be the quintessence of the Vedas. Its esoteric meaning is that it gives us the knowledge of the oneness of the jivatman with the Paramatman – that is the individual soul with the Supreme Soul. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna says among poetic meters, I am Gayatri.
The mantra is personified as the Goddess Gayatri Devi, usually depicted as having five heads and ten 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 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 we may have many kinds of bodyguards in the external world, we 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.
The structure of the Gayatri Mantra
Bhuh, Bhuvah, Suvah are also referred to as the three worlds, earth, heaven and inner space or
existence (bhur), consciousness (bhuvah), bliss (swaha). They serve as a kind of invocation to the Gayatri.
The Gayatri itself contains twenty-four seed syllables: Tat savitur varenyam; Bhargo devasya dheemahi; Dhiyo yonah prachodayaat. All of wisdom, knowledge, and the entire Vedas are concealed in these twenty-four 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 twenty-four seed syllables has nothing else left to hear, read, learn or enjoy in this external world.
There are seventy million supreme mantras contained within the Gayatri Mantra. Of these ten million mantras attributed to Siva (pure potentiality, the unmanifest), twenty million to the sun (giver of life), five million to Ganesh (bringer of wisdom and remover of obstacles), five million to Vishnu (balance and harmony), and thirty million mantras, more than all the others, are attributed to Mother Divine, the Goddess of Supreme Energy. The Gayatri Mantra is the essence of all these seventy million mantras. Just as all rivers merge in the oceans, all mantras unite in the Gayatri Mantra. The Gayatri Mantra itself then merges in the great ocean of Omkara, the sound of Om, returning us to the silence of our True Self.
The value of chanting the Gayatri
Chanting the Gayatri Mantra develops nada, a regular vibration in the channels of the subtle body, opening the various spiritual centers of our body. As a result, energy is awakened in the subtle body. Chanting the twenty-four seed syllables in the Gayatri Mantra generates a wondrous jhankar, a pulsating ringing so a powerful energy flows from the chakras of the subtle body. This endows us with Yoga Shakti, the energy of union with the Divine.
The Gayatri is best chanted silently or in a soft, sweet voice with a tranquil mind. As a result our 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 us 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. Meditating on the Gayatri Mantra we gradually realize that the whole Universe is the radiance of Mother Divine, witnessed as the embodiment of our own soul. When we ascend to such an elevated state, we will never fall again. We will always be drenched in an ocean of Divine Bliss! This alone is the fulfillment of spirituality, which we can attain effortlessly by meditating on the Gayatri Mantra. This is why Gayatri is hailed as the Mother of all mothers.
The Gayatri Mantra
The following is the standard version of the Gayatri Mantra, which is the one most commonly used. I’ve included a phonetic pronunciation. There are many commercial recordings available to help you learn it, as well as my recording in the chants section of my website rogergabriel.com.
Bhur Bhuvah SuvahA Bhoor Bhoo-va Su-va-ha
Tat Savitur Varenyam Tat Sa-vee-toor Var-ayn-yam
Bargo Devasya Dhimahi Bar-go Day-vas-ya Dhee-ma-hee
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat Dhee-yo Yo Nah Pra-cho-da-yaat
Rather than give a direct translation of the Gayatri Mantra, which is often confusing to try to understand, here are several different meanings attributed to it. Some favor it as the origins of the Universe, others as an aspect of the sun. I feel we can each choose whichever one we resonate with.
I meditate upon the Supreme Energy, Gayatri Devi, who has the supreme quality of playing in the creation of all the worlds, and who induces noble thoughts in the hearts of everyone.
Oh, creator of the universe. We meditate upon thy supreme splendor. May thy radiant power illuminate our intellects, destroy our ignorance and guide us in the direction of Enlightenment by purifying our inner hearts.
You who are the source of all power, whose rays illuminate the world, illuminate my heart so that it too can do your work
Let us commune with the luminous light of consciousness that sustains all the worlds, that it may
inspire our liberation
We meditate on that light of the luminous God Savitur, who is the inspirer of all beings, their inner Self and is the creator of the universe. We mediate on that adorable light which is the Self of the Supreme Lord of the universe. It is the giver of knowledge and destroyer of ignorance. It is the light of the Supreme Brahman itself. May that light enlighten us
The Gayatri Mantra with Kriyas (actions)
The following is a longer version of the Gayatri, which activates all seven Lokhas or planes of existence and specifically asks for the blessing of Enlightenment. It may be practiced with or without the Kriyas (hand movements). Kriyas are said to connect us with our Atman (Soul). The Kriyas should be practiced with the right hand only. Open your hand with the palm facing upwards.
OM BHUH Touch the thumb to the base of the ring finger
OM BHUVAH Touch the thumb to the base of the little finger
OM SVAHA Touch the thumb to the middle of the little finger
OM MAHAH Touch the thumb to the tip of the little finger
OM JANAH Touch the thumb to the tip of the ring finger
OM TAPAH Touch the thumb to the tip of the middle finger
OM SATYAM Touch the thumb to the tip of the index finger
OM TATSAVITUR VARENYAM Touch the thumb to the middle of the index finger
BHARGO DEVASYA DHIMAHI Touch the thumb to the base of the index finger
DHIYO YO NAH PRACODAYAT Touch the thumb to the base of the middle finger
OM APO JYOTIR Touch the first three fingers to the right eye
RASO’MRTAM Touch the first three fingers to the left eye
BRAHMA BHUR BHUVAH SVAR OM Touch the first three fingers to the third eye
Repeating the Gayatri Mantra
If you can comfortably wake up and meditate during brahma muhurta, between 3:30-4:30 am, 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. However, the Gayatri may be practiced at any time of the day. If you can only practice it one day each week, Friday is the the most auspicious.
It is best to perform a simple pranayama, the expansion of vital breath, such as alternative nostril breathing, five times before beginning the repetition of the Gayatri Mantra. If possible, face east towards the rising sun in the morning and west towards 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 we can repeat the Mantra as many times as is comfortable. I like to repeat the Gayatri Mantra every morning before my silent practice of Primordial Sound Meditation. I do three of the longer version with the Kriyas and then twenty seven (a quarter mala) of the shorter version, without Kriyas. I also repeat it at other quiet times during the day, such as walking, when I first wake up, before sleep at night or as is comfortable.
In general, when using the Kriyas, it is recommended to repeat the mantra three times using the Kriyas and then continue repeating either the long or short version of the Gayatri at least ten more times without Kriyas.
Traditionally the mantra is repeated silently. However, if you prefer, it may be chanted softly aloud. If it’s comfortable, when reciting the Gayatri, effortlessly visualize the sun’s rays streaming forth 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 3 yugas (innumerable lives).