Gayatri and its importance
Shukla Yajur Veda was brought to this world by the great Rsi Sri Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya who first prayed to Sri Gayatri Devi by doing severe penance amidst the Panchagni. Sri Gayatri Devi pleased by his penance guided Sri Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya to obtain it from Lord Surya Bhagavan. This web site on Shukla Yajur Veda will be incomplete if a section is not devoted to Sri Gayatri Mata.
Gayatri is Vedamatha, the mother of all Vedas. A person totally devoted to Gayatri recitation can achieve great success in the path of self advancement. Gayatri inspires man towards righteous wisdom. An astral, conscious electric current flows constantly in a person who is able to establish a relationship with Gayatri as it influences his mind, intellect, heart and inner self. No sooner the divine light of Gayatri dawns on the intellectual field of a person, the darkness of evil thoughts, false convictions, degrading vices start dispelling. Gayatri undoubtedly and miraculously transforms the mental framework of a person to a systematic, healthy, righteous and balanced personality. The well developed mind produces thoughts leading to action resulting in happiness. His work becomes excellent and his well intentioned thoughts radiate happiness, contentment and peace!
Gayatri worship results in extraordinary benefits to its devotees. Numerous persons over thousands of years have achieved material and spiritual benefits by worshipping Gayatri. The reason is that they get righteous wisdom as a divine boon in the light of which all infirmities, complications and difficulties which make people unhappy, poor, worried and miserable, are solved. Darkness has no independent existence as it is nothing but absence of light. In the same way unhappiness is nothing but absence of true knowledge. Otherwise, in this righteous creation of God, there is not a particle of sorrow or suffering. God is sat, chit, anand, embodiment of supreme truth, virtuousness, existence and divine bliss. Man remains unhappy on account of his internal weakness for want of true knowledge. Otherwise, having been endowed with a human body which is scarce even for divine beings and living on this earth which is greater than heaven, there should be nothing else than pleasure for him here.
The sadhana of Gayatri is worship of true knowledge. It has been repeatedly seen those who worship Gayatri will never be lacking in spiritual and worldly happiness.
Each limb of Gayatri has been distilled out from each Veda. It is said in Taittriya Brahamana of Yajur Veda “ The three fold knowledge was revealed: Rig to the heart of Agni; Yajur to the heart of Vayu and Sama to the heart of Aditya. Thus the All Pervading Lord revealed the three fold knowledge, the three worlds were thus illumined. The earth (Bhu Lok, Prithvi) by the Rig, the Antariksha (Bhuva Lok) by the Yajur and Dev Lok (Svah Lok) by the Sama Veda”.
Swami Daya Nand Saraswathi (Arya Samaj founder) has also said that this word AUM is the most glorious name for God as the on word AUM, composed of the letters of A U M constitutes many names of God. At the same time it connotes all the names of God. The Brahman loves this name even as a father loves his child.
It is reported, once, addressing a huge gathering, Dayananda thundered: "Your ancestors were not uncivilized men living in forests. They were great men who enlightened this world. Your history is not a bundle of defeats. It is the eulogy of the conquerors of the world. Your Vedic Scriptures are not the songs of cowherds. They are the immortal truths which shaped mighty souls like Sri Rama and Sri Krishna. Awake! Arise! Be proud of your glorious history. Take inspiration from it to mould the present. Shame upon the modern education which fills you with contempt for your ancestors!"
Gayatri, what is it?
The performance of Gayatri Japa serves as a preliminary rite for self purification, bestows on individuals Atma Shakti and protects them from the malefic effects of sins and expiation. Gayatri mantra is supercharged with power and has been prescribed to mankind under Vedic sanctions. A fresh order of life begins to blossom for all persons from the moment of initiation into upanayana, the sacred thread ceremony. The most cardinal part of upanayana is Brahmaopadesa, which is initiation into uttering of the sacred Gayatri Mantra. Enriched with divine energy, Gayatri mantra serves as a faithful protector for all those who silently utter the mantra to themselves with sincerity. This mantra is a dynamic force and enjoins the brahmachari (bachelor), the grahasthas (house holder) and the vanaprastha (forest dweller), all to repeat this sanctified mantra at least 108 times a day.
The Gayatri mantra, the most mighty of the Vedic mantras, is a prayer to the Sun god to alleviate one from all human sins, physical dissipation and to bestow knowledge, health and longevity. Gayatri is the mantra to be repeatedly recited in the morning before the Sun begins to rise, at noon when the Sun is in the apex and in the evening as the Sun sets, three times a day. Gayatri mantra is a vandana prayer to everlasting light of lights and extols the Almighty Suryanaryana as the soul and spirit of the moving and static objects, with a supplication for proper application and direction one’s buddhi or intellect in all matters.
The Gayatri Mantra forms a part of the Rg Veda Samhita, Mandala III, 62 – 10.
Maithrayani Upanisad explains beautifully the meaning and significance of Gayatri mantra.
‘Om’ represents Brahma Swaroopam which is all the three genders of male, female and napumsaka. It represents the three luminaries of Agni, Vayu and Adityan. It represents the three Gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra. It represents the three agnis of Garhapadhyam, Dakshinagni and Ahavaneeyam. It represents the three Vedas Rg, Yajur and Sama; the three worlds, Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka and Suvarloka; the three times, the present, past and future; the three heat sources, prana, agni and Surya; the three sources of sustenance of the body – food, water and moon; the three ways of thinking – buddhi, mind and ahankara; the three dwelling points of life –prana, Apana and Vyana. It is also Aksharam, Parma and Aparam.
‘Tat Savitur Varenyam’ means Lord Surya who is the creator also called Savita is to be prayed as the best representation of Atman.
‘Bargo Devasya Dheemahi’ means we meditate on the wonderful brilliance of Lord Surya.
‘Dhiyoyonaha Prachodhayat’ – In this ‘na:’ and ‘diya: are our buddhis aand our shaktis. (We pray to) That Paramatma which residing in Lord Surya who excites or direct our buddhis and shaktis.
Bharga is explained as the brilliance of Surya and the stars. Bharrjadhi means destroying by fire and hence Bharga represents Rudra. Or bhaga means ghacchati i.e. all the life are from Paramatma and hence he is called ‘bharga’. The name Surya is from the word “suyamanathvath” meaning destroyer of all opponents. Savitha means the creator. Since Surya attracts everything he is called Adityan from the word ‘adhanath’. This Aditya is the imperishable Atman.
Word by word meaning of Gayatri
Om – the primeval sound
Bhur – the physical world, this earth
Bhuva – the mental world
Svaha – the spiritual world
Thath – That (the Paramatma)
Savitur – The Sun, Creator
Varenyam – the most adorable, highest
Bhargo – Luster, Effulgence, tejas
Devasya - Supreme Lord
Dhimahi – we meditae upon
Dhiyo – intellect, understanding
Yo – who
Naha – our
Prachodhayat – enlightens, guides
We meditate on the most adorable and effulgent Supreme Spirit (The Sun) who directs and inspires our intellect and understanding!
Power and greatness of Gayatri
Right from Brahma, the creator of this world down to the present era all the Rsis, saints, innumerable persons have realised and experienced the power of Gayatri. No other mantra has been worshipped and practiced so much as this mantra. Gayatri is praised as Maha Mantra Palapradhayai which means she helps to realise the effectiveness of any mantra. To realise the benefits of any ritual or practice of any mantra the Gayatri Japam is a must to be performed. A person who does the Gayatri Japam regularly is able to realise the benefit of any studies or use of any mantra. Gayatri Mantra is the first mantra to be taught in schools in the olden days as it enabled the students attain righteous and far sighted wisdom and energized them to absorb the onerous studies ahead of them.
Many Rsis and learned persons have praised the Gayatri mantra and we produce here an extract of such statement.
Rsis Visvamitra says there is no other mantra like Gayatri in all the four Vedas. All the Vedas, yagna, charity and tap are not equivalent even to a small portion of Gayatri Mantra.
Yogeeswara Yagnavalkya says “ Gayatri and all the Vedas were weighted in a balance, Gayatri gained an upper hand. Upanisads are the essence of Vedas and Gayatri along with its Viyahritis has been regarded as the essence of Upanisads. Gayatri is the mother of Vedas, it destroys the sins as there is no other purifier than Gayatri on this earth or in the heaven. There is no better place of pilgrimage than Ganga and none can excel the lord Keas. So also there is no mantra superior to Gayatri mantra. One who knows Gayatri becomes a master of all knowledge and becomes shroutriya. A dwij who is not devoted to Gayatri is like a shoodra, all though he may be well versed in Vedas and all his labour is futile. He who does not know Gayatri gets deprived of his brahmanatva and becomes sinful”.
In this context we have to recall the statement of Great Paramacharya Sri Chandrasekerendra Saraswathi Swamigal of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, who has said that if Gayatri is not practiced by three generation of Brahmins the Brahmin ceases to be a Brahmin.
Manu says that “Gayatri mantra having three phases was formed by Brahma as the essence of three Vedas. There is no greater purifier mantra than Gayatri mantra. Any person engaged in doing Gayatri tap regularly for three years realises God. A dwij who meditates on Gayatri mantra in the morning and evening twilights gets the benefit of reading Vedas. Such a person can attain divine powers (siddhis) by Gayatri japa alone. Those who perform the japa thousand times daily get rid of sins just as a snake casts off its slough. A dwij who does not worship Gayatri deserves to be condemned”.
According to Parashar, “Of all the sukthas and Veda mantras, Gayatri mantra is most superior. As between the Vedas and Gayatri, the latter has an upper hand . One who performs Gayatri japa with devotion becomes pure and gets liberated. A person devoid of Gayatri cannot be considered to be a Brahmin, although he might have read Vedas, sastras and puranas”.
Shanka Rsi is of the view that “Gayatri alone extends a helping hand and saves a person falling in the ocean of hell. There is nothing superior to it on earth as well as in the heaven. Undoubtedly, a person who knows Gayatri attains svarga, the heaven”.
According to Shounak Rsi, “ a dwij may or may not do other kinds of worship. He gets liberated by doing Gayatri japa alone and attains all material and spiritual pleasures. Performance of ten thousand japa averts calamity in the hour of crisis”.
Attri Rsi, says “Gayatri completely purifies the soul. By the glorious power of Gayatri deep-rooted defects and vices are cleansed. Nothing else remains to be enjoyed in this world by one who fully understands the substance of Gayatri”.
Maharishi Vyasa says “Just as honey is the essence of flower, ghee of milk, in the same way Gayatri is the essence of all the Vedas. Gayatri is like kamadhenu for one who has acquired proficiency in it. Ganga purifies the sins committed by physical body but Gayatri, the Brahma Ganga purifies the soul. A person resorting to systems of worship other than Gayatri is like a fool who leaves delicious delicacies and indulges in begging food”. There is nothing superior to achieving desired success and developing the power of devout austerity”.
Bharadwaj Rsi says that “Even God like Brahma performs Gayatri japa. It leads to god realisation. A vicious man gets rid of his vices by performing Gayatri japa. A person devoid of Gayatri is worse than a shoodra”.
Charak Rsi says “A person who worships Gayatri observing the vow of brahmacharya and consumes fresh fruits of anwala (emblic myrobalan tree) attains longevity”
Rsi Vasista says “ persons who are dull, wayward and fickle minded reach a high position by Gayatri influence and their salvation is certain. Those who worship Gayatri firmly with piousness realise the self”.
Adi Sankara Baghavadpadha has said “It is beyond human competence to describe the glory of Gayatri. Nothing is so important in the world as to have wisdom. This wisdom by which self –realisation is attained through divine insight is inspired by Gayatri. Gayatri is the initial mantra. It is an incarnation to destroy sins and promote virtues”.
Swami Ramakrishna Paramahansa has said “I tell people that it is not necessary to get engaged in prolonged sadhnas. Perform simple Gayatri Sadhana and see the result. Great siddhis are attained by Gayatri sadhana. This mantra is small, no doubt, but it is extremely powerful”.
Swami Vivekananda has said “Gayatri is a mantra of righteous wisdom and therefore, it has been called a be-jeweled crown of all the mantras”.
Mahamana Madanmohan Malviya has said “Gayatri is the most precious gem which has been given to us by Rsis. It purifies the intellect and the soul is enlightened with the light of God. Countless souls have been liberated from worldly bond by this enlightenment. Gayatri has the power to inculcate feeling of dedication to God and removes scarcity of worldly requirements. Gayatri sadhana is extremely necessary for Brahmins. A person who does not perform Gayatri japa is guilty of neglecting his duties”.
Devi Bhagavatam states “Sadhana of Gayatri mantra is the essence of Vedas. Even God like Brahma meditates on and performs Gayatri japa at the time of twilight. A Brahmin who performs only Gayatri japa regularly attains salvation. Daily worship of Gayatri has been described in all the Vedas. A Brahmin devoid of Gayatri is doomed in all respects. A Brahmin who gives up Gayatri goes to hell although he may worship Vishnu or Shiva”.
(Extracts from “Gayatri Rahasya” by His Holiness Shri Prabhu Ashrit Maharaj)
We are grateful to M/s Himalyan Books, New Delhi for permitting to provide this extract
Shri Rabindra Nath Tagore on the Gayatri
Aum, Bhur Bhuvah Svah the Viyahritis shall have to be concerted. The three planes Bhur Bhuvah Svah constitute the whole universe shall have to be brought into focus. In other words, it must be established in mind that I belong to no particular country but am a dweller of the whole universe. IN this way, those who are Aryans, find themselves established in the Sun, the Moon, the Planets and the stars at least once a day, and thus renew their unbreakable ties with the manifest universe.
Tat Saviturvareniam Bhargo Devasia Dhimahi
We meditate on the adorable and ever pure effulgence of the resplendent Vivifier of the Universe. But by what formula can he maintain his link with this boundless Power that manifests itself?
The formula is:
Dhiyo yon a prachodayat
There is no doubt that God may stimulate our mental faculties and direct us to do noble deeds. By what power do we see the light of the sun? The rays that the sun sheds on us make us see the light. Similarly, the Vivifier of the Universe, directs our intellect to know ourselves and the Universe.
Thus, we come to know God as the Director of our intellect. Knowing this secret we find our hearts free from all the evils likely to beset it.
Thus we gain nearness to God.
Maharishi Devendra Nath Tagore on the Gayatri
As soon as I saw the efficacy of the Gayatri for Brahman worship, as taught by Ram Mohan Roy, it sank deep in me. With constant repetition of its meaning I meditated on it. Though I did not succeed in helping others by propounding the Gayatri mantras, in my case it did much good. I continued to worship Him daily through the mantra. The deep significance of the Gayatri became clear to me. Gradually the spirit of filled my heart. I established a certain connection with Him. Formerly, I had deemed it a privilege to salute Him from a distance. Now I realized that He was not far from me. When not knowing Him, I was wandering aimlessly, sad and despondent. He gradually opened my inner eye, the eye of wisdom. All this time I did not know that He was leading me by the hand. Now I walked under His guidance. Then I prayed to Him to inspire me with righteousness, to guard me with moral strength, to give me patience, courage, fortitude and contentment. What profits beyond all expectations had I not gained by adopting the Gayatri mantra? I had seen Him face to face, had heard His voice of command and had become His constant companion. Even as He, dwelling in the sky, guides the stars and planets, so does He dwelling within my heart inspire all my righteous feelings and guide my soul. When I did some good in secret, He openly rewarded me; I saw His benign countenance, and my heart was purified. I felt that ever enshrined within my heart. He taught me wisdom like a Guru and prompted me to do good. I exclaimed: “Thou art Father too and Mother; Thou art the Guru and bestower of all wisdom. In punishment as in reward, I discerned His love alone. Nurtured by His love, falling to rise again, I have come thus far.
The Autobiography of Maharishi Devendra Nath Tagore, translated by Satyendra Nath Tagore and Indira Devi, 1909, pp.35-36.
One devotee: Father, with your permission I may relate a personal experience.
Mahatma: Yes, do.
Devotee: Long ago I tried my luck as a contractor in Africa. I was fortunate in worldly affairs. My stars were in the ascendant. I earned well. But as luck would have it I fell ill and for quite some time could not supervise my work. My African labourers left me. My creditors obtained decrees against me. When I recovered, several labourers demanded their wages. But I could not pay. The Labour Inspector sent for me and had the wages fixed. But as I could not square up the installments I was put behind the bars. Released from prison I began hunting for a job. At last I found a job but anxiety gnawed my heart as I could save nothing to make a fresh start as a contractor. I was , however, very regular in attending the Gurudwara and had great faith in Sadhus and astrologers. I acted upon their advice. But again luck did not favour me. One day I heard that a Mahatma had come and that he very often remained alone. I called on him and proffered some fruits. He returned them and asked me to keep them for my children. I said, “Sire, I have brought them for you. It is not good to take them back. Distribute them here, if you please.” Though he distributed them among those present including me, he did not have even one for himself.
It seemed that the Mahatma had to go out immediately. He said, “I am going out now. But if you have anything to say, come to me after a month.” Exactly after a month, I went to him and narrated my plight. I apprised him of my difficulty and entreated him. “Blessed one, you are a God-fearing man. Please pray for me so that I may prosper again.”
He Gives All Things to All Men; Forget Him Not
Hearing of my plight, the Mahatma laughed and said, “Brother, you are very innocent. My acquaintance with you is very short. But our Lord knows both of us very well. How can I recommend you to Him and bless you in His presence? What will you gain from my blessing? You are competent enough to crave for His blessing? How can I beg Him to remove your distress? He gives all things to all men. You pray to Him, instead of looking to any one else for help.”
Pray for Yourself
The Mahatma said, “This blind faith has confounded the world and made people crazy. The only advice I can offer is that you should immediately commence the Gayatri Jap. Do it as much as you can and whenever you can. The greater the obstacles you come across, the more devoutly you should do it. Your worries will end.”
I followed the advice of the Mahatma and began doing the Jap. But I observed no scruples. I was poor and had a very small house only. Solitude was out of question. The children defiled the room and disturbed me. For days together I did the Jap ion such surroundings. Then I went to the Mahatma and said: “Sire, my difficulties continue. Pray for me.” He said, “The Mahatmas bless those who remember God. You do not call on God. How can I bless you?” I said: “Sire, I remember God all the twenty four hours. I waste no time. Jap automatically comes to me”. At this the Mahatma smiled and said, “When you have reached that stage when Jap comes out of every nerve all the time. You have become a holy man. Then how is it that you have fallen from grace? Or else what you say is wrong. This is beyond my understanding”.
“Tell me thing. Do you take meat?” “Yes, Sire,” I replied. The Mahatma said, “How can you then appeal for God’s mercy? Just for the satisfaction of your palate if you grow merciless and kill His creatures, how can you expect mercy form Him? You cheat God.”
“ A man who eats flesh and drinks liquor must ultimately arrive at nothing no matter whether he performs the Gayatri Jap any number of times or not. He may rise in status on account of his past actions, his intellect may develop but poverty will always stare at him. The Jap will have an adverse effect. The more he performs it the poorer he will grow. If you are interested in your own welfare, you take a vow to give up flesh.” I at once took a vow and gave up meat. The Mahatma was well pleased and gave me instructions on Gayatri Jap. He advised me to get up very early in the morning and sit down for Jap regularly for some time and the other times to continue it while walking, sitting or lying down. I did so I steadily regained peace of mind and contentment. Although my business did not develop, my worries grew less.
One day I received a notice from the court that as I had not settled the wages of the labourers I should appear in the court the next day with a surety. My worse fears justified. I had no money. Nor was there a man to stand surety for me. I thought I was undone. I might be sent to prison once again. My small kids and my dear wife would starve to death. I went to the Mahatma and showed the court notice.
He read it and said, “There is nothing to fear, you just tell the Presiding Officer that you are a poor man living in this foreign land and that no one will stand surety for you. You also mention the name of your employer and also give an undertaking to the effect that any amount may be deducted from your pay after giving you enough for a bare subsistence.” I said, “ Sire, the law here is different. The Labour Inspector who is an English gentleman has sued me in the court of the Collector. This is a Government case. The Government is the Plaintiff. The court will not let me off without a surety. How will the burden be shifted to anyone else just at my asking? If I am sacked tomorrow or I resign how will the Government recover its dues?’
Turn to God
The Mahatma said, “In that case, I am helpless. I have no money to help you. Nor have I any status to stand surety for you.” I said, “ Sire, you just tell any of your devotees to stand surety for me.” The Mahatma said, “Good gracious! Why should I beg anyone for such temporal goods. I am a living son of the Holy Father who feeds all men, nay all creatures.”
Beg Incessantly from the Mother
“If you have faith and determination take recourse to the Gayatri immediately. Start the Jap and waste no time. Worried as you are, you do the Jap and cast your worries on God. Tomorrow also till you appear before the presiding officer, you may continue your Jap without interruption. And when you appear before him you may tell him, “I am penniless. I have small kids to look after. My business has been ruined. If you can help me a little in whatever way you can I shall be grateful”. I came home and began the Jap. The next day I reached the court. There, too, I continued my Jap. Day wore on but no one shouted for me. When I enquired in the evening I was told to come the next day. So I did. Both the Inspector and the Collector were English gentlemen. The Collector asked, “Why have you not paid the money?” I narrated my plight honestly and stood aside silently doing the Jap. God so prompted the Collector that he asked the Inspector, “Now tell me what we should do to him. He is a poor man and has a family to support.”
The Inspector ordered me to produce a surety. I politely answered: “Wherefrom can I bring you? Who will stand bail for another in a foreign land. You very well know that I am an Indian.” The Inspector threatened that I would be prosecuted. I kept silent. The Collector said in a sad voice, “I do not want to send him to jail. He is poor but not dishonest. We must help him”. This order of the Collector was absolutely illegal. He could not have let me of without a surety. But he said, “have you any money with you?”
I had twenty shillings. I placed the amount before him and said. “I have got this much and in future I will not be able to pay more that 30 Shillings a month.” I requested that it should be the tenth of the month so that in case I failed to draw my salary in time, I may not be regarded a perjurer.
The Collector agreed and ordered the Inspector to reduce it in writing. The inspector did so and I returned home safe. Since then I have developed a great faith in the Gayatri. I perform the Jap with fervour. I have no worries.
Wherefrom did Rishi Virjanand obtain the wits to turn out a disciple who shook the world. Recall the life of Swami Dayanand. You will find Swami Virjanand stricken with small pox lost his eyes at the age of five. After the death of his parents, his brother looked after him for some time. He had no formal schooling. Troubled and teased by his brother’s wife he left home. For three long years he performed the Gayatri Jap, standing in the Ganga at Rishikesh. What a severe penance! Divine Grace dawned on him at last. One night it was revealed to him in a dream. Immediately he initiated himself into Sanyas.
But it was a unique dream. The dreams of the yogins are not phantasms. They are oracles. Dreams bring to the mind. Mind is the abode of God. The words “the would-be is done and you should go,” heard by Swami Virjanand in the dream were those of the God in him.
You may interpret these words as you like. But pause for a moment on these words. You will understand what was the ‘would-be’ and ‘what had been done’. Swami Virjanand was a great visionary. Grieved at the death of his preceptor, Swami Dayanand himself said: “Alas, the sun of Ashtadhyaee has set.”
This was undoubtedly the influence of the Gayatri. Swami Virjanand’s intellect and memory had grown so sharp that even without proper schooling he could use the Ashtadhyaee in interpreting the Vedic texts.
It is said that one day Swami Virjanand was sitting on the bank of the Yamuna when Brahmin from the South came there for a bath. After having his dip in the river, the Brahmin began to recite the Ashtadhyaee loudly. The recitation attracted him. He called the Brahmin and learned from him the glory of Ashtadhyaee and requested him to read it out for him. The Brahmin consented. Having heard it once, the Swami repeated it without a mistake. This is the influence of the Gayatri. This is the power and the glory of this sacred mantra.
You can also have a look at Gayatri Sankalpam Mantra in Tamil (for 2007)