The Gayatri mantra is one of the oldest and most powerful of Sanskrit mantras. It is believed that by chanting the Gayatri mantra and firmly establishing it in the mind, if you carry on your life and do the work that is ordained for you, your life will be full of happiness.
It has its origin in the Sanskrit phrase Gayantam Triyate iti, and refers to that mantra which rescues the chanter from all adverse situations that may lead to mortality.
GAYATRI MANTRA – ITS MEANING
AUM BHOOR BHUWAH SWAHA,
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASAYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YO NAHA PRACHODAYAT.
ॐ भूर्भुव: स्व: तत्सवितुर्वरेन्यं । भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धीयो यो न: प्रचोदयात् ।।
Summary of the Gayatri Mantra
Gayatri Mantra (the mother of the vedas), the foremost mantra in hinduism and hindu beliefs, inspires wisdom. Its meaning is that “May the Almighty God illuminate our intellect to lead us along the righteous path”. The mantra is also a prayer to the “giver of light and life” – the sun (savitur).
Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life,
Remover of pain and sorrow,
The Bestower of happiness,
Oh! Creator of the Universe,
May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light,
May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.
Gayatri, the five-faced Goddess, is said to have domain over the five senses or pranas, and protects these five life-forces of those who chant the Gayatri Mantra. In her role as the protector, Gayatri is referred to as Savitri.
Origin of the Gayatri Mantra
The Vedas are widely considered to be the source of all true knowledge, the word “Veda” itself meaning “Knowledge”. Gayatri Devi also gave to mankind the “Gayatri Mantra”, also known as the “Guru Mantra” or the “Savitri Mantra”. It is one of the oldest mantras, and generally thought of as being amongst the highest and most powerful mantras of all. This mantra is therefore often referred to as “the Mother of the Vedas”. In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna had proclaimed to Arjuna – “Among all the mantras, I am the Gayatri”.
Chanting of the Gayatri Mantra
The ideal times for chanting the mantra are three times a day – at dawn, mid-day, and at dusk. These times are known as the threesandhyas – morning, mid-day and evening. The maximum benefit of chanting the mantra is said to be obtained by chanting it 108 times. However, one may chant it for 3, 9, or 18 times when pressed for time.
Rishis selected the words of the Gayatri Mantra and arranged them so that they not only convey meaning but also create specific power of righteous wisdom through their utterance. Chanting of Gayatri Mantra removes all obstacles in our path to increased wisdom and spiritual growth and development. The teachings and powers incorporated in the Gayatri Mantra fulfill this purpose. Righteous wisdom starts emerging soon after Jap(recitation) of the Gayatri Mantra is performed.
The syllables of the mantra are said to positively affect all the chakras or energy centres in the human body – hence, proper pronunciation and enunciation are very important. Gayatri Mantra will protect you from harm wherever you are, make your intellect shine, improve your power of speech, and dispel the darkness of ignorance (Dhiyoyonah prachodayaath).
Word for Word Meaning of the Gayatri Mantra
The Gayatri Mantra is unique in that it embodies the three concepts of stotra (singing the praise and glory of God), dhyaana (meditation) and praarthana (prayer).
Aum = Brahma ;
bhoor = embodiment of vital spiritual energy(pran) ;
bhuwah = destroyer of sufferings ;
swaha = embodiment of happiness ;
tat = that ;
savitur = bright like sun ;
varenyam = best choicest ;
bhargo = destroyer of sins ;
devasya = divine ;
these first nine words (stotra describe the glory of God
dheemahi = may imbibe ; pertains to meditation
dhiyo = intellect ;
yo = who ;
naha = our ;
prachodayat = may inspire!
“dhiyo yo na prachodayat” is a prayer to God
Significance of Gayatri Mantra as Prayer
The Gayatri Mantra occupies a unique place in that it has both the power of mantra and of prarthana (prayer). A mantra may be articulate or inarticulate, or a combination of them, as with AUM. It has an inherent power, known as “Mantra shakti”, which has a positive influence not due to any philosophical meaning behind the mantra, but simply due to its utterance alone. The Gayatri mantra has both an intrinsic power (ie “mantra shakti”), through its mere utterance alone, and also an instrumental power (ie “prarthana shakti”), which is derived from the understanding of its meaning and philosophical significance. Hence, the repeated and correct chanting of the Gayatri Mantra, with proper understanding of its meaning, is believed to be of the greatest good to the individual. (Details of each syllable can be found in the Gayatri by Words article)
The prayer form of the Gayatri takes various forms. The Gayatri Mantra is also known as the Savitri Mantra, in which form, it is invoked as a salutation to the Sun. The form that can be used to pray to Lord Shiva is called Rudra Gayatri. Similarly, one may singGanesha Gayatri for Lord Ganesha,Hanuman Gayatri for Lord Hanuman, and Saraswati Gayatri for Goddess Saraswati.