This article was provided by one of our community members that we would like to share with you all. Our younger members may find this especially useful and educating, as it explains the meaning behind this powerful mantra.
OM bhuur bhuvaH svaH
tat savitur vareNyaM
bhargo devasya dhiimahi
dhiyo yo naH pracodayaat .
The Rig Veda (10:16:3)
OM - the Infinite beyond Conception, Brahman, Supreme Lord and State of Being
bhuur - Protector of the earth, the material sheath, The Life breath of the Universe. From the feet to the navel center.
bhuvaH - the Mental Worlds One of the meanings is the sky. The Lord who pervades and eliminates all miseries. From the navel to the
svaH - I AM ONE WITH GOD - the Spiritual Worlds, One of the other meanings is the heavens. He is all Bliss and blesses His devotees
with happiness. From above the throat center to the thousand petaled lotus.
tat - That (That Thou Art)
savitur - The SUN, Creator, Preserver and Self Luminous, the central mantra of the Solar Science.
vareNyaM - Most fit to be worshipped. Most choice worthy - most adorable, enchanting.
bhargo - The burning splendor of the Sun that dispels ignorance, and therefore sorrows and miseries.
devasya - The 'Deva', The God, He who is All Bliss, The Joyful One, The Shining One, The Revealer of All Glory
dhiimahi - We meditate upon Him
dhiyo - Bhuddi, intelligence, Wisdom
yo - which
naH - our
pracodayaat - Inspires, enlightens, illuminates
This is one of the oldest and most powerful of all known mantras. You should chant this mantra and firmly establish it in your mind, as your spiritual ideal. If so, you will be able to do the work alotted to you, your life will be one of light and happiness.
The word "Gayatri" itself explains the reason for the existence of this mantra. 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.
Goddess Gayatri is also called "Veda-Mata" or the Mother of the Vedas "Rig, Yajur, Saam and Atharva" because it is the very basis of the Vedas. It is the basis, the reality behind the experienced and the cognized universe.
The Gayatri mantra is composed of a metre consisting of 24 syllables generally arranged in a triplet of eight syllables each. Therefore, this particular meter (tripadhi) is also known as the Gayatri Meter or "Gayatri Chhanda."
Just like the Sun annihilates darkness, so does the Gayatri Mantra destroy ignorance. The Gayatri Mantra invokes the power and radiance of the Sun to energize all earthly life, to destroy our sins and to reveal the Supreme Self to us. Krishna in the Bhagvad Geeta says: " Amongst the Mantras, I am the Gayatri"
In a loose translation that cannot possibly do justice to the original it implores: OM, O Lord! You are the all pervading Source of Light, Sustainer, Protector and Bestower of Happiness, Kindle, Enlighten and inspire our Intelligence to possess Eternal Qualities.
The Gayatri Mantra is the essence of the three Vedas. It is the Vedas simplified. The more one contemplates and meditates upon the Gayatri, the more complexities are revealed to one.
The story goes that once the Devas, the Shining Ones wanted to learn the secrets of the Universe. Since learning about the Scientific aspect 'atoms' etc. did not quite work out, they went to the Lord. The Lord gave them the Rig Veda, The Yajur Veda and the Sama Veda to study. After a couple of eons of study, the Devas lost their patience and wanted to quit. The Lord urged them not to give up and decided to teach the essence of the 3 Vedas in 3 fragments:
- Essence of Rig Veda Tat Savitur Varenyam
- Essence of Yajur Veda Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
- Essence of Sama Veda Dheeyo Yonah Prachodayaat
The more the Devas practiced and contemplated upon the Gayatri, the more complexities were revealed to them. So they lost patience again and went to the Lord to make it simpler still. So the Lord gave them the essence of the 3 segments, in the 3 words: Bhur, Bhuvaha, Svaha
The Devas spent a a few cycles of Creation, probably a quadrillion human years pondering upon the 'maha vyahritis' ie 'Utterances of the Lord' but became impatient again and urged the Lord to make it simpler yet. So He Said "All right I'll make it simpler"
And He taught them AUM
The great western thinker, Arthur Koestler, had once said that the Gayatri Mantra has the power of a thousand atomic bombs! and the famous scientists J.B.S. Haldana wrote: "The Gayatri Mantra should be carved on the doors of every laboratory of the world".
The Gayatri with the Mahavyahritis is uttered as :-
Om , bhur, bhuvah, svah tat Savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
This mantra is believed to have been composed by Sage Vishvamitra. According to others, however, it is so ancient that the four Vedas were born of it.
Initially, this mantra was a simple invocation to the Sun to bless all on earth. Gradually it came to be regarded as a mystic formula of universal power. This was probably due to its simplicity and its power to evolve the idealistic notion of a world that originated from an all-prevading Intelligence.
According to the Skanda Purana, nothing in the Vedas is superior to the Gayatri. No invocation is equal to it just as no city is equal to Kashi (see Tirtha). The Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas, it contains the essence of all the Vedas and of the Brahmanas, for the Gayatri is believed to embody Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and the Vedas.
According to the Aitareya Brahmana (see Brahmana), those who desire to go to heaven should recite this mantra a thousand times. The Gayatri Mantra must be recited by all 'twice-born' (see Upanayanam) Hindus, Gayatri Mantra especially the Brahmins, who are expected to recite it every morning and evening. This mantra was however not allowed be reciting or even hearing by a Shudra or a woman. In the early Vedic age however, the status of women was considerably higher than in the later Vedic age. Rishinis or women rishis like Gargi and Lopamudra are said to have undergone the Upanayanam and the former indeed, engaged in debate none less than the law giver, Yajnavalkya. Later, when this mantra became exclusive to 'twice-born' males, care was taken not to recite it loudly.
The Gayatri Mantra is also recited at various rituals pertaining to divine worship and the ritual of the manes (see Shradha). It is said that the recitation of the Gayatri five times a day is as effective as performing the panchamahayagya.
This mantra is taught for the first time during the Upanayanam ceremony when the guru whispers it into the ears of the newly Recitation of the Pupil (brahmopadesham) . Thereafter the pupil is expected to recite it every morning and evening throughout his life
It should ideally be recited 16 times a day. To keep track, the right hand is used. When the mantra is recited the first time, the thumb is placed on the third joint of the ring finger and is held there till the mantra is complete. With each completion, the thumb moves one more joints, down the ring finger, up the little finger, over the tips, down the index finger, up the middle finger and the sixteenth recitation is completed on the third joint of the middle finger. When reciting the Gayatri Mantra, the sacred thread (please look up Upanayanam) is held across the thumb of the right hand.