“Gayatri mantra , figures in the 3rd canto, 62nd chapter and 10th verse in Rig Veda. Gayatri mantra is considered the seed of all Vedic mantras in the sense that on the path of mantra yoga, no mantra can be invoked until we first perform the invocation of Ved mata Gayatri which is done by chanting the Gayatri mantra. It is the method of seeking the permission. Savitur or Savitri , the presiding deity of the Gayatri mantra , is called ‘Ved Mata ‘ , the mother of al Vedas.
The whole sadhana of Gayatri is to purify yourself. Otherwise, chanting has little meaning at the end of the day. If we fail to purify ourseves internally, then no mantra will ever yield any siddhi or powers. And siddhis will come to you simply if you are purified.
Sanatan Dharma stands on four pillars: Gau ( cow ), Gita, Ganga and Gayatri. The Gayatri mantra is the quintessential mantra of Sanatan Dharma. According to Adi Shankaracharya, the purpose of human life is four fold. Firstly, whenever your mind has a moment to spare, chant the hoy names, sing the divine glories and express your gratitude to the divine. secondy, meditate upon the divine energy. Thirdlly, spend your time in the company of good people. Lastly, be charitable to those who are needy (RAK).”
Sage Vishwamitra is credited for first invocation of this mantra. Vishwamitra was formerly a king, a kshtriya, named Kaushika ,who was brave but vain and arrogant. Once he was passing through a forest along with his army after a conquest. He and his army were tired after the war and had nothing to eat or drink for days. While looking for a place to rest and drink some water, he chanced to find a small ashram of sage Vashistha in the woods. He approached the sage Vashistha with due reverence and asked his permission to take rest and , if possible , have some water for himself and his army. The sage Vashistha ( who was the guru of Dashrath, the king of Ayodhya) looked resplendent due to his spiritual and yogic powers,welcomed the king and offered to give water and food to the kind and his army. The king wondered as how it was possible for a sage with little means in his humble ashram to feed such a large army. The sage assured him that he had Nandini, a cow gifted by God Indra, who was a progeny of Kamdhenu, and she could fulfill any wish. True to his words , the king and his army had sumptuous meals and clear spring water to drink. Instead of being grateful to the sage, vicious thoughts sprang in king’s mind. Why does an ascetic, who can survive on alms, need a gifted cow. It should be in the possession of a king who had a large army to feed. He asked the sage to give the cow to him. The sage refused to part with the cow saying that she had come to him by grace and her boons are for the welfare of others, to feed hungry people. The king would not take NO for an answer and asked his men to untie the cow from the post. The sage then whispered a mantra and used a kriya called stambhan in tantra. Stambhan is the method of making any thing to stop, much like the play of children asking their playmates ‘statue ‘. The king and his men were rooted to the spot and could not move even an inch . Several hours passed in this ignoble , torturous condition until the king asked his forgiveness to release them from the bondage .
The king returned to his palace wth the fire of revenge burning in his heart at his humiliation before his men. He undertook rigorous tapasya with a view to seek revenge and not for any spiritual gain. After his ardent tapsya to Lord Shiva , the original creator of mantras, the Lord was pleased , and as is his wont, asked for a boon. The king asked for invincible weapons. Shiva, the God, who would- when pleased, grant boon to his bhakta, irrespective of whether he deserved or not ( example, Bhasmasur ) relented and gave him many weapons which would make him invincible. The king thereafter rushed to the sage’s ashram and called out to him drunk with his new found power. He again asked him to give Nandini to him or face destruction. The sage replied that it was not possible. The king in his wrath unleashed his fiery weapons on the sage but the sage thwarted his advances by his brahmadand ( power staff ) thus making his weapons ineffective. The king lost again but now vowed to do tapasya before the Original creator, Brahma. After another spell of rigorous tapasya , the God was pleased and granted him the brahmastra, the most potent weapon. Once again the king repeated the drill but met the same fate. The sage replied to the king, ” The power is not in the weapon but in you. You are not defined by what you have or what you can do but by what you are, deep inside you. Invoke the divinity in you “.
The king , once again, took to rigorous penance and great siddhis and powers came to him. He went again to sage Vashistha , apologised to him, and was bestowed with a title of brahmrishi Vishwamitra.. Vashistha was himself a brahmrishi and enjoyed a higher status by virtue of his purity of conduct. ” With his inner eye, Vishwamitra had seen the one mantra, the essence of the Vedas, the cause of creation, the one mantra that had the power to pull anyone out of any adversity, that congregation of divine sounds which could help one realize one’s wildest dreams. The only mantra he ever invoked ever since he left sage Vashistha’s ashram- the Gayatri Mantra “.
—THE MANTRA :
Om bhurbhuv svah
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodyat
( The precise mantra can be written in sanskrit only but unfortunately I do not know to write in Devnagri script on PC )
—WORD MEANING :
bhu – earth, bhuvah -celestial lokas ( There are said to be 14 lokas, 7 in upper world-bhu, bhuvah, svah, mahah, janah, tapah and satyam and 7 in the nether world- atal, vital, sutal, rasatal, talatal, mahatal and patal. The departed souls dwell in them according to the merit of their Karmas ).
svah-heaven, tat-that, savtur-Divine entity ( the sun god ), varenyam-deserving to be worshipped, bhargo-radiant/ effulgent, devasya- divine, dhimahi-to meditate upon, dhio-intellect, yo-which, nah-our, prachodyat-to put in motion/ to inspire
LITERAL TRANSLATION :
We meditate upon that radiant entity ( the sun god ), which exists in three lokas which propel our intellect to good, righteous deeds.
LIBERAL TRANSLATION :
May we abide in the Supreme Energy that is eternal, transcendental, radiant, perfect, divine. May such divine grace always guide us on the path of righteousness.
Swami ji in this book has prescribed as many as 37 essential steps to perform sadhana to realize fulfillment of Gayatri mantra. The steps suggested are elaborate and complicated which only a person with the thoroughness of a scientist, penchant for scrupulous ‘ karm kand’ ( rituals of worship ) of a high priest and dedication of a cloistered monk can perform. It is not possible for an ordinary person , like me, who is living a humdrum, mundane existence to go through these rituals which require purification of self, purification of the surroundings, invocation of various deities, following certain mudras/ postures, chanting of Gayatri mantra 1008 times a day and rounding it off with japa and tarpan. A tall order indeed !
” One who does 32 lakhs of jaap/ chanting , with devotion and mindfulness, is bound to have the grace of Devi in immeasurable , inexplicable ways. New dimensions of consciousness, new ways of thinking and new areas of knowledge and wisdom opens up to any one who does the purushcharan…”
I , however , take heart from the two instances cited by Swami ji in the book. One relates to a person in Canada who was a devout worshipper of the Gayatri mantra. He had a beautiful, effulgent, radiant face due to his sadhana. He blessed and helped many people sail through difficult circumstances in life. He had a rigorous routine. He used to chant the Gayatri mantra in 16 rounds, one round of chanting 108 times, every day without fail for 40 years. The factory, he was employed in as a supervisor, suddenly got a big order which required him to work over time. The management pursuaded him, intimidated him to to work overtime to accomplish the order in time but he refused to work beyond his normal duty hours. His refusal seemed inexplicable as he was to be compensated for over time and there did not seem any cogent reason for his refusal. He, however, would not budge and insisted on his ‘ personal time ‘. It transpired that his personal time was invested in completing his Gayatri sadhna. Since he had put in 20 years of sincere service in the factory, the CEO of the company allowed him to have his way.
The other instance cited is of a woman named Kalawati. She resided in the neighbourhood of Swami ji ‘s house and was well regarded by matarani for her spiritual living. She had to struggle in life for a living. She was illiterate, had four children and her husband had died while in service. Finding no other dignified means to sustain her family, she took to washing and cleaning peoples’s homes. The redeeming point was that her Guru had given her a mantra to chant ‘ Om Namo Shivah ‘. This woman kept chanting the mantra day in and day out even while working. This gave her face a glow and radiance which Swamiji found ‘ unearthly’. She was content in her miserable life and refused any help from people other than her wages. Even Swami ji offered to help but she would have none of it. The constant chanting of mantras gave her some occult powers that she could predict events of which swami ji was a witness. She did not use the mantra to ask for any benefit but onlly to purify herself. The glow on her face was of sadhana, bhakti and goodness.She lived her life entirely devoted to God and passed away without pain and suffering.
Swami ji says, ” There comes a time when you go beyond Vedas
and all kinds of tapasya. Firmly established in your devotional sentiments,
you become one with the Divine, says Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita( verse 2.46).
Besides, He says, the one who has found a vast lake of fresh water, no longer has any
need of small springs here and there.Such becomes the state of one who has
surrendered to the Divine will “.
So, mercifully, there is some hope for likes of me, who may not perform rigorous rituals but still chant the mantra with devotion and mindfulness ; surrendering to the Divine will. The Bible also says, ‘ They, who are pure in heart , shall see God “.