ॐ भूर् भुवः सुवः तत् सवितुर् वरेण्यम् ।
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धियोयोनः प्रचोदयात् ॥
Om Bhur Bhuva Suvah, Tat Savithur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi, Dhiyo Yonah Prachodayat
Meaning: We meditate on that most adorable, most desirable and most enchanting luster (effulgence) of our supreme Lord, who is our creator, inspirer and source of eternal Joy. May this light inspire and illumine our intellect (and dispel the darkness).
Summary of the Mantra: 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.
Word for Word Meaning (Ardham) of the Mantra: Aum = Brahma; bhoor = embodiment of vital spiritual energy (prana); bhuwah = destroyer of sufferings; suwaha = embodiment of happiness; tat = that; savitur = bright like sun; varenyam = best & choicest; bhargo = destroyer of sins; devasya = divine; dheemahi = may imbibe; dhiyo = intellect; yo = who; naha = our; prachodayat = may inspire;
Enlightened (word) Meaning (Bhavam): Aum: The primeval sound (from which all sounds emerge); Dheemahi: We meditate upon; Varenyam: the most adorable, most desirable or most enchanting; Bhargo (Bharagh): luster or effulgence; Tat: of that; Devasya: supreme (Lord); Savitur: from whom all creations emerge (also means the Sun God who is the source of our life); Bhur: who is our inspirer; Bhuvah: who is our creator; Suvaha: who is the abode of supreme joy; [Bhur, Bhuvah and Suvaha are also considered to mean three lokaas or worlds namely Heaven, Earth and lower worlds]. Yo: May this light; Prachodayaat: inspire or illumine; Naha: our; Dhiyo (Dhiyah): intellect (activities of it)
Meaning of Gayatri Mantra
Rishis selected the words of various Mantras and arranged them so that they not only convey meaning but also create specific melody and vibrancy through their utterance. Gayatri Mantra inspires wisdom. Its meaning is that "May the Almighty illuminate our intellect to lead us along the righteous path". All the problems of a person are solved if he/she is endowed with the gift of righteous wisdom. Once endowed with far-sighted wisdom, a man is neither entangled in calamity nor does he tread the wrong path. A wise man finds solution to all outstanding problems and challenges. Only those persons who do not think correctly find difficulty and take wrong steps due to foolishness. Gayatri Mantra reiterates the need to be righteous. The teachings incorporated in the Gayatri Mantra fulfill this purpose. The implication of this Mantra is that we must propel ourselves towards righteous wisdom.
Essence of Gayatri Mantra
The Gayatri Mantra, which derives its name from its metre, is the essence of Hindu philosophy in the form of a common prayer. In its Vyahritis, it recognizes that the supreme spirit, designated by AUM, is immanent in the universe-in all the worlds known to us. In the universe all things obey the commands of GOD – what we call the laws of Nature. The evolution of planets and the stars, the recurrence of seasons, the growth and decay of trees, the ripening of fruits and the behavior of birds and beasts – all are subject to the will of the immanent God (Nature). But there is a single exception to this common rule. And that is the mind of man. For, man is endowed with a will of his own. He alone has the freedom in the universe either to obey or disobey Nature. His highest happiness consists thus falling into line with rest of the universe and making his will coincide with the Will of the Creator. But man, in his ignorance, thinks that his happiness consists in going according to his own will even when he knows that it is against the divine law. This is his fundamental ajnana, from which arise his sin and sorrow and all those that thwart his material and spiritual career. So his best prayer should ever be that his free will might be prompted not by his own desire prompted activities, but by the will of the immanent Sprit and that he should be a willing instrument in its hands. And this is what exactly the Gayatri Mantra teaches us. This mantra may be described as containing the essence of Jana-yoga, Bhakti-yoga and Karma-yoga.
Gayatri is both a prayer and a mantra. It is a prayer in which the worshipper prays for the light of Jnana-not for himself alone but for all. It is also a mantra, which embodies the deity Savitri, the mystical Sun, who is the light of all lights, who symbolizes the highest Brahman. Initiation into Gayatri mantra is thus called Bramhopadesam. It is to be devoutly wished that all would look upon it as their sacred birth right and use it as a sadhana for self-realization irrespective caste, creed or religion. The meditation on the mantra may be said to be an endeavor on the part of the individual consciousness to grow into divine consciousness. Thus the Gayatri mantra may be said to contain the quintessence of universal religion.
Remember, today is the most auspicious occasion of our life. Human life can be compared to a four-storied mansion. The four stories are: Brahmacharya (celibacy), Grihastha (householder), Vaanaprastha (recluse) and Sanyasa (renunciation). Today we are laying the foundation for the mansion of our life. The safety and security of the mansion is assured once we make the foundation strong and sturdy.
Man is born four times in his life. He is born for the first time when he emerges from his mother's womb. He becomes a Dwija (born for the second time) when he is initiated into the Gayatri Mantra (Wisdom). He becomes a Vipra through the study of Vedas (Discrimination of what is real and unreal – Viveka) and ultimately becomes a Brahmana when he recognizes the principle of Brahman (Non-Duality which means equality of all). One should aspire to be a Brahmin not by virtue of birth, but by virtue of actions alone. For this, understanding of Gayatri Mantra is a very essential first step.
From here on my theist friends may continue to read. Those who are atheists may choose to read or not!
Gayatri is Sarvadevata Swarupini
and Sarvamantra Swarupini (embodiment of all Gods and goddesses and all Mantras). It is said, Gayatri Chaandasaam Matha, meaning Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas. Gayatri has three names: Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswathi. Gayantham Trayate ithi Gayatri, it protects the one who recites (follows) it. Gayatri is the master of the senses. Savitri is the master of the life principle. When Gayatri acts as the protector of life forces, she is known as Savitri. Savitri protects those who lead a life of Sathya (truth). This is the inner meaning. Saraswathi is the presiding deity of speech. Man has to earn the grace of Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswathi to sanctify his life.
Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswathi are latent in everybody. Bhur, Bhuvah and Suvah in the Gayatri Mantra refer to body (materialization), life force (vibration) and soul (radiation). Bhur means Bhuloka (the earth), which is nothing but the combination of materials. This denotes the human body, which is also a combination of materials. Bhuvaha refers to the life force, which makes the body move. Suvaha refer to Prajnana Shakti, which sustains the life force. This Prajnana Shakti is known as the Constant Integrated Awareness. This is also termed as radiance. All the three, viz., materialization, vibration and radiance are present in man. We are not one, but three - the one we think we are (physical level), the one others think of what we are (mental level) and the one we really are (Atmic level).
Gayatri is the embodiment of the mother-principle. When you show your back to the sun, your shadow will be ahead of you. It will fall behind you only when you stand facing the sun. Similarly, Maya (illusion), who is like your shadow, will overtake you when you turn your mind away from Wisdom (God). It can be overcome only when you turn your mind towards God.
Gayatri is known as Panchamukhi, meaning she has five faces. What are they? Aum is the first face; "Bhur Bhuvah Suvaha" is the second; "Tat Savitur Varenyam" is the third; "Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi" is the fourth; "Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat" is the fifth. The Gayatri has three parts: 1.Praise, 2.Meditation, and 3.Prayer. First, the Divine is praised, then it is meditated upon in reverence and lastly, an appeal is made to the Divine to dispel the darkness of ignorance and to awaken and strengthen the intellect. "Dheemahi" is related to the meditative aspect. "Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat" relates to the aspect of prayer. Gayatri Mantra purifies the mind and confers devotion, detachment and wisdom. Young men must necessarily understand the Gayatri Mantra. One may be initiated into understanding of the Gayatri Mantra at any age. Of course, the earlier it is, the better. Understanding and applying the essence of the Gayatri Mantra will sanctify man's life.
Gayatri Mantra is highly sacred. As has been pointed out repeatedly, Gayatri Mantra contains the essence of all the Mantras of all Gods and Goddesses. Just as single thread runs through all the flowers in a garland, the same divine power exists in all of us, the forms of God. Understand this unity in diversity. Develop faith in EQUALITY. Do not get carried away by what others say. Follow the dictates of your conscience. If you have the strong desire to excel, contemplate on Him with unflinching faith and understand the fundamental principle of equality. Then you can certainly see HIM in every one. Ever remember the kriti 'Marugelara O Raghava' by Sri Tyagaraja Swami. I shall try to explain this in my subsequent posts.