Gayatri verily means ‘which saves the singer’- (‘gAyantam trAyate yasmAd gAyatri iti abhideeyate’) .
What is a mantra ? – It is that which protects its chanter- (‘mananAt trayate iti mantra’).
Gayatri initiation is said to be the most significant event in a brahmin’s life. The upanayana is the event that catapults the ordinary boy into a Brahmin. There is a sloka ,’ By birth all are sudras. By only samskAra he comes to be called a twice born’ ( jananAt jAyate sudra:, samskArAt dwija uchyate’). Upanayana and Gayatri diksha form the samskara that the boy gets.
If the Gaytri is such a weapon that gives the Brahmin his very identity, what makes it so special ?
Gayatri- the crest jewel of the Vedas
Gayatri is called the Veda Mata.
bhargo devasya dheemahi |
dhiyo yo na: prachodayAt ||
For those who want to hear the mantra chanted as per the tradition, hear this
The word to word meaning of the mantra
(bhu :)- the earth; (bhuva :)- the intermediate space ; (sva:)- the heaven; (dheemahi)- we meditate(on) ; (tat)- that ; (varenyam)- the adorable; (bharga:)- effulgence; ( savitur devasya)- of the Sun Lord; (ya:)- who ; (prachodayAt)- enlightens; (na:)- our ; (diya)- intellect.
On the first sight , it seems a prayer for knowledge. But what does it have in its structure or meaning to qualify for the status of a ‘maha mantra’ ? Let us see.
When one first analyses the structure of the sloka one can see
1. that it has five parts.
om bhu: om bhuva: om sva: om maha: om jana: om tapa: om satyam
om tatsaviturvarenyam bhargo devasya dheemahi dhiyoyona: prachodayAt
Symbolism of Gayatri
A picture of Gayatri is made based on a sloka from ‘Sarada Tilakam’. Based on this sloka, many pictures of Gayatri as a Goddess Mata were drawn and are available. One picture which remains close to the sloka is given here. Below it the sloka and the meaning is given.