SYMBOLISM OF GAYATRI MANTRAGayatri is the most suitable one for the title ‘mahamantra’. What is Gayatri mahamantra ? Who is Gayatri Mata ? What symbology does Gayatri represent ? I am trying to explain it here.
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 2. bhurbhuva: sva; 3. tatsaviturvarenyam 4. bhargo devasya dheemahi 5.dhiyoyona: prachodayAt
2. bhu bhuva : sva: - The three worlds, also called vyahrutis. Bhur loka is the gross earth. sva loka is the very heaven. The bhuva loka is the intermediate space also called as antariksha.But our Upanishads declare that these worlds are in fact the gross, subtle and causal worlds. Stoola, Sookshma and kArana . The Taitreeya Upanishad gives a very detailed explanation of the vyahrutis. Another stunning discovery of our Rishis is that these represent the very gross, subtle and causal bodies that a person has.
3. tat savitur varenyam- ( the adorable Sun Lord) this is the in praise (of the Lord). ‘Praise’ is the essence of the Rig Veda.
4. bhargo devasya dheemahi- ( we meditate on the Lord’s effulgence) ‘Meditate’ is the essence of Yajur Veda.
5. dhiyo yo na: prachodayAt- ( who enlightens our intellects)- this is the ‘prayer’ part and is the essence of Sama Veda.2. It starts with
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.
This is the sloka in ‘Sarada Tilakam’, describing the Gayatri mata which is also the dhyana sloka for invoking Gayatri before starting japa during Sandhya Vandanam.