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Sri Gayatri Part One Rishi, Chhandas and the Devata
sreenivasarao s
sreenivasarao s / 4 yrs ago /

Sri Gayatri – Part One – Rishi, Chhandas and the Devata

[As desired by my long-time friend

Shri Kannan Rangachar]

Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dheemahi
Diyo yonah prachodayat

We meditate on the adorable glory
of the radiant Savitr,
May he inspire our intellect.

1.1. Gayatri Mantra that is recited daily by millions of devout is indeed very ancient;
and is regarded the most sacred of all mantras. The tradition accords Gayatri an
unrivalled importance.

1.2. Gayatri is a mantra dedicated to Savitr; and is not a prayer in the ordinary
sense of the term.A mantra - a specific structure of sound patterns coded in
syllables and vowels - may be articulate or inarticulate; it may or may not convey a
meaning. But, its relevance is in its inherent shakthi.Its subtle sounds or the
abstract language attempts to visualize the un-differentiated divine principle. The
accent, intonation and articulation too play a role in the efficacy of a mantra. A
prayer, prarthana, is a submission; and it has a meaning and a philosophical
significance. Prarthana has an intellectual appeal. Mantra is beyond intellect.
Gayatri, it is said, is both mantra and prarthana, a profound invocation. It has the
intrinsic shakthi of mantra; as also the intense devotion and reverence of prarthana.
It signifies a determined aspiration for enlightenment.

1.3. Gayatri is essentially symbolic (sanketa vidya), inspiring righteous wisdom. It
points to the absolute reality (Brahman) conditioned by names and forms as settled
in solar orb, the visible form of divinity. The mantra formulates the nature of oneself
and also the nature of Brahman, the supreme Consciousness (para-brahma

The name

4.1. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad (5.14.5) mentions that the mantra in Gayatri
chhandas dedicated to Savitr – Devata was initially known as Savitri mantra. It says:
‘the people were calling that mantra in Gayatri chhandas as Savitri’ (Gayatri-meva
Savitri-manu-bhruyaath), because it was addressed, in particular, to Savitr (Savitr
iyam). Another authority, Manu (2.77 and 2.81), also names the mantra as Savitri;
and avers ‘there is no mantra that is superior to Savitri’ (Savitryastu param naasti:
Manu – 2.83). Other texts (for e.g. Maitri Upanishad: 6.2) too declare that ‘Savitri
mantra with pranava and vyahrti is the best means (na savitrah paro mantrah) to
attain Brahman’.

4.2. It is said; in course of time, the Savitri mantra came to be celebrated as
Gayatri mantra because of its structure in classic Gayatri chhandas. The Savitrimantra, it is believed, articulates, as few other mantras do, the special merits of the

5.1. The name ‘Gayatri’ - as the title of the mantra - acquired several meanings. It is
explained that the term Gayatri is derived from the root ‘traing’ (paalana) which
means ‘to protect’. Expanding on that explanation, Chandogya Upanishad says:
‘This mantra called Gayatri in Gayatri-chhandas protects one who chants it. That is
why it is called Gayatri’ (Gayatri trayate cha - Ch.Up.). Satapatha Brahmana
( in a similar manner explained Gayatri as that which protects (tattre)
sense-faculties (including mind) and the life-principles (prana) which are called
‘gaya’: (prana vai gayaasthan trayati- tasmat Gayatri).

5.2. It is said; Gayatri is itself the prana; and, in prana reside all the Devata-s, the
energies and activating faculties. And thus; all knowledge, action and the
consequences thereof become united in Gayatri. Being prana, Gayatri is the very
self of all existence (jagatah atma).

Therefore. and it is in Anushtup chhandas. as having three modes of articulation body (rupeshu). speech behaviour and physical activities. Its Rishi is Syavasva-Atreya (also called Syavasva Archanasa.82. it is explained. the Gayatri mantra became so important that its recitation by itself came to be known as Sandhya.That is to say. conquering gift of Bhaga we would gladly win (Translation by Ralph T H Griffith) The Rishi . That is because.1) that strongly resembles Gayatri mantra. The best. its Devata is also Savitr. There is a firm faith that Gayatri protects the devout from various evils and sins. Gayatri inspires or finds expression in our mental process. Not merely that. the Vedic glossary. all-yielding. the term Gayatri has acquired the meaning ‘as that which protects the one who recites it mindfully (gayantam trayate yasmad gayatri smarata budhaih)’.4. speech (vachasi) and mind (manasi). in fact. Yaska-charya explains the term Gayatri by changing the order (sequence) of its syllables (Varna –vyatyaya). 5. He says that Gaya-tri. Anukramani. Gayatri mantra became a vital part of the daily prayers known as Sandhya.5. could as well be read and understood as tri-gaya. meaning the son of Archanas). Gayatri mantra merits ‘perfect meditation’ (samyak dhyanavat sandhya). describes it as ‘the other Savitri’ (ity uktatvat savitram) 'tat savitur vrnīmahe vayam devasya bhojanam | śrestham sarvadhātamam turam bhaghasya dhīmahi || WE crave of Savitar the God this treasure much to be enjoyed. [There is another rik in the fifth mandala of Rig-Veda Samhita (5.3. But largely.

in Puranas and in Epics who carry the name of Visvamitra. while the other mantras have Indra. He is the contemporary of another great sage Vashista to whom about one hundred . its Devata is Savitr. a visionary (darsanat). 7. The Rishi not only gives utterance to a mantra but also is at the very essence. There have been sages in the Vedic literature.Varuna. It is surmised. In the later Samhitas.A Kavi is the most exalted Rishi. and says that each tends to become a part of the other. unison between the creator and his creation. those numbering ten to twelve are dedicated to Savitr. Such inspired poetry raised to sublime heights is mantra. 8. Soma and Maitra-varuna as the Devata-s. Visvamitra is a celebrated name in the Indian traditions. Of the eighteen mantras. while the rest are in Gayatri chhandas. all those sages may not refer to one and the same person. and their deeds were narrated as if they were the deeds of gods or of Asura the ancient ones. Brhaspathi. 8. therefore. He is a drastara.1. They could be the descendents of an ancient Rishi renowned as Visvamitra. One cannot be a Kavi unless one is a Rishi (naan rishir kuruthe kavyam). it is in Gayatri chhandas. Yaska-charya. the one who sees the unseen (kavihi-krantha-darshanobhavathi). speaks of close empathy. of the mantra (Badarayana Sutra: 244:36). and its Rishi is Visvamitra.2. .and . the Rishi-s came to be revered as icons of the sacred past.1. As many as forty-six Suktas and a number of other mantras in Rig-Veda Samhita are ascribed to Rishi Visvamitra. As said earlier. Rishi in the Rig-Vedic context is a wise seer. the entire Sukta is ascribed to Rishi Visvamitra. 6.1. Pushan. expressing the Truth revealed to him (ninya vachasmi). 7. This Sukta has eighteen mantra-s. and.2. The first three mantras of this Sukta are in Trishtup-chhandas. core. The sixty-second Sukta is the last in the third mandala of Rig-Veda. through his all-pervasive consciousness becomes one with his creation. Visvamitra mentioned in Rig-Veda is a great Rishi.2. The Rishi or the Kavi.four Suktas are ascribed. illumined. It is the tenth mantra of this Sukta that has come to be celebrated as Gayatri mantra.6. It is his intuition (prathibha) and expanded consciousness that inspire him to express spontaneously.

but. Bahudayana Dharma-Sutra (2. the boy gave up his family and selected Visvamitra as his father.The Bharatas. This Kushika is a mythical figure. Yaska-charya recognizes Visvamitra as the purohita of King Sudasa (Nirukta: 2. It is said.. or rather. Among the many sons of Visvamitra.3.32). And the term Kushika is also an epithet for Indra. found it difficult to cross the rivers in high flood.24).3. MadhuchandasVaiśvāmitra is well known. Visvamitra of Rig-Veda is named in the Sarva-Anukramani (a sort of Index providing basic information about each hymn of Rig-Veda) as ‘Gathino-Visvamitrah’the descendent of Gathi (the King of Kanyakubja?). The Visvamitra and his sons mentioned in several other passages of the RigVeda are also described as Kausika-s. Ushiratha the son or the descendent of Kushika) who was valorous as the thousand-eyed Indra himself (sahasraksha-dyuti). He is the Rishi of the first hundred-and-two mantras of Rig-Veda.) is ascribed to Madhuchandas.6. 8.28) classifies such an adopted-son as one among twelve types of sons. 8. . The later text Vasishta Dharma. Visvamitra also helped Bharatas in crossing the rivers Vipasa (Beas) and Satadru (Sutlej) that were in full flow . places him below the biological (aurasa) sons (2..121).2. But.2. induced the waters to subside (RV: 3.sutra (17. was the son of King Kaushika-Ushiratha (meaning. A story narrated in Aitareya Brahmana (7. The decedents of Kushika – Kaushika . by prayers. It is said.33-35) cites this as an example of a case where a boy gives himself in adoption.earlier known as Visvaratha .4.7. were the followers of sage is said.were a family of traditional purohita-s. But the most debated of Visvamitra’s decedents is surely Sunahsepa. especially devoted to worship of Indra. and. and.5. the boy Sunahsepa came to be known as kritrima – vaisvamitro –devaratah. apparently engaged in a raid. The first mantra of Rig-Veda (Agni mele purohitam. the family priests of Kings. Another text. the god-given non-natural son of Visvamitra. Visvamitra.13-18)brings together Visvamitra and the lad Sunahsepa Ajigarti (son of the poor and greedy Ajigarta Sauyavasi).8. Hence. hence he earned the title ‘Satarchina’. Visvamitra adopted Sunahsepa Ajigarti as his son. the descendents of Kushika.3. 8. Visvamitra . 8.

the largest numbers of mantras (4. one cannot truly comprehend a Vedic mantra without out a good understanding of its chhandas.11) in order to fathom the true intent of the mantra. 10.12.346) are in Jagati chhandas. the rest (1. Chhandas enlivens and articulates the meaning of the mantra. Trishtup chhandas is associated with Indra.17) as descendants of Sunahsepa Devarata Vaisvamitra.Paniniya Shiksha – 41). It is said.Nirukta – 8. And.1.20). is the name of one of the metrical forms (chhandas) adopted in Rig-Veda.251) in RigVeda are in Trishtup chhandas. Gayatri chhandas is associated with Agni. the Kapileya-s and the Babhrava-s are mentionedin the Aitareya Brahmana (7. Chhandas is the joy in structuring the syllables and words of the mantra (chhandayati ahlada-dayani chhandas -Amara Kosha 3. Chhandas is the very basis of the structure and of the import of Vedic hymns (chandah paadau tu vedasya. It is regarded the first (head: atah shirah) and the basic metrical form. And. and as onethat signifies Brahman in three letters . The later Rishis. The hymns 24-30 in the first mandala and the third hymn of the ninth mandala of Rig-Veda are ascribed to him.2. in fact. Taittiriya – Aranyaka (10.456 are in Gayatri chhandas. But. the metrical form.11) as ‘Gayatra’ or ‘Gayatram’. that out of 10.34) regards Gayatri as the mother of all the chhandas (gayatrim chhandasaam mata). The Gayatri chhandas is referred to in Rig-Veda (1. Jagati chhandas with Visvedeva-s.1. and. 10. untie the covering of chhandas (chandaamsi chhadanaath . the first and the foremost of the Vedic deities without whom no ritual is possible. Gayatri. Chhandas 9. 10. And.552 mantras in Rig-Veda Samhita as many as 2.3. it is the best. one has to unravel. It is said. It also sets the rhythm for chanting of the mantra. Among the fourteen* types of important chhandas used in the Vedic texts. Gayatri is the shortest (with twenty-four matras).Sunahsepa grew into a great Rishi. born of Brahman (Brahma –yoini).3.

Gayatri chhandas is associated with Agni. [* Some say. that Agni. Because of that.5) expands on that and says that rik-s in Gayatri-chhandas are ideal for singingthe praises of deities (gayateh stuti-karmanah). the line of Gayatri chhandas having eight letters* in association with Pranava (Aum) as the ninth letter (navakshara vai). the first and the foremost of the Vedic deities. It is also said. Brhati.21. Satapatha Brahmana (6. the seven horses yoked to Sun-god’s chariot are named: Gayatri. Ati. Almost all the Samhitas (excepting Krishna-yajurveda) begin in Gayatri chhandas. And.tapa -iti (3).g. indeed.16. pra. Trishtup. Yaska-charya (Nirukta: 7.12. That is the reason.] 10. the rik-s in Gayatri chhandas lend themselves to singing rather easily (gana-anukula-rik). Anushtup. Ushnik. Ushnik. Jagati the seventh chhandas has 4x12 = 48 syllables). The root of the term Gayatri is ‘gai’ (sabde) which denotes the sense of sound or speech or singing. is the face (mouth) of Gayatri (tasya Agni-reva mukham). it is explained.19) declares the mantra in Gayatri chhandas is Agni himself (Gayatri va Agnihi. and . Ati – Dhruthi . it is said. Gayatri chhandas is invested with great sanctity. Pankthi. Dhruthi .1. Jagati. Ati – Shaktari . That is the reason.4. Anushtup and Pankthi (SB: 5.Jagati . Brhati.1.5. and.(tri-akshare Brahma-vaadini). Gayatri chhandas has twenty-four syllables. ya (1). the six main chhandas that follow thereafter has each four syllables more than it’s preceding one (e. rajas (2). Jagati . by itself forms the first half of the Yajna (purvardha vai yajnasya Gayatri – SB: 3.15). . Incidentally. and Agnir vai Gayatri). all the mantras in this chhandas are of special significance. and.3. As said earlier.Ashti . Trishtup . the opening mantras of all the Yajna-s are in Gayatri chhandas. Ati. this refers to the eight letters of the subtle and mystical fourth-line (Turiya paada) of Gayatri: paro (2).4. The rik-s in Sama-Veda are therefore mostly in Gayatra-chhandas. [* The fourteen types of chhandas employed in Vedic texts are listed as : Gayatri. Ashti . Shaktari .) ] 10.

the name of the chhandas. and is hailed as Trirupa Gayatri. As regards the Gayatri mantra. indeed becomes an integral part of Gayatri-mantra. Om (ॐ) is added at the commencement of the first paada to make it eight-lettered (adi – –tur -vr-re-nyam) has only seven matra-s.11. Gayatri is most usually explained or interpreted in terms of triads.sahita astakshara). But. Pranava. each paada having eight letters (ashtaksharatmakapaada). the last matra of the third line ‘yat’ is taken to be one matra. arranged in three lines (tripaada). the mantra is made of nine words.1.1. the first line of the mantra (tat-sa. For similar reasons. ततसस ववतत वरररसणयमम । भभ रररद स र भ वसयस धधमवह। । वधयरभयरननसपमरचरभदययसत॥ म 11. it is required to be made of twenty-four letters. thus. in order to render the line in eight matra-s.2. Tri-rupa Gayatri 12. the one who signifies Brahman in three letters. The requirement of the chhandas is satisfied in either of two ways: One. Then the first paada would read:ॐ ततसस ववतत वरररसणयमम। And. the Pranava. . and is also the name of the Goddess Gayatri Mata. Gayatri is also hailed tri-akshare Brahma-vaadini. Gayatri is at once the name of the mantra. the alternate way is to split last matra ‘nyam’ into two: ‘ni’ and’ yam’. Gayatri is trinity. akshara or matra (Gayatri chaturvimsatyakshara). in accordance with the characteristics of the Gayatri chhandas (metrical form) in which it is composed. that is. And.

Savitri and Sarasvathi. each paada of the mantra is also identified with each of the three matra-s (syllable) of the Pranava Aum. which in turn is identified with Yajur-veda.71. a paada (foot). which in turn is identified with Rig-Veda. clear speech (gai-sabde).3.Gayatri as mantra 13. The word ‘Savitr’ in the first paada of the mantra (tat Savitr varenyam) is of essence here.The third paada of the mantra is identified with the third matra of Pranava ‘M’ (ma-kaara). Further. Each of the three paada-s is identified with a Veda: Rg. The key word here is ‘dhiyah’ in the third paada of the mantra (dhi yo nah prachodayat) signifying ritual-actions . :. :. 13. etymologically.1).35) describes.The first paada of the Gayatri mantra is identified with the first matraof Pranava ’ Aa’(a-kaara) . and with each of the three Vedas. is that which moves.And. And again. activates and enlivens (padyase).1. which in turn corresponds to Sama-Veda. Following that. it signifies precise articulation (gaana-kriya). :. Gayatri as a mantra structured in three lines (tri-paada). Gayatri is celebrated as the mother of all Vedas – Veda Mata (AV: 19. and.2. 13. To start with. and. The verb ‘dhimahi’ in the second paada of the mantra (bhargo devasya dhimahi) is of importance here. Taittiriya-Aranyaka (10. it signifies creation and inspiration (suute).The second paada of the mantra is identified with the second matra of Pranava ‘U’ (u-kaara).The first paada of the Gayatri mantrais associated with Savitri who represents dawn. each paada of the mantra is identified with each aspect of Gayatri – Gayatri.The second paada of the Gayatri mantra is associated with Gayatri as vak. Yajus and Sama.

it is vak representing all the elements . it is the heart (hrudaya). the life-centre of all existence. and. The prithvi. There also other interpretations. with special reference to its Devata Savitr. represents the heart-lotus (hrudaya pundarika). all the vital currents (hrudi praane) and sense-functions are established (prathistitha) in the heart.11. Gaayati cha.The essential power of the mantras are to transport us to the world of ideas beyond the ordinary and to experience the sublime ideals that its Rishi envisioned. apart from the conditioned aspects of knowledge.2. The Shandilya Upanishad (1. For. (We shall come to this a little later). it is vak (speech) in the sense of mantra (gaayati) the recitation of which protects one who recites (traayate) . traayate cha). 14.functions (indriya kriya). vital current etc there is an un-conditioned. and the third with Sarasvathi. the very core of the being. in terms of: Adhi-Yajna. that is actually meant. it is as vak Gayatri is all pervasive (Gayatri vak vai gayatriti) . In these traditional texts.1. .12.17) identifies the first matra of Pranava with Gayatri. The third paada of the Gayatri mantra is associated with Sarasvathi (uninterrupted rituals). Gayatri represents earth (prithvi). Adhi-Daivata. as all existence is established on earth. 14. It is vak. Yaska-charya mentions that mantras have three layers of meaning (traye artha). and. in turn. Gayatri is not mere aggregate of letters.1. The Chandogya Upanishad (3.4.3. (Ch.Up. Gayatri is revered as the very foundation (adhistana) of all beings and objects. Gayatri. Accordingly.1) says that Gayatri signifies all beings: past. and. representing the vital currents (prana).(Vak va Gayatri. absolute aspect to the mantra. therefore. Gayatri mantra too is interpreted. the second matra with Savitri. 14.3) 14. Adhyatma. vak va idam sarva-bhutam . when human body is referred to as the foundation (aadhara).3. stands for human body on which are settled all the vital-currents (sarve-pranah) and sense.(karma). Ultimately. present and future. hence is called a-pada. 15.

.As Goddess. by her/his devotion and earnestness. Apana. The mantra itself is Devatha. Udana and Samaana ). Rudra is her tuft (Radrah Sikhaah ) and the earth is her generator(Prithivi Yonih). in the depths of one’s heart-lotus (daharam pundarikam).Brahman is its essence. prithvi (earth). having Visvamitra as Rishi (Vishwamitra Rishih) andSavitr as Devata (Savitaa Devataa). hrudaya (heart) and prana (vital currents). Gayatri – the mantra and the chhandas – are personified as the Goddess. 16. She is endowed with five heads (Panchaseersh). bhuta (beings).Agni glows in her face(Agnirmukham ). And. Gayatri is composed of three lines(Tripadaa). and as saguna. the fair and bright (swetavarnaa) Gayatri descends from the Gotra of Rishi Samkhyayana (saamkhyaayana sa gotra). Gayatri as Devata 16. : . Her mantra is of six kinds (Shatkukshih) embodying the principles of: Vak (speech). The worshipper awakens and enlivens the potent Goddess residing in his heart-cave.She presides over Upanayana (upanayaney viniyogah ). The hymn addressed to Gayatri (Gayatryah).Vishnu resides in her heart(Vishnur hridayam). Brahma is in her head (Brahma Shiro). un-conditioned and beyond relative existence. She represents the five vital currents(Praana. Gayatri(Gayatryah) is described as being in the form of Gayatri chhandas (Gayaree Chhandah). sarira (body). this is Savitr in its true nature. she is celebrated both as the mantra and as also the goddess.As mantra. Vyana. having twenty-four syllables(Chaturvimsaty-aksharaa). she is the presiding deity of the Gayatri mantra.1. The Mother as nirguna is the form-less vachya-shakthi.2. In the Dhyana-sloka submitted to Gayatri. Savitr has to be realized in the space within (antarakasha). :. the mantra and the goddess unite.

She is Trinity herself. he is the Devata of the mantra. 17. Mahanirvana Tantra regards the Matrka –Trinity of Brahmi. Sarasvathi of the wisdom and virtues of life. Sarvamantra Svarupini) . . Gayatri herself represents all three savana-s (Gayatri vai sarvani savanani). 17. The Devata 18. The Rig-Vedic god Savitr is understood and interpreted in varieties of ways. She is Brahmi in the morning. midday and evening). Gayatri as Devata. Maheshwari in the evening. But. and.3.5. She is said to manifest in three forms as: Gayatri in the morning (pratah-savana). Savitri and Sarasvathi. as Savitri in the mid-day she is Rudra svarupini.25].[Aitareya Brahmana-13. the Goddess. it is also said. Vaishnavi in the midday.Gayatri vai idam sarvam. 17. and. As Gayatri in the morning she is Bramha svarupini. also because she combines in herself the three goddesses: Gayatri. Goddess Gayatri is revered as the sum or the aggregate (samasti svarupini) of all that is divine (Sarvadevata Svarupini. Vaishnavi and Maheshwari as three aspects of Goddess Gayatri.4. Savitri in the midday (madyanh savana) and Sarasvathi in the evening (saayam savana) .1. and. Gayatri is associated with three ‘savana-s’ (morning. Gayatri is the protector of life principles.2.17. 17. is hailed as Tri-rupa –Gayatri. The Gayatri mantra is addressed to Savitr. and as Sarasvathi in the evening she is Vishnu svarupini.1. Savitri of Satya (Truth and integrity of all Life).

also.These explanations and interpretations are spread over a wide spectrum. Savitr is verily the Absolute Parabrahman. Following that. Savitr is a representation of Paramatman free from attributes. Savitr is also the motive power. :. :. but to the seer.Savitr is an ancient Vedic deity. prompts and inspires (supreraka) all our thoughts. Soma. Savitr is variously identified with Agni. here. is the one who inspires or gives rise to Sun. it is said. . Let’s look at some of these aspects. Savitr is identified with one’s mind. after daybreak he is Surya*. :. [*The scholars tend to view Savitr more as a splendid concept than as a natural phenomenon. Savitr. and is perceived in meditation (dyatatvat). or understood in silence as ‘that One’ the Supreme principal Brahman. is the aspect of Sun before daylight. Savitr is conceived as the power to dispel darkness. not as Surya. At one level. or with their aspects.Savitr the luminous one (divyati prakashata iti) is also the Purusha who resides in the heart –lotus of the devotees (hrudayaravinde).] :.Savitr. He is an independent god in his own right. philosophical and esoteric understanding of the term Savitr. Savitr residing in the solar orb is the symbol of Brahman (asaavaadityo Brahma). and.And again. the first syllable of the mantra ‘tat’ could be taken either as a neuter pronoun meaning ‘that’. :. speech and deeds. At another level. for a beginner. His mantra says: “We contemplate on the adorable brilliance of god Savitr.At other places in the Samhitas. Visvedeva and Surya. consciousness and with one’s own self (antaryamin). Savitr is sometimes taken as Surya. here.Ultimately. enlivens. ranging over the ritualistic. It is said. the symbol of light that invokes radiance in hearts of beings. He is the awakening that impels men and creature to action. But. in this sense. Savitr might appear a functional deity. at times. Prajapathi. is the inner-light that illumines. may he inspire our intellect”. Savitr.

3.4-5).Savitr as Vedic god 19. made of gold (ratham hiranya pra-ugam vahantah –RV: 1. he protects his worshippers. He is celebrated in eleven entire Suktas and in many separate stanzas as well.Savitr as the . His countenance of golden splendour is pleasing. Savitr governs the cosmic order Rta. following the emergence of Ushas the goddess of dawn.62. He moves across the sky seated in his bright golden chariot (shubrabhyam yajato haribhyam). and illumines the sky.45.35. And. filling all directions with his boundless golden lustre (hiranyim amitam) seeing all creatures. classifies Savitr both among the Devatha-s of the mid-region (madhyama –sthana) as also among the Devatha-s of the upper-realms (dyus-sthana).54.10). The other gods follow him. The yellow-haired (haridra kesi) Savitr rises up from the east. On his ancient path. to stimulate and to illumine ones heart and mind (RV: 3.2.4). are drawn by two or more brown. white-footed horses adorned with pearls (krsnavant). as a golden deity adorned with golden-eyes. He is pictured.Prayers are submitted to this glowing. Savitr is an ancient (Asura) Vedic god of the upper regions (dyu-sthana). and conveys the departed ancestors (pitris) to where the righteous dwell. pre-eminently. and having a goldentongue. and his speech is clear and sweet. He protects the universe (vishvam bhuvanam dharayistathi: RV: 4. dispelling darkness and sorrows. all the elements and gods are subject to his law.1. the great grammarian and etymologist of very ancient India. His chariot and its shaft. Everything about him is beautiful and brilliant. He rises aloft his strong golden arms extending to ends of earth (hiranya divo antha anustam: RV: 7.2) and blesses all beings (sakala shreyamsi dhatrunam). 19.1. Yaska-charya. golden – arms and golden-hands. Savitr according to Yaska-charya 20. 19. venerable god to inspire.

explains the term Savitr as the progenitor. Savitr in the upper-realms (dyus-sthana). And. He is associated with the clouds.3. again.symbolized by solar orb. Savitr is hailed as the most real (satya).1. He is the sight of the human beings who can see (nrchaksha). and. The skillful Tvashtr provides form to objects (Tvashta rupani pimsatu: 10. the rains. Rta is the truth of becoming. the earth and the mind. He is the very soul of all that moves and all that stays in the world. the heaven which he holds afloat.2. here. And.130. Savitr is one with Varuna who represents Satya the Absolute Truth. the one who gives birth to all things (Savitr sarvasya prasavita: Nirukta. easily and happily. Satya is the Truth of Being: and. Visuparna (possessed of splendid forms). settled beyond interference (aturte).184). in that sense. It is also said. time and circumstances. 20.Devata of the mid-region. And. ‘sushtu neta’). Yaska-charya (Nirukta: 10. in association with Soma is variously described as ‘Asura’ the giver of life (prana-daata). Yaska-charya. Rta the cosmic order conditioned by space. The humans must follow the course of Savitr (satya) and accomplish their tasks (devasya Savithuhu karma kurvanthu manavaha – AV: 6. he holds afloat the sky (akashbhane) without visible support (aalambanam tad-rahite).3) . symbolizes the alert mind which is guided by Savitr along the right path (Savitr is therefore called ‘Sunita’.149. In that context.34) cites a mantra from Rig-Veda comparing Savitr with another Vedic god Tvashtr.10.2).110. just as Savitr does (RV: 10. establishes (sthiram akarat) the earth (prihvim) firmly. without any support. The earth fully established by Savitr (RV: 10. abiding in the midst of the heart-space (hrudayakasha). between the two is the mid-region where Savitr has settled Soma (aturte baddham Savita). and.23. The Rishi of this mantra is Prajapathi. is the Devata par excellence. with form and without form. 20.9). is the consciousness. Savitr Devata is related to both. Savitr is Satya. for it is the essence of all things – living and nonliving. the source of all order and the true-principles (satyadharma) that govern all existence.1) symbolizes matter. described as the son of Visvamitra.3). and projects the earth and sky alike. Savitr. He illumines the earth as well as the atmosphere and the highest realms (nrchaksha yeva devo madhya aastha aa prapivaan rodhasi anthariksham – RV: 10.4. 21. 20. As a solar god Savitr is related to Truth and to the cosmic order Rta. Soma.

the inner controller (antaryamin). and to tread on the right path. prompts (su-preraka). Along with Agni. In the context of Yajna. the child of waters. jyotis surya svaaha). present and future. the solar deity is at times identified with Surya as also with Agni who is a Devata of Prithvi-sthana. . Savitr and Agni 23. Savitr is also conceived as the visible representation of the year of twelve months (kapala) . the earth .2. He releases (prasuta) actions from their un-manifest states. 23. When Savitr is associated with Agni. And.2. the favorite epithet of Agni. 22. Yaska-charya calls Savitr as Kavi. or of the latter half of the month (apara-paksha) . Savitr as Agni is the purifier of all things (pavaka). dwadasa vai masah samvathsarasya).1. He is the seer of the beyond. The presence of Savitr is symbolized by a circle drawn in the yajna-vedi. Savitr is the inner-light. inspires and guides all to engage in good thoughts and right actions. According to Yaska-charya. Savitr is the most adorable .‘varenyam’. He inspires all (Savita sarvasya preraka) to move upwards towards the heavens viz. the higher reaches of consciousness. Savitr.region (agnir jyotih. as the one who knows all the past.1. 23. He is the one who draws out sublime thoughts from the womb of mystery. and it is surrounded by an altar made of fifteen bricks (ishtaka) symbolizing fifteen days of the first half of the month (purva-paksha). and brings them to light for the benefit of all. as also of the minds and hearts of humans. he is described as the ascending flames of Agni (urdhvam keturn). the omniscient. Savitr becomes a part of the Yajna. Savitr also is Apam-napath.3. Savitr is invoked at the commencement of the Yajna with prayers for the successful completion of a Yajna (Savitr yajnam pranayeti).(dwadasa –kapalah savitro bhavati.22.

In every Sukta addressed to Savitr there are mantras which praise Soma.3. If Surya is the eye of the gods (asau vaa aditya devaanam chakshasu). 25.He is the true (dhira) knower of .2) . Soma is symbolized as the parent of all mind-process (pita matinaam). Soma is the symbol of mind (Chandrama manaso). 25. for. and when they are dead they themselves become food “(Taittereya Upanishad 3. Soma in the Vedic context has many references: as plant (adh-bhautika). truly. the beings are born from food. 25. At another level. pitris (Chandrama vai pitrnam chakshuh).the protector of wisdom (patir dhiyah) and the master of mind (manasas patih).23. Savitr and Soma 24. Prayers are submitted to Soma to provide food that is free from contamination and that is free from danger (anamiva ishaskrath) to humans (dvi-paade) and to the animals (chatush-paade).1. if one is the sight. Thus. Its esoteric meaning is taken as that which provides reality or substance to the un-manifest (satyvataraya agnau suyate tasmat-somah). when born they live by food. Following that. Just as with Savitr. Soma is requested to prolong our lives (ayur-vardaya) by driving away threats and dangers. Soma is closely associated with Surya too. the drink (adhi-yajna).6). Soma as the gentle devoured substance is the partner of Agni the fiery devouring spirit (annada). during the Yajna. Savitr becomes the inner-being (antaryamin) and the inspirer (preraka) that dwells in the heart of the performing priest (adhvaryu). Soma is the eye of the manes. Savitr the Devata of Gayatri mantra is closely associated with Soma. Soma is often described as bright (aruna bhabru). fascinating (sona) and luminous (hari).4. the moon (adhi-daivata) and the mind (adhyatma). Soma the substance of the universe is ‘food (anna)’.1.2. and he shines along with the sun (Soma Suryena rochate -RV: 9. the other is the insight. Food is the principle of all.2. If Surya is the symbol of eyes (chaksho Surya). the leader of thoughts (neta matinaam) .

5).1-3). I may mention that there is in the Rig-Veda a hymn (149 of the tenth mandala) associated with Savitr (Savitr pratipaadaka Hiranya –stupa mantra) . the mind which operates creatively and ceaselessly. His rik appearingin the fifth mandala of Rig- .4. In his adoration of Savitr (Somasyevamsum prati.jagaraham). medhira . Following the family tradition. bliss (svar) .2. Soma is presented as the very soul of sense-function (atmendriyasya bhavasi dhasir uttamah). he describes Soma as ‘the other principle’ (anyad abhavat) which came into being after (paschath) Savitr. hidden (kratu-vid) and revealed (kavi kratu). 26. 26. unruly and impetus horse (asvam ivadhukshat dhunim).1.2). the son of Hiranya-stupa who in turn was the son of the most celebrated Rishi Angirasa.vipra) here and beyond (visvavid). the mind that helps us to reach Savitr.He is the Lord of the Yajna .85. 26. The secrets of all the senses are laid bare by the shining Soma (devo devaanam guhyani nama-avishkrnoti –RV: 9. 25.4. prays to Soma to lead him to Savitr. As regards the son Archan. In all these references.95. wisdom (kratu) and protection (uti) – (RV:9.5. efficient and far-reaching mind (daksho devanaam asi –RV: 9. Archan invokes the lustrous (amsu) Soma. Both the father and the son in their hymns addressed to Savitr also praise Soma – pavamana.4. Hiranya-stupa (father of Archan) adores Soma variously as light (jtothi). 25. Soma is called here Samudra meaning not only vast but also ever – active mind.And . Archan’s son Syavasva Archanasa also composed hymns devoted to Savitr. He is the lord of all speech (somo raja vaksah).4. well ordered. He is the true source of inspiration to reach Savitr.all things ( manishi. Hiranya-stupa prays to Soma to lead him to Savitr or Surya (tvam Surye na aa bhaje – RV: 9. Soma represents the evolved. Incidentally. and one who assigns to each Deva his share in the Yajna (bhagam devabhyo vidadhatyayan ).The Rishi of this mantra is Archan. Because of his devotion to Savitr.3. the one who bestows the wealth of the earth as also that of the heaven (dvi-barhasam rayim). He is projected in the image of a powerful. the purifier.2). Archan earned the epithet of Savitarchan. strength or ability (daksha). 26.

Sri Sayana-charya also describes Savitr as the deity who presides during the time between dawn and the emergence of Sun*. comes after night (tamas) and before light (jyothi): (tamasya kirna rashmir bhavathi). the night comes at his command sending all beings to rest. here. Savitr just as the other Devatha-s of the upper realm (dyus sthana) is a solar deity. 27. they all. Vishnu the one who pervades. Keshi the one who provides light (pra-kasam).3) in a sense of the ‘early (proto)’ Surya.1. he was one of the Adityas.82. 27.Night is un-manifest. dispels darkness and makes way for dawn. Savitr.1) gained fame as ‘the other Savitri’ (ity uktatvat savitram). Some say.82. for. but not quite visible. The Vedic mantras adore the Devatha-s of the upper realm (dyus sthana) by these and other names. Savitr is Surya when present below the horizon. here.Veda Samhita (5. is visualized as the power to dispel darkness and enliven all existence (Brhad –devata: 2. are of solar-spirit.4. In other words. . in essence. Savitr is the emerging rays of light (urdhva bhanum savita devo asred). 27. is conceived as an aspect of Sun before daylight (udayat purvabhavi). Savitr. 28. after daybreak the Sun is called Surya (Surya iti).1. Savitr. Thus. Savitr is the bridge between night and light.61-62). Savitr is also called Bhaga (Savita Bhagaha: RV 5. It is also said. Savitr is the one that brings forth Surya who causes the day. Savitr in this sense is both un-manifest (A-vyakta) and manifest (Vyatka). thus.3. and.2.4 above] Savitr and Surya 27. Vrshakapi the one becomes red and ascends the sky like a bull. Vaisvanara the one who assumes varied forms. [please see Note to paragraph 5. and. Their several aspects and functions are described variedly as: Pushan the one who nourishes. as a solar deity. and light is manifest. Savitr. Surya is the later form of Savitr. illumining the entire world.

he is to be meditated upon (upasate).4. regards Savitr as the inspiration. the protector of all beings (gopah) who moves in the mid-region permeating all the three worlds with his rays derives his inspiration (tasya prasave) from Savitr”. “His coming is the advent of God's hour. here. Following her. Sri Sayana explains that the expressions Surya and Savitr imply the power to protect. Ushas the dawn of consciousness arises. a luminous god. providing wealth for the total welfare.] 28. the Truth. 28. once the senses are controlled and the mind is stabilized. And. Savitr. is the radiance that illumines and enlivens all existence. and perceived in meditation (dyatatvat).2. And. Savitr. energy. He is adored by all the gods (sthuyate sarva-devathaihi). It is Savitr alone (ekah) that has the power to propel. He resides in the heart –lotus of the devotees (hrudayaravinde). therefore. Savitr is truly one’s own self. He expands: “the all-knowing Aditya (Surya). . He also says Savita is that which enlivens and inspires all beings (Savita sarvasya prerako devah). inspire and flash forth. the illumining power of Surya.3. Savitr just as Surya represents light. Sri Sayana. He lightens up all our thoughts. intellect and consciousness. He provides the inspiration and the impetus to life. who shines in the sky with dazzling brilliance (divyati prakashata iti). the sense –functions and the mind.28.2. The Deva illumines the world and makes all life possible.awakes the asleep and ennobles the vilest things”. personified by the Surya. 29. vivifying the body. our resolves and our aspirations. pervades spreads and holds together different things. like Surya. to inspires and flash forth (pra-sauti). [*Sri Aurobindo interprets night as ignorance. inspiration.1. comes Savitr the awakening. 29.7) describes Savitr as a Deva. Svetasvatara Upanishad (2. the grace and the inspiration to seek Satya.

and three – fourths of him are in the upper realms beyond our perception (tri paadasyam amrutam divi). Savitr is Purusha. yet. beyond the three gunas (paro rajasa) and illuminating the three worlds (tapati). The Gayatri mantra is said to be four-footed (chatuspaada) when Pranava (Om) accompanies it. He fills and enlivens the entire universe. 30. And hence. consciousness and strength. However. that which is seen. He is the antaryamin. . Savitr or Purusha is cosmic in is named A-paada. It is said. the fourth paada (turiya paada) is hidden or un-manifest.2) describes with awe and wonder the majesty of Purusha. pranavam vina tripaada). ruling over them (adipathya bhavena).1. The essentials of our existence are all settled in Savitr.3.unconditioned by aught and beyond relative existence.Savitr resides in the heart-lotus (hrudaya-aravinda) of the devotee. 31. beyond intellect. all that exists as the world we know (sarva bhutani) is only one-fourth of the Purusha. he also dwells hidden in heart-cave of each being as its essence (guru guha). the supreme consciousness.1. like the spokes of the wheel in its hub.It is said. It says. Let’s talk about the components of the Mantra and its import in the next part.90.2.2. and there he becomes visible.Savitr and Purusha 30. It is said. when Pranava is omitted it is only three-footed (Chatuspaada Gayatri pranavena saha. 31. The Purusha Sukta of Rig-Veda (10. the turiya paada is the un-conditioned and the most subtle aspect of the mantra. the very life of life. It is most worthy of worship (varenyam) and contemplation (dhyayema). 30. Hence Savitr is called ‘darsata’. This Savitr or Purusha is verily the Brahman (jagat prerakasys Brahmarupasya Savituh) . This is Savitr in its true nature . It represents the Purusha abiding in the solar orb (Surya mandala-antargata-purusha).

Continued In Part Two References and Sources Rgveda Darshana –vol 3.NS Anantharangachar Rg Vedic Suktas –Gayatri and others By Swami Amritananda All Pictures are from internet .SK.Ramachandra Rao Vaidika Sahitya Charitre By Dr.Gayatri mantra By Prof.

However.6 General Post a Comment All Comments 12 narsing dhone / / 1 year ago narsing dhone there are 5 types of gayatri chhanda please guide for those Comment Vasantha / / 1 year ago Vasantha Nice article with lots of important information. . the changing of N to Ni in vareNyam or adding Aum/Pranava to the first pada to achieve 8 for Gayatri meter is not required and actually is artificial. Remember: The chandas for the Savitr gayatri is Nichrt Gayatri and NOT Gayatri.

Thanks. Comment Baba Prem / / 2 yrs ago Baba Prem A lovely article on Gayatri Comment sreenivasarao s / / 2 yrs ago sreenivasarao s Dear Shri Baba Prem .Thank you.Please do read the other part too. Changing this even slightly destroys the tonal patterna nd will yield contrary results. I am glad you saw this.Regards sreenivasarao s / / 4 yrs ago sreenivasarao s Dear Shri Sampath. thanks for the visit. Yes. Regards Comment sreenivasarao s / / 4 yrs ago sreenivasarao s Dear Usha . . it is for the benefit of all.Nichrt gayatri is the incomplete gayatri of 23 syllables.

Regards Comment DSampath / / 4 yrs ago DSampath so wonderfully spelt. I understand. take your time .. .. Comment ushasuryamani / / 4 yrs ago . said for the beneift of people like us. I understand.. Regards Comment sreenivasarao s / / 4 yrs ago sreenivasarao s Dear Shri Shastry Thanks for coming.Regards Comment sreenivasarao s / / 4 yrs ago sreenivasarao s Dear Shri Swarajya I appreciate the effort. Thanks for coming.

It has to be felt. Comment View More Topic Related Articles Film Review : Sultan by Tamrakshar A Lucky Break by kamalji Amazing video shot from eurorail by Suresh Rao Rajan and the Reserve Bank by Prasad ganti MY BIRTHDAY by Raghava Reddy Gongidi View More More Articles Film Review : Sultan by Tamrakshar You by Hemant A Lucky Break by kamalji WHEN A BRIBE IS NOT A BRIBE by Abraham Sukumar .....ushasuryamani Dear Shree Rao Thank you for this very beautiful and information packed elucidation of the Manthra... Thank you be understood. I have been chanting this for the past twelve years and I experience a lot of benefits..

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