The Pre- Eminence of Gayatri.


Prayer is the link between man, engrossed in the concern pf life and God – the supreme
being. Though God is not visible to our eyes, He can be invoked in a prayer. Prayer is a solemn
request. It may contain the praise of the object of worship. Gayatri and Sandhya constitute the
universal prayer to that Lord Savita, who is present in the middle of the disc of the Sun seen in
the sky above.

Gayatri is the name of a metre (chandas) in which the Vedic Mantra is composed.
Gayatri is the base and all the other metres have their structures built thereon. Hence Gayatri has
been lauded as the mother of all metres.

Generally Gayatri is said to have three feet consisting of eight syllables each with a total
of 24 syllables in all. The text in Chandogya Upanishat, however, says “This Gayatri is one that
has four feet”. Of the four feet referred to here, three relate to the universe, which is the effect
and the fourth indicates the Para-Brahman, who us the cause. Hence, even when the term
Gayatri is used in the sense of a metrical form, it should be understood to import this dual aspect
of the eternal reality as cause – cum - effect.

The first three feet of Gayatri are within the grasp of the intellect – the faculty of human
reason. Which is, after all, a relatively gross instrument, not far above the mere sensual plane.
The last fourth foot of Gayatri can be comprehended and realized only through meditation

Gayatri is so named because it feeds and nourishes the senses by conferring the vital
force on us. Gayatri itself is the principal life force residing in the body. It is this same Gayatri
about which the preceptor teaches to his disciples. It is then designated as “Savitri”. That person,
who realizes all this truth about Gayatri, will gain Gayatri itself for his protector. Gayatri gives
him life-power and longevity, strength, vigour and above all, the power to observe and
comprehend all truth.

Gayatri is one who protects those, who chant it, but who is this protector ? It is not the
metre (Chandas) or the deity known by that name but it is essentially the supreme Being
Narayana who is denoted by Gayatri. Vasudeva (Narayana) was the first to sing all the Vedas. It
is He who makes the individual articulate (utter/chant), all the Vedas and thereby protects all the
world. Gayatri also denotes the Supreme Being – Para-Brahman – who protects those who sing
His glory. The protection that is afforded by Para Brahman relates to those deserving souls, who
follow the Vedic injunctions, thereby they get rid of the cycle of the birth and death (samsara).

The Subject matter of the whole body of the Vedas is the Perfect Brahman is virtue of
the fullest and highest conno-denotative power of the words and phrases found in the entire
range of Vedic Passages. They also contain instructions as to how to cross the ocean of Samsara.
They are too numerous to learn in a lifetime. Without a deep study (not by mere learning the
words by rote-by unintelligent memory) one cannot carry out the commands found in the Vedas.
Gayatri Mantra is the easiest means to achieve this objective and also realize the Supreme Being
– the very import and purport of the entire Vedic lore.
Vedas are the annotation of the three vargas of Purusha Sukta and Purusha Sukta springs
from the three Padas of Gayatri Mantra, which is ‘Vedas in – a nutshell’. Hence Gayatri is called
the mother of the Vedas – Veda – Mata.

Whether one understands the meaning and significance of each of the words in the Vedas
or not it is emphasized, the mere reading of the Vedas amounts to remembering the name of
Lord Hari denoted by each of the syllables that constitute the Vedas. One who recites any
Mantra in the Vedas in the Gayatri Chandas would denote remembering twenty four names of
Lord Hari.

Lord Hari denoted by Gayatri Mantra makes the minds of those chanting it strong and
active (i.e. vigorous). ‘Sa Dhinam Yogaminvati (Rig Veda). The protector or ruler (Lord Hari)
invigorates the intellect. This indicates that man’s intellect cannot function of its own accord
unless invigorated by God (Hari). And in the Gayatri, the chosen formula of the ancient Vedic
religion, the supreme light of the God head – Surya Savitri – is invoked as the object of our
desire, the deity who shall give His luminous impulsion to all our thoughts.

Man has to put in the required efforts. These efforts do not relate to bodily exertions. It is
the training of the mind to remain fixed on a certain internal or external location. When this
mind is thus disciplined (Trained) there comes to it the power of flowing in an unbroken current
– as it were – towards that point. That state or process of concentration is called Dhyana.
Dhyana is profound abstract meditation i.e. mental representation of the personal attributes of a
deity or the object of worship. This should be accompanied by Japa-muttering prayer – i.e.
repeating in a muttering tone the name and attributes of the deity – the object of meditation.

Before the commencement of the Gayatri Mantra japa, the person of Lord Narayana
present in the orb of the visible Sun is required to be mentally visualized by repeating the
following Mantra:

··t ·t· -t+t -t|·t-t -tºx™-t··t·t-ti
-tt·t·tºt· -t·|-t-tt-t-t-t|·t|·tŸ·+
+·t··tt-t -t+·+ºx™·tt-t |+·t·t -
rt·t |r·º·t-t·t·t·t·t-ttt‚-t»·++

( Dheyasada Savitrumandala Madhyavarthi
Narayanaha Sarasi Jasana SanniviShtaha
Keyuravan Makalakundalavan Kiriti
HariHiranmayavapuhu Dhruthashankhachakraha )

“Shri Narayana seated in Padmasana (lotus) posture at the centre of the inner portion of
the orb or disc of the Sun is resplendent (Shining brilliantly), with bracelets worn on the upper
arms (keyura), era-rings shaped like a whale (Makara Kundala), a crown (Kirita) , a garland of
pearls (Hara), His body (Shining) in golden colour (Hiranmaya Vapuh) and holding the conch
(Shankha) and discus(Chakra) Dhrta shanka Chakrah – in his hand. He is to be meditated upon

Then the Gayatri Mantra Japa should commence. The uttering of or repeating a Mantra
in a low voice so as not to be overheard is called ‘upamsu’. So far as Gayatri Mantra Japa is
concerned, the above described person of Shri Narayana must be seen mentally as seated in the
middle of the orb of the Sun : While thus concentrating on the form of Narayana, the
Mantra(Gayatri) is to be repeated internally (without any scope for anybody else hearing the

Gayatri Mantra.

The Gayatri Mantra in full repeated mystically runs as follows:-

» -t -t ·t--t ·t· -t--t|·t-t ·t · º·t -t·tt + ·t-·t ·tt-t|r |·t·tt ·tt -t· tt-tt+·tt-t++

“The gist of the meaning of this Mantra – broadly speaking – is :
OM (the supreme Savita) let us meditate upon that supernal (spiritual) effulgence of the adorable
Supreme Divine Reality, Which destroys all ignorance”.

The Sun Savitr is not the physical sun we see in the sky, but the supreme effulgence
(radiance, brightness) in the highest firmament (vault of HEAVEN wit h its clouds and stars)
beyond the lower triple creation (Bhur-Bhuva, Svar- pronounced as Suvar)- Earth, atmosphere
and light (sun) respectively. The bright physical Sun, -which we see is taken as the image of the
TRUTH – REALITY –SUN (namely Para- Brahman), - the center of all knowledge and
radiating power. God is not created. He is UNCREATE and the Supreme source of all radiance
and is the ultimate root of all movements in all His creations. (Just imagine there is no Sun it
will all be total darkness. Can you function, do anything in that darkness ? Can you expect the
plants to grow ? Will there be rain without Sun ? Even your intellect too will not function. The
havoc that will be wrought in the absence of the Sun is unimaginable indeed. The value of the
Sun, the light that it sheds and the effect it produce on the entire universe should be viewed in
this background.) In the Prayer of Gayatri Mantra, that Savitr is requested to motivate and
energize our thought movements.

This Gayatri Mantra has three components : (all the three inter – connected and inter –
1) Pranava viz, OM (AUM)
2) Vyahritis (BHUR, BHUVAH, SVAR)
3) Gayatri Mantra proper :viz.

Tat Savitr Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dhimihi Dhiyo Yo nah

(OM) Pranava denotes the Para-Brahman, the Supreme Being. Vyahritis denoting the
three regions earth, atmosphere and heaven – are the explanatory commentary – expanded
meaning of Pranava (OM). Gayatri is a further and more descriptive commentary on Vyahritis.
Thus all the three components stand in the relation of that which requires to be interpreted or
expounded (to be set forth in detail) and the exposition vyakheya – vyakhyana bhava) .

Symbolism of Pranava :-
OM or AUM \ is the most comprehensive universal, non-personal holy sound-symbol
(logos – word used in mystic sense) and signifier (Vacaka) of the supreme infinite Divine
Reality. This Divine-Reality is of the nature-(nay-the very embodiment) of ananta-sat-chit-
Ananda (Absolute, Infinite, existence, consciousness, Bliss).It manifests as the Totality of
existence (from the external most physical to the inner most spiritual) on four cosmic planes –
Macro-cosmic (universal as well as Micro-cosmic (Individual):

The four planes: i) The gross or physical (ii) The subtle or psychical (iii) The potential
or causal and (iv) The transcendental or Meta-Phenomenal, Which is the source of the first three.

1) Our external physical or empirical universe of sense experience, wherein the different
types of life, such as microbes, plants, fish, birds, animals, human beings live and are
experienced by us. This is designated as Bhu – or (Bhur) Loka (Earth) – abode of Agni.
2) The intermediate subtle regions with the Manes (pitrs) and other subtle invisible beings
inhabiting them, which are apprehended by us while living or through the subtle – body
after death : Bhuvah or Bhuvar Loka – the abode of Vayu.
3) The next higher region – ‘Svar’ – a luminous heaven includes the Adobe of Truth in
which dwells Brahma, and the own house of gods, the solar world – a divine existence
free and large in its unbound range.

These three planes (Tribhuvana) together constitute the entire phenomenal cosmic
universe called the Brahmanda.

Beyond this phenomenal Brahmanda is the Noumenal, non-personal transcendental
absolute spiritual Reality – Brahman – the infinite. It is the supracorporeal and beyond the
material objects – all the worlds and heavens. It is beyond all time, space and causation and is
pure infinite spiritual existence, it is an embodiment of consciousness and bliss, and is the
Controller and Regulator of the entire cosmos. It must be clearly borne in mind that the
Supreme Being – a sentient, never transformed Himself into these insentient worlds. He is the
indweller or every atom of these regions and immanent, permanently pervading the entire
cosmos and is the cause for this phenomenal Brahmanda.

These three (Bhu-Bhuvar-Svar) are considered as the three feet of Gayatri. When they
are contemplated, the reward will be in the form of material wealth, the treasure of the vedic lore
and animal wealth (Cattle, horse, etc) but will not be ever- lasting. Peerless is the wealth that is
attained by the person who has realized the fourth foot of Gayatri (OM) which is visible through
its divine radiance and which shines far above all the worlds of gloom. For this wealth is the
wealth of spirit. And the realization of the fourth foot of Gayatri is possible only through
meditation and spiritual communion.

There are several equations between (i) Pranava and Vyahrtis (ii) Pranava and Gayatri
and the expansions of the three syllables of Pranava Viz. OM and its various representations.

The following table shows the different forms of Shri Hari denoted by the Padas of

No of
Gayatri Name of the form of
the Supreme Being
Adhisthana (base)
1 Tat Savitr Varenyam Aniruddha Pervades the Earth, Sky and
heaven above.
2 Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Pradyumna The entire extent of the
sacred Vedas.
3 Dhiyo yo nah Prachodayat Sankarshana Seated in the Sacred heart of
Vasudeva Dwelling in the heart of
Lakshmi, who is seated at
the centre of the dazzling
disc of Sury Mandala.
Gayatri eulogizes Pranava as Para Brahman is its Savitri form. Gayatri and Pranava –
both compounded of mystic sound symbols are mere differentiated names of the same principle
viz, the Brahman. The term “vyahrtis” denote Para-Brahman as Bhuh : - Perfection (plentiful or
abundance of perfect attributes), Bhuva creator of the cosmos and suvah : emdodiment of
happiness, joy, delight. The passage (in the Upanishat) “Bhuriti va Ayam Lokha” does not
denote that god himself was transformed into the world known as Bhuloka (Earth) but only his
pervasion and indwelling immanence.

Literal Explanation of Gayatri Mantra:

-t--t|·t-t·t·º·t -t·tt +·t-·t ·tt-t|r |·t·tt ·tt -t· tt-tt+·tt-t++


1) TAT ; - (This is not a pronoun). It denotes the pervasion of attributes or virtues (of
Savita) such as the source of all cosmic evolution, its sustenance, Infinite Bliss,
immanence. The Light Within, Omnipresence, and several other innumerable
characteristics ; which He exclusively possesses.
2) SAVITUH : - (Savita – Prasavita – Creator or Producer) To create is bring into
existence ; a production (a manifestation of what is hidden in the Infinite Existence).
Savita is the creator of all in that the worlds are brought forth by the Divine
Consciousness (through Prakriti) The root of the word “Savita” also denotes impulsion
(Prerana in Sanskrit) urging, exciting, instigating, Savita is the impeller too. The Sun
God Supreme is the source of Divine knowledge and the creator of the inner world.
Savita bestows good and well being on all His creatures. Such a benevolent protection is
not far to seek. In whatever direction one turns his introspecting eyes there His
(Savita’s) existence can be visualized.
3) VARENYAM : - Savitr who procreates all species of creatures – bipeds, quadrupeds and
others, confers upon them all that is auspicious. It is He who makes all creatures instinct
with consciousness. Hence He is VARENYAM most desirable, fit to be elected for
adoration and fit to be attained.
4) BHARGO :- is that Tattva (Reality) which burns down the sin, the impediment on the
path of spiritual advancement. Source of the sin is the mind. The cause of sin is evil
thought and evil desire. The power named Bhargo – crushed the seed of this evil. If that
power were to take deep root in the mind there is no doubt that sin would be totally
destroyed. The prayer to Savita Bhargo is to station Himself in our mind by destroying
the evil which has taken root in our mind.
5) DEVASYA : - Savitha is called DEVA because he dwells in the All high heaven,
because He is the “Shining One” and because his is of a sporting nature. This last
attribute is an appropriate description of Savitr because he delights eternally manifesting
this joy sport (the sport of Creation, maintenance and dissolution of the cosmos, etc.).
The activity of the Lord flows out of the essence of his pure joy of Nature without any
impelling and motivating force behind it.
6) DHIMAHI : - Let us contemplate or meditate upon ,Let us bear (his image) in mind.
The word DHIMAHI signifies that we should ever bear the image of Savitr in mind as
the one object fit to be meditated upon. Savitr can be realized only through the process of
spiritual meditation.
7) DHIYAH : - Dhiyah may refer to wisdom (which is experience and knowledge together
with the power of applying them critically), knowledge (which is familiarity gained by
experience which is of the nature of theoretical or practical understanding). Or mind
(which is remembrance or direction of thoughts or the seat of consciousness, thought,
volition and feeling or intellectual powers).. To gain the spiritual access through
meditation on Savitr, one must have wisdom, knowledge and more importantly the mind.
The Prayer in Gayatri is May Savitr inspire us and prompt us into this act of meditation.
All the three – wisdom. Knowledge and mind are requested to be invigorated by Savitr.
8) YAH : The term YAH is formed by the combination of the alphabets ‘I’ ( <Ç ) and ‘A’ (
+ )Upanishat sys + || by + (full, perfect ), Brahman is denoted ; Brahman is full of or
perfect with illimitable number of attributes which are individually Purna complete or
perfect. The alphabet <Ç (I) is derived as “asya iyam” i.e. Being the consort of this (Perfect
Brahman) and Lakshmi is denoted by <Ç By the combination of <Ç (denoting Lakshmi) and
+ denoting Narayana, the term ªÉ& (yah) comes to denote Lakshminarayana. Lakshmi is
the presiding Deity of speech and mind. It is through her, that Bhagavan impels out
intellect. That is way when we pray for intellect, it is essential that Lakshmi is
remembered. When it is thus admitted that “Yah” denotes Lakshminarayana it would
amount to our recollecting Lakshmi as under the control of the Supreme Being Para
9) NAH : is the form of genitive case – plural of I (Aham) denoting “of ours” (our
intellect). Generally when an individual prayer, he would be praying for his own well
being or fulfilling his own desire, etc. Gayatri is a prayer for collective well being,
impulsion of the entire community in which the individual who prays, is a part. If the
community rise above in spiritual advancement, the individual too would be elevated to
the higher spiritual plane. It is this word “Nah” that distinguishes this prayer “Gayatri”
from other prayers which are usually individual – centered.
10) PRACHODAYAT :- is interpreted as “Prerayet”. The significance of this terms is may
Savitr inspire in us the right sense, which prompts us to right action. The prayer uttered
is that Savita may grant us the power to realize the nature and virtue of His divine
radiance. It is made perfectly clear that without His grace and invigoration our intellect
cannot function nor the fruit of meditation inspired by His knowledge can be realized –
the fruit being Savitr himself.

It is He (Savitr) alone who can grant us the power and will to seek Him and it is only if
he wills that we can find him through our endeavour.

The aim thus of the Gayatri Mantra preceded by the repetition of the mystic term OM
(Pranava) and the Vyahrtis is to meditate upon the unique radiance of Savitr the Creator,
pervaded with all the attributes and destructor of sin as a means to realizing him. This Gayatri is
the best means to the realization of the Supreme Effulgence – Savita – the invigorator of our


The contents furnished above is the words of Dr. A.R. Pandurangachar.

|| Shri Krishnarpanamastu ||