January 12, 2015
EXPLANATION OF GĀYATRI MANTRA
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः । तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि। धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्।।
Om bhurbhuvah svah, tatsaviturvarenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah pracodayat.
The Gayatri-mantra is a very sacred mantra from the Vedas. It has been known to grant brilliance of the intellect and guide one’s thoughts in the right direction.
Om (ॐ) is the basis of everything, earth, the space in between and the heavens. We invoke that Lord, the Sun, who is the most venerable. We meditate upon the splendor of that effulgent, all-knowing Lord. May He brighten our minds and direct our intellects in the right direction, so that we make proper decisions. This prayer is for clarity of thinking. Everything else will come if clarity is there.
Gayatri (गायत्री) is the name of a chandas (छन्दस्) or meter, consisting of 24 syllables and is also the name of this mantra. This mantra is in all the four vedas. The deity of the mantra is Savitri (सावित्री).
Om (ॐ) is the name of the Lord. We invoke the Lord as the source of all blessings. Bhuh (भूः), bhuvah (भुवः), and svah (स्वः) (also known as suvah सुवः) are called vyahrtis (व्याहृति) i.e. mystical utterances that bring about auspiciousness. They stand for this earth, everything above the earth, and whatever there is beyond our mind – beyond the scope of our perception. Bhuh भूः, bhuvah भुवः, and svah स्वः are only explanation of Om ॐ, the Lord.They also denote sat cit ananda (सत् चित् आनन्द). This statement, Om bhurbhuvah svah (ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः) is followed by the actual Gayatri-mantra, which has two parts.
The first part of the Gayatri-mantra is tatsaviturvarenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi (तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि). That Om ॐ is indicated by tat (तत्). Varenyam (वरेण्यम्) is varniyam (वरणीयम्). It means the one to be worshipped, adored, invoked, and whose blessing is to be sought. Dhimahi (धीमहि)= we meditate upon, bhargah (भर्गः)= the splendor that burns all confusion, removes all ignorance and is described as varenyam (वरेण्यम्)= the most adorable. Whose splendor is this? It is the splendor of the self-effulgent Sun= Savituh devasya (सवितुः देवस्य). We invoke the Lord who is in the form of this cosmos, savituh mandalam (सवितुः मण्डलम्), who manifests in the form of Sun. We meditate upon the most adorable splendor of the Sun, who is the self-effulgent Lord. Just as the Sun is free from darkness, so too is the Lord, who is all-knowledge, one who is free from ignorance.
The second part of the prayer is dhiyo yo nah pracodayat (धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्). Nah (नः)= our, dhiyah (धीयः)= thoughts, yo (यो) is yah (यः)= he, pracodayat (प्रचोदयात्)= may He guide, may He brighten, may He set. May the self- shining, self-effulgent deity guide our thoughts in the proper direction.
Light stands for knowledge, so a prayer to the Lord Sun also becomes a prayer for knowledge. The sun can be said to symbolize the Lord who is of the nature of knowledge. This can become a prayer to the Sun directly, seeking his grace to inspire our thoughts and give our minds the same brilliance that is his nature. The sun can also symbolize Isvara, the Lord, in which case we are seeking Isvara’s grace to guide us. The self-shining entity can also mean our very self, in which case we are seeking the grace of the Self who illumines our thoughts to guide our minds in the right direction.
May the Lord set our minds to proper thinking so that we make proper decisions in life. May we have ways of thinking that lead to right decisions. May we have our minds under our control. May we think properly.
While in the beginning Gayatri mantra is a prayer, later it becomes mantra for contemplation.
Sharing these notes originally prepared by Bindu ji, from our Bhagavad Gītā Study Group on FB