The Gayatri Mantra
A lecture by Sri Chinmoy
at Columbia University, New York
Aum bhur bhuvah svah Tat savitur varenyam Bhargo devasya dhimahiDhiyo yo nah pracodayat.
We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky, and inside the soul of the heaven. May He stimulate and illumine our minds.
The Gayatri Mantra is the most hallowed mantra of the Vedas. It is the mother of all the mantras. Mantra means incantation. A mantra can be a one-syllable word or a few words, a sentence or a few sentences. The Gayatri Mantra can offer to the sincere seeker the Light of the Infinite, the Delight of the Eternal, and the Life of the Immortal.
The Gayatri Mantra has four feet. The first foot consists of the earth, sky, and heaven. The second foot consists of the Rig Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the Sama Veda. The third foot consists of prana, apana, and vyana. The fourth foot consists of the Sun, the solar being.
A seeker of the infinite Truth must meditate on the Gayatri Mantra. The result that he will get is incalculable.
Bhumir, earth; antariksam, sky; and dys, heaven, make up the first foot of the Gayatri. Whoever realises the significance of the first foot wins everything that is in those three worlds.
Rcah, yajumsi, samani, make up the second foot of the Gayatri. Whoever realises the second foot of the Gayatri wins the knowledge-sea of the three Vedas.
Prana, apana, and vyana, the three forms of the vital force, make up the third foot of the Gayatri. The knower of this foot wins all the living creatures that exist in the universe.
Turiyam, the quaternary, the Solar Being Transcendental who alone shines, is the fourth foot. He who realises this fourth foot shines with infinite magnificence.
Subtle is the path to moksha, liberation. Hard is the path to liberation. But a genuine seeker can reach the Goal solely by meditating on the Gayatri Mantra. When one is freed from the fetters of ignorance, one grows into the supernal glory of the Transcendental Self. Liberation can be achieved, must be achieved, while the seeker’s soul is in the body. To fail to realise God on earth is to swim in the sea of ignorance with two more swimmers: ignorant birth and shameless death. Liberation attained, the bonds of grief destroyed. Before liberation, like the Buddha we have to proclaim, “This fleeting world is the abode of sorrow.”
The teeming desire-night that has occupied the heart of the seeker must needs be driven out by the glowing aspiration-light. This done, the seeker attains to the Brahman. An Immortal he becomes. The Light Eternal is his new name. Today the seeker feels that the Gayatri is his mind’s inspiration. Tomorrow he will feel that the Gayatri is his soul’s realisation.
With inspiration a seeker sees the Truth.
With aspiration a seeker realises the Truth.
With realisation a seeker becomes the Truth.
Inspiration is might.
Aspiration is light.
Realisation is life.
Inspiration is the Smile of God.
Aspiration is the Cry of God.
Realisation is the Love of God.
The Gayatri is eternal knowledge divine. When this knowledge dawns in the seeker’s aspiring heart, he need no longer seek for anything, either on earth or in heaven. He reveals what he achieves. He manifests what he reveals.
In the Vedas there are two most significant words satyam and ritam. Satyam is Truth in its pure existence. Ritam is Truth in its dynamic movement. There is another word, brihat, which means vastness in form. What we call creation is the manifestation of the Unmanifest, asat. According to our scriptures, the manifestation took place with the anahata dhvani, the soundless sound, AUM.
The Gayatri is dedicated to Savita, the Creator. The root of the word Savita is su, to create or to loose forth. This mantra is known also as Savitri Mantra, for Savitri is the Shakti of Savita. This mantra was envisioned by Vishwamitra, the great Rishi. Savita is regarded as Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva. Brahma, the Creator, with Brahmani as his Shakti; Vishnu, the Preserver, with his Shakti, Vaishnavi; and Siva or Rudra, the Destroyer, with his Shakti, Rudrani, regularly visit the Brahman. The Eagle is the vehicle-bird of Vishnu. The Swan is the vehicle-bird of Brahma. The Bull is the vehicle-beast of Siva.
The Gayatri Mantra is the divine magnetic needle. The magnetic needle points to the north, hence the ship does not lose its direction. The Gayatri Mantra always points to the transcendental Height of the Supreme, hence the seeker does not miss his Goal: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.
Published in The Upanishads: the Crown of India’s Soul