Mysteries of Gayatri Mantra - Meaning, Pronunciation & Significance


There are many ancient and modern interpretations of the words in the gAyatrI mantra.

In this article we will look at the meanings as mentioned in gAyatrI hrdayam, which is

a conversation between sage yAjnyavalkya and lord brahma.

While there is one main gAyatrI mantra, there are also many OTHER gAyatri mantras associated

with individual gods and goddesses.

There is also a longer version of the gAyatri mantra, used for prANAyAma.

If we wish to understand any of these mantras, the three key words to focus on, are vidmahE,

dhImahi and prachOdayAt.

In this article, let's look at all these versions of gAyatri mantra along with their meanings.


Before we proceed to learn the meaning, it is true that chanting mantras, and using yantras,

in a wrong way, over a long period of time, WILL cause harm.

This is one of the main reasons why it is important to get initiated by a guru.

I'll make a different video on why and how any kind of sAdhana without proper initiation

causes harm. However that doesn't mean we have to restrict ourselves from learning the meaning,

and understanding the significance of these widely misunderstood concepts.

gAyatri mantra get's its name from the chhandas, or the meter which holds it.

gAyatri chandas, has three lines in it, with 8 syllables each.

Be it ANY version of the gAyatrI mantra, it has to follow this rule of three lines, and

8 syllables.

gAyatri is considered as the most sacred of all meters in Sanskrit grammar.

It is praised as the mother of knowledge, "gAyatrI chandasAm mAtA".

One fourth of the entire rig veda, is composed in gAyatri Chandas itself.

As learnt in our previous video, before uttering a mantra, we start with remembering it's corresponding

sage, meter, divine entity and usage.

asya shrI gAyatrI mantrasya, vishwAmitra rShiH, gAyatrI chandaH, savitA dEvatA, japOpanayanE

viniyOgaH Let us NOW focus on the WORDS of the gAyatrI

mantra.

Om bhUH bhuvaH svaH tat savtiuH varENyam bhargaH dEvasya dhImahi dhiyaH yaH naH prachOdayAt

when uttered together, and recited in a specific tune, you get the right way of chanting the

mantra.

I'll present that towards the end of the video when we are completely aware of the individual

words and their meanings.

OM, is the primordial sound.

A combination of sounds corresponding to creation maintenance and destruction.

The word bhUH represents bhU lOka, the material world in which we live.

bhuvaH respresents the anatariksha lOka, which is the space in which the material world exists.

svaH represents svarga lOka or a higher plane of existence.These need not just mean they

represent three different worlds similar to earth.

They also have a physiological significance, and represent how gross or subtle WE perceive

life within our own self.

The word lOka itself comes from the root word lOchana, meaning that which we see.

There are 14 such planes of existence which are recognised in the body and in the cosmos.

In this version of the mantra, three of them are prominently mentioned.

We also notice that these three are mentioned in an increasing order of subtlety.

The reason behind this special mention, called as vyAhrti, is to set the direction of one's

energies from gross to subtle.

The next word we need to understand, is dhImahi, which means "we meditate upon".

What do we meditate upon?

tat bhargaH which means that brilliance.

We meditate upon that brilliance.

What kind of brilliance?

varENyam bhargaH, highest kind of brilliance.Whose brilliance is this, dEvasya of the divine

entity;of which divine entity savituH varENyam bhargaH, of the divine entity who gave birth

to life as we know it.

Why do we meditate on it? prachOdayAt, so that it may propel, or drive.

drive what ? nah dhiyaH, meaning our minds.

In which direction does it propel ? That has already been set by the vyAhriti,bhUH bhuvaH

svaH from gross to subtle direction.

Let's now do an anvayakrama, or a re-ordering of words to understand the meaning easily,

: dhImahi tat varENyam bhargaH savituH dEvasya-

We meditate upon the highest brilliance of the source of life.

yaH prachOdayAt naH dhiyaH . Which may propel our minds.

bhUH bhuvaH svaH from the material world to subtler planes of existence.

This concept in depicted as a wall frame by ReSanskrit in this magnificent artwork.

You can hang this on your wall as a constant reminder of the gAyatri mantra and it's meaning,

do check out the link to it in the description below.

The longer version of gAyatri mantra adds a few more layers of subtlety to both the

planes of existence, and the divine entities of the mantra.

In the beginning, it adds other higher planes of existence, which are MahaH, JanaH, TapaH

and satyam.

Along with the inital 3 vyAhritis, these 7 higher planes of existence also have a correlation

with the 7 chakras of kundalini tantra.

This from of the mantra ends with the words om ApOjyotIrasOmrtam brahma bhUrbhuvaHsvarOm.

This denotes further divine entities of aapaH, rasaH, amrtam and brahmA.

It says all of these and the three lokas are within the sound OM itself.

This longer mantra is mentioned in taittiriya aranyaka of Yajurveda, and is used during

sandhyA vandana and prANAyAma.

The shorter version is used for japa, or chanting.

Other gAyatri mantras are also composed of similar words.

For example gAyatri mantra for hanumAn is AnjanEyAya vidmahE vAyuputrAya dhImahi, tanno

hanUmAn prachOdayAt, meaning We realize the son of anjanA dEvi, and meditate on the son

of the god of winds, vAyu.

May lord hanUmAn propel us forward.

here, vidmahE, means we realize or know. and for goddess lakshmi, it is AUM mahAdEvyai

cha vidmahE vishNu patnyai cha dhImahi tannO lakShmIH prachOdayAt ॥ We realize the form

of mahAdEvi, and meditate upon the form of Lord VishNu's wife.

May goddess lakshmi propel us forward.

There are many such gAyatri mantras for individual dieties, all with the same root words vidmahE,

dhImahi and prachOdayAt.

Now, i am going to chant the gAyatrI mantra with a clear pronunciation, and tune.

Please use this only to refine your practise, and not as an initiation to start practising

the gAyatri mantra on your own.As i mentioned before, prolonged wrong utterance of these

mantras CAN cause harm.

Om bhUr bhuvaH svaH tat saviur varENyam bhargo dEvasya dhImahi dhiyO yO naH prachOdayAt.

Some of the common mispronunciations are an alpa prANa ba, instead of a mahAprANa bha.

It makes a lot of difference to the sound, and meaning.It is not bargo, and buvaH, it

is bhargo and bhuvaH.

This is the same with da and dha.

It is not dHEvasya, it is dEvasya. and it is not dImahi, it is dhImahi.It is not diyO

yO naH, it is dhiyO yO naH.A few people have difficulty pronouncing sa, one needs to be

careful not to utter it as dEvashya, it is dEvasya.

So one needs to be mindful of the differeces between ba and bha, da and dha, and sa and

sha in this mantra.

Also in the word svaH, there is no "u" sound.

It is not suvaH, it is svaH.

Finally the beginning of the sound prachOdayAt, can have a slight utterance of "fa" sound,

because of the expulsion of air, due to the visarga before it.like dhiyO yO nafprachOdayAat.

If naH and prachOdayAt are uttered separately, the "fa" sound will be absent.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article.

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See you in the next article, namaskaram