bhûr bhuvas suvar om
This simple closing phrase is magnificent, and is a powerful meditation all by itself, a joyous and humbling panoramic sweep from the initial earthy, lower chakra "bh" sound gradually becoming ever finer, transcending all the worlds, and culminating in the nameless, formless essence.
Om âpo jyotih rasomritam brahma
bhûr bhuvas suvar om
This beautiful closing pays tribute to the myriad forms of the One. A simple translation is:
Om, the Water, the Light, the very Essence in which we exist, the Absolute, the physical world, the astral realm, the mental realm, all are Om.
As you may have noticed, the preamble begins with Om, the first line of the Gâyatrî Mantra begins with Om and the closing ends with Om.
Om is in everything and everything is in Om. Indeed, the mantric repetition of this one syllable, Om, is of immeasurable value. It is often said that Om is the greatest of all mantras.
Swâm Gambhrnanda suggests meditating in this manner:
I am Brahman, as signified by Om and as conditioned by mâyâ in which the sattva quality preponderates.
For clarification, here are quotes from various Upanishads describing the nature of Om:
I will give you the Word all the scriptures glorify and which all spiritual disciplines express, to attain which aspirants lead of a life of sense-restrain and selflessness. It is Om. This symbol of Brahman is the highest. Realizing it, one finds complete fulfillment of all one's longings. It is of the greatest support to all seekers.
Katha Unpanishad (I, ii, 15-17)
Take the great bow of the sacred scriptures, place on it the arrow of devotion; then draw the bowstring of meditation, and aim at the target, the Lord of Love. Om is the bow, the soul is the arrow, and Brahman is called its target. Now draw the bowstring of meditation and hitting the target, be One with It.
Mundaka Upanishad (II, ii, 3-4)
Fire is not seen until one firestick rubs across another, though the fire is still there, hidden. So does Brahman remain hidden until being revealed by the mantram Om. Let your body be the lower firestick and the mantram Om be the upper. Rub them against each other in meditation and realize Brahman.
Shvetashvatara Upanishad (1, 13-14)
Daily spiritual practice:
The beautiful rhythmic patterns, soothing ancient sounds and powerful intent make the Gâyatrî Mantra a magnificent part of daily spiritual practice.
The Gâyatrî Mantra combines the effects of mantric sound with the effects of a deep and profound prayer, resulting in a combination which is exceedingly potent.
As with all spiritual practices, this is a vehicle for intent. The stronger and greater the intent, the stronger and greater the results.
Spiritual progress does not succeed merely by means of intellectual reasoning or theoretical arguments, but rather by direct experience. If you would like a deeper understanding of the Gâyatrî Mantra, it is well and good that you should begin with an intellectual understanding of the words and the intent, but that is only a preliminary step leading to your own direct experience of That Which is beyond words.
Humble Submission and Selfless Unity:
Many of the greatest prayers, such as the Gâyatrî Mantra from the ancient rishis of India, the Fâtiha which was received by the prophet Muhammad, and the Lord's Prayer which was given to us by Jesus, all share some magnificent similarities, illustrating the highest and noblest principles of prayer.
In each of these great prayers, the opening lines are a humble recognition that there is a Greater Power, and that all that we receive comes from the will of that Greater Power. Such prayer is an act of humble submission to That Which is beyond our understanding.
And the final lines of each of these great prayers, in humble submission to a Greater Power, acknowledge the gifts of understanding and awakening which are continually bestowed upon all of mankind, even though so few are even aware of the gifts. This humble recognition of the gifts that are constantly showered upon us is an essential element of the highest spiritual practices that we have been given, leading us toward the understand that we can and should rise above our differences and divisions, emerging from our delusion of separation and becoming aware of the Light of Unity which already shines upon all of creation.
Create your own unique rendering:
Armed with the definitions of the Sanskrit words and your own unique insight into what the mantra means for you (which may change over time), it may be very useful to write your own personal rendering of the meaning of the mantra.
For example, here is my current rendering:
We meditate upon the Divine Radiance,
that One Light which deserves our worship,
the One whose noble thought energizes and directs our awakening.
Om Bhur Bhuva Suvah
Tat Savithur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonah Prachodayat
Meaning: We meditate on that most adorable, most desirable and most enchanting luster (effulgence) of our supreme Lord, who is our creator, inspirer and source of eternal Joy. May this light inspire and illumine our intellect (and dispel the darkness).
Word Meaning: Aum: The primeval sound (from which all sounds emerge); Dheemahi: We meditate upon; Varenyam: the most adorable, most desirable or most enchanting; Bhargo: luster or effulgence; Tat: of that; Devasya: supreme (Lord); Savitur: from whom all creations emerge (also means the Sun God who is our life source); Bhur: who is our inspirer; Bhuvah: who is our creator; Suvaha: who is the abode of supreme joy; [Bhur, Bhuvah and Suvaha are also considered to mean three lokaas or worlds namely Heaven, earth and lower worlds]. Yo: May this light; Prachodayaat: inspire/illumine; Naha: our; Dhiyo: intellect (activities of the intellect)]
- Significance of Gayatri Mantra
- Potency of Gaayathree
- Gaayathree Path to God
- Gaayathree Manthra
- Universal Prayer
- Gaayathree Prayer
- Gaayathree as Savior
- Power of Gaayathree
Significance of Gayatri Mantra
This is the most auspicious occasion of your life. Human life can be compared to a four-storied mansion. The four stories are: Brahmacharya (celibacy), Grihastha (householder), Vaanaprastha (recluse) and Sanyasa (renunciate). Today you are laying the foundation for the mansion of your life. The safety and security of the mansion is assured once you make the foundation strong and sturdy.
Man is born four times in his life. He is born for the first time when he emerges from his mother's womb. He becomes a Dwija (born for the second time) when he is initiated into the Gayatri Mantra. He becomes a Vipra through the study of Vedas and ultimately becomes a Brahmana when he recognizes the principle of Brahman. One should be a Brahmin not merely by virtue of birth, but by virtue of action too. For this, chanting of Gayatri Mantra is very essential.
Man is the embodiment of all Gods. In fact, the gross form of the food that man consumes refers to the principle of Brahma. On this basis, it is said, "Annam Brahma, Raso Vishnu" (food is Brahma and the essence is Vishnu). The subtle form of the food denotes the principle of Vishnu. The subtlest form symbolizes the principle of Easwara. The gross form of the food strengthens the body. The subtle form of the food strengthens the mind and the subtlest form of food purifies the speech. Therefore, food plays a vital role in strengthening and purifying the body, mind and speech.
Gayatri is Sarvadevata Swarupini and Sarvamantra Swarupini (embodiment of all Gods and goddesses and all Mantras). It is said, Gayatri Chaandasaam Matha, meaning Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas. There is no need to chant any other Mantra if you chant the Gayatri Mantra. Gayatri has three names: Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswathi. Gayantham Trayate ithi Gayatri, it protects the one who recites it. Gayatri is the master of the senses. Savitri is the master of the life principle. When Gayatri acts as the protector of life forces, she is known as Savitri You might have heard the story of Savitri, a woman of chastity, who brought her dead husband, Sathyavaan, back to life with the power of her prayer. Savitri protects those who lead a life of Sathya (truth). This is the inner meaning. Saraswathi is the presiding deity of speech. Man has to earn the grace of Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswathi to sanctify his life.
First and foremost, man has to purify his speech. Only then will his life be safe and secured. If you slip and fall, the injury can be repaired, but the slip of the tongue is irreparable. It will make your life miserable. So, you should have control over your speech. Excessive talk will lead to untruth and unpleasantness. That is why the ancient saints and seers used to observe silence. You can uphold truth and attain fame only by talking less. Limited talk will confer happiness. Excessive talk will put you to grave dangers.
Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswathi are latent in everybody. Bhur, Bhuvah and Suvah in the Gayatri Mantra refer to body (materialization), life force (vibration) and soul (radiation). Bhur means Bhuloka (the earth), which is nothing but the combination of materials. This denotes the human body, which is also a combination of materials. Bhuvaha refers to the life force, which makes the body move. Suvaha refer to Prajnana Shakti, which sustains the life force. This Prajnana Shakti is known as the Constant Integrated Awareness. This is also termed as radiation. All the three, viz., materialization, vibration and radiation are present in man. I tell you often, you are not one, but three - the one you think you are (physical level), the one others think you are (mental level) and the one you really are (Atmic level).
Human life is the combination of body, mind and the Atma. Body is the basis for attaining wisdom. So, it should not be misused. One has to purify one's body and mind by undertaking sacred actions. The principle of Atma is always pure and unsullied. It is said, Janthunaam Narajanma Durlabham (human life is the rarest of all). Sareera Maadhyam Khalu Dharma Sadhanam (it is by the body can one undertake righteous actions). Do not underestimate the potentialities of human body. In fact, human body is the basis for attaining the goal of life. Work for the redemption of your life by chanting the Mantras and undertaking sacred activities.
One need not make any special effort to acquire the human qualities, viz., Sathya, Dharma, Santhi, Prema and Ahimsa. They are with you right from your birth. But you have forgotten them, as you have not put them into practice. Instead of giving 'tons' of speeches, it is better that you practice at least an 'ounce' of what you have learnt. Today humanness is on the decline because man does not practice human values. Man is developing Aasalu (desires), forgetting Aadarsaalu (ideals). Attachment to the body is on the rise, whereas attachment to the spirit is on the decline. No doubt, attachment to the body is essential, but only when it comes to performing actions.
You should give up Dehaabhimaanarn (attachment to the body) and cultivate Deshaabhimaanam (attachment to the motherland). After Ravana was annihilated, Lakshmana prayed to Rama to reign over Lanka too. He said, "Brother, it is not proper on our part to disturb our brother Bharata, who is ruling over Ayodhya. Moreover, the kingdom of Lanka is more affluent and more beautiful than Ayodhya. So, it is my humble prayer that you should become the king of Lanka." Vibhishana too fell at the feet of Rama, saying, "Swami, I surrender myself, my wealth and the kingdom at your Lotus Feet." But Rama was not carried away by the affluence of Lanka. He said, "Janani Janma Bhoomischa Swargadapi Gareeyasi," the mother and the motherland are greater than even the heaven.
Himachala forms the boundary on the northern side of India. 'Hima' means ice. It is white in color and melts easily. Whiteness symbolizes purity. 'Achala' means that which is steady. Your Hridaya (heart) also should be like Himachala, pure and steady. It should melt with compassion. Hri + Daya = Hridaya. Daya means compassion. God resides in your heart only when it is pure, steady and full of compassion. But today human heart has lost purity and steadiness due to limitless desires. Life is a long journey and your desires are the luggage. "Less luggage more comfort make travel a pleasure." The journey of life will become enjoyable only when you reduce the luggage of desires. The lesser the desires are, the happier you will be. The Gayatri Mantra teaches that you should offer everything to God. Sarva Karma Bhagavad Preetyartham (perform all your actions to please God). Only then you will be free from all difficulties and misery.
The Vedas declare: "Mathru Devo Bhava, Pithru Devo Bhava" (revere the mother and the father as God). I keep telling the students very often that their blood, food, head and Dudalu (money) are all the gifts of the mother. So, first and foremost, one should show gratitude to the mother. You should never forget your mother who gave you birth after carrying you in her womb for nine months and brought you up providing all care and comfort, unmindful of her own physical strain. The mother always has your well being uppermost in her mind in whatever she says or does. You may be highly educated and your mother may be an illiterate, but still you should have utmost regard for her. You should consider the teachings of your mother as the Veda itself.
Gayatri is the embodiment of the mother-principle. You should chant the Gayatri everyday, morning, afternoon and evening. These are referred to as Praathah Sandhya, Maadhyahna Sandhya and Saayam Sandhya. When you show your back to the sun, your shadow will be ahead of you. It will fall behind you only when you stand facing the sun. Similarly, Maya (illusion), which is like your shadow, will overtake you when you turn your mind away from God. It can be overcome only when you turn your mind towards God.
Due to the impact of Kali Age and the advancement of modern education, man's intellect is getting perverted. There is no point in acquiring education bereft of character. Worldly education, which corresponds to mere bookish knowledge, can never help you to lead a divine life. No doubt, worldly education is essential, but along with worldly education, one should have spiritual education too. "Aadhyaatma Vidya Vidyaanaam,'' spiritual education is the true education. "Nadinaam Saagaro Gathihi," all the rivers ultimately merge in the ocean. There can be no river without the ocean. Worldly education corresponds to rivers and rivulets. Spiritual education can be compared to a mighty ocean. So, of all the forms of education, spiritual education is the highest and the noblest. Today even the highly educated parents are acting without any sense of discrimination. They discourage their children from worshipping God and participating in Bhajans. They tell them that they would have ample time to think of God after retirement. This is a grave mistake. "Start early, drive slowly, reach safely." One can remember God in the old age only when one thinks of Him right from one's childhood.
This is the right age to contemplate on God. This is the golden age, a very sacred age. Do not misuse it. Some parents want their children to go abroad immediately after the completion of their graduation. What is there in foreign countries that is not available in Bharat?. In fact, that which is not present in Bharat is not present anywhere else in the world. Most of the students who go abroad to pursue higher studies develop perverted minds and lose their character. I have seen Myself many who went abroad, but few of them returned to Bharat with good character. People send their children abroad because they want them to become Dhanavantulu (wealthy), but not Gunavantulu (virtuous). Money may provide all the comforts and conveniences, but can it confer mental peace? No. Only spirituality can grant peace of mind.
Today people are crazy to go to foreign countries, whereas the foreigners themselves are coming to Bharat in search of peace of mind. They have all the material comforts, but lack peace of mind. They have money, but no character. Excessive money gives rise to arrogance, which in turn leads to all wicked qualities. So, one should not go abroad in search of wealth. One should remain in Bharat if one wants to cultivate noble character. Take Swami's own example. Thousands of devotees have been praying to Me to visit their respective countries. But till today I have not entertained the thought of going abroad. What is the reason? Bharat is the center of all Dharmas. It is the land of sacred rituals and sacrifice. Here is a small example: The train has an engine in the front and many compartments attached to it. You will find coal, fire and the driver only in the engine, but not in any of the compartments. Bharat can be compared to the engine. In Bharat alone you find the sacred fire of Yajnas and Yagas. The other countries are like different compartments attached to the engine of Bharat. Some 'compartments' may fall aside, what is the reason? They do not have proper link with the engine. The culture of Bharat is highly sacred. The Bharatiyas should remain in their motherland, practice and propagate its sacred culture.
Gayatri is known as Panchamukhi, meaning she has five faces. What are they? Aum is the first face; "Bhur Bhuvah Suvaha" is the second; "Tat Savitur Varenyam" is the third; "Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi" is the fourth; "Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat" is the fifth. The Gayatri has three parts: 1.Praise, 2.Meditation, and 3.Prayer. First, the Divine is praised, then it is meditated upon in reverence and lastly, an appeal is made to the Divine to dispel the darkness of ignorance and to awaken and strengthen the intellect. "Dheemahi" is related to the meditative aspect. "Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat" relates to the aspect of prayer. Chanting of the Gayatri Mantra purifies the mind and confers devotion, detachment and wisdom. Young men must necessarily chant the Gayatri Mantra. Today we find people getting initiated into the Gayatri Mantra in the advanced stages of their youth. Intellect will blossom and shine forth in all its splendor only after initiation into the Gayatri Mantra. That is why it is essential that Upanayanam be done at the age of eight. One who is initiated into the Gayatri Mantra at an early age will become highly intelligent. Chanting of the Gayatri Mantra will sanctify man's life.
It is because man does not think of God with devotion and sincerity that fear and restlessness have become the order of the day. Chanting of Divine Name alone can make one fearless. God is referred to as Hiranyagarbha. Hiranya means gold. Only when you place this 'gold' in your heart, can you get the jewels of Sathya, Dharma, Santhi and Prema. Once God is installed in your heart, only divine feelings will originate from it. When sweet pudding is poured into a vessel with a number of holes, what comes out of the holes will also be sweet pudding. Likewise, when you fill your heart with Divinity, all your actions will become divine. But man lacks faith in Divinity. He has Swasa (breath), but no Viswasa (faith). Such a life is useless.
Youth should work for the progress of the country. They should always help the fellow-beings. Sage Vyasa gave the essence of 18 Puranas thus: Paropakarah Punyaya Paapaya Parapeedanam (helping others is meritorious, harming others is sin). So, Help ever, Hurt never. This is the true devotion and surrender. Devotion does not mean offering worship or doing Bhajans. They are all external activities. All these are futile if there is no inner purity.
Love is God. God is love, so live in love. Love your parents. Serve them, obey their command and satisfy them. They have immense love for you. But, sometimes, they may try to put you on the wrong path unknowingly. In such a case, explain to them, what is right and what is wrong and convince them. If they want you to go abroad to earn more money, tell them that character is important, not money. If you explain to them in a proper way, there will certainly be a transformation in them.
If you chant the Gayatri Mantra wholeheartedly, you will never face difficulties or misery in life. Chant the Divine name incessantly. You know the story of Prahlada. His father Hiranyakasipu commanded him to stop chanting the name of Lord Narayana. Prahlada would never argue with his father. He would smilingly listen to all that his father had to say, but ultimately would l follow the dictates of his conscience. He was trampled upon by huge elephants, bitten by poisonous snakes, pushed down from mountain cliffs, thrown into deep sea; but never did he give up chanting of Lord's name. As a result, the elephants, the poisonous snakes, the mountain cliffs and the mighty oceans, transformed into Lord Narayana Himself. The Lord came to his rescue whenever he was put to danger. Likewise, if you have divine feelings in your heart, God will protect you, wherever you are. You should have unwavering faith in Him and chant His name with love.
Do not give scope to the evil qualities of anger, greed and jealousy. They are like gateways of hell. Ravana was highly educated and powerful. But he ruined his entire clan and kingdom, as he became a victim of Kama (desire). Hiranyakasipu symbolized anger and ultimately ruined himself. Duryodhana was greed personified and he too suffered the same fate as that of Ravana and Hiranyakasipu. You may have immense knowledge, wealth and valor, but you are bound to suffer if you become a slave to anger, desire and greed. Do not take pride in your wealth, physical strength and education. Develop the strength of love. Love can transform even a foe into a friend. Only through love can your life be redeemed.
Some people may argue it is foolish to believe in the existence of God whom you cannot see. But, in fact, you are seeing God all the time, because the entire universe is the form of God. Right from microcosm to macrocosm, all forms are His. The Vedas declare: Easwara Sarva Bhuthanaam (He is present in all beings). You are unable to see Him because you see the nature from the physical point of view. Give up the worldly feeling and see the nature with divine feelings. Then God will certainly manifest before you. Just as fragrance is present in the flower, Divinity is latent in you. Flower can be seen by the naked eye, but can anyone visualize its fragrance? Mother loves the child. She has a form, but her love has no form. That love is God.
Gayatri Mantra is highly sacred. As the Sastri garu pointed out, Gayatri Mantra contains the essence of all the Mantras of all Gods and Goddesses. Just as single thread runs through all the flowers in a garland, the same divine power exists in all the god forms. Understand this unity in diversity. One who has understood this unity will never be put to suffering. Develop faith in God. Do not get carried away by what others say. Follow the dictates of your conscience. If you have the strong desire to see God, contemplate on Him with unflinching faith. Then you can certainly see Him. Never doubt His existence. He exists for those who believe in His existence and does not exist for those who deny His existence. He acts according to your feelings. So, develop faith in Him. Chanting the Gayatri Mantra for three times in a day, i.e., morning, afternoon and evening, is not enough. You should chant this Mantra incessantly. Why should you stipulate a particular time period for chanting His name who is beyond time? Sarvada Sarvakaleshu Sarvathra Harichinthanam, chant His name at all places, at all times and under all circumstances.