by Swami Sivananda
MEDITATION ON GAYATRI
"Om bhur bhuvah svah tat savitur varenyam;
Bhargo devasya dheemahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat. "
Om - Para Brahman; Bhur - Bhuloka (Physical Plane); Bhuvah - Antariksha Svah; Svarga Loka Tat - Paramatma Savitur; Isvara (Surya); Varenyam; Fit to be worshipped; Bhargo - Remover of sins and ignorance; Devasya - Glory (Jnana Svaroopa); Dheemahi - We meditate; Dhiyo - Buddhi (Intellect); Yo - Which; Nah - Our; Prachodayat - Enlighten.
"Let us meditate on Isvara and His Glory who has created the Universe, who is fit to be worshipped, who is the remover of all sins and ignorance. May he enlighten our intellect. "
The aspirant prays to Mother Gayatri, "O Beloved Mother! At the present moment I have taken my body as the self owing to Avidya or ignorance, through my impure intellect. Give me a pure intellect which will enable me to know my real nature. Give me light and knowledge. "
This is the Brahma-Gayatri Mantra. Gayatri is the 'Blessed Mother' of Vedas. There is no milk superior to cow's milk. Even so there is no Mantra superior to Gayatri. As Omkara or Pranava is for Sannyasins, so is Gayatri for Brahmacharis and householders. The fruits that are attained by meditation on Omkara can be attained by meditation on Gayatri. The same goal that is reached by a Paramahamsa Sannyasin can be reached by a Brahmachari or a householder by meditating on Gayatri.
Get up at 4 a. m. in Brahmamuhurta and start Japa and meditation on Gayatri (Panchmukhi or five-faced Devi seated in lotus flower), sitting on Padmasana, Siddhasana or Virasana, facing North or East. Burn incense in the room. In summer you can take a bath. In winter you can simply wash your face, hands and feet and do achamana only. Continue the Japa for two hours or more. Have another sitting at night between 7 and 8 p. m. Constantly feel that you are receiving light, purity and wisdom from Gayatri. This is important. Keep the image of the Gayatri at the Trikuti, the space between the eye-brows by closing the eyes and concentrate there, or keep the image in the lotus of the heart and concentrate there. You will have Darshan of Gayatri.
It is better if you do Japa of Gayatri 3000 to 4000 times daily. Your heart will be purified rapidly. If you are not able to do this number, you can do 1008 times daily. If you find it difficult to do this number also, do at least 108 times daily, 36 times at sunrise, 36 times at noon, 36 times at sunset. There is special, mysterious spiritual force or wonderful magnetic power at Sandhi or junction of the time, sunrise and sunset. The mind will be elevated quickly. It will be filled with Sattva. Concentration will come by itself without any effort at this time. If you find it difficult to get up at Brahmamuhurta, get up before sunrise. That man who fails to do Gayatri at the Sandhis fails in the discharge of his daily duties. He becomes a Bhrashta or fallen man. He loses vigour, vitality and Brahma-tejas.
In the Gayatri Mantra there are 9 names, viz. , 1. Om, 2. Bhur, 3. Bhuvah, 4. Svah, 5. Tat, 6. Savitur, 7. Varenyam, 8. Bhargo and 9. Devasya. Through these nine names the Lord is praised. Dheemahi is worship of the Lord. Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat is prayer. Herein there are five halts or stops viz. , 'Om' is the first stop; 'Bhur Bhuvah Svah' the second; 'Tat Savitur Varenyam' the third; 'Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi' the fourth; and 'Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat' the fifth. While chanting or doing Japa of the Mantra, we should stop a little at every stop or halt.
Savita is the presiding deity of the Gayatri Mantra, Fire (Agni) is the mouth, Vishwamitra is the Rishi and Gayatri is the metre. It is recited in the investiture of sacred thread, practice of Pranayama and Japa. What Gayatri is, the same is Sandhya, and what Sandhya is, the same is Gayatri. Sandhya and Gayatri are identical. He who meditates on Gayatri, meditates on Lord Vishnu.
A man can repeat Gayatri mentally in all states while lying, sitting, walking etc. There is no sin of commission and omission of any sort in its repetition. One should thus perform Sandhya three times with this Gayatri Mantra every day, in the morning, noon and evening. It is the Gayatri Mantra alone that can be commonly prescribed for all the Hindus. The Lord commands in the Vedas "Let one Mantra be common to all" "Samano Mantrah. " Hence the Gayatri should be the one Mantra for all the Hindus. "The secret lore of the Upanishads is the essence of four Vedas, while Gayatri with the three Vyahritis is the essence of the Upanishads. " He is the real Brahmin who knows and understands thus, the Gayatri. Without its knowledge he is a Sudra, though well versed in the four Vedas.
GLORY OF GAYATRI
(MANU SMRITI, CHAPTER II)
76. Brahma milked out, as it were, from the three Vedas, the letter A, the letter U, and the letter M; these form by their coalition the three trilateral monosyllable, together with three mysterious words, Bhur, Bhuvah, Svah, or earth, sky, heaven.
77. From the three Vedas also, the Lord of creatures incomprehensibly exalted, successfully milked out the three measures of that ineffable text, beginning with the word Tat, and entitled Savitri or Gayatri.
79. And a twice-born man, who shall 1000 times repeat those three (Om, the Vyahritis and the Gayatri) apart from the multitude (EKANTA) shall be released in a month even from a great offence, as a snake from his slough.
81. The three great immutable words, preceded by the triliteral syllable and followed by the Gayatri which consists of three measures, must be considered as the mouth or principal part of the Veda.
82. Whoever shall repeat day by day, for three years, without negligence, that sacred text, shall hereafter approach the Divine Essence, move as freely as air and assume an ethereal form.
83. The three triliteral monosyllable is an emblem of the Supreme, the suppressions of breath with a mind fixed on God are the highest devotion; but nothing is more exalted than the Gayatri; a declaration of truth is more excellent than silence.
84. All rites ordained in the Veda, oblations to fire, and solemn sacrifices pass away; but that which passes not away, is declared to be the syllable OM, thence called Akshara; since the Japa should be finished before noon daily and should not be done in the afternoon. All the words should be repeated slowly without mutilation and Akshara Suddhi (clarity in pronunciation). You must not be hasty in the performance of the Japa. You must have always the meaning of Gayatri before the mind's eye. You must perform a Havan in the end to propitiate the Goddess. As a substitute for the Havan you can perform 6 lakhs of Japa. You can make as many Purascharanas as you like.
85. Fruits of three kinds of Japa-The act of repeating Gayatri loudly (Vaikhari Japa), is 10 times better than the appointed sacrifice; a 100 times better when it is heard by no man (Upamasu Japa), done in a whispering tone; and a 1, 000 times better when it is purely mental (Manasic Japa).
87. The four domestic sacraments which are accompanied with the appointed sacrifice, are not equal, though all be united, to a sixteenth part of the sacrifice performed by a repetition of the Gayatri.
By the sole repetition of the Gayatri a priest indubitably attains beatitude, let him perform or not perform, any other religious act.
Benefits of Gayatri Japa
Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas and the destroyer of sins. There is nothing more purifying on the earth as well as in the heaven than the Gayatri. The Japa of Gayatri brings the same fruit as the recitation of all the four Vedas together with the Angas. This single Mantra, if repeated three times a day, brings good (Kalyan or Moksha). It is the Mantra of the Vedas. It destroys sins. It bestows splendid health, beauty, strength, vigour, vitality and magnetic aura in the face (Brahmic effulgence).
Gayatri destroys the three kinds of Taapa or pain. Gayatri bestows the four kinds of Purushartha viz. , Dharma (righteousness), Artha (wealth), Kama (desired objects) and Moksha (liberation or freedom). It destroys the three Granthis or knots of ignorance, Avidya, Kama and Karma. Gayatri purifies the mind. Gayatri bestows Ashta Siddhis. Gayatri makes a man powerful and highly intelligent. Gayatri eventually gives liberation or emancipation from the wheel of births and deaths.
The mind is purified by constant worship. It is filled with good and pure thoughts. Repetition of worship strengthens the good Samskaras. "As a man thinks, that he becomes. " This is the psychological law. The mind of a man who trains himself in thinking good, holy thoughts, develops a tendency to think of good thoughts. His character is moulded and transformed by continued good thoughts. When the mind thinks of the image of Gayatri during worship, the mental substance actually assumes the form of the image. The impression of the object is left in the mind. This is called Samskara. When the act is repeated very often, the Samskaras gain strength by repetition, and a tendency or habit is formed in the mind. He who entertains thoughts of Divinity becomes transformed actually into the Divinity himself by constant thinking and meditation. His Bhava or disposition is purified and divinised. The meditator and the meditated, the worshipper and the worshipped, the thinker and the thought become one and the same. This is Samadhi. This is the fruit of worship or Upasana.
The Brahma-Gayatri-Mantra has twenty-four Aksharas. So, one Gayatri Purascharana constitutes the repetition or Japa of 24 lakhs of times of Gayatri Mantra. There are various rules for Purascharana. If you repeat 3, 000 times daily, you should keep up the number daily all throughout till you finish the full 24 lakhs. Cleanse the mirror of Manas of its Mala and prepare the ground for the sowing of the spiritual seed. His grace is very, very important.
The Maharashtrians are very fond of Gayatri Purascharana. There are in Poona and other places persons who have performed Purascharana several times. Sri Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviyaji was a votary of Gayatri Purascharana. The success in his life and the establishment of a grand Hindu University at Benares, is all attributable to his Gayatri Japa and the benign Grace of the Blessed Mother Gayatri.
Swami Vidyaranya, the reputed author of the celebrated Panchadasi, performed Gayatri Purascharana. Mother gave him Darshan and granted Vidyaranya a boon. Swami Vidyaranya asked: "O Mother! There is a great famine in the Deccan. Let there be a shower of gold to relieve the immense distress of the people. " Accordingly there was a shower of gold. Such is the power or Sakti of Gayatri Mantra.
Yoga-Bhrashtas and pure-minded persons only can have Darshan of Gayatri by doing one Purascharana only. As the minds of vast majority of persons in this Iron Age are filled with various sorts of impurities, one has to do more than one Purascharana according to the degree of impurity of the mind. The more the impurities, the greater the number of Purascharana. The famous Madhusudana Swami did seventeen Purascharanas of Krishna Mantra. He did not get Darshan of Lord Krishna on account of the sins committed in killing 17 Brahmins in his previous births. But he had Darshan of the Lord when he was on the half way of the eighteenth Purascharana. The same rule applies to Gayatri-Purascharana also.
HINTS ON GAYATRI-JAPA
In days of yore, Hindu ladies also used to wear sacred thread (Yajnopavita) and repeat Gayatri. Manu was not in favour of this.
After the Purascharana is over, perform Havan and feed Brahmins, Sadhus and poor people to propitiate the Goddess.
Those who wish to do Purascharana may live on milk and fruits. This makes the mind Sattvic. One will derive great spiritual benefits.
There are no restrictions of any kind when you repeat a Mantra with Nishkama Bhava for attaining Moksha. Restrictions or Vidhis come in only when you want to get some fruits, when you do the Japa with Sakama Bhava.
When a Purascharana of Gayatri is done on the banks of the Ganga underneath an Asvattha tree or the Panchavriksha, Mantra-Siddhi comes in rapidly.
If you repeat Gayatri 4, 000 times daily, you can finish the Purascharana in one year, seven months and twenty-five days. If you do the Japa slowly it will take 10 hours to finish 4, 000 daily. The same number should be repeated daily.
You must observe strict Brahmacharya when you do Purascharana. Then you can have Darshan of Gayatri easily. Those who are unable to practise strict celibacy should be very moderate in copulation. This is second best thing.
The practice of Akhanda Mauna (unbroken silence) during Purascharana is highly beneficial. Those who are not able to practise this can observe full Mauna for a week in a month or on Sundays.
Those who practise Purascharana should not get up from the Asana till they finish the fixed number. They should not change the pose also.
Counting can be done through Maala, fingers or watch. Count the exact number that you can do in one hour. Suppose you can do in one hour 400 Gayatri Mantras, then Japa for 10 hours means 10x400 =4, 000. There is more concentration in counting through watch.
There are three varieties of Gayatri pictures for meditation in morning, noon and evening. Many meditate on the five-faced Gayatri only throughout the day.
"Verily all this creation is Gayatri. Speech is Gayatri; by speech is all this creation preserved. That Gayatri is verily this earth. The Gayatri is verily composed of four feet, and possesseth six characteristics. The creations constitute the glories of Gayatri. That Brahman i. e. the being indicated in the Gayatri, is verily a space which surroundeth mankind. "
(Chhandogya Upanishad: III-xii. )
"Verily man is Yajna (sacrifice). The first twenty-four years of his life constitute the morning ritual (Pratah savana). The Gayatri includes 24 letters and it is the Gayatri through which the morning ritual is performed. " (Chhandogya Upanishad: III-xvi. )
In conclusion I will have to say that the repetition of Gayatri Japa brings the Darshan of Gayatri and eventually leads to the realisation of the Advaitic Brahman or unity of consciousness, or oneness (Tanmayata, Talleenata, Tadrupata, Tadakarata) and the aspirant who asked for light from Gayatri, in the beginning, sings now in exuberant joy, "I am the Light of lights, that gives light to Buddhi. "
May Gayatri, the Blessed Mother of Vedas, bestow on us right understanding, pure intellect, right conduct and right thinking! May She guide us in all our actions! May She deliver us from the Samsaric wheel of births and deaths! Glory! Glory unto Gayatri, the creatress, the generatrix of this Universe