A Problem with the Vedas
I was once asked which is my favorite mantra from Vedas. I said ‘Agne Vratapate…’. A few days later the question came again. This time it was ‘Trayambakam Yajamahe…’. Next time it was something else and today it is something else. This is a curious problem with Vedas. Each mantra is like a sweet ocean of knowledge. More you dwell into it, more you feel liberated, more you get that feeling of serendipity, that feeling of ecstasy, joy, being enthused and what not! Words fail to describe it beyond a point!
Contemplation on each mantra makes one feel as if this mantra alone contains more insights than rest of the world put together! There is nothing more joyful in world than diving into the essence of any Vedic mantra. And when the untrained mind returns back to the mundane world it finds life much of meaningful and purposeful. And next time when it chances to dive into another mantra, it finds yet another ocean of peerless bliss. That is why it is impossible to stick to one particular mantra as a favorite mantra. Each mantra has such depths of meanings that it appears as if the whole life would be insufficient to reach the bottom!
Benefits of Vedic Mantras
Our seers strongly recommended contemplation on Vedic mantras as essential duty of all Arya or noble persons. The reasons are simple:
a. There is absolutely nothing more refreshing and relaxing that contemplation on Vedic mantras.
b. There is no better brain tonic than getting deeper and deeper into essence of Vedic mantras.
c. The benefits of Vedic mantras do not lie merely in the final conclusion of Vedic mantras, but in the very process of trying to get up to that conclusion.
d. Finally, to understand Vedic mantras require not only logical analysis, but also use of emotions and practical implementation. It thus provides a holistic foolproof recipe for the panacea that all the self-help books of the world try to achieve.
Now each mantra of Vedas has a wide scope and depth of meaning. Some mantras may not be easy to approach for beginners considering their current level of mind-training and knowledge. But there are certain mantras which are like desi cow’s milk. They benefit one and all and hence recommended by seers as necessary ingredient of daily life.
One of the most prominent of such mantras is the celebrated Gayatri Mantra. Such is the glory of this mantra that seers recommend that if someone studies nothing else in Vedas but contemplates only on Gayatri, that is also sufficient to take one to next level of evolution. We shall briefly discuss this amazing Mantra in this post and try to understand what makes it so amazing.
Q: What is the meaning of Gayatri Mantra?
A: We shall try to understand Gayatri Mantra as in Yajurveda 36.3:
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः तत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं । भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि । धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥
tát savitúr váreṇyaṃ bhárgo devásya dhīmahi dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt
Literal Meaning of Gayatri Mantra
O One and Only One Ultimate Omnipotent Omniscient Ishwar!
You are Bhoo – the foundation of life in entire universe and unborn! You are dearer than life because life is sustained by you!
You are Buvah – completely devoid of sorrow. When we achieve you, all our sorrows vanish away.
You are Swah – the sustainer and maintainer of entire world and provider of all the bliss.
You are Savituh – the creator of entire world and provide us all the prosperities
You are Devah – who only gives and gives and never takes anything. Who is desired by all. Who is Brilliant, Who is enlightening!
Varenyam – You alone are worth being accepted. There is nothing except you that is worthwhile. When you are achieved, everything is achieved. And when you are not achieved, nothing is achieved. Because you are the source of everything.
Bhargah – You are pure and without any imperfections. You are the ultimate cleanser. Nothing unclean remains when one achieves you. You represent the most perfect state of purity!
Tat – Such are your characteristics that nothing else apart from you is worthwhile.
Dheemahi – We only accept you through our intellect. We utilize our power of thinking to think of you alone.
Dhiyo Yo Nah Prachodayat – Because it is you who has and who will enlighten our intellect. It is only you who will lead us from wrong towards right, from miseries towards bliss, from impurity towards purity, from Adharma towards Dharma, from hatred towards love, from evil deeds towards noble efforts.
Overall Meaning of Gayatri Mantra
O dearest Ishwar, you are the most capable, you alone are full of bliss, you are perfect in all manner, you are unchangeable, you are unborn, you are undying, you love us so much, you give us birth, you care for us 24*7*365 from eternity to eternity, you alone are worth being loved.
You alone are worth being admired. You alone are worth being aspired. You only give and give and there is nothing that we can give you. Even this intellect through which we admire you and through which we enjoy all the blessings you have showered upon us in form of prosperity and bliss has been gifted by you.
O dearest Ishwar, there is no way we can repay you for all your kindness and love and care.
So we humbly promise only one thing – that this intellect which you have gifted us, we shall direct this intellect towards you.
We shall contemplate upon you alone because it is you who gave us this power to contemplate. You have enlightened us and we shall seek only you through this enlightenment.
We shall establish a direct connection with you and have no agents in between. We will use all the resources you have bestowed upon us through this magnificent creation to only seek you.
We shall not be affected by what happens in our surroundings, we shall not be affected by temporary instincts of pleasure and happiness, we shall not be affected by temporary loss, profit, happiness, sorrow, praises and insults and remain defiant in seeking you and you alone through our minds, our intellect and all the action we perform through this intellect.
The Universal Law of Gayatri and how to apply it in life!
Gayatri teaches us a fundamental universal law. If we direct the output of a system back to the source, the outputs are further magnified. This law is applicable everywhere – machines, economics, mathematics, society, inter-personal relations.
“Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi Dhiyo Yo Na Prachodayaat” says that if the system is such that there is
Bhargo — the system is without any inefficiency or disorder, the way Ishwar is
Devasya – the source does not keep share for itself and only gives out back whatever is inputted into it.
Dhiyo and Dheemahi come from same root word. Thus if we direct our output (intellect) 100% back to source of intellect, we make it a perfect system causing us to achieve ultimate bliss.
Those who have studied thermodynamics would have read about perpetual machines. The only reason they do not work is because there are inefficiencies in process of energy conversion. Lesser the inefficiency, more the time that the machine works. This analogy also explains our position in this creation. More we direct our intellect towards Ishwar, more we receive His bliss.And when that crosses a threshold we achieve salvation.Similarly, more we direct our attention to study of source of our knowledge – the Vedas – more the bliss we shall obtain for humanity.
The recipe to get rid of all worries, all miseries, all doubts and all negative thoughts and challenges in life is thus very simply summarized in Gayatri Mantra. Simply think of the Ultimate, simply dedicate all thoughts, words and actions to Him alone. Put your best efforts and leave the rest to Him and He shall manage the rest in best possible manner as He is doing even right now!
Doubt: If we only keep thinking about Ishwar as per Gayatri, how do we manage our day to day tasks. For example, if instead of fighting in a battle, the soldier thinks of Ishwar will he not get killed?
A: The doubt only comes when we misunderstand the characteristics of Ishwar. This problem as indicated would come only to those who consider Ishwar to be limited in time and space. Those who think that Ishwar is in a person, body, structure or above skies or sitting on a throne would fail to achieve both Ishwar and success in mundane life without using cheat-codes! Because such a God is different from rest of the world. You can thus be either Godly or worldly.
The concept of Ishwar, as opposed to such a limited God as described above, is much more intuitive and rational. The Vedic Ishwar is everywhere. He is within us and He is outside us. He is in our books, our clothes, plants, our body, our enemies, our friends, our food, our football, our laptop everywhere. Now obviously when such is the Ishwar, thinking about Ishwar does not mean as explained in the doubt. Since Vedic Ishwar is everywhere and without any agents, you are not supposed to think of anything or any person specially or in addition to Ishwar. Since Vedic Ishwar is everywhere, worship of Ishwar lies not in any ritual of Puja or Havan or Namaaz or Prayer but each act as per its purposefulness.
In Vedic parlance, meditating upon Ishwar means to enhance our understanding that it is Ishwar who is managing the whole show and giving us opportunity to reap benefits as per our free will. He is everywhere. When a yogi progresses with such heightened understanding of world around, worship of Ishwar actually means putting efforts to use every gift of Ishwar in best possible manner by use of our intellect.
So it is worship and meditation of Ishwar when a vedic soldier puts full concentration in fighting the enemy, or a Vedic student puts all his mental and physical energies to study and understand the concepts of his subject. Doing whatever you are doing in best possible manner is the true worship of Ishwar as per Gayatri Mantra. And better the focus, better the outcome. More you understand that its not the exam that you are giving, or it is not the war that you are fighting, or it is not the workout you are doing; it is your worship of Ishwar for a higher goal. It is your exemplification of Gayatri Mantra.
Reject all agents between you and Ishwar,
Reject your attachment to fruits of action,
Reject the belief that destiny is not smiling on you,
Reject the belief that you need to do any particular ritual to please Ishwar or change destiny,
Reject all those predictions of palmists and astrologers and their gems,
Reject all those tendencies of looking at planets before starting a noble mission,
Reject the feeling of you being weak compared to an unjust system
Simply assert your direct relationship with Ishwar by dedicating all thoughts, words and actions to Him and to fulfill His provided in Vedas as well as your own voice of soul.
Reject even the tendencies of untrained mind that tries to silence that voice of soul by urging you to follow old sinful patterns of purposeless fun and greed.
And reject even the feeling of remorse or guilt that arises after we realize that we acted against our voice of soul (Ishwar’s inspiration) for petty reasons.
Reject all these and become a Vedic warrior committed ONLY to focusing all thoughts ONLY on ONE and ONLY ONE Ishwar and none else.
None means no other demigod, no other prophet, no other worldly thing, not even wasteful thoughts of mind.
This practice of absolute focus on Ishwar brings the wonder that no other thing or concept of ideology or person can ever bring for you!
This is the meaning and essence of the wonderful Gayatri Mantra!
Doubt: Does it mean meditation is meaningless if we are focusing on our immediate tasks as described above?
A: It depends. For a yogi, since he is perfectly in a tranquil meditative state in all his actions, separate meditation would not be necessary. But for rest of us, who are prone to fluctuations of tendencies of mind like anger, fear, desire, lust, hatred, ego, boredom etc, we need to prepare ourselves to reach that stage of constant meditation. For them separate meditation on properties of Ishwar, purpose of our life, our own nature is of utmost importance. This is the time when you try to realize Ishwar, Self and our purpose BEYOND the push-and-pull of daily worldly life or Duniyadaari.
Experts recommend at least 2 hours of such meditation along with disciplined life for those desperately seeking salvation and ultimate bliss. But this meditation is not a mind-blankening exercise. It is an attempt to develop intellectual and emotional connect with the Supreme Entity. We shall discuss the science and art of meditation sometime later. For now, I recommend visiting http://darshanyog.org and reading their books.
Outcome of Gayatri Self-Help
In summary, Gayatri contains the entire mechanism of blissful living in it. I have been meditating on Gayatri for some time now, and each time I discover a new meaning and feel which is beyond by ability to express in words. But the net output are following:
a. Eradication of fear, frustration, tension, doubts and miseries
b. Revival of peak enthusiasm and vigour
c. Realignment of priorities and goals
d. Emergence of new improved ideas, plans and visions
e. Sense of extreme peace and love with self and world
etc etc. All wonderful things you can think of and aspire for!
A practice exercise on Gayatri (Note: The changes could be unimaginable!)
Step 1: Read the meaning of Gayatri mantra as given in this post.
Step 2: Read Gayatri Mantra meaning from Chapter 3 of Satyarth Prakash (preferably Hindi) and study Chapter 7,8,9 of Satyarth Prakash. Take 4-5 hours to complete these two steps. Then keep reviewing from time to time.
Step 3: Listen to the brief Gayatri mantra with meaning attached with this post.
Step 4: Devote 30 minutes daily to contemplate on Gayatri Mantra after Step 3. You can split in 10 minutes each in morning, evening and before sleep.
This may appear mechanical for few days but continue the same for at least 2-3 weeks. Try to feel the meaning and develop emotional connect rather than sticking to each word of the mantra. Let your mind wander to explore more insights beyond the words and try getting lost into the bliss you get. Do not use force but allow mind to calm down and experience the feel. Even if mind drifts and thousands of thoughts come up, stay calm and do not be perturbed. Ignore them rather than force them out and simply focus on feeling the Gayatri. You can use the music of Gayatri bhajan to start with focus or other feelings that come up within you. Enjoy the whole process. In night time, you can sit down on your bed, start submerging into feel of Gayatri, and then gradually slip into sleeping position and keep having the fun till you get into sleep.
Step 5: You would find shifts in your likes and dislikes and views of things. Instead of forcing your ego, flow with your inner voice.
In two to three weeks, you will find a tremendous change in you in terms of sharpened thinking process, intuitiveness, enhanced feeling of confidence and self-sufficiency, things going right much more in life, better inter-personal relationships, enhanced magnetism in personality and a lot more.
This is not magic or miracle in conventional sense. What you would have done in this process is to align yourself with your natural path and derive best benefits from Law of Karma. You have performed a cleansing action on your mind to eradicate negative thought patterns and replaced with the most positive vibes.
Imagine! If this be the miracle in just 15 days *30 minutes, what would the level when one does so for entire life, and with many many more mantras of Vedas and with much more dedication! He would turn into a Ram, Krishna, Patanjali or Dayanand!
Another important point
Gayatri Mantra is in first person plural. This clearly means that bliss of Ishwar does not come in isolation. Whatever you do, you have to rise beyond the ‘Me’ and do for ‘We’. Your goal is not bliss for ‘Me’ but bliss for ‘We’. All your acts and thoughts and words should be for benefit of all souls and not only for you. This feeling of ‘Idanna Mama’ or ‘Nothing personal’ is essence of Vedas and Gayatri.
So if this works for you, you have to ensure it works for as many people you can make it work. And you have to work for uplift of entire humanity. Also note that Gayatri and Vedas is all about self-realization. So there is no concept of force or compulsion to thrust these concepts upon others. You simply love and care for everyone just as mother cow loves its calf!
So enjoy Gayatri, enjoy life and make world a better place! This is the best self-help course you can ever get on this planet!
Some intellectual questions:
Q: Why is this mantra called Gayatri?
A: A technical question not much relevant here. But the word Gayatri refers to the Chhanda or prosody or the way it can be pronounced. Vedic mantras have a variety of Chhandas and the name Gayatri is derived from there.
Q: Is it related to Gayatri Goddess?
A: Its a pity that in their over-enthusiasm people sometimes overdo things. In fact Gayatri mantra is supposed to put a stop to such illogical acts. There is no Gayatri Devi and it is only an imagination of people that too in very recent times. Instead of trying to understand the meaning of Gayatri, they symbolized it as a Goddess and in process went against the very spirit of Gayatri. While I respect their sentiments, all such people should stop such insult to Vedas and return to actual essence of Gayatri – which is worship of One Formless Ishwar. Commoditization of Gayatri Mantra in this manner is an insult to Ishwar.
Q: Is Gayatri Mantra prohibited for ladies?
A: No mantra of Vedas is prohibited for any person regardless of birth or gender. Everyone has equal rights over knowledge of Ishwar in same manner as light of sun. Those who state that women have no rights over Vedas are the greatest enemies of humanity. On contrary, there are mantras in Vedas which state that it is more important that women possess Vedic wisdom because they are the first teachers of next generation.
Q: What about Shudras?
A: Firstly, Shudra refers to lack of education and not any birth-based classification. Those who oppose this, again, are greatest enemies of humanity. Secondly, someone who understands Vedas does not remain a Shudra at all. So everyone has full rights over Gayatri Mantra.
Q: Should Gayatri be adopted from a Guru?
A: This Gurudom is another great nuisance plaguing society. Somewhere we have gurus, somewhere prophets, somewhere babas, somewhere peer-fakir trying to be agents of God. It is always good to understand Vedas from knowledgeable persons. But in absence of them, Ishwar is the ultimate guru and presence of any agent between soul and Ishwar is completely unnecessary. So do not wait for a Guru and make Ishwar your ultimate Guru. And if you find a knowledgeable person to help clarify your concepts, take full benefits from him but never with blind faith. Mortal Guru should never supersede the Ultimate Guru or Ishwar
Q: In which Veda does Gayatri come?
A: We find Gayatri Mantra in Rigveda 3.62.10, Yajurveda 3.35, 22.9, 30.2 and 36.3. The meanings of the mantra are largely the same with some differences depending upon the context of the Hymn or Sukta.
Q: What if this Gayatri recipe does not work for me?
A: The Gayatri recipe on this post comes with money-back guarantee! Just kidding! But that is how many self-help courses sell. What we have provided is a scientific systematic process. It has to work. If it does not, you need to revisit Chapter 3,7,8,9 of Satyarth Prakash. Comment here for any doubts and we would be glad to help. Make sure you try to maintain unity in thoughts, words and actions. Avoid meat, alcohol and vulgar/romantic movies etc for the period. Keep healthy routine – thats it.
Remember that we are trying to go towards our original nature. Anything unnatural may deter you. But if laugh of an innocent child makes you happy, or you find it natural to love your mother, or feel obliged when someone takes pain to help you without selfish interests, then you are human enough to ensure that this will quickly work for you!
Reclaim your ultimate bliss!