Sathya Sai - The Eternal Companion (Volume 1 Issue 4, June 2022)
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Power and Protection of Gayatri Mantra
Om Bhur Bhuvaḥ Suvah
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yo naḥ Prachodayāt
June 2022 marks the second anniversary of the SSSIO’s worldwide bi-monthly online 24-hour Akhanda Gayatri chanting. The impact of these powerful prayers on the lives of many individuals is nothing but miraculous. Let us take a deep dive into the meaning, significance, and benefits of the Gayatri Mantra.
Gayatri: Mother of all Knowledge
The Gayatri Mantra is the most ancient and powerful mantra found in the Vedas. It is considered the ‘Mother of Vedas’ (mother of all knowledge) – Gayatri Chandaso Mata. The Gayatri is unparalleled because it is a mantra, prayer, and meditation. The Gayatri Mantra has conferred spiritual and material benefits to millions of spiritual aspirants for millennia. Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba has placed a special emphasis on this Mantra and pronounced it as Sarva Devatha Swarupini and Sarva Mantra Swarupini (embodiment of all divinities and all mantras). He has personally initiated thousands into the Gayatri Mantra, individually and in mass ceremonies, irrespective of their nationality, religion, caste, creed, age, gender, race, and color. He emphasized that this is a prayer addressed to the immanent and transcendent divine, making it universal and non-denominational.
The Revelation of the Gayatri Mantra
The Gayatri Mantra was revealed to sage Vishwamitra (mantra drashta – seer of mantra). The presiding deity is Savitur, or Sun god representing Brahman, and the meter in which it is chanted is called Gayatri.
Vishwamitra, born a king named Kaushika, was powerful but full of ego, pride, jealousy, and hatred. It took thousands of years of austerity, penance, and meditation for him to attain the purity of the heart. Once he was illumined and enlightened, the 24 mystic syllables of the Gayatri Mantra were revealed to him in a state of deep meditation. In his love for all, he gifted it to humanity, and thus King Kaushika became the sage Viswamitra—a friend of the whole universe. All we had to do was be born in the Golden Age of Sai to receive His infinite wisdom on the power of the Gayatri Mantra.
Benefits of Gayatri Mantra
The mantra is described as Manana Trayate Iti Mantra – by contemplating on which we are protected. It is also called Gayante Trayate Iti Gayatri – chanting which we will be protected from all obstacles and calamities. In His August 23, 1995 divine discourse, Bhagawan extolled Gayatri as Sarva Roga Nivarini Gayatri, Sarva Dukha Pariharini Gayatri, and Sarva Vancha Phalasiddhi Gayatri.
Sarva Roga Nivarini – Gayatri prevents all bodily and mental diseases.
Sarva Dukha Pariharini – Gayatri removes all sorrows originating either from our own wrongdoing in thought, word, or deed (adhyatmica) or afflictions from other people, animals, or sources extrinsic to us (adhibhautika) or from the impact of natural disasters, such as earthquakes, floods, fires, and hurricanes (adhidaivika).
Sarva Vancha Phalasiddhi Gayatri – It fulfills all righteous desires in our day-to-day life. It also fulfills the highest desire of mankind to attain Self-Knowledge and liberation.
In His March 17, 1983, discourse, Bhagawan said that each day’s karma (action) is atoned for that day itself by reciting the Gayatri Mantra.
This mantra has the unique power to give peace and happiness to the individual, family, society, nation, and the whole universe.
Meaning and Inner Significance of Gayatri
When one chants the powerful Gayatri Mantra using proper intonation and pronunciation, with a clear understanding of the meaning and inner significance, its effect is multiplied exponentially. We are blessed and fortunate to have a recording of our Lord Sai Himself beautifully chanting the Gayatri to help us recite correctly.
It is recommended that we chant the Gayatri Mantra at least three times of the day, ideally at the junction of day and night (Sandhya), which occurs at dawn and dusk, and at mid-noon. However, it can also be chanted at any time, as often as possible, with a calm mind and pure heart filled with love. It is good to chant when we wake up and before going to sleep. The Gayatri can also be chanted when taking a bath as an oblation to the divine (abhishekam), before a meal which sanctifies the food (prasadam), and while walking as the circumambulation of the divine (pradakshina).
Mother Gayatri, the goddess, is depicted with five faces which represent five components of the Mantra.
First: Om (AUM) is the primordial sound that represents the Nirguna, Nirakara-Brahman, the formless, attributeless-Brahman which is beyond all time, space, and causation. The letters A-U-M represent the three states of consciousness, A for waking (Jagrat), U for dream state (Swapna), and M for deep sleep (Sushupti). The silence after is the state beyond the three states (Turiya), which is consciousness. The Mandukya Upanishad elaborates, in detail, on the significance of Omkara. Lord Krishna extolled Omkara in the Gita, ‘Om ityekaksharam Brahma’ (one-syllabled “Om” is Brahman) (Bhagavad Gita, 8:13). Swami underscored the importance of Om by starting the daily program with the chanting of Omkar 21 times, followed by Suprabhatam. This helps purify the five karmendriyas (organs of action), five jnanendriyas (organs of perception), five pranas (vital airs), and five koshas (sheaths), then leading to the realization of Atma as represented by the twenty-first Om.
Second: Bhur Bhuvah Suvah, called Vyahruthis, are the manifestation of Brahman. As per the explanation given in the Taittiriya Upanishad of the Vedas, they represent the three Lokas – the earth, space, and heavens or worlds of gods; the three Pranas – Prana, Apana, Vyana; the three Vedas – Rig, Yajur, and Sama; and the three deities – fire, air, and sun. Swami, as He so often did, made it simple by saying that the Bhur Bhuvah Suvah refers to the body (materialization), the life force (vibration), and the Atma (radiation).
Third: Tat Savitur Varenyam, which refers to Savitur, the Sun-God; also refers to Brahman, the source of all creation, whom we adore and praise.
Fourth: Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi, we meditate on the divine brilliance of God, which dispels the darkness of our ignorance, and illumines the mind. In His Divine discourse on July 28, 2007, Swami assured us that intense meditation for just 11 seconds would give a vision of the divine. Thus, we come in direct contact with Reality and, in a flash, realize that everything is Brahman.
Fifth: Dhiyo Yonah Prachodayat. We pray for Dhi (divine intelligence); Dhi is a term used for our five higher faculties as follows:
- First, this Mantra opens our spiritual heart to receive Brahma vidya (divine knowledge) and attain Self-realization, the final goal of human life.
- The Second faculty is Medha, higher intellect, enabling us to exercise fundamental discrimination.
- The third faculty is Prajna or higher awareness. The Upanishads state Prajnanam Brahma, or the higher awareness is Brahman.
- The fourth faculty is Dhriti, which means higher willpower to do the right thing and the determination to progress on the spiritual path for Self-realization.
- The fifth faculty is Smriti, memory. We develop good memory, which is important for worldly life and spiritual advancement.
Gayatri: Protector and Redeemer
The worldwide 24-hour Akhanda Gayatri chanting has had miraculous effects on both individuals and countries.
In the summer of 2021, Western Europe experienced a heatwave for two weeks with temperatures above 36 degrees Celsius, which is 14 degrees above average. Heatwaves often claim the lives of the elderly, especially those who live alone in homes without air conditioning. An hour after the conclusion of the 24-hour Gayatri chanting, the heavens granted a resounding thunderstorm and cooling rain, which brought temperatures down to the mid-20s, a welcome relief to all.
In this issue of ‘Sathya Sai – The Eternal Companion,’ there is a story about a devout couple from Denmark who chanted the Gayatri with fervor in a time of dire need. Swami responded by driving their car and taking them safely to the destination without the driver’s intervention. This miraculous incident shows us that He can become the charioteer of our lives if we surrender to Him and pray to Him with faith and steadfast devotion.
Gayatri chanting bestows improved physical and mental health, protection from calamities and afflictions, and fulfillment of all righteous desires. The Gayatri is a mantra, prayer, and meditation that guides us, guards us, and ultimately leads us to Self-Realization.
Let us continue to chant the Gayatri Mantra with faith and devotion, and sanctify our lives.