The Upanishads "The Gayatri Mantra"1Om bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇyaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ prachodáyāt
We meditate on the adorable glory of the effulgent sun, the Creator. May He illumine and guide our mind and intellect.
The Gayatri Mantra is the most hallowed mantra of the Vedas. It is the mother of all the mantras. Mantra means incantation. A mantra can be a one-syllable word or a few words, a sentence or a few sentences. The Gayatri Mantra can offer to the sincere seeker the light of the Infinite, the delight of the Eternal and the life of the Immortal.
The Gayatri Mantra has four feet. The first foot consists of the earth, sky and heaven. The second foot consists of the Rigveda, the Yajurveda, the Samaveda. The third foot consists of Prana, Apana and Vyana. The fourth foot consists of the Sun, solar Being.
A seeker of the infinite Truth must meditate on the Gayatri Mantra. The result that he will get is incalculable.
Bhumi — earth, Antariksa — sky and Dyas — heaven make up the first foot of the Gayatri. Whoever realises the significance of the first foot wins everything that is in those three worlds.
Rcah, Yajumsi, Samani, make up the second foot of the Gayatri. Whoever realises the second foot of the Gayatri wins the knowledge-sea of the three Vedas.
Prana, Apana, Vyana, the three forms of the vital force, make up the third foot of the Gayatri. The knower of this foot wins all living creatures that exist in the universe.
Turiyam, the quaternary, the Solar Being transcendental that alone shines, is the fourth foot. He who realises this fourth foot shines with infinite magnificence.
Subtle is the path of Moksha — Liberation. Hard is the path of liberation. Long is the path of liberation. But a genuine seeker can and does reach the end solely by meditating on the Gayatri. When one is freed from the fetters of ignorance, one grows into the supernal glory of the Transcendental Self. Liberation can be achieved, must be achieved, while the seeker’s soul is in the body. To fail to realise God on earth is to swim in the sea of ignorance with two more swimmers: ignorant birth and shameless death. Liberation attained, the bonds of grief, destroyed. If not, like the Buddha we have to proclaim, “This fleeting world is the abode of sorrow.”
The teeming desire-night that has occupied the heart of the seeker must needs be driven out by glowing aspiration-light. This done, the seeker attains to Brahman. An Immortal he becomes. The Light Eternal is his new name. Today the seeker feels that the Gayatri is his mind's inspiration. Tomorrow he will feel that the Gayatri is his heart’s aspiration. The day after tomorrow he will feel that the Gayatri is his soul’s realisation. With inspiration a seeker sees the Truth. With aspiration a seeker realises the Truth. With realisation a seeker becomes the Truth. Inspiration is might. Aspiration is light. Realisation is life. Inspiration runs. Aspiration flies. Realisation dives. Inspiration is the Smile of God. Aspiration is the Cry of God. Realisation is the Love of God.
The Gayatri is eternal knowledge divine. When this knowledge dawns on the seeker’s aspiring heart, he does not seek for anything, either on earth or in heaven. He reveals what he achieves. He manifests what he reveals.
In the Vedas there are two most significant words: Satyam and Ritam. Satyam is Truth in its pure existence. Ritam is Truth in its dynamic movement. There is another word called Brihat — Vastness in Form. What we call creation is the manifestation of the Unmanifest — Asat. According to our scripture, the manifestation took place with the Anahata Dhani — the soundless sound — Aum.
The Gayatri is dedicated to Savita, the Creator. The root of the word Savita is su, to create or to loose forth. This mantra is known also as Savitri Mantra, for Savitri is the shakti of Savita. This mantra was envisioned by Vishvamrita, the great Rishi. Savita is regarded as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. Brahma, the Creator, with Brahmani as his Shakti; Vishnu, the Preserver, with his Shakti, Vaishnavi; and Rudra or Shiva, the Destroyer, with his Shakti Rudrani; regularly visit the Brahman.
Garuda, the Eagle, is the vehicle-bird of Vishnu.
The Swan is the vehicle-bird of Brahma.
The Bull is the vehicle-beast of Siva.
The Gayatri is the divine magnetic needle. The magnetic needle points to the north; hence the ship does not lose its direction. The Gayatri always points to the transcendental height of the Supreme; hence the seeker does not miss his Goal: Existence, Consciousness, Bliss.
AUM 845. Columbia University, New York, N.Y. December 10, 1971.↩