Gayatri Mantra – गायत्री मन्त्र (February, 2019)

One of the most potent prayers of all-time is captured in the Vedas in the form of the Gayatri Mantra. Unlike several other mantras that fulfill specific material needs, the Gayatri Mantra bestows its worshipers with sharp intellect and righteous wisdom, enabling them to fulfill any and every worthy goal on their own. The Gayatri Mantra is also termed as the mother of the Vedas (वेदमाता) or Great Mantra (महामन्त्र). While simple utterance of the Gayatri mantra is considered to be highly beneficial, the immense potential of this prayer can be tapped when the mantra is uttered with right pronunciation and correct understanding of every word in the mantra, and then contemplated upon its meaning during the mantra recitation. These are precisely the points we will learn as part of this month’s assignment. Yes, the Gayatri Mantra (गायत्री मन्त्र) is the topic of the kids’ assignment of this month.

Is the Gayatri Mantra a mantra, a prayer, or both? Before talking about it, let’s first understand the subtle difference between mantra and prayer. A mantra is an arrangement of words whose utterance itself is beneficial. For instance, chanting of the Om Mantra provides immense calmness to the worshiper and his surroundings. A prayer on the other hand is an intimate connection between a worshiper and Almighty, where the worshiper converse with Almighty, requesting for the fulfillment of specific desires.

The Gayatri Mantra is unique in the sense that it’s both a mantra and prayer. Where a simple recitation – even hearing – of the Gayatri Mantra is highly beneficial, when it is uttered as a prayer, powerful impact [in the form of sharpness of intellect and clarity of thoughts] is immediately noticed.

When a prepared land (i.e. moisted earth) comes in contact with sun’s rays, life sprouts (in the form of vegetation) . Similarly, when a prepared worshiper (whose heart is moisted with faith) comes in contact with God by chanting the Gayatri Mantra as a prayer, intellect sharpens and wisdom flourishes.

The Gayatri Mantra is captured in the Rig Veda (chapter 36, verse 3). Several Upanishads have also captured its qualities and sang its glory.

गायत्री मन्त्र:
ओ३म् भूर्भुवः स्वः। तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि। धियो यो न प्रचोदयात्।

Gayatri Mantra (in English to help kids pronounce the mantra correctly):
Aum bhuur bhuvah swaha tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dheemahi dhiyo yo naha prachodayat.

Literal meaning (as captured by Swami Dayanand Saraswati in the Satyarth Prakash):
Oh God, Thou art the Giver of life,
Remover of pain and sorrows,
The Bestower of happiness, and
Creator of the universe.
May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light.
May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction.

Word-by-word meaning:
ओ३म् : सर्वरक्षक परमात्मा (protector)
भू: : प्राणों से प्यारा (dearest – dearer than life)
भुव: : दुख विनाशक (destroyer of sorrows and pains)
स्व: : सुखस्वरूप है (absolutely blissful)
तत् : उस (that, him)
सवितु: : उत्पादक, प्रकाशक, प्रेरक (creator, illuminator, inspirer)
देवस्य : देव के (God’s)
वरेण्य : वरने योग्य (worthy of imbibing)
भर्ग: : शुद्ध विज्ञान स्वरूप का (of pure knowledge)
धीमहि : हम ध्यान करें (we meditate upon)
य: : जो (who)
न: : हमारी (our)
धियो : बुद्धियों को (intellect)
प्रचोदयात : शुभ कार्यों में प्रेरित करें (inspire to undertake beneficial and uplifting tasks)

I am hopeful that kids will not only be able to pronounce the Gayatri Mantra correctly but also learn and appreciate the meaning of each word. I highly encourage kids to memorize the word-by-word meaning [in Hindi, English, or both] of the whole mantra.

I’m looking forward to wonderful presentations by kids.

Harsh Mendiratta