An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Gayatri Mantra: Illumine us

VK has mentioned Gayatri mantra that his family recites at almost every time – meals and other times. Let us talk about the mantra. Here it is:

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः ।
तत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं ।
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि ।
धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥

Or in English:

oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tat savitur vareṇyaṃ
bhargo devasya dhīmahi
dhiyo yo naḥ prachodayāt

Here is the word for word translation:

* om The mystical Om syllable.
* bhū “earth”prithvi
* bhuvas “atmosphere”antariksha
* svar “light, heaven”beyond antariksha
* tat “that”
* savitur devasya “of Savitr, the god” (genitives of savitr-, ‘stimulator, rouser; name of a sun-deity’ and deva- ‘god’ or ‘demi-god’)
* varenyam accusative of varenya- “desirable, excellent, fit to be adopted”
* bhargo “radiance, lustre, splendour, glory”
* devasya “divine”
* dhīmahi “may we attain” (1st person plural middle optative of dhā- ‘set, bring, fix’ etc.)
* dhiyaḥ naḥ “our prayers” (accusative plural of dhi- ‘thought, meditation, devotion, prayer’ and naḥ enclitic personal pronoun)
* yaḥ pracodayāt “who may stimulate” (nominative singular of relative pronoun yad-; causative 3rd person of pra-cud- ‘set in motion, drive on, urge, impel’)

And a little easier meaning is:

We meditate on the glory of the Creator;
Who has created the Universe;
Who is worthy of Worship;
Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light;
Who is the remover of all Sin and Ignorance;
May He enlighten our Intellect.

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6 Comments
  1. Bill Austin says

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  3. vk says

    Just a couple of comments on the Gayatri mantra which is wisdom I read in one saint’s writing and I try to remember it when I say the mantra.

    1. The Gayatri mantra is considered a prayer of ‘self surrender’ and that is the intended meaning of the word “varenayam” (in Hindi: “varta hoon” or English: “I give myself to thee”).
    During our awakened state we constantly maintain a guard around us – to protect ourself from anything that we’re afraid of, to keep our inner most thoughts to ourself and to keep ‘control’ of our thoughts. The Gayatri mantra is intended to be a lowering of that guard so that at least for the duration of the prayer we surrender our mind and thought process to be influenced by the Creator.

    The preamble to the surrender mentions the Creator’s qualities so that may remind ourselves that HE/SHE is so worthy of surrender.

    2. Many Vedic scholars consider this mantra to be the essence of all the spirituality and wisdom in the Vedas. The only thing that is asked for in this mantra – intellectual wisdom – is the only thing that is considered worthy of directly asking the creator for, because the rest needs to be earned by karma (action through hands/thought and speech).

  4. vk says

    Just a couple of comments on the Gayatri mantra which is wisdom I read in one saint’s writing and I try to remember it when I say the mantra.

    1. The Gayatri mantra is considered a prayer of ‘self surrender’ and that is the intended meaning of the word “varenayam” (in Hindi: “varta hoon” or English: “I give myself to thee”).
    During our awakened state we constantly maintain a guard around us – to protect ourself from anything that we’re afraid of, to keep our inner most thoughts to ourself and to keep ‘control’ of our thoughts. The Gayatri mantra is intended to be a lowering of that guard so that at least for the duration of the prayer we surrender our mind and thought process to be influenced by the Creator.

    The preamble to the surrender mentions the Creator’s qualities so that may remind ourselves that HE/SHE is so worthy of surrender.

    2. Many Vedic scholars consider this mantra to be the essence of all the spirituality and wisdom in the Vedas. The only thing that is asked for in this mantra – intellectual wisdom – is the only thing that is considered worthy of directly asking the creator for, because the rest needs to be earned by karma (action through hands/thought and speech).

  5. Desh says

    I personally feel that the meaning of Gayatri Mantra goes even deeper!

    Complete and honest Surrender is not possible unless there is any vestige of ego left. So surrender without surrender of ego (or your own identity) is a compromise and full of expectation.. and that is why complete surrender cannot be followed by “rewards” or boons or gifts.. even the highest ones.

    The real significance of Gayatri is that I look at the highest form of light and existence and say.. I am “you”.. no more of “me” is left anymore.

    Or like Nanak said “Mera mujhmein kuchh nahin .. jo kuchh hai so tera. Tera tujh ko saunp doon, kya laage hai mera”.

    If any distinction despite your claim of “surrender” that it isnt surrender.

  6. Desh says

    I personally feel that the meaning of Gayatri Mantra goes even deeper!

    Complete and honest Surrender is not possible unless there is any vestige of ego left. So surrender without surrender of ego (or your own identity) is a compromise and full of expectation.. and that is why complete surrender cannot be followed by “rewards” or boons or gifts.. even the highest ones.

    The real significance of Gayatri is that I look at the highest form of light and existence and say.. I am “you”.. no more of “me” is left anymore.

    Or like Nanak said “Mera mujhmein kuchh nahin .. jo kuchh hai so tera. Tera tujh ko saunp doon, kya laage hai mera”.

    If any distinction despite your claim of “surrender” that it isnt surrender.

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