Gayatri Mantra (गायत्री मन्त्र:), is the most powerful vedic mantra, it is a prayer of gratitude to the Divine.
In Vedic tradition Mantra (मन्त्र) and Tantra (तन्त्र) are the two tools available for enlightenment, both contain the same ending “Tra”, which means Liberation.
In a deeper sense, Mantra is the original form of language where the sound and the sense correspond. There is an eternal relationship between sound and sense in a Mantra. Every word in a Mantra is conscious of its own history; each word itself can explain why it stands for a particular idea or object; here to name means to know the nature of the thing and to touch its essence. So every articulate sound in a Mantra has an object, a purpose, a meaning, and there is a non-detachable relationship between sound and sense. This is the very nature of a Mantra.
On the other hand Tantra refers to both the philosophy and set of spiritual practices focused on the direction and manipulation of universal energy as a means of liberation. Tantra propounds that all material reality as animated by divine feminine energy known as Shakti (शक्ति). According to Tantra, an individual’s source of Shakti lies dormant in the base of their spine as kundalini (कुंडलिनी). Often likened to a serpent, kundalini is connected to a network of energy channels known as nadis and energy centers called chakras (चक्र). Awakening kundalini energy is the primary goal of most Tantric practices, including pranayama, mudras, and other yogic purification practices. These rituals aim to expand consciousness and liberate the practitioner from the physical level of existence.
The Gayatri mantra is a highly revered mantra from the Rig Veda (ऋग्वेद) (3.62.10) created by Maharshi Vishvamitra (महर्षि विश्वामित्र). Its recitation is traditionally preceded by Om (ॐ), the primitive sound signifying the essence of reality and followed by the three Vyāhṛtī (व्याहृती) and the two pada (पद) of Gayatri. Vyāhṛtī (व्याहृती) are the mystical utterances, seven in number representing seven realms of existence, viz. “bhūḥ (physical realm), bhuvaḥ (mental realm), svaḥ (spiritual realm), mahaḥ (saintly realm), janaḥ (knowledge realm), tapaḥ (penance realm), satyam (truth realm)”. According to the Vedas, these seven realms or planes of existence, each more spiritually advanced than the previous one can be progressively acheived through spiritual awareness before finally merging with the Supreme Being. Each of the vyāhṛtis are preceded by the Praṇava (प्रणव) Om (ॐ).
The Gayatri mantra in Devanagri is written as below
ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः
तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि I
धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥
oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
oṃ tat savitur vareṇyaṃ bhargo devasya dhīmahi
dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt
The meaning of the Gayatri mantra is as follows:
“We contemplate the glory of the light that illuminates the three worlds: dense, subtle and causal, and is the life-giving power, love, radiant enlightenment, and the divine grace of universal intelligence. We pray for that divine light to illuminate our minds.”
Gayatri Mantra word by word meaning (पदच्छेदः)
ॐ — OM — the primitive sound
भूर् — BHUR — the physical world
भुवः — BHUVA — the mental world
स्वः — SVAHA — the celestial, the spiritual world
तत् — TAT — That, God; Transcendental Paramatma
सवितुर — SAVITUR — the Sun, the Creator, Preserver
वरेण्यं — VARENYAM — worthy of worship, venerable, adorable
भर्गो — BHARGO — shine, effulgence, light which bestows understanding
देवस्य — DEVASYA — resplendent, supreme Lord
धीमहि — DHIMAHI — we meditate on (Dhi, the prefix of Dhimahi and Dhiyo refers to ‘understanding’, and its cognate word Buddhi means ‘reasoning faculty of the mind’, which understanding must be transcended to experience the Ultimate Reality).
धियो यो — DHI YO — intelligence, understanding, Intellect
नः — NAH — Nah: our
प्रचोदयात् — PRACHODAYAT — enlighten, guide, inspire