Gayatri

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Gayatri (gāyatrī) is the feminine form of gāyatra, a Sanskrit word for a song or a hymn. Gayatri is the name of a vedic poetic meter of 24 syllables (three couplets of eight syllables each), or any hymn composed in this meter. In Hinduism, it is one mantra in particular, and a goddess as its personification. It was written and developed by one of the greatest brahmarishi sages, Vishwamitra.

Goddess Gayatri, holding a book in one hand and a cure in the other, sitting on a lotus flower and accompanied by a swan
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Goddess Gayatri, holding a book in one hand and a cure in the other, sitting on a lotus flower and accompanied by a swan
Contents

Mantra

The Gayatri Mantra (also called Savitri) is the most revered mantra in Hinduism. It consists of the prefix om bhur bhuvah svah [ॐ भूर्भुवस्वः], a formula taken from the Yajurveda, and the verse 3.62.10 of the Rig Veda (which is an example of the Gayatri mantra).

In illustrations, the goddess often sits on a lotus flower and appears with five heads and five pairs of hands, representing the incarnations of the goddess as Parvati, Saraswati etc.

Text

See Sanskrit for details of pronunciation.

ॐ भूर्भुवस्वः ।
तत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं ।
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि ।
धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥
  • In standard transliteration
oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
(a) tát savitúr váreniyam
(b) bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
(c) dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

Translation

Griffith (1896):

(a,b) "May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the God:"
(c) "So May he stimulate our prayers."

word-by-word explanation:

  • dhimahi 'may we attain' (1st person plural middle optative of dhā- 'set, bring, fix' etc.)
  • tat vareniyam bharghas 'that excellent glory' (accusatives of tad (pronoun), varenya- 'desirable, excellent' and bhargas- 'radiance, lustre, splendour, glory')
  • savitur devasya 'of savitar the god' (genitives of savitar-, 'stimulator, rouser; name of a sun-deity' and deva- 'god')
  • yah prachodayat 'who may stimulate' (nominative singular of relative pronoun yad-, causative 3rd person of pra-cud- 'set in motion, drive on, urge, impel')
  • dhiyah nah 'our prayers' (accusative plural of dhi- 'thought, meditation, devotion, prayer' and nah enclitic personal pronoun)

Goddess

Originally the personification of the mantra, the goddess Gayatri is considered the veda mata, the mother of all Vedas and the consort of the God Brahma and also the personification of the all-pervading Parabrahman, the ultimate, unchanging reality that lies behind all phenomena.

Gayatri is typically portrayed as seated on a red lotus, signifying wealth. She either apears as having five heads with the ten eyes looking in the eight directions plus the earth and sky and ten arms holding all the weapons of Vishnu, symbolizing all her reincarnations. Or as acompanied by a swan, holding a book in one hand and a cure in the other, as the goddess of Education.

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