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Gayatri Mantra is considered one of the most sacred mantras which when known completely takes a normal seeker to the highest position of liberation (liberation is not to be gained afresh, but the person realizes that he himself is the God or Brahman of the nature of absolute Existence, Consciousness and Bliss & that everything is the Self alone).
Gayatri Mantra – Introduction Gayatri Mantra is considered one of the most sacred mantras in the Vedas.
The word Mantra means “Mananaat traayathe ithi mantrah” – that which uplifts or protects a person by contemplating is called Mantra.
Any mantra gains more power by the effort put by the individual. When a person keeps on chanting the mantra, with devotion and faith, the mantra gains tremendous effort. If a person puts lot of effort into the mantra for a year, then one day if the person feels a bit down he needs to just chant the mantra & he will feel energized. This is what is very essence and meaning of Mantra.
Vedas have lot of mantras like Panchakshara Mantra of Siva, Nava akshara mantra, Ashtaakshara mantra etc. But of all the mantras, Gayatri is considered the most sacred.
The word Gayatri means “Gayantham Traayathe ithi Gayatri” – that which protects & gives spiritual progress to a person who sings it is called Gayatri mantra. Gayatri mantra has specific notations with which it needs to be chanted (for it to become effective). One very important point to be noted here is that no mantra if chanted wrongly (along with faith and devotion) will give negative effect, but a mantra when chanted wrongly with full faith will bestow energy and required effects. This is very well known from the incident in Ramayana where Hanuman slaps a person who was in the Toilet and chanting “Rama Rama”. Once hanuman reaches to Rama after this incident, he finds that Rama’s face is reddish as if somebody has slapped him. When hanuman asks, Rama says that “you slapped my devotee and it is like slapping me. There is no restriction for a devotee to chant a mantra”.
Those are fools indeed who talk about Mantraas being not chanted by women or low-caste people. The Upanishads speak about women who have enquired into the ultimate reality and achieved it. Maitreyi, the wife of Yajnavalkya, asks for the truth to Yajnavalkya and Yajnavalkya explains it to Maitreyi whereby she attains Self-Realization (this comes in the most sacred Upanishad of Brihadaranyaka Upanishad).
Thus, mantras have no restrictions for chanting. The only criteria for chanting them are with complete faith and devotion.
Gayatri Mantra – Its Importance
Gayatri Mantra is termed as “Chandasaam maata” & “Varadaa devi”
Chandasaam Maata – it is the mother of all mantras and the Vedaas
Varadaa Devi – it is the Goddess who bestows all boons asked for.
Gayatri Mantra contains the quintessence of the Vedas & a person initiated into Brahmacharyam by performance of Upanayanam will be initiated into this beautiful mantra.
Gayatri Mantra – In the Vedas
Gayatri Mantra is found in all the four Vedas but predominantly, it is found in the RigVeda – 3 Mandala, 62 Chapter, 10 sloka.
Gayatri Mantra – Composed on Three Mantras
Gayatri Mantra is formed by mixing of three mantras
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHEEYO YO NAH PRACHODAYAAT Pranava Mantra
OM is the pranava mantra – (Sarvaan pranaan parameswaram pranaamayathi ithi pranavah – that through which a person prostrates to the Almighty with all the praanaas or vital forces is called PRANAVA MANTRA)
OM is the symbol representing Brahman or the Supreme Being (which is the same as the Self inside all human beings). Symbols are used to indicate some unknown thing. OM takes a person from form worship to the formless Brahman. (OM in itself is a vast subject to be compared which has been completely covered in the Mandukya Upanishad and the Mandukya Kaarika of Gaudapaada acharya – the paramaguru of Adi Sankaracharya)
Mahavyahriti Mantra BHOR BHUVA SUVAH
Vyahriti indicates world. There are seven worlds above the earth which are termed as Vyaahrithis (that which is pervaded by happiness is called Vyaahrithis). The seven worlds are BHOO, BHUVA, SUVA, MAHA, JANA, TAPA, SATYAM.
The three lokas of BHOO (Earth world), BHUVA (land of manes), SUVA (land of Gods) are called Mahavyaahrithis because these are considered to be one of the first words that came out of the creator Brahma.
These three worlds also indicate the three states of waking, dream and deep sleep.
These also indicate the three gunaas of Satva, Rajas and Tamas.
By having Mahavyahriti Mantras, it is meant that everything that one sees as the worlds is nothing but OM or Brahman alone. This Brahman is realized when a person goes beyond all these three worlds or the three states and reaches the state of realization called TURIYAM (the natural state of each person or the Self).
SAVITRI Mantra TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHEEYO YO NAH PRACHODHAYAAT
Savitri mantra is that which is found in the Rig Veda. As the word Savitr means one who upholds or one who creates. As we all know, the world that we are in is protected by Sun – without the Sun, there will be no world here with people around. Thus Sun God is being called upon & worshipped in this mantra.
Krishna himself says in Gita chapter 4
“Imam vivaswathe yogam proktavaan aham avyayam”
I, who is not born & without any change, told the eternal truth to Sun God (at the time of creation).
All these three mantras put together form the Gayatri Mantra
Gayatri Mantra – Meaning and import
BHOR BHUVA SUVAH
TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHEEYO YO NAH PRACHODHYAAT
Each line of this mantra must be ended & a pause should be made.
OM – Pranava
Devasya – God’s (Deva comes from the Sanskrit root Div which means one that is self-luminous – thus the only Self-luminous thing is the Self alone & hence the Self is being propitiated here as the Sun God).
Varenyam – best and prosperous
Bhargah – rays
Dheemahi – I contemplate
Yo – let that
Prachodhayaat – uplift
Nah – our
Dheeyah – intellect
The three worlds that are present & the three states that a person experience is OM or Brahman alone. I contemplate on the powerful rays of the creator God (which is the Self alone). Let that rays uplift our intellect (so that I may be able to realize the Self).
Upanishads proclaim that the Self is realized by that person who has pure mind or intellect.
Mundaka Upanishad says
“Esho anuh atma chetasaa veditavyah”
This subtle Self is known only through a pure intellect
“Jnaana prasaadena vishudhasatvah
Tatah tu tam pashyathe nishkalam dhyaayamaanah”
That person who has gained purity of mind & intellect – he only realizes the part-less Self during times of intense contemplation.
Katha Upanishad says
“Anoor aneeyaan mahato maheeyaan
Atma asya janthor nihitam guhaayaam”
The Self is the subtle of the subtlest & yet bigger than the biggest. It is present as the innermost Self of all beings in the cave of heart (or intellect).
Kaivalya Upanishad says
“Na Karmana Na prajaya Dhanena tyaagenaaike amritatvam anashuh
Parena naakam nihitam guhaayaam vibhraajathe yad yathayah vishanthi”
Neither through action nor through progeny, or through wealth – but through renunciation alone, people have attained immortality or realized the Self. That which is greater than the heaven, that Self is realized as situated in the intellect-cave by those who strive for realizing it.
Intellect or heart here represents pure Knowledge. If a person doesn’t have knowledge, then he never attains moksha (so says the Upanishad). All this world & its sorrow are caused due to ignorance – due to ignorance that everything is Brahman (as one forgets that whatever one sees is Brahman or Self alone & nothing else). Thus, liberation from sorrow can be had only through Knowledge about one’s own ultimate reality.
This ultimate reality of Oneness can be realized only when the intellect becomes pure. As the face is not seen when the mirror is dirty, similarly when the intellect or mind is not clear, then the Self is not realized & a person (even though he is the Self always) seems to get deluded into sorrow and happiness.
The Vedas say that it is the Self that give light to the intellect, hence it can never be attained or known through the intellect (without any purification). Thus the intellect needs to get a spiritual upliftment which happens through the contemplation on the Self shown as Sun God in this mantra. Once a person undergoes this contemplation, the intellect becomes pure & is capable of realizing one’s own real nature of Consciousness and Bliss.
This is the reason why so many intellectual people like Albert Einstein could not realize the Self until he came to India and learnt the Upanishadic truth from Adi Sankaracharya’s commentary on Brahma Sutras. Only when the intellect gets an upliftment the Self can be realized – this upliftment has got nothing to do with height, money or fame – but this upliftment means to turn introvert & this happens only through contemplation on one’s own real nature (put as Vichara or Enquiry by Sankara and Ramana Maharshi).
Thus, chanting of Gayatri Mantra by knowing the essence that everything is the Self or God or Brahman only will remove all obstacles and thereby the person will realize his own very nature of Consciousness and Bliss absolute.
Let the Almighty guide us all to imbibe the truth of the Gayatri Mantra and thereby rejoice in the inherent bliss of the Self.
Words of Ramana Maharshi -- #200 When the Egoistic “I” is pursued with the question of “Who am I”, the Egoistic I vanishes and the pure Consciousness (pure “I”) alone remains, this is Enquiry into the Self.
The above words clearly and in concise form describe the ultimate path to realization as propounded by Ramana Maharshi as well as put forth in the Upanishads, Yoga Vasistha as well as by Adi Sankaracharya. There is only one single entity in this seemingly existing world. That entity is pure Consciousness and termed as Brahman in the Upanishads. All the duality that is being perceived has this Consciousness as its substratum. If the Consciousness is present, then there is the world & if the Consciousness is not there, there is no world at all. This is the ultimate reality. When this reality is known, there remains nothing else to be known. There is only one thing in this seemingly appearing dual world. Whatever is perceived, whatever is experienced is all the one Consciousness alone. The one and only way to realizing this ultimate reality is to enquire into one’s own real nature. Enquiry is the ultimate path to this realization because everything is caused due to ignorance. It is ignorance that causes a person to think that “I am a human, I am individual, God is different from me, I am a sinner, I experience happiness, I am sad and all”. When the ultimate reality of oneness is known, there is no sorrow, no duality, no happiness but only pure Bliss.
Dream state is the proof and example for the unreality of this waking world. The dream world seems to be as real as the waking world, but only during that state of dream. Once a person wakes up, he realizes that there neither was a dream world nor the objects of the dream world – he realizes that the dream world was only an illusion caused due to ignorance about oneness or ignorance about the reality that there was only the dreamer.
Similar is the world that we see. All the sufferings and sorrows are due to this dual perception alone. When the dual perception is removed, there remains only the pure Consciousness and since there is no dual things, whom to get happy with or what to get sad with???? Therefore the person remains content with whatever is present, he remains ever established in the eternal bliss of the Self. Thus he becomes perfect, he remains completely content & satisfied. This ultimate state of oneness has no other way but this path of enquiry because the ultimate reality is ONENESS alone. All the sorrows are only illusory creations created due to ignorance of the ultimate reality and about one’s own real nature. When this ignorance is removed, everything vanishes except pure Consciousness. This ignorance can never be removed unless one identifies or realizes one’s own real nature. This enquiry into one’s own real nature is called VICHARA or Self-Enquiry. This enquiry leads one to the truth that there neither was an individual nor did he have any sorrow or suffering. This ultimate reality is then completely known and thus follows perfect and infinite bliss. Adi Sankara says in Vivekachoodamani
“chittasya suddhaye karma na tu vasthu upalabdhaye
Vasthu siddhir vicharena na kinchit karma kotibhi”
All actions are only for purification of the mind (as when the mirror is pure, one’s face is seen, similarly when the mind is pure, one’s real nature of Self or Bliss is realized) and they can never give one knowledge about oneself or realization. Realization occurs only through enquiry into one’s own real nature and not through 1000s of actions like meditation or pooja or bhajans.
Each person’s real nature is this only but there is an ignorance veil that obstructs one’s own real nature. This ignorance causes the person to imagine and think other things. This causes wrong identification with other things and objects. These identifications cause the person to suffer when something happens to the objects to which identification has been established. Thus removal of the ignorance veil removes everything and makes the person realize the ultimate reality of ONENESS.
As Kaivalya Upanishad says
“Mayi eva sakalam jaatam mayi sarvam prathisthitam
Mayi sarvam layam yaathi tad brahma advayam asmi aham” Everything is born out of me, everything is present in Me, everything finally attains me (after destruction) – that Brahman of the nature of non-duality and without a second I am. Sage Govindananda says in his Bhashya Ratna Prabha sub-commentary to Sankara’s commentary on Brahma Sutras
“Yad ajnaana samudbhootam indra jaalam idam jagat
Satyam jnaanam sukha anantham tad aham brahma nirbhayam” That in which due to ignorance appears this illusory world like a magician’s city, that Brahman of the nature Existence, Consciousness, Bliss and infinite and of the nature of fearlessness I am. Now one may have the doubt, where does the EGO come from, does it exist?????
Vedanta says that the Self or Brahman reflected on the intellect is called EGO or Jeevatman. This jeevatman is that which identifies itself with the body and the mind. This reflection is similar to the Sun being reflected in the water in a pot.
This Ego is that which is the doer and enjoyer of all actions. All actions, all desires, all thoughts propagate from this Ego. When a person says that “I am typing Ramana Maharshi’s words”, the reality of Consciousness is not known, therefore the Ego comes and the Ego of this individual named Hariram identifies with the action of typing and hence from this Ego comes the thought and action of typing & the very same Ego thus says “I am typing”.
The enjoying of the Ego is like the sun reflected in muddy water. When the water is muddy, Sun seems to be muddy. When the water is shaking, Sun seems to be shaking. But in reality the Sun is not all affected by the water nor its mode and actions. The water is the mind & the reflection is the Ego. Whatever is happening, the sorrows and happiness affect only the Ego and not the Self or pure Consciousness. This Ego is not me because Ego is present only in the states of dream and waking where there are dual things to get attached to and get identified with. But the Ego is absent in deep sleep, but still I am there in deep sleep. This “I” is the pure Consciousness. The same “I” is always required for the Ego also to be present. Hence this real “I” is present in dream and waking state also. This real “I” I am, but due to ignorance a person thinks this Ego or reflected Consciousness to be the real Consciousness and hence suffers or seems to suffer. When a person tries to enquire into the “I”, he finds the Ego vanishing and what remains is the pure Consciousness alone. This pure Consciousness remains even while Ego is working and it pulsates in the individual as “I-I and I exist, I exist” without any identifications or differentiations. This Consciousness is thus realized through enquiring into one’s own real nature of Consciousness. Now, one may have the doubt as to where does the Ego vanish, where does the intellect come from (where the Self gets reflected as the Ego)???
All these questions are vain questions because the intellect or the Ego all are unreal because they seem to exist only in this state of waking and the dream state. They don’t exist in the state of deep sleep. This shows that they are not permanent and only temporary.
Now, in pure Consciousness that is perfect, complete, all-pervading, how can the limited individual be born out of the perfect and unlimited Consciousness??? How can the mind which is always changing with thoughts come from the changeless Consciousness???? This only goes to show that the mind or the Ego doesn’t exist at all. This is proved by the experience of dream where there are no objects or things, but the Self creates objects and the world of its own and this creation is not a reality but just an illusion like water seen in desert and snake seen in rope. This ultimate reality of No Creation is termed “Ajaathi Vaada” and is propounded by Gaudapada Acharya (sankara’s Guru’s guru) in Mandukya Kaarika. He says “Na kaschit jaayathe jeevah sambhavo asya na vidhyathe
Etat tad uttamam Satyam” The individual Jeeva or Ego is not at all born nor it has any cause from which to be born. This is the ultimate Truth and reality. This ultimate reality of Oneness and pure Consciousness alone existing is not just a dogmatic theory propounded by some Rishis like Sankara and others but these can be experienced by each person & should be realized in order to get rid of sufferings and sorrows & in order to realize one’s own real nature.
When a person hears from the scriptures about this ultimate reality that there is nothing here but Brahman alone, the world is illusory only and the Brahman you already are – the individual gets intellectual knowledge about the reality. Then the individual reflects this ultimate reality in his mind with the help of logic and arguments. Thus he gets clear intellectual conviction about the reality. Lastly he contemplates on the ultimate reality either through enquiry or through the contemplation on one’s own real nature of “I am Brahman”. Through these three steps of listening or SRAVANA, reflecting or MANANA and contemplation or NIDHIDHYAASANA, he realizes that there is nothing here but Brahman or the Self alone.
This truth has been tested from time immemorial by the ancient sages who have put forth this truth in the Upanishads and by great Mahatmas like Sankara, Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Ramana Maharshi and all. This truth is still being realized and shown to the people by living saints like Sai Baba, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Mata Amritanandamayi among others. Thus, each individual has the right to choose whether he wants to be an IDIOT (without knowing his own very nature of Consciousness) or to become a contented realized being (after realization that there is nothing but the Self alone). Let the Almighty guide each one of us to realize the ultimate reality that “I am perfect, I am blissful, I am the Self – one without a second” and thereby get rid of the sufferings, limited-happiness and sorrow in this illusory world.
It has been a really long journey for me to give explanations about the crisp and short words of the Mahatma who rarely spoke & who even when he spoke, spoke at the highest level with minimal words. The very words of Ramana Maharshi are enough for a person to realize his own very nature. Those words arise from the mouth of a realized Self, who lived the truth and not just preached the truth. Any person who visits the Ramana Ashram at Tiruvannamalai where Maharshi spent his last days or the Virupaksha cave where Maharshi spent around 16 years or the Skanda Ashram where Maharshi spent 10-12 years can know the impact of the Maharshi’s very presence on Earth. The individual can easily experience the ultimate reality or enter into trance at that place where thoughts just vanish paving way for the pure Consciousness to shine without any medium or without any duality.