The Power of Gayatri - Dharma Vahini,
by Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba
All that is visible shines as Gayatri, for speech (vak) is Gayatri and
all objects are speech, are indicated by speech, and are subsumed in
speech. It is speech that describes them, declares them, and denotes
them. All objects are also of the world. Nothing can go beyond it. This
world is the body of mankind; one can't leap out of the body. The breath
(prana) that sustains a person is inside the heart (hridaya), and it
cannot move outside and beyond the heart.
The Gayatri has four feet and six categories. The categories are speech,
objects, world, body, breath, and heart (vak, butha, prithvi, sarira,
prana, and hridaya). The Supreme Being that is extolled by this Gayatri
is indeed exalted, sacred, glorious. As has been said, all this
objective multiplicity is but a fraction of His body. The number and
nature, the measure and meaning of the objects are beyond understanding;
yet all this is but a quarter of His magnificence. The other three
quarters are His effulgent immortal form.
It is impossible to grasp the mystery of that splendour filled form.
This Supreme Being indicated by the Gayatri is indeed referred to as
Brahman. He is the sky (akasa), beyond the comprehension of a person; He
is spoken of as "outside the personality of people (bahirardhaa
purushakashah)" --this is the mark of the waking stage. The Supreme
Being is the sky, inside the personality (anthah purushaakaashah) --this
is the mark of the "dream stage". He is the sky inside the heart of a
person; He fills and fulfils it --this is the "deep-sleep stage".
Whoever knows this truth attains fullness and Brahman. That is, the one
who knows the three states of wakefulness, dream, and deep sleep (jagrath,
swapna, and sushupti) is themself Brahman. How ridiculous it is that a
person, known as a divine being and bearing the name of this embodiment
of the Atma, should become the repository of egotism and consequent
impurity, busy in the unholy pursuit of injustice! How calamitous! At
least for being known even today as a "divine being", one should try to
practise the path that will endow one with an atom of that glory.
Then what should we say of dharma for people? How can people who have
not cared to earn even the infinitesimal glory of the Primal Supreme
Being be expected to practise dharma for people? Not even the most
diligent search will now reveal a fraction of it! As the ancient sage (rishi)
said, The twice-born who gives up the morning-evening (sandhya) worship
falls into perdition. Those who neglect the morning-evening worship have
no right for any other type of ritual:
Samdhyaa heeno suchirnithyam, anarhah sarva karmasu
Yadh anyath kuruthe karmano thasya phala bhaagbhaveth.
So say all the authoritative traditions (smrithis) and Vedas. It is
because the sages of ancient times performed the morning-evening worship
for many years that they acquired long life, fame, glory, wisdom, and
the splendour of divinity; this is mentioned by Manu also. Therefore,
from whatever point of view we consider, the brahmin who does not
meditate on the Gayatri does not deserve that status.
Of course what is meant by brahmin in this context is the one who has
realized the Brahman principle (Brahma thathwa) and who has purified
himself by the practice of the ceaseless contemplation of Brahman. This
has nothing to do with caste or even religion. Nevertheless, those who
have inherited the name brahmin have a special responsibility to adhere
to the morning-evening worship and the Gayatri.
The four duties of people
What exactly is sandhya? San means well and dhya is derived from dhyana,
so sandhya refers to proper or intense meditation (dhyana) on the Lord.
It means concentration on the Godhead. To fix the mind on God, the
activities have to be controlled. For success in that process of
control, one should overcome the handicaps of the qualities (gunas), the
pure, passionate, and dull (sathwa, rajas, and thamas). When these
forces of natural impulse predominate and try to direct along their
channels, one must pray to God to negate their pull. That is the first
duty of the one who strives toward God. The rule of nature is that the
morning is the period of pure (sathwic) quality, the noon of passionate
(rajasic) quality, and the evening hour of dusk of dull (thamasic)
quality. At dawn, the mind is awakened from the comfort of sleep
liberated from agitations and depressions, so the mind is calm and
clear. At that time, in that mental condition, meditation of the Lord is
very fruitful, as everyone knows. This is why dawn worship (praathah-sandhya)
is prescribed. But, ignorant of the significance, people continue doing
the ritual in a blind mechanical way, simply because the ancients laid
down the rule. The second duty is to perform the dawn worship, after
realizing the inner and the deeper meaning of the same.
As day progresses, one is infused with the passionate quality (rajoguna),
the active effortful nature, and one enters the field of daily work and
toil. Before one takes the midday food, one is directed to meditate on
the Lord again and to dedicate the work, as well as the fruit derived
through it, to the Lord Himself. One can start eating only after this
act of devotion and grateful remembrance. This is the meaning of the
noontime (maadhyamika) worship. By observing this ritual, passion is
kept in check and is overpowered by the pure (sathwa) nature. This is
the third duty of all people.
Then, people are possessed by a third nature, the dull (thamas). When
evening descends, one hurries home, eats one's fill, and is overpowered
by sleep. But a duty still remains. To eat and sleep is the fate of
idlers and drones. When the worst of the qualities (gunas), the dull (thamas),
threatens to rule, one must make a special effort to escape its coils by
resorting to prayer in the company of those who extol the Lord, reading
about the glory of God, the cultivation of good virtues, and the
purposeful nursing of good rules of conduct. This is the prescribed
evening worship (sandhyavandana).
Therefore, the mind that emerges from the vacancy of sleep has to be
properly trained and counseled; it must be made to feel that the bliss
of meditation and the joy of being unaware of the outer world are much
grander and more lasting than the comfort one gets by means of the daily
dose of physical sleep. This bliss, this joy, can be felt and realized
by all; discrimination will bring this home to you. This is the fourth
duty of people.
People who, as long as they have life in them, observe the thrice-a-day
worship are indeed of the highest type; they are ever glorious and
attain all that is desired. Above all, they are liberated, even while
Cultivate the soul-force
Care must be taken to see that the morning-evening prayers are not taken
as a routine ritual, one among many laid down for observance. This is to
be carried out while one is aware of the significance and dwelling on
the inner meaning. One should clearly grasp the sense of the Gayatri
Mantra. It is necessary to feel the identity between the effulgent Being
(Atma-swarupa) mentioned therein and oneself. Only those who are
ignorant of its meaning will neglect the Gayatri.
Manu lays special stress on just this; he has declared the Gayatri to be
the very life-breath of the brahmin. It is not only his declaration: it
is the truth. What is more efficient for spiritual uplift than
meditation on the effulgence that illumines and feeds the intellect?
What is more vitally fruitful than the prayer that pleads for saving the
mind from sinward tendencies?
For a person, there is no better armour than the cultivation of virtues.
Manu states that brahmins won't lose status as long as they hold on to
the Gayatri and are inspired by its meaning; Manu says that if they are
too weak to pursue the study of the Vedas, then they must at least
recite the Gayatri and adhere to it till the very end. The authoritative
tradition (smrithi) also says that there is no treasure richer than the
Soul-force can accomplish all the tasks of the world; and, since the
Gayatri confers inner strength, to foster that force the Gayatri has to
be cultivated with care at the right moment, without neglect. For the
growth and development of the body, pure (sathwic) food is necessary,
isn't it? So too, the effulgence of the Sun has to be drawn, to
reinforce the inner effulgence in the form of creative thought (bhavana).
When soul-force waxes, the senses are activated and directed along
fruitful lines. When it wanes, the senses fail and fail you. So, if the
solar energy is drawn at that very juncture, it will be as seeds planted
in season, and the harvest is assured. Can darkness hide and confuse
when the sun has risen and bathed the earth in splendour? Can sorrow
prevail when one has infused oneself with that effulgence? How can one
be devoid of strength, the strength derived from the very fountainhead
of Brahman? The technique of this process has been laid down by the
ancients, for the benefit of all aspirants. Learn and practise it, and,
by your own experience, you will be able to witness the truth of their
Of what purpose is the sacred thread (upanayana) sacrament? Which mantra
are you initiated into that day? Why was that mantra alone taught then?
Why are other mystic formulae not given equal prominence? Reflect on
these matters, and you will find that the Gayatri is the mother of
mantras. You will also find the rituals shining with a new meaning, the
rules and restrictions will be full of purpose; the deeds and activities
of the ancients will seem worthwhile. If you do not try to know their
significance, you will interpret them as your fancy leads and land
yourselves in tricks and stratagems to escape the obligations of life.
You will be caught in injustice and negation (anyaya and a-dharma).
The real meaning of Gayatri
Well, what is the real meaning of the word Gayatri? Does anyone try to
know it today? The word is taken to mean either a Goddess or a formula.
Gayatri is that which protects (thra) the life breaths (gayas or pranas)
or the senses (indriyas), beginning with speech. Besides, it is said,
That which saves those who sing it, revere it, repeat it, or meditate on
it is called Gayatri. Gaayantham thraayathe yasmaath Gayatri, thena
kathyathe. That is to say, it is this sacred mantra that transformed a
royal sage (rajarshi) like Viswamitra into a brahmanical sage (brahmarshi).
The mother that is the Veda (Vedamatha) will confer all boons on all
those who worship Her. That Goddess is described in glorious terms in
the Brahmanas and in the texts on dharma (dharma-sutras); if you
understand these clearly, you can realize it, unaided.
Dharma, imbued with such deep mysteries, is today rationalized and
interpreted wilfully in various paltry senses. That is why the decline
of dharma has come about. So, it is imperative to revive the eternal
religion (sanathana dharma) and the principles of interpretation natural
to the Atmic truth, which is the basis of dharma. Otherwise, the meaning
will be changed out of all recognition, and the whims of individuals
will prevail. Every act will be stamped as dharma, whatever its nature!