Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 29 Sep 2019

     

Is the so-called Gayatri Mantra, actually the Savitri Mantra?

[Reply to a question by Dr.Nikhil] Swami replied: You are perfectly correct. In fact, in the traditional ritual, the young boy who is to be initiated into the study of the Veda, formally asks his father to give him the Sāvitrī Mantra (Sāvitrīṃ anubrūhi). Sāvitrī Mantra is the hymn in praise of the deity called Savitā, which means the Creator of the world. That hymn is not the actual gāyatrī but is merely a verse written in the gāyatrī meter. This Sāvitrī hymn is popularly known as Gāyatrī Mantra. This name is so popular that I hardly find anyone calling it Sāvitrī Mantra. Actually, in the Sāvitrī Mantra, gāyatrī is only the name of the meter. This name of the meter is used for the mantra only for the sake of identification (saṃjñā) because the meaning of the word gāyatrī is not applicable in the case of that mantra. Neither is gāyatrī the name of the deity worshipped through that mantra nor is the meaning of the word gāyatrī applicable in the case of that mantra. The deity worshipped through that mantra is Savitā and the actual meaning of gāyatrī is singing sweet praises of God for receiving His protection (Gāyantaṃ trāyate).

Gāyatrī cannot even be a deity in the general sense because it only means a specific mode of worship, which is singing. The word gāyatrī can also mean she who protects souls (Gayān trāyate). In this, the means to please God is not mentioned. So, you can combine both these definitions and say that gāyatrī means the particular mode of worship involving the singing of the praises of God, which pleases God and brings His protection upon the soul.

Some say that the light of the sun is mentioned in the mantra (Savituḥ…bhargaḥ). Bhargaḥ means creation or power. So, they claim that a creation (power) is mentioned in it, which is a different deity, other than God. Creation is the only item existing other than God. God merges with a selected part of creation in order to become perceivable to devoted souls. God only merges with a part of the creation (power) and He becomes visible only through that power, which becomes His medium for expression. In fact, creation, which is the product-form of His power, is non-existent if you give a separate place to it. If you take the power in its causal form, it is the very God Himself. God is unimaginable and His power is also unimaginable. There cannot be two unimaginable items. The unimaginable can only be one. So, the unimaginable God and His unimaginable power must be one. The power in product form is stressed here. It means the medium or body of God’s Incarnation, which is the only way for us to perceive God.

The name ‘Sāvitrī Mantra’ really gives us good reason to say that this mantra is not Gāyatrī Mantra, even if you call it gāyatrī based on the name of its meter. If you have written a verse in praise of Krishna in the meter, called śārdūla vikrīḍitam, would you call the verse a prayer to Krishna or a prayer to śārdūla vikrīḍitam? It is also said that the three deities of morning, noon and evening are called Gāyatrī, Sāvitrī and Sarasvatī, respectively. Even in that case, you cannot call this mantra which is recited at these three times of the day, as Gāyatrī or Sāvitrī or even both since Sarasvatī would be missing!

Savitri Mantra Saavitriim anubruuhi Gaayatrii Saavitrii samjnaa Savitaa Gaayantam traayate Gayaan Savituh bhargah Shaarduula Vikriiditam Saraswatii