The meaning of Gayatri is a divine song, which protects the singer. Mantra means that divine sentence which attracts the mind and protects the person who utters it. If you join these two words, Gayatri Mantra means a divine song, which attracts the mind without any force by virtue of its sweetness and protects the singer. Poetry is better than the prose but song is better than poetry. The Gita says that the song is the best (Vedaanaam Saamavedosmi). Therefore any divine song that attracts your mind is Gayatri Mantra, which will please the Lord and will protect you. The sage for the Gayatri Mantra is supposed to be Vishwamitra. The word Vishwamitra means the sage who is interested in the welfare of the entire humanity. Therefore any human being can sing any devotional song to please the Lord. This is the real essence of the Gayatri Mantra.
Gayatri also is the name of a Vedic meter. The present verse (Tat Savituh...), which is in Gayatri meter is not a song and therefore is not Gayatri at all. The real Gayatri is with women and Shudras, who sing devotional songs. The people who were denied this privilege possess the real Gayatri. The people who denied them with jealousy do not have the real Gayatri. Gayatri is the super power of the Lord called 'Maya'. The modification of Maya is this world as said in the Veda (Gayatriva Idagum Sarvam). The goddess described in the Sandhya Vandanam [ritual accompanying the chanting of the Gayatri] by the verse "Mukta Vidruma..." is not a Vedic deity because the meter of the verse is 'Sardula Vikreditam' which is not a Vedic meter. Some scholar wrote that verse imagining such a form and introduced in Sandhya Vandanam ritual. The word Sandhya Vandanam means singing any prayer at the time of the sunrise and sunset. There is no particular text called Sandhya Vandanam.
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