Shri Datta Swami

Posted on: 18 May 2023


Clarifications on Gayathri Mantra

1. What is the meaning of the upasthana mantraas chanted every day in Sandhyavandana?

[Shri Hrushikesh asked: Dear Swami, Request You to kindly answer the below questions. What is the meaning of upasthana mantraas that brahmins chant every day as a part of the Sandhyavandana ritual?]

Swami replied:- Upa- near, sthaana- the place of God. This means that you are becoming closer and closer to God. This is possible only when you express your true love to God. Mantra means repetition of the expression of mental love thought. The ritual in its essential meaning is only the expression of true love to God. True love means love without aspiration of any fruit in return from God. Sandhyavandanam means praying to God in a very peaceful time like twilight without aspiration for any fruit in return from God. Such true love is possible only when the mind is attracted by the divine personality of God. Brahmana does not mean a person by caste. The devotee, who knows the above said knowledge by Me is a Brahmana. During the time of prayer, the devotee shall be most pure, which means that he/she shall be free from any trace of ego that he/she is doing a ritual that is forbidden to other castes. Gayatri is not the so called Vedic hymn (Tat savituḥ…), which is called as Gayatri since it is in a Vedic meter, called Gayatri. Gayatri means song on God expressing true love to God. Hence, the ritual Sandhyavandanam means any Brahmana (Brahmana means any person having the true love to God) doing the ritual of singing on God with true love. Caste by birth and gender have no significance in this pious ritual.

2. Who is the presiding deity of the Gayathri mantra?

[I read some of Your discourses on Sandhya vandana. Below are my understandings post reading these discourses. I request You to correct me if my understanding is wrong.

a) Gayathri mantra’s adishtana devata is “Lord Brahma” not a Female form of Goddess? Female representation of Gayathri is a made up concept by some selfish scholars. Is my understanding correct?]

Swami replied:- The so called Gayatri mantra speaks about God Brahma, who is a male form. But, all the power of God Brahma expressed as Goddess Sarasvati is a female form. Both are one and the same and hence, gender has no significance because Gayatri essentially means a mode of worship involving singing on God with true love. The song may be any song and actually the so called Gayatri mantra is only a poem and not song due to which we cannot call that hymn as Gayatri. The gender difference is meaningless at the level of the ultimate God. In fact, the individual soul covered by a physical body with slight differences here and there is called male or female. Gayatri is for every soul irrespective of the significance of the external body. When Gayatri is a mode of worship, how can you attribute gender to it? In the Sandhyaavandanam itself, it is told that Gayatri is the meter (Gāyatrī chandaḥ), Savitaa is the deity (Savitā devatā) and the essential form of savitaa is the ultimate God (Paramaatmaa svaruupam) and not the visible Sun since Sun is said to be functioning with fear from God (Bhīṣodeti sūryaḥ— Veda).

3. Why is the mantra “Om bhurbhuvasuvaha…” is called as Gayathri when the root meaning is not satisfied in it?

[When the root meaning of the Gayathri mantra is described as a song on God which attracts our mind naturally, why is this mantra “Om boorbuvasuvaha tatsaviturvarenyam…” is called as Gayathri?]

Swami replied:- I have already told that it is called as Gayatri since it is in a specific Vedic meter name as Gayatri. If that is so, there are thousands of hymns in the Veda in that specific meter. Then, why all these verses are not called Gayatri ? This question should be posed by us.

4. What is the chandas of the so called Gayathri mantra?

[Please clarify if the so called Gayathri mantra is in “anushtup chandas” or “Gayathri Chandas”? Because I read in one of Your discourses that Gayathri mantra is composed in Gayathri Chandas but I read a shloka which says it is in anushtup Chandas? Kindly clarify.]

Swami replied:- It is in Gayatri chandas (meter) only and not in Anushtup chandas because Gayatri chandas contains only three lines and Anushtup chandas contains four lines. From Tatsavituḥ… to Pracodayāt, it is only three lines.

5. Why are there a lot of references to Sun in the Sandhya Vandana ritual?

[Why is there a lot of references to Sun God in the Sandhya vandana ritual? What is the essence of the below rituals. Kindly elaborate.

  1. Arghya pradhaaana ritual to Sun God three times a day.
  2. Surya upasthana mantras that are chanted in front of Sun.
  3. Doing atma prdakshanam chanting the mantra “asaavadithya brahma”.
  4. Display of “Chathurvimshathi mudras” with hands.
  5. Offering tarpanam to Sandhya, Saraswati, Vaishnavi, Gayathri?]

Swami replied:- Since you are doing this worship when Sun rises and Sun sets (some take midnoon also as one Sandhya time because the midpoint is also a joint of two hemispheres), the importance to Sun is quite obvious. Offering water is offering to God. Whenever the guest comes, we offer water first. Upasthaanam is explained above. Pradakshinam (moving around God) indicates that you are always linked with God. Some people move around themselves thinking that they are God (Atmapradakshinam) and this also indicates that they are always linked to themselves (selfishness). Mudra is only the expression of internal spiritual thought by external palms of the physical body. God has several powers and the individual names of these powers are Sandhya etc.

6. Please clarify the following concepts on Sandhya Vandanam.

[Is this ritual of Sandhya vandana a made-up concept by selfish scholars? Who made this and restricted to only a few castes and gender? The real Sandhya vandana is singing songs on God in any language, which attracts the mind during the Sunrise and Sunset? We thank You for many beautiful discourses on the Sandhya vandana ritual. Pranaamam to Your feet, Hrushikesh]

Swami replied:- The ego about gender and caste made all this havoc that brought splits in Hinduism.