Questions And Answers With Swamiji-Part-1

January 16, 2018   

1. Swamiji, Please tell us the real significance of Gayatri
Swamiji: Gayatri is essentially a mahamantra. It is a prayer and an object of meditation. Gayatri is a mantra shakthi,not jest a deity. All devis have their Avataar, but not Gayatri. Gatatri is Atman, Atman is Gayatri. Surya cannot be de scribed, but he is the mahan shakthi who infuses life into every living being. The power behind Surya is Gayatri. Surya is Avinashi, eternal.That is why the word verenyam in the Gayatri Mantra is loaded with meaning.
Gayatri is jnana, knowledge. She is jnana Suarupini, Embodiment of knowledge. It is jnana that leads one to moksha, liberation. That is why, our puranas state that even gods were chanting the Gayatri mantra. Since Gayatri is jnana or Atman, it is a shakthi, a power. That means That Gayatri is neither a stree nor a purusha, She or a He, although we worship Her in the Mother from. As jnana svarupini, she does not belong to any caste, creed or religion. Gayatri is not any particular god or goddess. That is how it is considered to be a mantra or prayer of universal singnificance.
There are many instances in puranas and Itihasas where evan gods have offered prayers to Gayatri and chanted the Gayatri japa. Brahma could complete His creation (srishti) with the power of Gayatri mantra. In the puranas, Goddess Parvahti once asked Lord Shiva replied that it was from the Gayatri mantra. As per the Ramayana, sita did Gayatri japa and passed on the power of her prayer to Rama, When he was facing defeat at the hands of Revana, who was himself a worshipper of Gayatri.
Srishti, stithi and laya creation, maintenance and destruction all yhe three are achieved through the Gayatri mantra In ancient times, human beings became Rishis and devatas with the help of Gayatri japa. Gayatri mantra has the power of destroying sins and leading to moksha. By this we mean that Gayatri removes the sinful tendencies and thereby destroys the evil shakthis. Regular chanting of the Gayatri mantra results in chitta shuddhi, purity of mind.
Gayatri is not an ordinary prayer, a prayer meant for seeking material and worldly gains. It is a mantra for the wish fulfillment of a defferent kind. Men and women reach higher levels of awareness by meditating on the Gayatri Mantra. The japa of this mantra leads the chanter in proper and virtuous direction . contemplation and meditation on the Gayatri mantra helps us in understanding the mysteries of the universe around us.

2, Swamiji, what is the origin of this Gayatri mantra?
Gayatri mantra, according to the Sanathana Dharma, is as old as creation. According to the puranas, Narayana was the first one to manifest Himself. He was lying on the bed formed by Adisesha, the Divine five- headed serpent. When Narayana was thinking about ceeation of the universe, as per His ichcha shakthi (power of desire), a kamala pushpa (lotus flower) emerged from His navel. Brahma was lying in that lotus flower.
Narayana entrusted the work of creating the universe to Brahma. Not knowing how to proceed, Brahma to shut his eyes and meditate. Brahma, accordingly, started meditating and after a while the ‘Omkara’ came out. A- U-M refers to one pada of each akshara. As Brahma meditated further, the Omkara expanded into the Gayatri Mantra. Each letter in Aum stands for a veda. AUM thus singnifies the three Vedas- Rig, yajur and sama. Hence, Gayatri is known as veda Matha. AS a part of His creation, Brahma first created the sapta Rishis (Seven great sanes), Sapta matrikas (seven divine mothers) and sapta chiranjeevis (seven immoratals).
Narayana was the cause of Brahma’s birth. Brahma also got Hos First Upadesha or guidance from Narayana. That is how Narayana is considered to be both the father of Brahma and also His Guru. That is why, at the time of the upanayana samskara. It is the father who gives the Upadesha of the Gayatri Mantra to the son. According to our shastras, the Upadesha of Gayatri Manthra may be given by both the father and the husband.

3, swamiji, what is the differanece between Brahma Gayatri and Viswamitra Gayatri?
It is Lord Brahma who discovered the Gayatri Mantra through His meditation. Aum expanded into the Gayatri Mantra. The Gayatri Mantra gifted by Brahma has three padas. Tat savitr Varenyam is the first pada. Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi is the second pada. Dhiya yon aha prachodayat is the third pada. Since these three padas were gifted by Brahma, this mantra is known as Brahma Gayatri. Brahma Gayatri is the original form. Brahma conveyed this 24 lettered mantra to saga vishista who recorded it for the benefit of posterity.
Saga Viswamitra added the vyahartis- bhur, bhuvar, and suvah and today all of follow and chant the Viswamitra Gayatri In the Puranas. King kaushika faced a humiliating defeat at the weapons proved futile against the brahma danda, holy staff of saga vashista. That is when he uttered, dhik balam kshatriya balam Brahma tejo balam. That means, ‘ what after all is the power of
4. Swamiji, Are Women Permitted to chant the Gayatri mantra?
I am not aware of anything in the Vedas and other texts that prohibit women from chanting the Gayatri Mantra, As I mentioned earlier, Sita was doing gayatri Japa. Another great lady in of the ancient times, Anasuya received her mantra deeksha from her husband Atri Rishi. Gayatri is jnana and the one who dose Gayatri japa achieves higher knowledge. If that is so there is no reason why it should be restricted to any particular sections of people or only menfolk.
If fact when I had the personal vision of Gayatri matha as a balika (maiden) and also in Her mother from I got this doubt clarified from Her. She made it clear to me that there is no restriction on women in chanting the mantra and worshipping the Gayatri Devi. Evarone is entitled to pray to Gayatri and personally speaking, I have been encouraging women to take up the Gayatri japa.
My own feeling is that although sudh restrictions were not there on women during the vedic times, sometime later such restrictions were imposed by some misguided pundits or priests. We should spread greater awereness in this regard and see that such restrictions are removed at the earliest.

5. Swamiji, what is the significance of worshipping Gayatri as a Goddess?
Gayatri, as I mentioned earliar, is a mahamantra, a mahan shakthi. She is not a deity like Durga. Kali or chamundi. These Devis took thrir avatars (manifestations), to kill Rakshasas or demons. There is no killing of any demons by Gayatri devi however she is a power or shakthi who fights our internal sinful tendencies. Gayatri is atman. Since atman cannot be seen, and people are more comfortable with praying to a svarupa, our Rishis gave Gayatri a bodily from. That is how the mantra assumed the from of mother goddess, Gayatri Devi. That is why we have pictures and temples of Gayatri where regular prayers are offered. Gayatri is described as vada matha, mother of Vedas, viswa matha , mother of all. She blesses everyone with devatva, godly quliities. Those who want to do so. Those who wish to worship Her as a Goddess may also meditate on Her embodiment.
God is called by different names. Let us suppose that there are different buckets of water filled with water of different colores. These waters are red, blue, orange,green, etc. Each person will see the reflection of surya in that specific bucket and say that sun is red, blue, orenge and so on. For that person his sun is of that particular color. Like that Hindu Gods and Goddesses take different forms for different individuals. They are worshipped as Shiva, Vishnu, Rama, Krishna, Parvathi, Lakshmi, and so on Gayatri Devi is also one such svarupa of a devi, Gayatri also takes different forms. In the morning she is worshipped as Gayatri, in the afternoon as savitri and in the evening as saraswati.
Gayatri Devi, as mother Goddess, has been given a splendorous from. There is a symbolism associated with the picture of Gayatri. She represents prana Shakthi, Her five faces stand for panchabhutas, five elements of nature- agni, vayu, apah, prithvi and akasha. Her ten Hands signify ten directions eight directions, earth and sky Her two legs denote asha (desire) and maya (ignorance), both of have to overcome.

6. Can everyone chant the Gayatri mantra? Are any sections of persons excluded?
Of course, everyone can chant the Gayatri mantra and there are no restrictions for any caste, creed or sections of people. All sections of people come to our Gayatri Tapobhoomi and worship goddess Gayatri Devi. Jnana or knowledge is not Anybody’s personal property. Jnana marga or the path of knowledge cannot be restrictive or exclusive. In our ancient book too, there are numerous instances of non Brahmanas and low caste persons who did tapas or austerities and penance, and become great Rishis and scholars.
According to me there are only two castes: Brahmana and non- Brahamana. A bramana is one who knows the significance of Gayatri, strives towords enlightenment and mukthi (liberation) and dose Gayatri japa. All others Are non Brahmanas. The Gayatri Mantra is undoubtedly for every one. Irrespective of the caste or accident of birth. The scripture says. Janmat jayate shudraha. That means, everyone is a shudra or a lower caste person by birth. It is only by good samskara (Righteous living), acquiring spiritual knowledge and chanting Gayatri mantra that he or she becomes a brahmana or a higher caste person. Whichever person has sattwik qualities, he or she is a brahmana.
Like the Vedas, Upanishads and other holy texts of our country, Gayatri mantra is meant for the entire mankind. These are the gifts made by our ancient Rishis and scholars to everyone, irrespective of caste, creed, gender or nationality Gayatri is a mahamantra, a universal prayaer. Gayatri is for everyone.