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The Gāyatrī Mantra is a highly revered mantra of the Vedic tradition. Just like all the Vedic Mantras, the Gayatri Mantra is considered not to have an author and like all other mantras is believed to have been revealed to a Brahmarshi, in this case Brahmarshi Vishvamitra. This is a Vedic Sanskrit verse from a hymn of the Rigveda (3.62.10). Gayatri is the name of the Gayatri meter in which the verse/hymn runs. The most interesting aspect of the mantra is that the mantra is considered to be not different from the divine entity that forms the content of the mantra. Thus the name of the divine entity contained in the mantra is also Gayatri. In other words, the Gayatri mantra is not just a means of worship but is an object of worship in itself. The word ‘Gayatri’ is used both in reference to the Gayatri Mantra as an object of worship and in reference to the divine entity described in the mantra. It is in this sense of the Gayatri Mantra being an object of worship that the Mantra is personified into a goddess.
As the verse can be interpreted to invoke the deva Savitr, it is often called Sāvitrī mantra. Depending on how Savitri is interpreted, this mantra can be seen as connected to Sun Worship, Yoga, Tantra and Mother Goddess.
Its recitation is traditionally preceded by oṃ and the formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, known as the mahāvyāhṛti (great (mystical) utterance). It is made up of three (mystical) utterances: Bhooh, Bhuvah and Svah. The three utterances are taken as the names of three worlds:- Bhooh: the terrestrial, Svah: celestial and Bhuvah: the world connecting terrestrial to celestial. These are the names of the first three of the seven vyāhṛti or higher worlds of Hindu cosmology. From a meditational point of view, Bhooh, Bhuvah, Svah are mystically interpreted as the three degrees/levels of depths of meditation: Conscious, Semi-conscious and the Unconscious.
The Gayatri Mantra is repeated and cited very widely in vedic literature, and praised in several well-known classical Hindu texts such asManusmṛti, Harivamsa, and the Bhagavad Gita. The mantra is an important part of the upanayanam ceremony for young males in Hinduism, and has long been recited by Dvija males as part of their daily rituals. Modern Hindu reform movements spread the practice of the mantra to include women and all castes and its use is now very widespread.
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