- Religion and Philosophy»
GODDESS GAAYATRI & HER MANTRA
Mother of the Vedas
Goddess Gaayatri Mata is the incarnation of Saraswati Devi, the goddess of speech, wisdom, education, knowledge, the arts, sciences and music. Seated on a lotus, She shows five faces, which symbolize the five pranas (winds/life forces): prana, apana, vyana, udana and samana. These faces also symbolize the five elements in nature: earth (prithvee), water (jalam), air (vaayu), fire (agni) and sky/ether (aakaasha).
Gaayatri Mata displays ten hands, which bear the conch (shankh), discus (chakra), lotus (kamala), goad (stick), noose and Rudrakshamala (beads). Two hands reveal the abhaya and varada mudas (hand poses).
Gaayatri is the Mother of The Vedas. Panditji Munelal Maharaj, my guru (spiritual teacher), says that The Vedas is "the first scripture of the human race" and is a collection of "music, wisdom, art, math, medicine, architecture, economics, aeronautics, religion and space science." Panditji says it contains thousands of mantras: Rig Veda (10,552), Yayur Veda (1,975), Saama Veda (1,875) and Atharva Veda (5,987). Universal Truth or Knowledge is illuminated in The Vedas.
Archeological evidence of this claim as oldest scripture is clear. Journalist and science writer, David Lewis, states, "Excavations at Mehgarh, in modern-day Pakistan, have pushed back the date of India to 6,000 B.C., before the so-called advent of civilization in the Middle East. Some orthodox scholars credit India not only with the first alphabet, but also as the cradle of civilization whence sprang Mesopotamia, Sumeria and Egypt." Pakistan was part of India at this time.
What makes The Vedas unique among world scriptures is the fact that more female sages (Rishkas) and teachers authored this sacred collection than any other sacred text. Gargi is one of the well-known Rishkas who authored hymns in this sacred text. Half the human race should be represented in sacred texts to reflect more completely our humanity. The feminine aspects and view points are lacking in many other sacred texts. The Vedas capture our essence as women more completely than any other sacred text. We brought the human race into being as mothers and have birthed civilization in the social and artistic spheres. Human social progresss has been created by the Mother/Feminine principles of life. It is the women who changed society by advocating for the abolishment of slavery and advocating for child labor, health and safety laws. American civil rights came into being when a woman sat in the front of the bus. The ecological movement was promoted by female Chipko activists in India and by Rachel Carson, a female scientist in the United States, with the publication of Silent Spring.
The Vedas also uniquely focus on ecology and respect for Mother Earth (Bhumi Devi). It's a very real and relevant collection of wisdom for our times of global warming. Thousands of years ago the writers of The Vedas encouraged us to be careful in how we treat Mother Earth. Often we read The Gita, but we fail to read and live the spiritual truths found in The Vedas. If the leaders of the nations implemented its philosophy and principles, we would not have global warming. If we lived the philosophy, the leaders of the world would have to respond to our actions. As Gandhi said, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Look at every practice or action in your life and measure it against the truths found in The Vedas. Some real and relevant sayings from The Vedas for our times are as follows: 1. One should not not destroy the trees. They remove pollution (Rig Veda Samita vi-48-17). 2. Sacred grass has to be protected from human exploitation (Rig Veda Samita vii-75-8). 3. One should protect the habitation (Rig Veda Samita vi-71-3) and 4. Waters and herbs should have no poison (Rig Veda Samita vi-39-5).
According to Purushottma Bilimoria "The later Vedas, especially the Ayurveda section, demonstrate profound knowledge of biodiversity, the inter-relationship between living species and the environment." Gaayatri, as the Mother of The Vedas, brings us to our very time and reveals great wisdom. The mantra itself has great power for humanity. It's a prayer of protection for those who chant it.
Om Bhoor Bhuvah Svah Tat Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi Dihyo Yo Nah Prachodayaat,
An American English translation, from different sources, is as follows: We meditate on the glory of the One who has created the Universe, who is fit to be worshipped, who is the Embodiment of knowledge and light, who is the Remover of all ignorance and transgressions. May the Divine Mother dispel our ignorance and enlighten our intellect, just as the splendorous sunlight eradicate all darkness.
The Gaayatri Mantra is "Vedasaara" or "essence of The Vedas." It is about humanity transforming into Divinity and is considerated to be the most important mantra in The Vedas. Three aspects, or goddesses, are symbolically represented there in this mantra: Gaayatri, Saavitri and Saraswati. Gaayatri is the senses. Saatvitri is the life force and Universal Truth. Saraswati is the goddess of speech. According to Panditji Munelal, "The three represent purity in thought, word and deed, are present in each of us as the senses, the power of speech and the life-force."
It can be recited at any time of the day, but the best times to recite it are: 4:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Ideally it should be chanted 108 times per day. A common way it is chanted is at dawn, noon and dusk. One day after Rakshaa Bandhana is Gaayatri Japa Day, when it repeated 1008 times. The mantra is mentioned in The Srimad Bhagavatam and also in The Bhagavad Gita (Chapter 10:35). Krishna said, "Of the poetry, I am the Gaayatri verse sung daily by the initiated."
We also recite the mantra during the havan service on Sundays. That was my first opportunity to chant the mantra. Now I incorporate it in my daily prayers and artees (worship). Out of this mantra we all experience the power of The Vedas,
JAI SHRI THE VEDAS! JAI SHRI GAAYATRI MATA!