Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gayatri Mantra


The Gāyatrī Mantra is a highly revered mantra, based on a Vedic Sanskrit verse from a hymn of the Rigveda (3.62.10), attributed to the rishi Viśvāmitra. The mantra is named for its vedic gāyatrī metre.[1] As the verse can be interpreted to invoke the deva Savitr, it is often called Sāvitrī.[2] Its recitation is traditionally preceded by oṃ and the formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, known as the mahāvyāhṛti ("great utterance").

The Gayatri Mantra is repeated and cited very widely in vedic literature,[3] and praised in several well-known classical Hindu texts such as Manusmṛti,[4] Harivamsa,[5] and the Bhagavad Gita.[6][7] The mantra is an important part of the upanayanam ceremony for young males in Hinduism, and has long been recited by Brahmin 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.

Text

Recitation of the Gayatri Mantra is preceded by oṃ(ॐ) and the formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ (भूर् भुवः स्वः), known as the mahāvyāhṛti ("great utterance"). This prefixing of the mantra proper is described in the Taittiriya Aranyaka (2.11.1-8), which states that scriptural recitation was always to begin with the chanting of the syllable oṃ, followed by the three Vyahrtis and the Gayatri verse.[10]

Following the mahāvyāhṛti is then the mantra proper, the verse RV 3.62.10:

In Devanagari:
तत् सवितुर्वरेण्यं ।
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि ।
धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् ॥



In IAST:
tát savitúr váreṇyaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

Whereas in principle the gāyatrī metre specifies three pādas of eight syllables each, the text of the verse as preserved in the Rigveda Samhita is one syllable short, the first pāda counting seven instead of eight. Metrical restoration would emend the attested vareṇyaṃ with a tetra-syllabic vareṇiyaṃ.[11]
Translation

A literal translation of the Gayatri verse proper can be given as:

"May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god:
So may he stimulate our prayers."

—The Hymns of the Rigveda (1896), Ralph T.H. Griffith[12]

word-by-word explanation:[citation needed]

* dhīmahi "may we attain" (1st person plural middle optative of dhā- 'set, bring, fix' etc.)
* tat vareṇiyam bharghas '"that excellent glory" (accusatives of tad (pronoun), varenya- 'desirable, excellent' and bhargas- 'radiance, lustre, splendour, glory')
* savitur devasya "of savitar the god" (genitives of savitr-, 'stimulator, rouser; name of a sun-deity' and deva- 'god, deity')
* yaḥ prachodayat "who may stimulate" (nominative singular of relative pronoun yad-, causative 3rd person of pra-cud- 'set in motion, drive on, urge, impel')
* dhiyaḥ naḥ "our prayers" (accusative plural of dhi- 'mind, thought, meditation' and naḥ enclitic personal pronoun)

The literal translation of the Mahāvyāhṛti formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ prefixed to the verse is "earth, air, heaven".[13] These are the names of the first three of the seven vyāhṛti or higher worlds of Hindu cosmology.