Gayatri Mantra

Last Updated: June 8, 2018

Definition - What does Gayatri Mantra mean?

The Gayatri mantra is the verse of a sukha (hymn) from the "Rig Veda," a collection of Vedic hymns. It is one of the most ancient and familiar Sanskrit mantras.

The mantra is named for Gayatri, the goddess of the five pranas (senses), who is said to protect the pranas of those who chant the mantra. Gayatri is also the goddess of education.

Incorporating this mantra into yoga practice is thought to calm the mind and improve concentration.

Yogapedia explains Gayatri Mantra

Gayatri is typically depicted with five heads (to indicate the five senses), 10 eyes looking in eight directions and 10 arms holding the weapons of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. She is also depicted with a white swan and a book in one hand.

Chanting the Gayatri mantra is thought to activate the upper three chakras: visuddha (throat), ajna (third eye) and sahasrara (crown). These chakras govern things like communication, intuition and connection with the Divine.

Traditionally, the mantra is chanted daily in the morning, midday and evening. In a yoga practice, it can be used as part of meditation or as a japa for Japa yoga.

In Sanskrit, the mantra reads as follows:

Om bhur bhuvah svah
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dheemahi
Dhiyo yonah prachodayat

Translations of the verse vary, but most include praise to the Divine, reverent meditation on the Divine, and a plea for enlightenment. One modern translation by Ralph T. H. Griffith goes as follows: “We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds.”

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