During the Puranic age, the Gayatri Mantra was typically portrayed as a goddess seated on a red lotus flower, having a thousand petals on her five heads of Mukta, Vidruma, Hema, Neda and Dhevala goddesses with their ten eyes looking into the eight directions, as also the earth and the sky. She holds in her ten arms all the weapons of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Goddess Gayatri is also considered as an embodiment of goddesses Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati. The benefits of regularly repeating the Gayatri Mantra are manifold.
Gayatri is not a mere cluster of words and letters but a letter capsule compacted with sound waves that created this universe. It is not a string of metered words alone; it, in fact, belongs to the science of acoustics that has far-reaching results.
The Gayatri Mantra is the most revered mantra in the Vedic tradition. It is an invocation as well as a prayer addressed to the Supreme Creator of this universe and of the three worlds: the terrestrial, the celestial, and the one connecting these two. The literal meaning of the mantra is:
We meditate on the glory of that Ishwara-the Supreme Lord of the universe-who has created this universe and the entire cosmos, who is accomplished to be revered, who is the embodiment of true knowledge and light, who is the dispeller of all sorts of sins, who can destroy and dissolve our ignorance. May he enlighten our intellect.
When this mantra is correctly recited, it produces a large number of tarangas or alpha waves – 1,10,000 alfa sound waves per second-in our mind that resonate in the region of the topmost cosmic energy centre called the sahasrara chakra or the crown chakra, in yogic parlance. Moreover, when the mantra is mentally recited without uttering its words aloud, its frequency is enhanced manifold and its potency increases tremendously, which greatly affects its chanter.
It is believed that a person who chants the Gayatri Mantra 3,000 times Nach day at a particular place, sitting on the same seat at the same time, with the same mala or rosary, with a used mind, for a period of forty days, is freed from his sins, however many they may be. The greatness of the mantra can be further gauged by the fact that not only the chanter but also its listener is divinely blessed.
A man can repeat or chant the Gayatri Mantra mentally in any or all states while sitting, walking or even lying down; there is no commission or omission of any sort in doing so, Traditionally, however, the mantra is to be recited thrice; at sunrise, at solar noon and at dusk.
The efficacy of this mantra has been scientifically proven and proclaimed by Dr Howard Steingeril, an American scientist, who collected mantras, hymns and invocations from all religions of the world, and tested their potency in his physiology laboratory. He concluded that the Gayatri Mantra is the most rewarding, and is scientifically efficacious. This is the most powerful prayer hymn in the world. The combination of sound and the variation in the sound waves in their particular frequency is capable of developing specific spiritual potentialities.
Gayatri, in fact, is the name of the meter in which the mantra is composed. It has three padas or lines of eight syllables each, totalling to twenty-four syllables. However, according to the text as prescribed in the Rig Veda Samhita (3:62:10), the Gayatri Mantra has one short; the first pada has seven syllables instead of eight, This shortage is compensated through an amended pronunciation of the word varenyam as vareniyam. There is yet another distinctive tenet about the Gayatri Mantra, that there are five pauses that one has to strictly observe while reciting it to receive the best from the mantra.
Every mantra has a presiding deity. In the case of the Gayatri Mantra, it is the sun god, Surya, also known as Savita. Surya is associated with Lord Vishnu, therefore, he who meditates on the Gayatri Mantra meditates on Lord Vishnu. Among the trinity, Vishnu is considered the most intelligent. Whenever the gods happen to be in trouble, they always run to Lord Vishnu to seek his advice. The Gayatri Mantra does the same to a man; it bestows the right wisdom for the seeker to sail through troubled waters.
There is nothing more purifying for one’s soul, either on this earth or in the heavens, than the Gayatri Mantra japa or repetition. It brings to one the same benefits as the recitation of all the Vedas put together, with their angas-the limbs of the Vedas as auxiliary disciples associated with the study and understanding the Vedas; they are six in number: shiksha, vyakarana, nirukta, chhanda, kalpa and jyoti.
A regular recitation of the mantra destroys all sins, bestows splendid health, wealth, beauty, vigour, physical strength, vitality and a divine aura on and around the face of its chanter. It also liberates one from the cycle of birth and death, and grants salvation.