Gayatri Mantra is considered as one of the holiest and powerful mantras that finds a place in three Vedas and a few Upanishads. The main difference between Vedas and Upanishads is that the former talks about the Brahman and the latter shows the ways and means of realising the Brahman revealed by the Vedas. In practical applications, Upanishads play an important role than the Vedas as Vedas mostly talk about mantras and rituals. Amongst all the mantras, Gayatri mantra is considered as the most sacred one. Let us now understand Gayatri mantra. Each mantra is made up of certain number of syllables and a mantra with 24 syllables is called Gayatri chandas. This mantra was first realized by the sage Vishvamitra. He attained enormous siddhis by chanting this mantra. The 24 syllables are placed in three lines or padas and each pada has 8 bijas. The mantra proper is preceded by OM and then by three vyahrtis. Vyahrtis represent the three types of worlds. Then follows the Gayatri mantra proper. Let us first understand OM. We have already to a certain extent, discussed about OM in our posting Understanding OM
. OM or pranava is the first manifestation of shabdha Brahman. Before OM could manifest into A, U and M it was in the form of nadabindu (un-manifested form of sound), the creative power of the universe. All sounds originated from Shiva’s drum.
We have already seen that Shiva is the static energy, created on its own. Shakthi was created out of this static energy by means of abnormal pulsation. Possibly this is the only instance when the static energy pulsated. The pulsation of Shiva manifested as Shakthi and from Shakthi all other manifestations such as Prakrti. From Prakrti the five elements originated. This is how the creation was commenced by the Supreme Shakthi, in her vimarsha form. From the Nadabindu (Shiva and Shakthi combine) three syllables A, U and M originated, representing various triads. These are Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra (one of the forms of Shiva is Rudra and this Rudra should not be confused with ekadasa (11) Rudras); creation, sustenance and dissolution; past, present and future and desire, knowledge and action. Thus the Gayatri mantra begins with OM, the original manifested sound of the Brahman. Next to pranava are three vyahritis Bhuhu, Bhuvaha, Suvaha. These vyahritis represent further manifestation of OM and this manifestation is called origin of speech and said to represent the three worlds of this universe. These three worlds originated from the three letters A,U,M of OM. From these vyahritis, was derived the Gayatri mantra. Gayatri mantra is the origin of three Vedas (Rik, yajur and Sama Vedas). But what do these three lokas or worlds mean? They mean the three stages of consciousness. Bhuh means the lower level of consciousness and means the lower planes. Bhuvah means the ordinary or normal level of consciousness that is associated with our day to day activities. This vyahriti refers to the earth. Suvaha means higher level of consciousness. The higher level of consciousness is used to realize the Brahman. Thus the three vyahritis in fact mean the modifications in the level of consciousness.
(To be concluded)