References to the Gayatri Mantra in Scriptures
The Upanisads (sacred texts) of Hinduism contain several references to the Gayatri Mantra.
ॐ भूर्भुव: स्व:
भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि,
धीयो यो न: प्रचोदयात् ।।
Chandogya Upanisad 3.12.1-6 (Qualities of Gayatri)
- 1. This entire creation is Gayatri. And the Gayatri is speech – for speech sings (gayati) and protects (trayati) this entire creation.
Gayatri indeed is all this, whatever being exists. Speech indeed is Gayatri; for speech indeed sings and removes fear of all this that exists.
- 2. That which is this Gayatri, even that is this earth; for on this earth are all the beings established and they do not transcend it.
- 3. That which is this earth (as Gayatri), even that is this, i.e. this body in respect of this person; for these senses are indeed established in this body and they do not transcend it.
- 4. That which is the body in respect of a person, even that is identical with the heart within this body; for these senses are indeed established in it and they do not transcend it.
- 5. This well-known Gayatri is four-footed and sixfold.
- 6. Such is the greatness of this (Brahman called Gayatri). The Person is even greater than this. All this world is a quarter of Him, the other three quarters of His constitute immortality in heaven.
Chandogya Upanisad 3.16.1
Man, truly, is the sacrifice. His (first) twenty-four years are the morning libation, for the metre Gayatri is made up of twenty-four syllables, and the morning libation is related to the Gayatri metre. With this the Vasus are connected. The Pranas indeed are the Vasus, for they make all this stable.
Chandogya Upanisad 4.17.1-6 (Origin of Bhuh, Bhuvah, Svah)
- 1. Prajapati (the progenitor of the worlds) brooded on the three worlds. From them he extracted their essences; fire from the earth, air from the sky and the sun from heaven.
- 2. He further brooded on these three deities. From them he extracted their essences: the Riks (Rg-veda) from fire, the Yajus-mantras (Yajur-veda) from air, and the Saman (Sama-veda) from the sun.
- 3. He brooded on the three Vedas. From them he extracted their existences; Bhuh from the Riks, Bhuvah from the Yajus-mantras and Svah from the Samans.
- 4. Therefore if the sacrifice is rendered defective on account of the Riks (or Yajus or Samans), then with the Mantra ‘Bhuh Svaha’ (or ‘Bhuvah Svaha’ or ‘Svah Svaha’), the Brahman priest should offer an oblation in the fire. Thus verily, through the essence of the Riks (or Yajus or Samans), through the virility of the Riks (or Yajus or Samans), he makes good the injury of the sacrifice in respect of the Riks (or Yajus or Samans).
- 5. And if the sacrifice is rendered defective on account of the Yajus, then with the Mantra ‘Bhuvah Svaha’, (the Brahman priest) should offer an oblation in the Daksinagni. Thus verily, through the essence of the Yajus-mantras, through the virility of the Yajus-mantras, he makes good the injury of the sacrifice in respect of the Yajus-mantras.
- 6. And if the sacrifice is rendered defective on account of the Samans, then with the Mantra ‘Svah Svaha’ (the Brahman priest) should offer an oblation to the Ahavaniya fire. Thus verily, through the essence of the Samans, through the virility of the Saman, he makes good the injury of the sacrifice in respect of the Samans.
Brahadaranyaka Upanisad 5.14.4 (Gayatri as the Protector)
The Gayatri Mantra is based on truth.
For truth is based on strength.
Strength is breath, and is based on breath.
So, Gayatri protects (tra) the wealth (gaya) (the breath!) of those who speak it with earnestness and devotion.
When one recites Gayatri on behalf of someone, it protects that person’s breath too!
Brahadaranyaka Upanisad 5.14.5 (Four ‘foots’ of the Gayatri)
This verse talks about the unbounded wealth contained within the four ‘foots’ of the Gayatri Mantra.
- The first foot (aum bhur bhuvah svaha) is said to be equivalent to the wealth contained in the three worlds put together.
- The second foot (tat savitur varenyam) is said to be equivalent to the wealth contained in the three main vedas.
- If one were to receive a gift extending as far as there are living beings, that would equal the third foot (bhargo devasaya dheemahi).
- The fourth foot (dheeyo yo nah prachodyaat) is based on the glory of the sun, whose power and wealth remains unequaled and unrivaled. Hence, there is no amount of wealth that can equal the fourth foot of the Gayatri!