Adi Shankaracharya Explains Gayatri Mantra

Some time back there was a  question about the number of Letters in the Gayatri.


I had explained  the answer with Adi Sankaracharya’s Explanation.


Gayatri Mantra.jpg
The Gayatri Mantra.


Now I am quoting Jagad Guru Shankaracharya’s commentary on the Gayatri Mantra.


OM :- Pranava – The word that is God the Almighty
BHUH :- God who is eternal,
Embodiment of vital or spiritual energy 
BHUVAHA :- God who is the creator,
Destroyer of suffering
SVAHA :- God who is Independent,
Embodiment of happiness
OM TAT :- That eternal God
SAVITHUR :- That creative principle of light manifested through Sun
VARENYAM :- That Supreme God propitiated by the highest Gods
BHARGO :- That light that bestows wisdom, bliss and everlasting life
DHEVASYA :- The light of that effulgent God
DHEEMAHI :- we mediate
DHIYO :- May our intellect
YO NAHA :- Be directed by that lord
PRACHODAYAT :- Towards Illumination


Nah – asmakam Dheeyah – Buddhi Prachodayat- prerayet
Sarvabudhi samgnanthah karana prkashakah sarva sakshi prethyagathma iti uccyathe
Thusya prachodayatu sabdanistasya atmanah
Swarupabhutam param brahma tat savitur ityati padayh nirdisyateh
Atra tat subdena prthyagbhutam swatah siddham param bramhma uccayathe
“Savituriti” srustistitilayam lakshnasya sarvaprpanjasya dwaitabhavasya adistanam lakshyate
“varenyamiti” sarvaraneyam niradhshayaandarupam
“bharga iti” aviyatidosabharjanatmakam gyanaikavishayathwatu
“devasya iti” sarvathyadhothanathmakaakandachitekarasam
savitudevasya ityatra sastayarchi rahoha shirovatu oupacarikaha
bhdhyati sarva dhrisyasya sakshilakshanan
yanme swarupam thath sarvadhristanarupam paramanandam
nirastasamasthanardharupam swaprkashachitatmakam brahma ityevam
dhimahe – dhiyayeth
evam sathi praytyagatmanaha brahmana saha thatahtmarupamekatvam bhavathi
thayaa sarvathmakabrahmabhodakosyam gayatrimantraha sampatyate
atah saptavyahritinam ayamarthah


I pray,my Buddhi ( beyond Intellect shines forth),

(Nah – asmakam Dheeyah – Buddhi Prachodayat- prerayet)


By praying, chanting the Gayatri, all the inner organs,Gnanedriyas, Mans, Buddhi, Chitta and the Para Brahman in the Form of Witness reveal themselves,the first four being cleaned by the Gayathri.


( Sarvabudhi samgnanthah karana prkashakah sarva sakshi prethyagathma iti uccyathe)


by chanting , praying the Savitri.


The Sound of Savitri ,-all the gross elements get submerged in the Brahman, which is the embodiment of Sabda, the primordial Sound.


(Thusya prachodayatu sabdanistasya atmanah
Swarupabhutam param brahma tat savitur ityati padayh nirdisyateh
Atra tat subdena prthyagbhutam swatah siddham param bramhma uccayathe)


Savitri is the Creation, Sustenance and dissolution,the differentiation of being two as Jivatman and Paramatman gets obliterated.

(srustistitilayam lakshnasya sarvaprpanjasya dwaitabhavasya adistanam lakshyate)


Varenyam stands for the Ananda Rupa of the Brahman.

(“varenyamiti” sarvaraneyam niradhshayaandarupam)


By chanting Varenyam one the impurities of the Mind, and Chitta are removed and Knowledge shines forth.

(“bharga iti” aviyatidosabharjanatmakam gyanaikavishayathwatu)


Chanting of  Devasya Iti’ is the the culmination of worshiping all the Devatas, the Meditation and merges one in the Aakasa roopa of Brahman, that is from the Gross to the subtle.

(devasya iti” sarvathyadhothanathmakaakandachitekarasam)


Thus the Savitri is the chief among the Obeisance and Oblations offered to the Devathas and is the culmination of all Perception.

(savitudevasya ityatra sastayarchi rahoha shirovatu oupacarikaha
bhdhyati sarva dhrisyasya sakshilakshanan)


This is the essence of all the Siddhantas about the Para Brahman.
(yanme swarupam thath sarvadhristanarupam paramanandam)


It is the Unsullied Form of  the Reality  Brahman that shines forth
(nirastasamasthanardharupam swaprkashachitatmakam brahma ityevam
dhimahe – dhiyayeth)


By chanting ,praying this/thus,the duality is vanishes and the One Reality dawns.
(evam sathi praytyagatmanaha brahmana saha thatahtmarupamekatvam bhavathi)


This is explanation and the results  of the Seven Vyahrutis of the Gaytri,


And this is my (Shankaracharya) explanation.
thayaa sarvathmakabrahmabhodakosyam gayatrimantraha sampatyate
atah saptavyahritinam ayamarthah


* There  might be errors in my translation.


Scholars in Sanskrit are requeted to send in corrections as this, I consider to be the best explanation of the Gaytri Mantra and the essence of the Vedas

11 thoughts on “Adi Shankaracharya Explains Gayatri Mantra

  1. Ultimate Science of Gayatri Mantra
    Posted on 27-03-2014 by Anil Gupta

    Gayatri mantra has been bestowed the greatest importance in Vedic dharma. This mantra has also been termed as Savitri and Ved-Mata, the mother of the Vedas.
    Om bhur bhuvah swah
    Tat savitur varenyam
    Bhargo devasya dheemahi
    Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
    The literal meaning of the mantra is:
    O God! You are Omnipresent, Omnipotent and Almighty, You are all Light. You are all Knowledge and Bliss. You are Destroyer of fear, You are Creator of this Universe, You are the Greatest of all. We bow and meditate upon Your light. You guide our intellect in the right direction.
    The mantra, however, has a great scientific importance too, which somehow got lost in the literary tradition. The modern astrophysics and astronomy tell us that our Galaxy called Milky Way or Akash-Ganga contains approximately 100,000 million of stars. Each star is like our sun having its own planet system. We know that the moon moves round the earth and the earth moves round the sun along with the moon. All planets round the sun. Each of the above bodies revolves round at its own axis as well. Our sun along with its family takes one round of the galactic center in 22.5 crore years. All galaxies including ours are moving away at a terrific velocity of 20,000 mile s per second.

    And now the alternative scientific meaning of the mantra step by step:
    Bhur the earth, bhuvah the planets (solar family), swah the Galaxy. We observe that when an ordinary fan with a speed of 900 RPM (rotations Per minute) moves, it makes noise. Then, one can imagine, what great noise would be created when the galaxies move with a speed of 20,000 miles per second. This is what this portion of the mantra explains that the sound produced due to the fast-moving earth, planets and galaxies is Om. The sound was heard during meditation by Rishi Vishvamitra, who mentioned it to other colleagues. All of them, then unanimously decided to call this sound Om the name of God, because this sound is available in all the three periods of time, hence it is set (permanent). Therefore, it was the first ever revolutionary idea to identify formless God with a specific title (form) called upadhi. Until that time, everybody recognized God as formless and nobody was prepared to accept this new idea. In the Gita also, it is said, “Omiti ekaksharam brahma”, meaning that the name of the Supreme is Om , which contains only one syllable (8/12). This sound Om heard during samadhi was called by all the seers nada-brahma a very great noise), but not a noise that is normally heard beyond a specific amplitude and limits of decibels suited to human hearing. Hence the rishis called this sound Udgith musical sound of the above, i.e., heaven. They also noticed that the infinite mass of galaxies moving with a velocity of 20,000 miles/second was generating a kinetic energy = 1/2 MV2 and this was balancing the total energy consumption of the cosmos. Hence they named it Pranavah, which means the body (vapu) or store house of energy
    Tat that (God), savitur the sun (star), varenyam worthy of bowing or respect. Once the form of a person along with the name is known to us, we may locate the specific person.Hence the two titles (upadhi) provide the solid ground to identify the formless God, Vishvamitra suggested. He told us that we could know (realize) the unknowable formless God through the known factors, viz., sound Om and light of suns (stars). A mathematician can solve an equation x2+y2=4; if x=2; then y can be known and so on. An engineer can measure the width of a river even by standing at the riverbank just by drawing a triangle. So was the scientific method suggested by Vishvamitra in the mantra in the next portion as under:-

    Bhargo the light, devasya of the deity, dheemahi we should meditate. The rishi instructs us to meditate upon the available form (light of suns) to discover the formless Creator (God). Also he wants us to do japa of the word Om (this is understood in the Mantra). This is how the sage wants us to proceed, but there is a great problem to realize it, as the human mind is so shaky and restless that without the grace of the Supreme (Brahma) it cannot be controlled. Hence Vishvamitra suggests the way to pray Him as under:
    Dhiyo (intellect), yo (who), nah (we all), prachodayat (guide to right Direction). O God! Deploy our intellect on the right path. Full scientific interpretation of the Mantra: The earth (bhur), the planets (bhuvah), and the galaxies (swah) are moving at a very great velocity, the sound produced is Om , (the name of formless God.) That God (tat), who manifests Himself in the form of light of suns (savitur) is worthy of bowing/respect (varenyam). We all, therefore, should meditate (dheemahi) upon the light (bhargo) of that deity (devasya) and also do chanting of Om. May He (yo) guide in right direction (prachodayat) our(nah) intellect dhiyo.
    So we notice that the important points hinted in the mantra are:-
    1) The total kinetic energy generated by the movement of galaxies acts as an umbrella and balances the total energy consumption of the cosmos. Hence it was named as the Pranavah (body of energy). This is equal to 1/2 mv2 (Mass of galaxies x squre of velocity.)
    2) Realizing the great importance of the syllable OM , the other later date religions adopted this word with a slight change in accent.


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