Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gayatri Mantram - an Unknown Fact

Many of our friends with upanayanam may give wonderful statements like - “ We are into meditation you see.... and when we get instant result in that, then what is the use of Sandhyavandanam and sprinkling some water?

"This is the Kali yuga" and thats my only answer for this statement.. Iam not ready to tell anything more...

For those who do Sandhyavandanam regularly - please read this... this may be useful....

Iam not detailing the sandhyavandhanam part here and coming directly to Gayatri.

The Gayatri chanting part is the central part of the Sandhyavandanam.

na gAyatryAH parO mantraH na mAtu daivatam param
There is no mantra superior to gAyatri, neither is there a form of God superior to one's mother
Gayatri is a most sacred japam that can activate twenty four spots of the human body in the subtle plane. Thats why it is said that a person need not do any sadhna if he does gayatri.

Gayatri Mantra is extolled by one and all . It is a simple and small mantra but with  huge  benefits

Gayatri is a Maha mantra. But please note....
'mananaat trAyatE iti mantraH' (it protects through meditation).

In other word Gayatri should be contemplated silently thinking inwards. It loses its potency if chanted loud or sung with any raga....  Only time Gayatri is chanted loud is during the Ahuti in the yagna

And it is a sin to 'sing' Gayatri using any ragas! (Singers like Anuradha Paudwal please excuse me... Its Shastra... so you MUST follow it....)

Now... coming to our subject..

Each mantra is has a Rishi (who gave us the mantra), a specific Chandas and the Devata(to whom the mantra is dedicated ). This is symbolically represented by touching the head while chanting the Rishi's Name (placing his feet on our head), touching the nose when we recite the chandas (no life without breath - similarly there is no life to the mantra without Chandas); then touching the heart for Devata's name(meditate the deity in our heart)

The most famous Gayatri mantram as "discovered" or meditated upon my Sage Vishvamitra. Gayathri refers also to a Chandas - meter

The word chandas also means the meter of vedic poetry . There are different typs of Chandas for each sloka or veda mantra

Depending on the number of syllables in each of the paadas, we have different meters :-
anushtup (8 syllables)
brihati (9),
pankti (10),
trishtup (11 )
ushnik (4 paadas of 7 syllable each = 28 syllables) -like that up to even 26 syllables to a paada. (Any meter beyond 26 syllables to a paada, is called dandakam.)

Now coming to our Gayatri... there is a Chandas itself by named Gayatri -  and Our Gayatri Mantra has three paadas of 8 syllables each; the meter itself is known as gayatri since it has 24 syllables;

The chandas is vital and should be respected while reciting vedic mantras. Chandas helps us to ensure the form of the Mantra (by meter count). No alteration to this can be attempted since it would disturb the spiritual significance of the mantra itself!

However, there is a slight change in the Gayatri mantram itself... thats what Iam trying to convey here...
I was really surprised that even eminent scholars were not aware of this change and when I discussed this subject with them only 1-2% of people were aware of this fact and only a handful of them were practicing it correctly...

The well known statement is "ChathurvimsathyaksharA GaayathrI " (There should be 24 aksharams in GaayathrI). The rules of Chandas permit one aksharam less for variations (so 24 minus 1 =23). When it is 23, it is called nicruth GaayathrI.

Remember - the chandas for regular gayatri japa is 'nichrut gayatri' which is one syllable short of 'gayatri' chandas. ie 23 aksharams and Not 24...

'Saavitria Rishi: Viswamitra:, 
nichruth Gayatri chanda: 
Savita Devata, Gayatri jape viniyogah :'

So the main focus is the pronounciation of 'varENyaM' in the part  ".tat savitur varenyam" (tat-sa-vi-tur = 4 plus 3 syllables va-re-nyam). So onthe whole the regular Gayatri Japam is nicruth GaayathrI.with 23 letters

But please note while doing Argya Pradhanam its regular Gayatri Chandas and Not nicruth GaayathrI. ie 24 lettered and and Not 23 lettered.
So.... for gayatri argyam - the mantra has to be pronounced as 'varENiyaM' (4 syllables va-re-ni-yam) and not as varENyaM.

So, Gayatri ought to be chanted as 'varENyaM' only during the japa since the chandas explicitly stated during the invocation is 'nic^Rit gAyatrI'.  During the 'arghyapradaanam' one should say varENiyaM.

Thus , the GaayathrI (GaaythrI manthram used for Argyam) has "varENiyam " with an extra aksharam and the total counts up to 24 aksharams .

The other one with " VarENyam " becomes 23 in count and is permitted as Gaayathri Japam

May Gayatri, the Mother of Vedas, bestow on us right understanding, pure intellect, right conduct and right thinking !


  1. Anna... swami-sharanam.... thank you so much for the wonderful explanation of this 'mahaan-mantra'... we are indeed blessed by your kindness. Thank you.... Om-tat-sat!!

  2. Prabhu,

    A wonderful and understandable explanation of Gayatri. I am keen that you dwelve on more such explanations to enlighten ignorant like us. I wish to circulate about this to a few known friends for their information/benefit.

    With profound regards to a Guru

    R Venkateswaran

  3. No one till now has explained this in detail, and no one else can do this, expect guruji!!! Swamy Saranam!!!

    ---- Sudharshan

  4. swamiye sharanam ayyappa
    thank u 4 such an imp & rare information