Gayatri Mantra

(Questions from following readers on the Gayatri Mantra and my replies can be read by clicking on the following links)


The Gayatri Mantra

Just like the Sun annihilates darkness, so does the Gayatri Mantra destroy ignorance. The Gayatri Mantra invokes the power and radiance of the Sun to energize all earthly life, to destroy our sins and to reveal the Supreme Self to us. Krishna in the Bhagvad Geeta says: ” Amongst  the Mantras,  I am the Gayatri”

In a loose translation that cannot possibly do justice to the original it implores: OM, O Lord! You are the all pervading Source of Light, Sustainer, Protector and Bestower of Happiness, Kindle, Enlighten and inspire our Intelligence to possess Eternal Qualities.

Follows the verse in Sanskrit:

Om Bhur bhuvah svah
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo Devasya dheemahi
Dheeyo yonah prachodayaat

The Gayatri Mantra is the essence of the three Vedas. It is the Vedas simplified. The more one contemplates and meditates upon the Gayatri, the more complexities are revealed to one.

AUM    Supreme Lord
BHUR Protector of the earth, the material sheath, The Life breath of the Universe. From the feet to the navel center.
BHUVAH One of the meanings is the sky. The Lord who pervades and eliminates all miseries. From the navel to the throat center.
SVAHOne of the meanings is the heavens. He is all Bliss and blesses His devotees with happiness. From above the throat center to the thousand petaled lotus.
TAT  That  (That Thou Art)
SAVITUR   The SUN, Creator, Preserver and Self Luminous, the central mantra of the Solar Science.
VARENYAM  Most fit to be worshipped. Most choice worthy.
BHARGOThe burning splendor of the Sun that dispels ignorance, and therefore sorrows and miseries.
DEVASYA The ‘Deva’, The God,  He who is All Bliss, The Joyful One, The Shining One, The Revealer of All Glory
DHEEMAHI We meditate upon Him
DHEEYO YO NAWho our intelligence and Wisdom

The Gayatri Mantra was traditionally given from the Guru Master to the disciple, while standing mid-stream. Look at the darkness. Visualize the sun rising. Offer water to the sun.

The story goes that once the Devas, the Shining Ones wanted to learn the secrets of the Universe.  Since learning about the Scientific aspect ‘atoms’ etc. did not quite work out, they went to the Lord. The Lord gave them the Rig Veda, The Yajur Veda and the Sama Veda to study. After a couple of eons of study, the Devas lost their patience and wanted to quit. The Lord urged them not to give up and decided to teach the essence of the 3 Vedas in 3 fragments:

Essence of Rig Veda         Tat Savitur Varenyam
Essence of Yajur Veda       Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Essence of Sama Veda     Dheeyo Yonah Prachodayaat

The more the Devas practiced and contemplated upon the Gayatri, the more complexities were revealed to them. So they lost patience again and  went to the Lord to make it simpler still. So the Lord  gave them the essence of the 3 segments, in the 3 words: 

Bhur, Bhuvaha, Svah

The Devas spent a a few cycles of Creation, probably a quadrillion human years pondering upon the ‘maha vyahritis’ ie ‘Utterances of the Lord’ but became impatient again and urged the Lord to make it simpler yet. So He Said “All right I’ll make it simpler”

And He taught them AUM

The great western thinker, Arthur Koestler, had once said that the Gayatri Mantra has the power of a thousand atomic bombs! and the famous scientists

J.B.S. Haldana wrote: “The Gayatri Mantra should be carved on the doors of every laboratory of the world”.

Excerpts from Magic Mantra by Achyut Railkar

Theosophists say that the Gayatri Mantra is a powerful design of words.

It is both a mantra and a prayer.

Chanting the Mantra purifies the energy and physical bodies of human physiology.

It balances the atmosphere and prana

Mantra has sound potencies that awaken vital energies and dormant parts of our mind.

Rishis arranged the words of the mantra in such a way that it not only conveys the meaning but also creates a specific power of righteous wisdom through its utterance.

 The syllables of the mantra are said to create positive effect on all the charkas (energy centers) in the human body.

 It has no relation with any religion and is widely used by devotees for spiritual upliftment and unfolding of Consciousness.

 Goddess Gayatri is an incarnation of Goddess Saraswati…She is believed to have given the 4 Vedas to Mankind…She is depicted seated on a lotus…the presiding deity of the mantra is Lord Sun, who inspires wisdom through cosmos.

My friend Rohini Gupta informs me that there is a longer version of the Gayatri Mantra which is only used for breathing exercises: Pranayam. 

It is not a mantra for recitation. the version for recitation is the short version. Many foreign books do not know that the longer version is not used for chanting so they only give that version.  It is not common in India since it is only used with breathing exercises.

It does not predate the short version. all versions appear in a five thousand year old text the Rig Veda.  they are just used for different purposes.

if you plan to do the Gayatri do only the short version.

 The Gayatri mantra was ‘discovered’ by Vishwamitra and it first appears in the third mandala of the Rig Veda.

The long Gayatri Mantra is used for pranayaam, breathing exercises. (the short form is used for chanting).

Om bhu Om bhuva Om swah Om mahah Om janah Om tapah Om satyam

tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhi yo yo nahah prachodayaat

Feedback from Readers on the topic of Gayatri Mantra :

From Kavitha

You wrote:

Can you please tell me if girls are allowed to chant the Gayatri Mantra and if not, why?

Dear Kavitha,

The Gayatri Mantra is considered a Mantra which gives tremendous ‘Shakti’ (Energy).

I suppose the men of yore did not want women to chant the above Mantra because women were an epitome of Shakti anyway. More likely, they did not want women to have more Shakti.

I believe that if you are an aggressive sort, you should chant Mantras to cool you.

In Kaliyuga (present times) all restrictions have been removed. Maybe because we are neither male nor female.   Soul has no gender.

From Rao

You wrote:


I came across your site through Rediff while searching for the meaning of the Gayatri mantra.

I have a question, I hope you can give me a correct answer and also enlighten me more about this mantra.

I have heard a lot of people tell many different stories regarding this mantra. I used to say this mantra every day three times in the morning and evening. Later I used to say it 108 times in the morning. But some people told me not to say this mantra, if I utter a word wrongly or without the correct tune this will have adverse effects on me. Hence I stopped saying it as I am also going through a very bad period time of life. But I remember my mother telling me that if even we try to utter GODS name HE forgives any wrong pronunciation as at least we made an attempt.

Please write to me about all my my doubts and also tell me the correct time and number of times to me utter it. I really will appreciate your help in enlightening and clearing my doubts.

Thank you in advance Rao

Dear Rao,

It is always right to utter the Lord’s name. So is my belief.

However the Gayatri mantra is considered a very powerful Mantra, so I would feel 3 times in the morning,3 times in the afternoon and 3 times at night is a good idea.

I don’t believe that it can have an adverse effect, if chanted with faith. However learn to chant it correctly.

How does its chanting make you feel?

Does it make you feel more energised?

Pray, and follow your intuition, your inner guide.

No, I don’t think you are going through a bad phase because of any ‘mistakes’ that you have committed.


You have a lovely website and I am a second year Sanskrit student not an expert but I am an Agnihotri and you should check your spelling of the third word in the Gayatri mantra – it is SVAH not SVAHA or SVAHAH which is the way of making offering at the end of this mantra in puja. Your translation is for SVAH the correct spelling or transliteration of the word for the heavens or ether, please check with other sources Iam quite sure many people confuse these two spellings of similar words that mean different things. I have seen many students of Agnihotra confuse this constantly. as I said you do have the definition correct and am sure you mean to spell SVAH. Namaste –

Peace & Purpose –

I have since followed the instructions of Niradhara


GLOSSARY (Pronunciation)

A Like in ‘but’

Aa Like in ‘Far’

Ai Like in ‘hair’

Ey Like in Whey

I Like in ‘Pin’

Oo Like in ‘Shoot’

Oon ‘n’ has got a nasal sound.

U Like in ‘Put’


Sanskrit believes that the sound of the word never gets ruined and that it has an everlasting value.

Words in Sanskrit open out from their seed (beej) form.

A root is always a single syllable that contains one of the basic sounds a, I, u, ri

The root or seed may create a word, yet the word will vibrate to its best, and gives it tremendous power.

The Vedic or the Sanskrit view gives more importance to the special sound it should produce, than to the meaning of the spoken word.