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Sun and Clarity of Thinking: The Gayatri Mantra

Surya Tahora

Author: Surya Tahora

Date: Tue, 2017-07-11 17:05

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम्‌

भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्‌।

om bhūrbhuvaḥ svaḥ tat saviturvareṇyam

bhargo devasya dhīmahi dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt |

Om, the cause of everything, the earth,

the space in between and the worlds above.

That (Lord) is the one who is the most worshipful.

We invoke that effulgent, all knowing (Lord).

May (the Lord) set our minds in the right direction.


I could pray for anything, power, fame, money, job, house, etc. O Lord, give me this, and this, and this…This would be endless and changing all the time. It is fine and we can pray for all of these. But is there any prayer which would be more fundamental, that would encompass everything? One thing I can ask for that would take me all the way? Yes, it is prayer for clarity of thinking. Why?

Because life consists of situations we have to face. In every situation of my life, I have to make decisions. Life is thus nothing but a series of decisions. With reference to my desires and actions, what to pursue and what to leave aside? What should be my priorities? What is the basis of my choices? Sometimes things are not so clear, there are grey areas and I can get confused. With reference to results of actions/situations, how to know the difference between the situations where I can bring a change, using my will and effort, and the situations I cannot change and have to accept, or simply learn from?

One of the meanings of Gayatri mantra is therefore: ‘May the Lord brighten our minds and make us think properly; may we have clarity of thinking, may You help us come out of our confusion and subjectivity, so we can make proper decisions in our lives.’ Once one has that clarity, that objectivity, one can live life fully, in an effective and intelligent manner.

The word to word meaning is as follows:

Om – The name of the Lord, the one who sustains, protects this world and is a source of all blessings.

bhūrbhuvaḥ svaḥ – what is this Om ? It is manifest in the form of everything. Om is bhūḥ, the earth, Om is bhuvaḥ, above the earth and Om is svaḥ , all what is beyond the scope of our perception, whatever is unknown to us.

The Lord is in the form of all these three worlds; Om sustains, pervades, and permeates everything. Nothing in the universe is separate from the Lord. All that is here is the Lord.

dhīmahi – we pray to, invoke. The prayer is in the first person plural. Why? Because our well being as individuals depends upon the well being of others. So this prayer includes all people around us.

tat vareṇyam – That Om, tat, who is vareṇyam, the most worshipful, the one to be invoked, whose blessing is to be sought

devasya savitudevasya, an effulgent being, like the shining sun, savitu, which is free from darkness (ignorance), and is thus all knowing.

We can also say devasya , the effulgent being who is in the form of savituh, the sun. The sun stands for the solar system and by extension to all galaxies, stars, quasars, black holes, etc., the entire cosmos.

ya bharganaḥ dhiya pracodayāt ya bharga, the one who is resplendent, who burns darkness, confusion and ignorance – pracodayāt, may this Lord brighten, set in proper direction – naḥ dhiya, our minds

Additional notes :

Gayatri has other deeper meanings which open up when one begins to study the Upanishads and the Gita. I mentioned briefly a few of them in the word by word meaning. The nature of the Lord who is invoked is quietly introduced in the first part of the prayer. As we saw, all that is here is manifestation of all knowledge and all power which is the cause of the universe.

The word vareṇyam also means that the Lord must be chosen by you, chosen to be known by you. The truth is that Isvara is me and that equation, I have to choose to understand. The prayer then becomes a prayer for knowledge, for gaining clarity in understanding this oneness. ‘Let me dwell upon, contemplate upon the nature of Isvara, the cause of the universe and myself. Let me see clearly the essential non difference between Isvara and me, like  wave (the individual) and ocean (Isvara) are nothing but water (limitless consciousness and existence).’


Originally published at: Bridges to Oneness



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Very nice article sir. Gayatri Mantra is considered as one of the oldest and most powerful mantra in Hinduism be it Dwait or Adwait. Some books or divine people say that its for Lord Sun, but actually it is for the lord of everything, lord of light & lord of enlightenment. As Surya sir has written above that Om is bhūḥ, Om is bhuvaḥ, and Om is svaḥ, Om is beyond the universe. Though the first written form of Gayatri Mantra was chronicled in world’s oldest sculpture which is the very first Veda RigVed around 3000 years ago. But it is to be considered as much older Mantra. The word ÖM” is itself considered as mysterious word and nobody knows from where it was originated. It is to be considered as very first audible word when Lord Brahma & Lord Vishnu saw the light pillar which had no end. Om has the power of all vedas in itself. It is beyond every light, power or material of entire universe. There is no start or end of Om. And when it is added to Bhur bhava Swaha, it creates uncontrolled energy from the inner self unconscious mind. There is no clear fact which can confirm the origin of Gayatri Mantra, but it is said that when King Vishwamitra stayed with Sage Vashishtha, he was impressed with Kamdhenu cow and used all his power to defeat the great Sage. But when he was unsuccessful, he understood that it’s not Kamdhenu but Rishi himself has all the powers. So King Vashishtha went to pray for years but could not get “Brahmrishi” tag due to his anger and Menaka episode. Then he came back with frustrations to Vashishtha ji. But there he heard that Sage is talking to his wife and praising Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra felt guilty and started hitting his head on a wall in remorse, then Vashishtha ji reached to him. Vishwamitra fell onto feet of Sage Vashishtha ji, he immediately felt a divine light & energy passing thru his brain & body. At this time he heard a shlok which was Gayatri Mantra. Sage Vashishtha gave him the biggest rishi tag i.e. Brahmrishi. The meaning: "May the Almighty God illuminate our intellect to lead us along the righteous path".

ॐ भूर्भुवः स्वः तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यम् , भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् || उस प्राण स्वरूप, दुःखनाशक, सुखस्वरूप, श्रेष्ठ, तेजस्वी, पापनाशक, देवस्वरूप परमात्मा को हम अंतःकरण में धारण करें। वह परमात्मा हमारी बुद्धि को सन्मार्ग में प्रेरित करे। There are two different aspects of Gayatri mantra, one beautifully explained by sir in which Gayatri mantra is juxtaposed as the sun the creator of life and another one as the prayer of Lord Brahma’s consort “VedMata Gayatri” incarnation of Goddess Saraswati. Gayatri mantra is one of those powerful mantras which is called the seed mantra in Hindu religion. Both the forms implies the basic essence as choosing the righteous wisdom. It implies that the eternal power of universe who is the destroyer of sadness, reason of happiness, destroyer of sins, we inherit that incredible source of energy in our souls. That power of truth motivates us to follow the path of moral enlightenment and ethical exuberance. Gayatri mantra followers are considered as a member of same family and meditation is next step towards this path of self-awareness. Meditation is proved scientifically as a mode to increase gray matter in our mind which in turn help up to think in a much-focused manner. This is in line with the concept of finding the righteous path.Gayatri mantra is basically the realization of God by realizing the self power and potential prior to realization of God. The sequence of worshiping as per Vedas includes Atmashodan i.e. purification of oneself by sprinkling water. Dev pooja by dedicating water, rice, flowers , incense and lighted lamp and Prasada. These all the symbol of a healthy ecosystem and the basic requirement of human dwelling. Jap and Dhyan are forms of meditation that brings the unnecessary movement of mind to halt and illuminate and calm one's mind. Finally, Surya Ardha or Visarjan is offering the water to the sun and collectively gather energy from two different sources of energies. On the whole, Gayatri Mantra is one of the most powerful mantras that enlighten our life and soul for the betterment of humanity.

Thank you for this great piece of article. Lord Surya, the Sun is the prime of the nine classical planets according to Hindu mythology. He is the supreme deity of solar dynasty. In Vedic astrology, Surya implicates general vitality, courage, will power, soul, fame, authority and highly placed person. Surya is regarded as the Lord of three lunar mansions namely, Uttara Ashadha, Uttara Phalguni and Krittika. He is considered God of power, strength, healing and courage. In Hindu Mythology, there are several vedic mantras in the praise of Surya one amongst them the most powerful one is the “Gaythri mantra”. Surya Deva, also known as Suraya or Phra Athit, is the main solar deity in Hinduism It is said that Lord Surya has three wives- Saranyu, Ragyi and Prabha. The two sons of Surya, Shani and Yama, are responsible for the judgement of human life span. In Ramayana he has been described as the father of Sugriva, who helped Ram and Lakshman in defeating Ravan. In the great epic Mahabharata, the greatest warrior Karna has been regarded as the son of the supreme deity Lord Surya and the Princess Kunti. Lord Surya has often been depicted riding a one wheeled chariot that is pulled by seven horses. It is believed by many great men that the seven horses represent the seven colors of rainbow or the seven chakras in the body. I have been a worshiper of Lord Surya. The peace & the belief of seeing the lord Surya can’t be compared with any of the temple visit. He is the only creator of the universe and the source of all life. Worshiping Lord Surya with Gaythri Mantra every morning brings utmost energy within one. The ability of the Sun to shine brightest motivates me to perform at optimum level.

The mantra is an expression of gratitude, to the Sun God, Surya. It is a prayer of praise that awakens and liberates. The Vedas say, “To chant the Gayathri Mantra purifies the chanter. To listen to the Gayathri Mantra purifies the listener”. According to the Vedas, there are seven spheres of existence, each more spiritually advanced than the previous one. It is said that through spiritual awareness and development, we can move through these spheres and ultimately merge with the Supreme Being. By chanting this mantra, Divine spiritual light and power is infused in each of our seven chakras and connects them to these seven great spiritual spheres of existence. Before the creation of Vedas, Brahma- the creator, has created Gayatri Mantra consisting of twenty-four letters. Every letter of this Mantra has a conscious energy field from which have originated the four Vedas. Just like a tree that grows from a tiny seed, the twenty-four letters of Gayatri Mantra bloomed and manifested themselves in the stupendous, all-encompassing Vedic literature. The utterance of different words has its impact on different glands and by such impact the energy of these glands gets stimulated. Swami Vivekananda translated the Gayatri Mantra thus: We meditate upon the glory of that Being who has produced this Universe. May he enlighten our minds.

Diagnosis-Correcting the Perspective We human beings are innately pleasure seeking beings. The whole human existence can be described as a series of arduous endeavours towards certain goals that dangle the promise of worldly pleasures before us. The very fleeting nature of these goals often renders the resulting experience deprived of ecstasy or at worse is many times fraught with frustrations. Yet we keep designing the plans/schemes for attaining pleasures at each progressive stage of life as the longing for enjoyment never ends. Hence, we are trapped in the temporal desires arising in our minds. The fulfilment of such desires only provides temporary happiness. Permanent happiness can only be achieved by realizing the real purpose of our life. The ancient Vedic scriptures offer us a philosophical insight into field of activity of human mind and consciousness. It points out the flawed bodily conception of life as the cause of perennial human suffering. Such a misidentification of our eternal individuality with the perishable body confines our life-long pursuits at the material realm thereby inhibiting our spiritual growth. The Vedas seek to correct this fundamental perspective by declaring that we are at our core, eternal spiritual souls undergoing a human experience. We all are fragmented part and parcel of the Supreme Spiritual reality. This cardinal understanding forms the basis of one's quest for Absolute Truth. Therapy-Internalising the Perspective Having thus diagnosed the philosophical inconsistencies that characterise the modern human society, the Vedas further prescribe a slew of therapeutic mantra meditation techniques- the most sublime and foremost among them being the GAYATRI MANTRA mentioned in the RIGVEDA. 'man'-the mind 'tra'- the instrument to transport the mind from a state of restlessness to tranquillity. GAYATRI MANTRA is in essence a prayer to the Supreme Lord whose cosmic glance upon fallible human beings shall at once dissipate the prevailing darkness and illuminate our minds. The Supreme Lord or Spiritual reality is also referred to as the predominating deity of the sun whose fiery golden effulgence illuminates the sun and its radiance sustains life on Earth. It begins with the salutation OM- the transcendental cosmic sound vibration that represents Supreme Spirit pervading the entire universe. The ancient yogis of BHARAT meditated upon this mantra to access the realm of ecstatic divinity. The transcendental vibrations produced upon chanting the mantra and the simultaneous mental focus on the sound serve to activate the inner brain cell activity to sharpen the memory, bring mental clarity and broaden the horizon of intellect to enable it to penetrate through the sphere of cosmic intelligence. Mantra meditation creates an intellectual environment within, to dovetail our bounded human consciousness with boundless spiritual consciousness. Vedic literature explains that the sound vibration which can elevate one from mundane mental speculation to a state of enlightened bliss is called GAYATRI. The Bhagavad Gita in its tenth chapter validates the above point wherein the Supreme Lord proclaims the GAYATRI MANTRA to be His poetical incarnation which creates the most salubrious effect on human beings when sincerely meditated upon. GAYATRI is indeed GOD as POETRY.

Thank you for the insightful article, sir. I truly believe that the Gayatri Mantra is at the fore-front of all Vedic hymns. I also resonate with the idea that if we must ask the almighty God for anything, it should be ‘clarity of thought’. I wish to take the idea forward and pray for ‘control over words and action’. Applying this chain of thought to a business setting, I understand that while on one hand we must have clarity of thought about what we want and how we can achieve it, on the other hand we must also have control over what we say and what we do. I am currently reading a book on case studies and consulting as a profession, where the importance of clarity of thoughts has been highlighted. It also says that there must be coherence between what we think, what we say and what we do. The big three consulting firms – McKinsey, Bain and BCG check for this coherence in candidates and it is embedded in their selection process. What I found fascinating is that the wisdom of our age-old sages is still applicable to this date and it is left to our interpretation of how to squeeze their essence and apply. Though it is debatable if praying helps directly to our cause, it is evident that praying helps us realize the intensity of the object of our prayer. The very act of praying gives us clarity of thought and opens pathways to greater consciousness. In this context, the prayer Om Saha Naav[au]-Avatu | Saha Nau Bhunaktu | Saha Viiryam Karavaavahai | Tejasvi Naav[au]-Adhiitam-Astu Maa Vidvissaavahai | Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih || provides us more insight about what our object of desire should be. And it is to pray for protection and nourishment of our spirits, desire to work together with energy and vigour, and every path of our journey taking us towards enlightenment. Pondering over these verses lead us to understand the path we must take and how we must move forward to achieve enlightenment. In a business context, it would mean to work objectively towards our goals with passion and vigour. The path we take must be full of learning and we must improve incrementally. As our beloved Dean sir says, it is not the number of years of experience that count but the various experiences we have in the number of years that does. Converging both ideas together, I believe it is relevant today that we must have clarity of thought and that we need coherence of thoughts, speech and action. The act of applying philosophy to business and gaining useful insights, as propounded by Mr. Devdutt Pattanaik, is gaining foothold and articles of value as written by you, sir, provide young minds with the opportunity to think and grow consciously. From the Gayatri mantra we understand to pray for clarity of thought and from ‘Saha naav avatu’, we understand the importance of the journey against ‘means to an end’. Thank you once again for this beautiful article.

The Gayatri Mantra reminds me of my childhood when my grandmother had taught me the mantra and I used to recite it every day. Today I remember the verses but the meaning is blurred in front of me. I would like to thank Professor Surya for this enlightening article and teaching me the meaning of the mantra that is practical and applicable in today’s times. The article very beautifully defines who the lord is. It says lord can exist in two forms- Nature and the one chosen by you. The one chosen by you is a part of you who you aspire to become and pray for its existence. We always pray for material desires such as money, house, good job, or immaterial such as power, fame etc. There are many superstitions associated with prayers such as whisper your wish in the ears of mouse in Ganesh temple, do not share your wish with anyone till it comes true etc. I can recall from childhood when elders used to teach children to ask for something while praying such as good marks in exams, good health. As I grew up and knew that I can ask for only thing at one time, I had to ask for many things in such a way that it encompassed all my wishes. It always ended me in confusion about what to ask for and then I used to ask for strength to fight all odds and achieve whatever I want on my own. Through this article, professor puts his opinion very strikingly that we should always ask for clarity of thought. This clarity of thought will help us in taking important decisions in life. I would like to quote professor, “Life is nothing but a series of decisions”. I could really connect with this statement and when I look at my life with this perspective, it gives me the power that I can control the course of my life and take it in the direction I want. The article says “the most worshipful is the one who is free of ignorance and thus is all knowing” and this we pray to the one who we aspire to become. We pray to the Sun, who burns darkness and sets our minds in proper directions. Sometimes I doubt the importance of prayer and wonder, does it really help? I read an article that said prayers help you in realizing your aspirations and prepare you mentally to achieve them. It helps you to decide which decision is more important to you at this point of time and thus it validates the point of Professor Surya that prayers help us in taking the best decisions. I would once again like to congratulate you Professor for this wonderful article and helping me rebuild my faith on the importance of prayers and how it can help me decide the course of my life.

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