|Source:Dharma Vahini Chapter VII|
Power of Gayathri
All that is visible shines as Gayathri, for Vaak is Gayathri and all objects or Bhuthas are Vaak, indicated by Vaak and subsumed in Vaak. Vaak is speech or sound. It is Vaak that describes them, it is Vaak that declares them and it is Vaak that denotes them. All objects are also of the world or Prithvi. Nothing can go beyond it. This world is the body of man; he cannot leap out of his body. There is the Prana that sustains him; breath or the Prana is inside the Hridaya or "Heart". And, the Prana cannot move outside and beyond the Hridaya.
The Gayathri has four feet and six categories. The categories are: Vaak, Bhutha, Prithvi, Sariram, Prana and Hridaya - Speech, Objects, World, Body, Breath, and Heart. The Purusha that is extolled by this Gayathri is indeed exalted, sacred, glorious. All this objective multiplicity, as has been said, is but a fraction of his body. The number and nature, the measure and meaning of the objects or bhuthas are beyond understanding; yet all this is but a quarter of His Magnificence. The other three quarters are His Effulgent immortal Form.
It is impossible to grasp the mystery of that splendor filled Form. This Purusha indicated by the Gayathri is indeed referred to as Brahmam. He is the Aakaasa, beyond the comprehension of man; He is spoken of as, "Bahir dhapurushaakaasah." This is the mark of the waking stage; that Purusha is the Aakaasa, inside the personality of man. He is "Antah Purushaakaasah". That is the mark of the "dream stage". He is the Aakaasa inside the Hridaya of man. He fills it and fulfils it; that is the "deep sleep stage". Whoever knows this Truth attains Fullness and Brahmam. That is to say, he who knows the Three Avasthas of wakefulness, dream and deep sleep (Jagrath, Swapna and Sushupthi) is himself Brahmam. How ridiculous is it that man, known as Purusha, bearing the name of this Atmaswarupa should become the repository of egoism and consequent impurity, busy in the unholy pursuit of injustice! How calamitous! At least for being known even today as a "Purusha", man should try to practice the path that will endow him with an atom of that Glory.
Then, what to speak of Purushadharma? How can Purushas who have not cared to earn even the infinitesimal glory of the Primal Purusha be expected to practice Purusha Dharma? Not even the most diligent search will now reveal a fraction of it! As the ancient Rishi said:
Samdhyaa Heeno Suchirnithyamanathas Sarva Karmasu Yad Anyath Kuruthe Karmo No Thasya Phala Bhaag Bhaveth
That is to say, when the twice born gives up the Sandhya worship, he falls into perdition; so say all the Smrithis. Those who neglect the Sandhya worship have no right for other type of ritual. It is because the sages of ancient times performed the Sandhya worship for many years that they acquired long life, fame, glory, wisdom and the splendor of Divinity; this is mentioned by Manu also. Therefore from whatever point of view we consider, no Brahmin can deserve that status if he does not meditate on the Gayathri.
Of course what is meant by Brahmin in this context is the man who has realized the Brahmathathva and who has purified himself by the practice of the Brahmopasana, the ceaseless contemplation of the Brahmam. This has nothing to do with caste and even religion. But, those who have inherited the name Brahmin have a special responsibility in adhering to the Sandhya worship and the Gayathri.
What exactly is Sandhya? Sam means well and dhya is derived from dhyan and so Sandhya refers to the proper dhyana or intense meditation on the Lord. It means concentration on the Godhead. To fix the mind on God, the activities have to be controlled. For, success in that process of control one should overcome the handicaps of the Gunas, the Sathwa, the Rajas and the Thamas. When these faces of natural impulse predominate and try to direct along their channels, one must pray to God to negate their pull. That is the first duty of the man who strives towards God. It is the rule of nature, that the morning is the period of Sathwic quality, the "noon" of Rajasic nature and the "evening" hour of dusk of Thamasic nature. At dawn, the mind is awakened from the comfort of sleep liberated from agitations and depressions and so, the mind is calm and clear. At that time, in that mental condition, the dhyana of the Lord is very fruitful, as everyone knows. This is the reason why the Praathah-Sandhya is prescribed. But ignorant of the significance, men continue doing the ritual in a blind mechanical way, simply because the ancients have laid down the rule. The second duty of man is to perform the Sandhya-worship, after realizing the inner and deeper meaning of the same.
As day progresses, man is infused with the Rajoguna, the active effortful nature, and he enters the field of daily work and toll. Before he takes his noonday food, he is directed to meditate on the Lord again and to dedicate the work as well as the fruit derived through it, to the Lord Himself. He can start eating only after this act of devotion and grateful remembrance. This is the meaning of the Maadhyahnikam, the Noontime worship. By observing this ritual, Rajoguna is kept in check and it is overpowered by Sathwa nature. This is the third duty of all men.
Then, man is possessed by a third nature; the Thamas; when evening descends, he hurries home and eats his fill and sleep overpowers him. But, there is one duty still awaiting him. To eat and sleep is the fate of idlers and drones. When the worst of the gunas, the Thamas, threatens to rule, man must make a special effort to escape its coils by resorting to prayer, in the company of those who extol the Lord, reading about the glory of God, the cultivation of good virtues, and purposeful nursing of good rules of conduct. This is the evening Sandhya-vandanam, which is prescribed.
Therefore, the mind that emerges from the vacancy of sleep has to be properly trained and counseled; it must be made to feel that the bliss of Dhyana and the joy of being unaware of the outer world are much grander and more lasting than the comfort one gets by means of the daily dose of physical sleep. This bliss, this joy can be felt and realized by all; discrimination will bring this home to you. This is the fourth duty of man.
The man who, so long as he has life in him, observes the thrice a day Sandhya, is indeed of the highest type: he is ever glorious; he attains all that he desires. Above all, he is liberated, even while alive; he is jeevanmuktha.
Care must be taken to see that the Sandhya is not taken as a routine ritual, one among many laid down for observance. This is to be carried out, aware of the significance, dwelling on the inner meaning. One should clearly grasp the sense of the Gayathri Manthra. It is necessary to feel the identity between that Effulgent Being, the Atmaswarupa, mentioned therein and oneself. It is only those who are ignorant of its meaning that will neglect the Gayathri.
Manu lays special stress on just this: why he has declared the Gayathri is the very life-breath of the Brahmin. It is not his declaration only; it is the Truth. What is more efficient for spiritual uplift than Dhyana on the Effulgence that illumines and feeds the Intellect of Man? What is more vitally fruitful than the prayer, which pleads for saving the mind from sin-ward tendencies?
For man, there is no better armor than the cultivation of virtues. Manu states that the Brahmin will not lose his status-so long as he holds on to the Gayathri and is inspired by its meaning; he says that, if he is too weak to pursue the study of the Vedas, he must at least recite the Gayathri and adhere to it, till the very end. The Smrithi too says that there is no treasure richer than the Gayathri.
Soul-force can .accomplish all thc tasks of the world; and since--the Gayathri: confers inner strength to foster that force, it has to be cultivated with care at the right moment, without neglect. For the growth and development of the body pure Sathwic food is very necessary, is it not? So also, the effulgence of the Sun has to be drawn, to reinforce the inner effulgence of man in the form of Bhaavana, or creative imagination.
When soul-force waxes, the senses too are activated and directed along fruitful lines. When it wanes, the senses fail and fail you. So, if the solar energy is drawn at that very juncture, it will be as seeds planted in season, the harvest is assured. Can darkness hide and confuse when the sun has risen and bathed the earth in splendor? Can sorrow prevail, when we have infused ourselves with that effulgence? How can we be devoid of strength, the strength derived from the very fountainhead of Brahman? The technique of this process has been laid down by the ancients, for the benefit of all aspirants. Learn and practice it; by your own experience, you will be able to witness the Truth of their path.
Of what purpose is the Upanayana sacrament? Which is the Manthra that you are initiated into that day? Why has that Manthra alone to be taught then? Why are other mystic formulae not given equal prominence? Reflect on these matters and then you will find that the Gayathri is the Monarch of Manthras. You will also find the rituals shining with a new meaning, the rituals and restrictions full of purpose; the deeds and activities of the ancients will seem worth while. If you do not try to know the significance, you will interpret them as your fancy leads and land yourselves in tricks and stratagems, to escape the obligations of life. You will be caught in injustice and negation, Anyaya and Adharma.
Well, what is the real meaning of the word Gayathri? Does any one try to know it today? The word is taken to mean either a Goddess or a formula. Gayathri is that which protects (Thra) the Gaya-s, or Pranas or the Indriyas, beginning with Vaak. Besides, it is said, "Gaayantham thraayathe yasmaad gayathri, thena thathyathe." That is to say that which saves those who sing it, or revere it and repeat it or meditate on it is called Gayathri. It is this sacred Manthra that transformed a Rajarshi like Viswamithra into Brahmarshi. The Vedamaatha, the mother that is the Veda, will confer all boons on all those who worship Her. That Goddess is described in glorious terms in Brahmanas and in the Dharmasuthras: if you understand these clearly, you can realize it, unaided.
Dharma imbued with such deep mysteries, is today rationalized and interpreted willfully in various paltry senses, that is the reason why the decline of Dharma has come about. So, it is imperative to revive Sanathana Dharma and the principles of interpretation natural to the Atmic Truth, which is the basis of Dharma. Otherwise, the meaning will be changed out of all recognition and the whims of individuals will prevail. Every act will be stamped as Dharma whatever its nature!