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Gayatri The  Profound Prayer
Gayatri The Profound Prayer
Description
Back of The Book

Gayatri is a profound prayer. It is an authentic prayer that elevates, exhilarates and enlightens. According to Hindu scriptures, a prayer in its real sense is not just chanting of a few verses. It is a comprehensive exercise that involves jnana (knowledge), dhyana (meditation) and anubhava (experience). Gayatri Mahamantara is a true prayer that not only reaches out but also reaches in.

Gayatri is chanted as a Mahamantra worshipped as the Mother Goddess and expressed as a Meter. It is not a prayer for worldly and material benefits. Gayatri is a prayer for the highest enlightenment. It is a prayer that opens up our mind and vision, body and intellect to a world beyond the worldly attachments. It is a prayer that leads to the Ultimate’s Truth and Supreme Bliss that every enlightened human being seeks.

Gayatri, like the Vedas, is meant for the entire mankind, in irrespective of gender, caste, creed, religion or nationality. It is a profound prayer that can touch and transform every human being.

This book is a good read for everyone who believes in the efficacy of prayer and meditation. It is a good read for everyone who wishes to gain an insight into the breadth and depth of ancient Indian wisdom –the Sanathana Dharma. This informative book is meant for every generation, both young and old.

 

About The book

Gayatri is a scared Mahamantar. It is a universal prayer. The Vedas, Upanishads, puranas and various other ancient Hindu scriptures sing in one voice the glory of Gayatri- the profound prayer. Since the Vedic times, Gayatri has been a daily prayer of the Hindus, chanted every morning and evening, addressed to Savitr, the power behind the sun. Gayatri is considered the most exalted prayer, because unlike the other mantras, it does not seek material or worldly gains. It is a prayer that seeks the highest enlightenment, the realization of the Supreme Being , which according to our Sanathana Dharma, is the highest goal of every the prayer or meditation meant for men and women everywhere, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or nationality.

 

Author

R.K. Madhukar is a Retired General Manager of Canara Bank, settled in Bangalore. He was associated with the world of Banking and Finance for nearly forty years. He has written books on Bank Marketing, business Communication, Customer Relations and Developing Managerial Skills. His book, ‘Business Communication,’ is a prescribed Text and Reference book for MBA, MCA and other professional and graduate courses in several institutes and universities across India.

‘Gayatri-The Profound Prayer’ is the author’s first spiritual book. Writing it has been a divine spiritual experience for him. It has been written at the behest of Swami Balakrishnanada Saraswathi, founder of Gayatri Tapobhoomi, Tadas, Hubli, Karnataka.

 

Preface

It is with great pleasure and a sense of humility that I offer this book to our readers. Writing "Gayatri - The Profound Prayer" has been a unique experience, a fulfilling journey in terms of spiritual progression. This being my first book on a spiritual subject, I have written it after significant research and sourcing of material. As listed under "References", I have gone through a large body of available literature on the subject, widely diffused, not only in English but also in Kannada. It is from all these sources that I have gathered the required insights and conceptual clarity so essential for writing this book.

True to my name, I have been a honey bee (madhukara) and collected the nectar bit by bit from all these valuable sources. I acknowledge my sincere gratitude to all these authors and would like to particularly express my deep sense of indebtedness to Swami Chinmayananda, Sri Chandrasekh- arendra Saraswati, Raimundo Panikkar, I.K. Taimni, John Woodroffe, Krishnaswamy Iyer, Eknath Easwaran, Swami Kriyananda, Swami Harshananda, Svami Mukhyananda and other Swamijis of the Ramakrishna Math, and several others whom I have profusely quoted in this book.

First and foremost, I should express my deep sense of gratitude to Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi, our Swamiji, who saw the spiritual spark in me, and has impelled and emboldened me to write this book.

This book would not have been possible but for the ready and willing support I have received from several quarters.

I must acknowledge the role played by my mother, Smt. Sitabai Kulkarni, who since my childhood has instilled a sense of spiritual orientation and encouraged me in writing this book.

Chethan Sharma, a Vedic scholar-cum-Engineer, made avail- able to me his extensive collection of rare and relevant books and also supported my efforts by confirming the original scriptures from which I have quoted and translated.

Anand Kulkarni, Aparna Kulkarni and Anuj Kulkarni who have been closely involved in the activities of Sri Gayatri Tapobhoomi have, besides giving their full encouragement, arranged valuable meetings with our Swamiji to interact on the subject and complete the Question and Answer session with him.

Rohit Kulkarni, my son, has worked relentlessly in designing and typesetting, verifying sources and virtually taking care of the minutest details to make the Camera-Ready- Copy(CRC) complete and concrete.

This book was written during my six-month stay in Dallas, USA between May and October 2013. During this stay, I received immense support from Vinay Nooji and Anjana Kulkarni, who enthusiastically provided the physical facilities, timely computer support and also useful comments on the first draft of the book.

My grandson, Ayan, who arrived 'as a new entrant into our family as the book was being written, provided the much needed relaxing moments in overcoming the fatigue of constant writing. Every newborn, it is said, is God's opinion that the world should go on. How True!

Alaka, my wife, who has been a friend and a guide in all my creative endeavors has been, once again, a constant source of encouragement in writing this book.

Sreekanth Kulkarni has prepared the artwork for the photo of Goddess Gayatri Mata and logo of Gayatri Tapobhoomi.

My special thanks are also due to Shri Rajeev Prakash Jain and Smt. Jyotsna Khandelwal of New Age Books for readily undertaking the printing, publishing and promotion of this book.

 

Introduction

Gayatri is a subject of very deep significance for it is concerned with the relation between man and the universe and the Reality which underlines both. It is necessary therefore that in studying the subject the reader should be familiar with the basic philosophy of Hinduism which defines the relation between these three fundamental realities of the manifested universe. It is only against the backdrop of such philosophy that the subject can be properly studied and appreciated.

Gayatri is a Mahamantra, a prayer of universal relevance. It is not a mere chanting of a few words. It is the gateway to Knowledge Infinite. Gayatri is a spiritual journey. It is a path to Self-Realization, Atman or Ultimate Reality. It is an experience in totality. It is a comprehensive prayer for the body, mind, and the intellect. It calls for proper breathing, healthy body, a controlled mind, and deep concentration. It is communion with God Supreme. It helps us focus our intellect and open our eyes to the world within. It is a prayer, mantra and a source of meditation combined into one. It leads the practitioner to peace, light, knowledge, and bliss. Gayatri is Para Brahma, Parameswara, Surya Narayana and Atma Rama. It has been described as a search, a quest and an adventure. That is why ancient Rishis herald that Gayatryastu param japam na bhutam na bhavishyati. There is nothing superior to the Gayatri, not in the past, not in the future. It is called Mantra Raja, king of prayers.

Gayatri is also worshipped as Devi Gayatri, Mother Goddess. She resides as Shakti or Supreme Energy in every one of us. As Gayatri Devi, She is invested with a form, face and at- tributes. She becomes the recipient of dhyana sloka or prayer hymns. The third dimension of Gayatri relates to the Gayatri Chandas. In ancient literature, Gayatri is known as Chandasa Matha or Mother of Meters. Gayatri thus assumes utmost significance in Sanathana Dharma as a three-dimensional splendor-Mahamantra, Mother Goddess and Meter.

In order to fully understand and appreciate the significance of Gayatri, as enunciated by various scriptures, and as experienced by the Rishis, saints, seers, scholars and sadhaks, both ancient and modern, we need to study the subject against the vast canvas of Sanathana Dharma, the ancient Hindu literature in its totality. As the renowned author, LK. Taimni notes, Gayatri is a subject of deep significance that can be appreciated fully only against the backdrop of the rich philosophy of Hinduism and a good understanding of the ancient Hindu wisdom.

Accordingly, we have divided this book into eight sections. These are (1) Religion and Spirituality, (2) Sanathana Dharma, (3) God Almighty-The Supreme Power, (4) Body, Mind and Intellect, (5) Spiritual Enlightenment, (6) Gayatri-Mahamantra, Mother Goddess and Meter, (7) Speaking From Experience, and (8) Sum and Substance. We have tried to make this book as inclusive as possible and cover all the major concepts dealt with by the ancient texts and elucidated by saints, seers and scholars before actually taking up the subject of Gayatri. Gayatri, in all its grace, glory and fullness can be understood and appreciated only when we become familiar with the ideas, concepts and ancient Hindu wisdom against which Gayatri assumes its profound significance.

We should start at the very beginning by asking a host of relevant questions. What is religion? What is the inter-relationship between man (woman included), God and religion? What is the Global Religious Landscape? What have been the basic tenets of the major religions of the world? Can religion be a guide to practical living? What do spirituality and philosophy mean? Is God a physical, material object or a spiritual realization? These questions have been discussed in the first section of the book under 'Religion and Spirituality’.

The second section of the book called 'Sanatliana Dharma' attempts to bring forth the central message contained in the expansive ancient Hindu literature. What are the Vedas, the most ancient sacred works, not only of India, but for the entire world? What makes the Vedas the most precious legacy of knowledge passed on to the people at large? What are Upanishads and why are they considered the quintessence of Hindu spiritual wisdom? How should we, from the modern perspective look at the Puranas? All these apart, we also take a brief note of other invaluable texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Itihasas, Yoga Sutra and the like.

Prayer and worship have been an integral part of human life since the beginning of human civilization. Why are prayer and worship so significant in the lives of men and women? And, probably, the most elusive question confronting men and women over the ages, ''What really is God?" Is God a He, She, Father, Mother, Young or Old? Is God like a nor- mal human being or somebody with four hands, three eyes, five faces, and so on? Is God having any particular form or totally formless? Is God a form and a face or only a principle? Is the world we live in the only world or are there other worlds? These questions are discussed in the third section of this book called 'God Almighty - The Supreme Power'.

Men and women are endowed with not only the body, but also with the mind, intellect and ego. That is why human beings have been described as the 'crown and crest' of all creation. Spiritual enlightenment can take place only when the body, mind and intellect together constitute a vehicle fit enough for the long and eventful journey. So, the fourth section of this book deals with various facets of the human body, mind and intellect. It discusses the human body de-scribed in the ancient texts referring to koshas and chakras, pranayama or the right way of breathing, three gunas or characteristics inherent in every human being, and also the impact of food on human body, especially in the context of spiritual pursuits. Mind constitutes the most crucial instrument for any spiritual traveler. A healthy mind, a calm and undisturbed mind, and a controlled mind is a must. As we progress in our pursuits, we should be aware of the dormant power called kundalini that lies within us and awaken it. All these aspects have been discussed in the fourth section called 'Body, Mind, and Intellect'.

Gayatri is all about spiritual enlightenment. This spiritual enlightenment comes from long drawn and sustained spiritual journey. The metaphysical world, that is what lies be- yond our five senses, is often described by the Latin expression mysterium tremendum et fascinans - a mystery that is at once awe inspiring yet fascinating. Sanathana Dharma throws light on the metaphysical world towards unravelling this mystreium tremendum. Ancient Hindu scriptures deal with the various paths and methods for undertaking the spiritual journey. As we move on the chosen path, we should be clear about the various concepts of relevance for our pursuits. Is our world a reality or maya, an illusion? Which are the different paths to enlightenment and liberation? What is the role of japa, tapa and yajna? Gayatri is essentially a prayer and a meditation. Hence, we have discussed at some length the significance, benefits and methods of meditation. How does one achieve Pure Consciousness and attain Self-Realization or Atman? Spiritual enlightenment results in realizing Para Brahma. So we discuss Para Brahma as distinct from Brahma and the Trinity of Gods.

What are mantras and stotras? What is Chandas or meter? Do heaven and hell really exist? What is sin and the related suffering? Related to the idea of heaven and hell is the Theory of Karma, a unique feature of Hindu philosophical wisdom. Moving on, we deliberate on related subjects like the mark of a True Brahmana, the significance of Shodasha Samskaras or Hindu sacraments, and the relevance of rituals and ceremonies. Guru, or the teacher, is a person held in high esteem in Hinduism. We, therefore, turn our attention to the role of Guru and end the discussion on the fifth section called 'Spiritual Enlightenment' with a brief account of the women in Vedic literature.

The sixth section of this book, called 'Gayatri - Mahamantra, Mother Goddess and Meter' deals with the three-dimensional splendor of Gayatri. First and foremost, Gayatri is the most ancient and sacred prayer of the Hindus. It is a Mahamantra, a profound prayer. The primordial sound, Aum, also known as Pranava, is considered to be the condensed version of Gayatri. Gayatri mantra is addressed to Savitr, the power behind the Sun. We take note of why Gayatri is regarded as the most sacred and efficacious mantra and what does one achieve by meditating on this mantra. Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and other scriptures sing in unison the glory of this profound prayer.

The origin of Gayatri is traced to Lord Brahma, the Creator of this Universe and Gayatri is recognized as Vedamatha or the Mother of Vedas. The relationship between Surya and Gayatri, Gayatri, Saraswati, and Savitri, and Aum and Gayatri is also dealt with. There is also some coverage on Brahma Gayatri and Viswamitra Gayatri and the Pushkar story. Apart from being a Mahaman tra, Gayatri is also worshipped as Mother Goddess. What is the significance of this? Taking this aspect further, we also look at the dhyana slokas describing Gayatri and the different Gayatris addressed to various Gods and Goddesses.

We also elucidate the word-by-word meaning of the Gayatri Mahamantra in an endeavor to bring out the depth of meaning in this prayer hymn. We discuss Sandhya Vandana, the Hindu's daily prayer involving Gayatri, and Upanayana, the Hindu sacrament with which the Hindus take their Gayatri Upadesha and commence their Vedic studies. There is also a mention of how the Gayatri mantra helps in awakening Kundalini, the dormant power. That women have an equal right to this profound mantra is underlined with the help of ancient texts and reiterations from saints and scholars. Gayatri is significant as not just a prayer but also a fulfilling experience. Gayatri japa, dhyana and upasana signify relent- less pursuits by practitioners or sadhaks in search of enlightenment and bliss. We take a look at some of the well-known sadhaks or achievers and what they have to say on Gayatri. We end this section by discussing the third dimension of Gayatri, viz. the Gayatri Chandas or Meter.

In a special section of this book titled 'Speaking From Experience', we cover a profile of and present a Question and Answer session with Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi, an accomplished Gayatri Sadhak, who has devoted himself wholly to the propagation of the sacred message of Gayatri.

This book ends with a section called 'Sum and Substance' where we sum up the cardinal principles from Sanathana Dharma and the takeaways from this comprehensive study of Gayatri. There is indeed a precious set of lessons from the rich treasure of ancient wisdom which can guide us in making our everyday lives healthier, happier, enlightening and blissful.

The Appendices to this book present three pieces of information sourced from the Internet. One, the landmark judgment from the Madras High Court, underlining the universality of ancient Hindu wisdom and the fact that Gayatri Mantra is a secular prayer that goes beyond all religions. Two, the declaration by an American scientist from his extensive research study in Hamburg University, Germany that Gayatri Mantra is the most rewarding mantra or prayer hymn among all the prayer hymns in the world. Three, the lessons we can learn from Bali, Indonesia where Gayatri mantra is taught in every school and broadcast daily by their Radios.

Every chapter of this book starts with an appropriate quote drawn from ancient texts, saints and scholars and authors of repute, providing an inkling of what that chapter is set to cover.

As mentioned in the Preface, I have sourced, the material for this book from numerous authentic works of renowned and scholarly writers. Although I have not quoted the specific stanza and sloka numbers, so as to enhance reality, I have made every effort to ensure their correctness. Even then, we need to note that scriptures like the Vedas and Upanishads often state the same truth in different ways, with slight variations and there could be some overlap.

 

Contents

 

  Preface lX
  Introduction Xl
  SECTION I: RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY  
1 Religion, God and Man 3
A The Global Religious Landscape 5
B Chronology of Major Religions 7
C Beyond Rituals - A Guide to Practical Living 9
D Christianity, Islam and Hinduism 11
2 Religion, Spirituality and Philosophy 15
3 God - A Spiritual Realization 19
  SECTION II: SANATHANA DHARMA  
4 Ancient Hindu Literature 25
A The Vedas 29
B The Upanishads 35
C The Puranas 40
D Other Ancient Scriptures 42
  SECTION Ill: GOD ALMIGHTY - THE SUPREME POWER  
5 Prayer and Worship 49
6 God - Form, Face and Principle 55
A God - With Form and Without Form 58
B One God - Many Faces 62
7 God of All Gods - The Supreme Being 65
8 Brahmanda - The Fourteen Worlds 68
  SECTION IV: BODY, MIND AND INTELLECT  
9 The Human Body 77
10 Koshas and Chakras 82
11 Pranayama 89
12 Three Gunas 93
13 Our Food 99
14 Conditioning the Mind 102
  SECTION V: SPIRITUAL ENliGHTENMENT  
15 Kundalini - The Dormant Power 111
16 Maya - The Illusion 115
17 Four Yogas 119
18 Japa, Tapa and Yajna 125
19 Dhyana - The Path of Meditation 133
20 Brahmi Muhurtha and Sandhya 141
21 Para Brahma, Brahma and The Trinity 145
22 Pure Consciousness, Self-Realization and Atman 151
23 Mantras and Stotras 159
24 Chandas or Meter 165
25 Heaven, Hell and Sin 169
26 Karma - The Theory of Re-Birth 175
27 A True Brahmana 180
28 Shodasha Samskaras - The Hindu Sacraments 185
29 Significance of Rituals and Ceremonies 191
30 Guru - The Gateway to God 196
31 Women in Vedic Literature 202
  SECTION VI: GAYATRI - MAHAMANTRA, MOTHER GODDESS ANDMETER  
32 Aum or Pranava 207
33 Surya, Savitri, and Savitri 217
34 Gayatri Mahmantra 223
35 Scriptures and Gayatri 233
36 Brahma Gayatri and Viswamitra Gayatri 237
37 Brahma and Gayatri- The Pushkar Story 246
38 Surya and Gayatri 250
39 Gayatri, Savitri , and Saraswati 253
40 Aum and Gayatri 258
41 Gayatri Mantra-word by word 262
42 Upanayana and Sandhya Vandana 267
43 Difference Gayatri Mantras 272
44 Gayatri Devi-The Mother Goddess 277
45 Gayatri Prayer-Dhyana Shlokas 284
46 Women and Gayatri 289
47 Gayatri, Tantra, and Kundalini 292
48 Gayatri Japa, Upasnan and Sadhaks 296
49 Gayatri Chandas or Meter 304
  Section VII: Speaking from Experience  
50 Sri Balakrishnanananda Saraswathi- A Gayatri Sadhak 309
51 Questions and Answers with Swamiji 313
  Section VIII: Sum and Substance  
52 Principles of Good Living 325
  Appendices  
  Appendix I- Gayatri Mantra is Beyond  
  All religions (Madras High Court Judgment) 339
  Appendix II- Gayatri Mantra is the world's Best divine prayer Hymn (Hamburg University Research study) 342
  Appendix III- Lessons from Bali 345
  References 347

Sample Pages

















Gayatri The Profound Prayer

Item Code:
NAF788
Cover:
Paperback
Edition:
2014
Publisher:
New Age Books
ISBN:
9788178224671
Language:
English
Size:
8.5 inch x 5.5 inch
Pages:
372
Other Details:
Weight of the book: 400 gms
Price:
$25.00   Shipping Free
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Back of The Book

Gayatri is a profound prayer. It is an authentic prayer that elevates, exhilarates and enlightens. According to Hindu scriptures, a prayer in its real sense is not just chanting of a few verses. It is a comprehensive exercise that involves jnana (knowledge), dhyana (meditation) and anubhava (experience). Gayatri Mahamantara is a true prayer that not only reaches out but also reaches in.

Gayatri is chanted as a Mahamantra worshipped as the Mother Goddess and expressed as a Meter. It is not a prayer for worldly and material benefits. Gayatri is a prayer for the highest enlightenment. It is a prayer that opens up our mind and vision, body and intellect to a world beyond the worldly attachments. It is a prayer that leads to the Ultimate’s Truth and Supreme Bliss that every enlightened human being seeks.

Gayatri, like the Vedas, is meant for the entire mankind, in irrespective of gender, caste, creed, religion or nationality. It is a profound prayer that can touch and transform every human being.

This book is a good read for everyone who believes in the efficacy of prayer and meditation. It is a good read for everyone who wishes to gain an insight into the breadth and depth of ancient Indian wisdom –the Sanathana Dharma. This informative book is meant for every generation, both young and old.

 

About The book

Gayatri is a scared Mahamantar. It is a universal prayer. The Vedas, Upanishads, puranas and various other ancient Hindu scriptures sing in one voice the glory of Gayatri- the profound prayer. Since the Vedic times, Gayatri has been a daily prayer of the Hindus, chanted every morning and evening, addressed to Savitr, the power behind the sun. Gayatri is considered the most exalted prayer, because unlike the other mantras, it does not seek material or worldly gains. It is a prayer that seeks the highest enlightenment, the realization of the Supreme Being , which according to our Sanathana Dharma, is the highest goal of every the prayer or meditation meant for men and women everywhere, irrespective of their caste, creed, religion or nationality.

 

Author

R.K. Madhukar is a Retired General Manager of Canara Bank, settled in Bangalore. He was associated with the world of Banking and Finance for nearly forty years. He has written books on Bank Marketing, business Communication, Customer Relations and Developing Managerial Skills. His book, ‘Business Communication,’ is a prescribed Text and Reference book for MBA, MCA and other professional and graduate courses in several institutes and universities across India.

‘Gayatri-The Profound Prayer’ is the author’s first spiritual book. Writing it has been a divine spiritual experience for him. It has been written at the behest of Swami Balakrishnanada Saraswathi, founder of Gayatri Tapobhoomi, Tadas, Hubli, Karnataka.

 

Preface

It is with great pleasure and a sense of humility that I offer this book to our readers. Writing "Gayatri - The Profound Prayer" has been a unique experience, a fulfilling journey in terms of spiritual progression. This being my first book on a spiritual subject, I have written it after significant research and sourcing of material. As listed under "References", I have gone through a large body of available literature on the subject, widely diffused, not only in English but also in Kannada. It is from all these sources that I have gathered the required insights and conceptual clarity so essential for writing this book.

True to my name, I have been a honey bee (madhukara) and collected the nectar bit by bit from all these valuable sources. I acknowledge my sincere gratitude to all these authors and would like to particularly express my deep sense of indebtedness to Swami Chinmayananda, Sri Chandrasekh- arendra Saraswati, Raimundo Panikkar, I.K. Taimni, John Woodroffe, Krishnaswamy Iyer, Eknath Easwaran, Swami Kriyananda, Swami Harshananda, Svami Mukhyananda and other Swamijis of the Ramakrishna Math, and several others whom I have profusely quoted in this book.

First and foremost, I should express my deep sense of gratitude to Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi, our Swamiji, who saw the spiritual spark in me, and has impelled and emboldened me to write this book.

This book would not have been possible but for the ready and willing support I have received from several quarters.

I must acknowledge the role played by my mother, Smt. Sitabai Kulkarni, who since my childhood has instilled a sense of spiritual orientation and encouraged me in writing this book.

Chethan Sharma, a Vedic scholar-cum-Engineer, made avail- able to me his extensive collection of rare and relevant books and also supported my efforts by confirming the original scriptures from which I have quoted and translated.

Anand Kulkarni, Aparna Kulkarni and Anuj Kulkarni who have been closely involved in the activities of Sri Gayatri Tapobhoomi have, besides giving their full encouragement, arranged valuable meetings with our Swamiji to interact on the subject and complete the Question and Answer session with him.

Rohit Kulkarni, my son, has worked relentlessly in designing and typesetting, verifying sources and virtually taking care of the minutest details to make the Camera-Ready- Copy(CRC) complete and concrete.

This book was written during my six-month stay in Dallas, USA between May and October 2013. During this stay, I received immense support from Vinay Nooji and Anjana Kulkarni, who enthusiastically provided the physical facilities, timely computer support and also useful comments on the first draft of the book.

My grandson, Ayan, who arrived 'as a new entrant into our family as the book was being written, provided the much needed relaxing moments in overcoming the fatigue of constant writing. Every newborn, it is said, is God's opinion that the world should go on. How True!

Alaka, my wife, who has been a friend and a guide in all my creative endeavors has been, once again, a constant source of encouragement in writing this book.

Sreekanth Kulkarni has prepared the artwork for the photo of Goddess Gayatri Mata and logo of Gayatri Tapobhoomi.

My special thanks are also due to Shri Rajeev Prakash Jain and Smt. Jyotsna Khandelwal of New Age Books for readily undertaking the printing, publishing and promotion of this book.

 

Introduction

Gayatri is a subject of very deep significance for it is concerned with the relation between man and the universe and the Reality which underlines both. It is necessary therefore that in studying the subject the reader should be familiar with the basic philosophy of Hinduism which defines the relation between these three fundamental realities of the manifested universe. It is only against the backdrop of such philosophy that the subject can be properly studied and appreciated.

Gayatri is a Mahamantra, a prayer of universal relevance. It is not a mere chanting of a few words. It is the gateway to Knowledge Infinite. Gayatri is a spiritual journey. It is a path to Self-Realization, Atman or Ultimate Reality. It is an experience in totality. It is a comprehensive prayer for the body, mind, and the intellect. It calls for proper breathing, healthy body, a controlled mind, and deep concentration. It is communion with God Supreme. It helps us focus our intellect and open our eyes to the world within. It is a prayer, mantra and a source of meditation combined into one. It leads the practitioner to peace, light, knowledge, and bliss. Gayatri is Para Brahma, Parameswara, Surya Narayana and Atma Rama. It has been described as a search, a quest and an adventure. That is why ancient Rishis herald that Gayatryastu param japam na bhutam na bhavishyati. There is nothing superior to the Gayatri, not in the past, not in the future. It is called Mantra Raja, king of prayers.

Gayatri is also worshipped as Devi Gayatri, Mother Goddess. She resides as Shakti or Supreme Energy in every one of us. As Gayatri Devi, She is invested with a form, face and at- tributes. She becomes the recipient of dhyana sloka or prayer hymns. The third dimension of Gayatri relates to the Gayatri Chandas. In ancient literature, Gayatri is known as Chandasa Matha or Mother of Meters. Gayatri thus assumes utmost significance in Sanathana Dharma as a three-dimensional splendor-Mahamantra, Mother Goddess and Meter.

In order to fully understand and appreciate the significance of Gayatri, as enunciated by various scriptures, and as experienced by the Rishis, saints, seers, scholars and sadhaks, both ancient and modern, we need to study the subject against the vast canvas of Sanathana Dharma, the ancient Hindu literature in its totality. As the renowned author, LK. Taimni notes, Gayatri is a subject of deep significance that can be appreciated fully only against the backdrop of the rich philosophy of Hinduism and a good understanding of the ancient Hindu wisdom.

Accordingly, we have divided this book into eight sections. These are (1) Religion and Spirituality, (2) Sanathana Dharma, (3) God Almighty-The Supreme Power, (4) Body, Mind and Intellect, (5) Spiritual Enlightenment, (6) Gayatri-Mahamantra, Mother Goddess and Meter, (7) Speaking From Experience, and (8) Sum and Substance. We have tried to make this book as inclusive as possible and cover all the major concepts dealt with by the ancient texts and elucidated by saints, seers and scholars before actually taking up the subject of Gayatri. Gayatri, in all its grace, glory and fullness can be understood and appreciated only when we become familiar with the ideas, concepts and ancient Hindu wisdom against which Gayatri assumes its profound significance.

We should start at the very beginning by asking a host of relevant questions. What is religion? What is the inter-relationship between man (woman included), God and religion? What is the Global Religious Landscape? What have been the basic tenets of the major religions of the world? Can religion be a guide to practical living? What do spirituality and philosophy mean? Is God a physical, material object or a spiritual realization? These questions have been discussed in the first section of the book under 'Religion and Spirituality’.

The second section of the book called 'Sanatliana Dharma' attempts to bring forth the central message contained in the expansive ancient Hindu literature. What are the Vedas, the most ancient sacred works, not only of India, but for the entire world? What makes the Vedas the most precious legacy of knowledge passed on to the people at large? What are Upanishads and why are they considered the quintessence of Hindu spiritual wisdom? How should we, from the modern perspective look at the Puranas? All these apart, we also take a brief note of other invaluable texts like the Bhagavad Gita, Itihasas, Yoga Sutra and the like.

Prayer and worship have been an integral part of human life since the beginning of human civilization. Why are prayer and worship so significant in the lives of men and women? And, probably, the most elusive question confronting men and women over the ages, ''What really is God?" Is God a He, She, Father, Mother, Young or Old? Is God like a nor- mal human being or somebody with four hands, three eyes, five faces, and so on? Is God having any particular form or totally formless? Is God a form and a face or only a principle? Is the world we live in the only world or are there other worlds? These questions are discussed in the third section of this book called 'God Almighty - The Supreme Power'.

Men and women are endowed with not only the body, but also with the mind, intellect and ego. That is why human beings have been described as the 'crown and crest' of all creation. Spiritual enlightenment can take place only when the body, mind and intellect together constitute a vehicle fit enough for the long and eventful journey. So, the fourth section of this book deals with various facets of the human body, mind and intellect. It discusses the human body de-scribed in the ancient texts referring to koshas and chakras, pranayama or the right way of breathing, three gunas or characteristics inherent in every human being, and also the impact of food on human body, especially in the context of spiritual pursuits. Mind constitutes the most crucial instrument for any spiritual traveler. A healthy mind, a calm and undisturbed mind, and a controlled mind is a must. As we progress in our pursuits, we should be aware of the dormant power called kundalini that lies within us and awaken it. All these aspects have been discussed in the fourth section called 'Body, Mind, and Intellect'.

Gayatri is all about spiritual enlightenment. This spiritual enlightenment comes from long drawn and sustained spiritual journey. The metaphysical world, that is what lies be- yond our five senses, is often described by the Latin expression mysterium tremendum et fascinans - a mystery that is at once awe inspiring yet fascinating. Sanathana Dharma throws light on the metaphysical world towards unravelling this mystreium tremendum. Ancient Hindu scriptures deal with the various paths and methods for undertaking the spiritual journey. As we move on the chosen path, we should be clear about the various concepts of relevance for our pursuits. Is our world a reality or maya, an illusion? Which are the different paths to enlightenment and liberation? What is the role of japa, tapa and yajna? Gayatri is essentially a prayer and a meditation. Hence, we have discussed at some length the significance, benefits and methods of meditation. How does one achieve Pure Consciousness and attain Self-Realization or Atman? Spiritual enlightenment results in realizing Para Brahma. So we discuss Para Brahma as distinct from Brahma and the Trinity of Gods.

What are mantras and stotras? What is Chandas or meter? Do heaven and hell really exist? What is sin and the related suffering? Related to the idea of heaven and hell is the Theory of Karma, a unique feature of Hindu philosophical wisdom. Moving on, we deliberate on related subjects like the mark of a True Brahmana, the significance of Shodasha Samskaras or Hindu sacraments, and the relevance of rituals and ceremonies. Guru, or the teacher, is a person held in high esteem in Hinduism. We, therefore, turn our attention to the role of Guru and end the discussion on the fifth section called 'Spiritual Enlightenment' with a brief account of the women in Vedic literature.

The sixth section of this book, called 'Gayatri - Mahamantra, Mother Goddess and Meter' deals with the three-dimensional splendor of Gayatri. First and foremost, Gayatri is the most ancient and sacred prayer of the Hindus. It is a Mahamantra, a profound prayer. The primordial sound, Aum, also known as Pranava, is considered to be the condensed version of Gayatri. Gayatri mantra is addressed to Savitr, the power behind the Sun. We take note of why Gayatri is regarded as the most sacred and efficacious mantra and what does one achieve by meditating on this mantra. Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and other scriptures sing in unison the glory of this profound prayer.

The origin of Gayatri is traced to Lord Brahma, the Creator of this Universe and Gayatri is recognized as Vedamatha or the Mother of Vedas. The relationship between Surya and Gayatri, Gayatri, Saraswati, and Savitri, and Aum and Gayatri is also dealt with. There is also some coverage on Brahma Gayatri and Viswamitra Gayatri and the Pushkar story. Apart from being a Mahaman tra, Gayatri is also worshipped as Mother Goddess. What is the significance of this? Taking this aspect further, we also look at the dhyana slokas describing Gayatri and the different Gayatris addressed to various Gods and Goddesses.

We also elucidate the word-by-word meaning of the Gayatri Mahamantra in an endeavor to bring out the depth of meaning in this prayer hymn. We discuss Sandhya Vandana, the Hindu's daily prayer involving Gayatri, and Upanayana, the Hindu sacrament with which the Hindus take their Gayatri Upadesha and commence their Vedic studies. There is also a mention of how the Gayatri mantra helps in awakening Kundalini, the dormant power. That women have an equal right to this profound mantra is underlined with the help of ancient texts and reiterations from saints and scholars. Gayatri is significant as not just a prayer but also a fulfilling experience. Gayatri japa, dhyana and upasana signify relent- less pursuits by practitioners or sadhaks in search of enlightenment and bliss. We take a look at some of the well-known sadhaks or achievers and what they have to say on Gayatri. We end this section by discussing the third dimension of Gayatri, viz. the Gayatri Chandas or Meter.

In a special section of this book titled 'Speaking From Experience', we cover a profile of and present a Question and Answer session with Sri Balakrishnananda Saraswathi, an accomplished Gayatri Sadhak, who has devoted himself wholly to the propagation of the sacred message of Gayatri.

This book ends with a section called 'Sum and Substance' where we sum up the cardinal principles from Sanathana Dharma and the takeaways from this comprehensive study of Gayatri. There is indeed a precious set of lessons from the rich treasure of ancient wisdom which can guide us in making our everyday lives healthier, happier, enlightening and blissful.

The Appendices to this book present three pieces of information sourced from the Internet. One, the landmark judgment from the Madras High Court, underlining the universality of ancient Hindu wisdom and the fact that Gayatri Mantra is a secular prayer that goes beyond all religions. Two, the declaration by an American scientist from his extensive research study in Hamburg University, Germany that Gayatri Mantra is the most rewarding mantra or prayer hymn among all the prayer hymns in the world. Three, the lessons we can learn from Bali, Indonesia where Gayatri mantra is taught in every school and broadcast daily by their Radios.

Every chapter of this book starts with an appropriate quote drawn from ancient texts, saints and scholars and authors of repute, providing an inkling of what that chapter is set to cover.

As mentioned in the Preface, I have sourced, the material for this book from numerous authentic works of renowned and scholarly writers. Although I have not quoted the specific stanza and sloka numbers, so as to enhance reality, I have made every effort to ensure their correctness. Even then, we need to note that scriptures like the Vedas and Upanishads often state the same truth in different ways, with slight variations and there could be some overlap.

 

Contents

 

  Preface lX
  Introduction Xl
  SECTION I: RELIGION AND SPIRITUALITY  
1 Religion, God and Man 3
A The Global Religious Landscape 5
B Chronology of Major Religions 7
C Beyond Rituals - A Guide to Practical Living 9
D Christianity, Islam and Hinduism 11
2 Religion, Spirituality and Philosophy 15
3 God - A Spiritual Realization 19
  SECTION II: SANATHANA DHARMA  
4 Ancient Hindu Literature 25
A The Vedas 29
B The Upanishads 35
C The Puranas 40
D Other Ancient Scriptures 42
  SECTION Ill: GOD ALMIGHTY - THE SUPREME POWER  
5 Prayer and Worship 49
6 God - Form, Face and Principle 55
A God - With Form and Without Form 58
B One God - Many Faces 62
7 God of All Gods - The Supreme Being 65
8 Brahmanda - The Fourteen Worlds 68
  SECTION IV: BODY, MIND AND INTELLECT  
9 The Human Body 77
10 Koshas and Chakras 82
11 Pranayama 89
12 Three Gunas 93
13 Our Food 99
14 Conditioning the Mind 102
  SECTION V: SPIRITUAL ENliGHTENMENT  
15 Kundalini - The Dormant Power 111
16 Maya - The Illusion 115
17 Four Yogas 119
18 Japa, Tapa and Yajna 125
19 Dhyana - The Path of Meditation 133
20 Brahmi Muhurtha and Sandhya 141
21 Para Brahma, Brahma and The Trinity 145
22 Pure Consciousness, Self-Realization and Atman 151
23 Mantras and Stotras 159
24 Chandas or Meter 165
25 Heaven, Hell and Sin 169
26 Karma - The Theory of Re-Birth 175
27 A True Brahmana 180
28 Shodasha Samskaras - The Hindu Sacraments 185
29 Significance of Rituals and Ceremonies 191
30 Guru - The Gateway to God 196
31 Women in Vedic Literature 202
  SECTION VI: GAYATRI - MAHAMANTRA, MOTHER GODDESS ANDMETER  
32 Aum or Pranava 207
33 Surya, Savitri, and Savitri 217
34 Gayatri Mahmantra 223
35 Scriptures and Gayatri 233
36 Brahma Gayatri and Viswamitra Gayatri 237
37 Brahma and Gayatri- The Pushkar Story 246
38 Surya and Gayatri 250
39 Gayatri, Savitri , and Saraswati 253
40 Aum and Gayatri 258
41 Gayatri Mantra-word by word 262
42 Upanayana and Sandhya Vandana 267
43 Difference Gayatri Mantras 272
44 Gayatri Devi-The Mother Goddess 277
45 Gayatri Prayer-Dhyana Shlokas 284
46 Women and Gayatri 289
47 Gayatri, Tantra, and Kundalini 292
48 Gayatri Japa, Upasnan and Sadhaks 296
49 Gayatri Chandas or Meter 304
  Section VII: Speaking from Experience  
50 Sri Balakrishnanananda Saraswathi- A Gayatri Sadhak 309
51 Questions and Answers with Swamiji 313
  Section VIII: Sum and Substance  
52 Principles of Good Living 325
  Appendices  
  Appendix I- Gayatri Mantra is Beyond  
  All religions (Madras High Court Judgment) 339
  Appendix II- Gayatri Mantra is the world's Best divine prayer Hymn (Hamburg University Research study) 342
  Appendix III- Lessons from Bali 345
  References 347

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