Ever since the beginning of the Vedic Era chanting and contemplation of Gayatri Mantra and performance of Gayatri Yagya have been considered the most potent means of invoking the divine energies, latent in the deeper layers of consciousness, for the refinement, upliftment and wellbeing of individuals and the society. However, with the passage of time, especially during the dark medieval ages of feudalism and foreign domination, there came about a general all-round decline of ethical, moral and social values. As a result, Vedic rituals, modes of worship and prayer also underwent gross distortions at the hands of the entrenched priestly class. These ‘merchants’ of religion, through their perverted interpretations of the scriptures, ordained that Gayatri Sadhana was the exclusive prerogative of male members of one particular caste, the Brahmins; and all other Varnas (castes) were forbidden to do Gayatri Sadhana. Women were strictly forbidden to take up Gayatri Sadhana. The priestly class ruled that if any woman dare do Gayatri Sadhana, great misfortune will befall her. They, also declared that the Gayatri sadhana, according to scriptures, was a secret doctrine and the Mantra could not be chanted audibly. Such retrograde orthodoxy and the pomp, pelf and ostentation that was introduced into the rituals and modes of worship led to the undermining of faith in Vedic Dharrna amongst the vast masses who otherwise swore by Hinduism. They also alienated the educated classes from their religious roots.
About a century-and-a-quarter back, the Arya Samaj Movement initiated and founded by Swami Dayanada Saraswati, took up the uphill task of resurrecting Gayatri Sadhana and Vedic Yagya in their pristine purity and succeeded, to some extent, in establishing a powerful platform for challenging and countering the exploitation and perversion of religions rites by entrenched vested interests. However, the Arya Samaj Movement had its own limitations. It could not make the vast majority of the believers in Hindu Dharma to accept the idea of invoking Divinity through impersonal Gayatri Sadhana, as from very ancient times common people had been worshipping and praying before idols of various deities — in their homes and temples. It required the ‘Bhagirath Prayatna’ (Herculean effort) of a Yiig Rishi to re-establish scripturally- enjoined Gayatri Sadhana amongst the masses of all castes and classes (both men and women)
- majority of whom were idol worshippers.
It was against this back-drop that there appeared on the scene, a sage-seer, Pandit Shriram Sharma Acharya, the founder of Gayatri Mission. Born in 1911, it was his fourth re-incarnation to consciously carry forward the mission of spiritualisation of humanity that he had initiated and promoted daring his three earlier incarnations as : Sant Kabir, Samartha Ramdas and Ramakrishna Paramhamsa. His own awakening to the mission of his life occurred like a flash of lightening at the tender age of 15, in 1926, on the sacred day of Vasant Panchami, when his Gurudev, Shri Sarveshwaranandaji, who has been doing tapascharya for the spiritual wellbeing of humanity in his astral body in the remote Himalayas for the past hundreds of years, appeared before Acharyashri, and revealed to the purpose of his birth.
Under his Sadguru’s instructions, Acharyashri lighted an ‘Akhand Jyoti’ and undertook a series of 24 Mahapurashcharnas, each of 24-lakh recitations of Gayatri Mantra each year - observing strict austerities. During the course of this long austere Sadhana, Acharyashri subsisted only on a meagre diet of barley chapatis and butter milk, without salt or sugar. Whole barley was first fed to a cow, was retrieved from the cow-dung, washed, dried and then ground into flour.. The tremendous spiritual energy released through these austerities manifested itself as the human and material resources that he needed for the execution of his mission.
In 1937 he started publication of a monthly Hindi magazine ‘Akhand Jyoti’, for dissemination of the eternal Vedic wisdom. Apart from Hindi, this magazine is now being published in eight other Indian languages as also in English and has a readership of about 15 lakhs in India and abroad.
During the years 1940 and 1984, Acharyashri undertook, as instructed by his divine Gurudev, four solitary retreats in the depths of the Himalayas, each of six months to one year, for more and more intensive Gayatri Sadhana.
On the completion of 24 Gayatri Mahapurashcharanas, Ach1mjashri established the Gayatri Tapobhoomi hermitage at Mathura, at the location where, in the remote past, Rishi Durvasa had performed supreme austerities.
In 1958 Acharyashri performed a grand 1008- kundiya Yagya at Mathura, wherein over four lakh participants offered oblations.
A comprehensive treatise on the super-science of Gayatri was written by Acharyashri and was originally published in three volumes. Now it available in a single compact volume. On his
return from his solitary sojourn in the Himalayas in 1961 he started writing and publishing his translations of and commentaries on the
Vedas, Upnishads, Smritis, Darshan Shastras and Puranas. He also wrote four volumes of Pragya tbousands of books and booklets on a varieties of topics: spiritual, moral, ethical, social- always stressing the basic unity and interbeingness of all phenomena; with special reference to human unity, cutting across all barriers of race, religion, sex, region etc. The vast corpus of his writings has now been published in 108 volumes in Hindi, 70 of which are already available in print and 38 are under publication.
The present book gives, in question-answer form, English translation of pertinent excerpts from Acharyashri’s writings. It is hoped that the material in this compilation will help the seekers, aspiring to take up Gayatri Sadhana, in clearing their doubts about this particular path of Sadhana.
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