Saturday, February 11, 2012

Gayatri - गायत्री

Gayatri (Sanskrit: गायत्री, gāyatrī) is the feminine form of gāyatra, a Sanskrit word for a song or a hymn. Gayatri is a consort of Brahma and the goddess of learning.[1] Brahma married her when there was a need for a companion during a yajna.[1] Brahma had to start the yajna along with his wife.[1] His wife, Savatri, could not be found at the time so Brahma asked Indra to help him find a solution and Indra found Gayatri, who some believe, came from the Gurjar community.[2]. So Brahma married Gayatri to start the yajna in time.[1]

Upset by this act, Savatri cursed Brahma that he would not be worshipped on earth except at Pushkar.

Originally the personification of the Gayatri mantra, and revered by Hindus worldwide, the goddess Gāyatrī is considered the veda mata, the mother of all Vedas and also the personification of the all-pervading Parabrahman, the ultimate unchanging reality that lies behind all phenomena. Gayatri Veda Mata is seen by many Hindus to be not just a Goddess, but a portrayal of Brahman himself, in the feminine form. Essentially, the Goddess is seen to combine all the phenomenal attributes of Brahman, including Past, Present and Future as well as the three realms of existence. Goddess Gāyatrī is also worshipped as the Hindu Trimurti combined as one. In Hinduism, there is only one creation who can withstand the brilliance of Aditya and that is Gāyatrī. Some also consider her to be the mother of all Gods and the culmination of Lakshmi, Parvati and Sarasvati.

Gāyatrī is typically portrayed as seated on a red lotus, signifying wealth or else on a swan or peacock.[1] She appears in either of these forms:

Having five heads with the ten eyes looking in the eight directions plus the earth and sky, and ten arms holding all the weapons of Vishnu, symbolizing all her reincarnations.[citation needed]
Accompanied by a white swan, holding a book to portray knowledge in one hand and a cure in the other, as the goddess of Education.

It is a Sanskrit word, Ga means to sing, Yatri means Protection. Gayatri has three phases and so it is called tripada. It is also called tripada because it is Vedmata, Devmata and Vishwamata. Vedas have originated from Gayatri mantra and so it is known as Vedmata. It is Devmata because it helps in manifestation of divine virtues (gun), actions (karma) and nature (swabhav).

From: Wiki
Gayatri is a Sanskrit word, made up of two words "Gaa" and "Yatree". "Gaa" means to sing and "Yatree" means protection. Hence it means that those who "worship Gayatri gets protected". Goddess Gayatri is considered as the essence of Upnishads. Gayatri mantra was written and developed by Brahmarishi Vishwamitra. The Puranas mention that only 24 Rishis since ancient time have understood the whole meaning and used the whole power of the Gayatri Mantra. Rishi Vishvamitra is supposed to be the first and Rishi Yajnavalkya the last.

Introduction :-
Gayatri is known as Veda Mata i.e. the mother of all Four Vedas. A person totally devoted to Goddess Gayatri can achieve great success in the path of self advancement as Goddess Gayatri inspires man towards righteous.

Gayatri on swan and lotus:-
It is said that Goddess Gayatri resides in each and every human heart in the form of a swan. If a person meditates deep within he sees a swan which is considered as goddess Gayatri. The swan is the symbol of God realization. The lotus is considered as seat of Goddess Gayatri which means the presence of Divinity and wealth.

From: here
Gayatri Devi is an incarnation of Saraswati Devi, consort of Lord Brahma, symbolising the "shakti" (strength) and "dev" (quality) of Knowledge, Purity and Virtue. Saraswati Devi is held to be the patronness of the Arts, being a poet and musician, as well as skillful composer. In the form of Gayatri Devi, with the blessings of Lord Brahma, she is believed to have given the four Vedas to mankind.
Goddess Gayatri

Gayatri is depicted seated on a lotus. She is depicted with five faces representing the pancha pranas /pancha vayus(five lives/winds): prana, apana,vyana, udana, samana, of the five principles/ elements (pancha tatwas) earth, water, air, fire, sky (prithvi, jala, vayu, teja, aakasha). She has 10 hands carrying the five ayudhas: shankha; chakra, kamala, varada, abhaya, kasha, ankusha, ujjwala utensil, rudrakshi mala.

Gayatri, Savitri and Saraswati are three goddesses representing the presiding deities of the famous Gayatri mantra chanted thrice a day. Gayatri is the presiding deity of the morning prayer and rules over the Rigveda and the garhapatya fire. Every grihasta (householder) was expected to keep 5 or 3 sacred fires ( Five fires: ahavaneeya, dakshagni, garhapatya, sawta, aavasadha.) in his house to perform Vedic rituals.

From: here
Gayatri is the name of one of the most important Vedic hymns consisting of twenty-four syllables. This hymn is addressed to Lord Surya (Sun) as the supreme generative force. The hymn says, "We meditate on that glorious light of the divine Surya, may he, the lord of light illuminate our minds".

One of the sacred texts says, "The Gayatri is Brahma, Gayatri is Vishnu, Gayatri is Shiva, the Gayatri is Vedas" Gayatri later came to be personified as a Goddess. She is shown as having five heads and is usually seated within a lotus. The four heads of Gayatri represent the four Vedas and the fifth one represents almighty God. In her ten hands, she holds all the symbols of Lord Vishnu. She is another consort of Lord Brahma.

From: here
The Gayatri is the divine power that transforms the human into the divine and blesses Man with a brilliant light of the highest spiritual illumination. The nature of the Gayatri Mantra is such that you can repeat it while meditating on any form you like. It is generally conceived of as a female deity by the majority of devotees. One who worships God as mother adheres to this belief. But in it's true light, the Gayatri never speaks of a female at all. You cannot find a single word in the entire Gaytri Mantra, which speaks of a female.

The feminine form of the word Gayatri cannot make it's deity a female. Gayatri is discribed as having five faces. She is worshipped as a Panchamukhi, Five-Faced Goddess. The first is "Aum". The second is "Bhoorbhuvassvah". The third is "Thathsavithur Varenyam". The fourth is "Bhargo Devasya Dheemahie". The fifth is "Dheeyo yo nah prachoedayaath". Gayathri represents these five faces the five Pranas (life forces). She is the protector of the five Pranas in Man. Gayathri is the embodiment of all deities. It is not related to any particular sect, caste, idol or institution.

From: here
The five faced and ten armed Gayatri is one of the popular Brahmanical female divinities, though she is neither one the seven Matrikas nor one of the ten Mahavidyas. Puranas attribute to her a myth or two, personalise and associate her with Brahma as one of his consorts, many scholars, however, and perhaps more reasonably, opine that Gayatri personifies the Shakti energy, of the Vedic 'mantra' of the same name, not a goddess as is Parvati or Lakshmi. The Vedic Gayatri 'mantra' is revered as the supreme of all 'mantras' and the 'shakti' that it generated as the apex of 'mantra-shakti'. In all probabilities India's visual culture humanised this 'mantra-shakti' as the goddess Gayatri and gave her the name of the Vedic 'mantra'.

The Brahma Purana alludes to Gayatri as one of Brahma's consorts, though this allusion itself has symbolic dimension. Once Brahma was going to perform a 'yajna'. He wanted his other consort Swara to accompany him in performing it. Swara was not, however, available at that time. As mandated under ritual norms, the 'yajna' could not be accomplished singly without a consort. Brahma hence asked his other consort Gayatri to sit with him and perform the necessary rites. In the meantime Swara came back. She lost her temper as soon as she saw Gayatri seated with Brahma in her place for the 'yajna'. Infuriated Swara cursed her to turn into a river. However, before the curse materialised Gayatri accomplished the 'yajna'. In the Puranic tradition, Gayatri hence symbolises in simultaneity the 'mantra-shakti' for which she initially stood, sacred river by Swara's curse, and accomplishment of 'yajna' for being instrumental in performing it.

Perhaps for her diverse attributes, Gayatri subsequently emerged as one of the most powerful Tantrika deities. She is often meditated on as an aspect of Mahalakshmi. Though in the north not many shrines are devoted to her, she is in live worship all over, and is the presiding deity in various Tantrika practices. However, in South she is one of the most popular female divinities worshipped on par with Padmavati. The five-faced coral complexioned goddess represents multi-faceted female energy and thus embodies in one supreme form all feminine potentials manifesting in different individual goddesses. Though the deity's complexion is all over the same, her all five faces have different colours suggestive of energy's different constituents. She is required to deliver various goods and hence her ten hands, carrying different attributes disc, mace, wine cup, lotuses, conch, goad and cane, besides, two hands in the posture of 'Abhaya' and 'Varada' assuring fearlessness and bestowing bliss. In her usual iconography she carries also a whip and noose and hardly ever imparts 'Abhaya' and 'Varada'. The artist in the painting has substituted with 'Abhaya' and 'Varada' at least two instruments of war, perhaps for perceiving in her a more benevolent protective and bliss-bestowing mother, not much of a chastiser. Alike, not splendour, the painting strives at attaining a kind of cosmic mysticism, which its background reveals. From its oceanic depths and against its darkness she illuminates like rising sun which the colour of her body, costume and lotuses symbolises. Tantrikas revere Gayatri as the most auspicious and as one whose bare presence accomplishes all desired.

From: here
Also see:

Painting One
Painting Two
Painting Three
More paintings
Shri Gayatri Yantram

Also, because the Gayatri mantra is so closely linked to her, here are tons of links about it (meaning, interpretation, signifigance, etc)--
Gayatri Mantra - Detailed Meaning and Exposition
Gayatri by Words - A detailed explanation behind each word
Importance of Gayartri Mantra
Gayatri Mantra - गायत्री मंत्र
The Gayatri Mantra - Inner Meaning & Analysis of the Most Popular Hindu Hymn
Gayatri Mantra - Meaning and Translation
The Gayatri Mantra

The Mantra with meaning, etc
Gayatri Mantra

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