Gayatri Jayanti is observed as the birth anniversary of Goddess Gayatri, the Goddess of Veda. Being the Goddess of all Veda, Goddess Gayatri is also known as Veda Mata. In 2017, Gayatri Jayanti is observed on 5 June in many places worldwide.
Gayatri Jayanti is observed on Shukla Paksha Ekadashi during Jyeshtha lunar month and it is usually observed on the next day after Ganga Dussehra. According to Matantara i.e. due to the difference of opinions to observe Gayatri Jayanti, it is also observed during Shravana Purnima. The Gayatri Jayanti during Shravana Purnima is widely accepted and usually coincides with Upakarma day (ritual day of beginning to learn Vedas).
The Gayatri Mantra and worship of Deity
The Gayatri Mantra, mentioned in the Rig Veda and Yajur Veda, is a simple and sincere prayer to the Almighty to confer bright and brilliant intelligence. This Mantra can be recited universally, irrespective of cultural, regional, religious and racial differences, at all times and in all climes. It does not belong to any sect, caste, gender or religious group. Men and women, widow and widower, young and old – all are equally entitled to its recitation. All are equal in God’s eyes. He equally loves all. It should be recited three times day, morning, noon and evening, to enhance spirituality.
The Gayatri Mantra is subtle and sublime. Its potency lies in its sounds and vibrations. Then a question may be asked, “How is it a special form or idol of the Gayatri Deity has been developed?” The reason for this is that the aspirant wants to worship his or her chosen god or goddess in a form to become better attuned and connected for spiritual endowment and subsequent moral uplift. A name by itself is formless. But when a name is associated with a form, which the devotee may visualise and touch; the aspirant feels happy and worship becomes more concentrated and consecrated because of its visual form and its associated attributes. Thus, in vedanta, concretisations or manifestations of divine powers and potencies in different forms with various attributes have been developed by devotees and spiritual aspirants, which is called Vigraha. These potencies can be further subdivided and concretised.
For example, Lakshmi is the Goddess of Wealth. We have her form in our mind. But wealth is of eight kinds. Concretisation (Vigraha) of those eight types of wealth can take place, such as money, gold, real estate, health; knowledge, and so forth. Similarly, Shakti is subdivided into innumerable powers corresponding to the multifarious functions, which have to be performed. Each power of Shakti is matched by a corresponding form in consciousness. These are termed Devi’s or Devatas (deities). Aspirants develop their forms out their intense devotion for them with full faith and conviction for their worship. It is the firm faith in those divine forms, which empowers these deities. There is the saying, yad bhavam tad bhavati (as you feel, so you become). Thus, unflinching faith in and adoration of the cherished Deity are the most important factors to experience divinity.
One may see different types of pictures and idols of the Gayatri deity. These pictures and idols have been conceived, designed and developed by many artists and artisans from different provinces, having different backgrounds, who had distinctive feelings, imaginations. Hence, there is no standardised form or version for images of Gayatri Devi (or Gayatri Maa). There are visible differences. Some portray four heads, others illustrate five heads or even, one head and a swan! The aspirant may accept any picture or idol, which can generate inspiration and devotion or could become the focus of meditation and reverence. The features and attributes of the Gayatri are described in the Devi Bhagavatam, but it was Sage Vishwamitra who first conceived the actual form of this Deity.
Fifteen Steps of Worship
Ancient sages have recommended the fifteen steps for worship of the image or symbol of the deity and meditation on a particular aspect of the deity which one wants to propitiate. The fifteen steps are:
- Aavaahana, invoking God.
- Aasana, welcoming God/Goddess to take the assigned seat. This symbolises installation of God/Goddess in one’s heart.
- Paadya, adoring the Divine Lotus Feet to develop devotion and self-surrender.
- Arghya, offering of water to God/Goddess to symbolise the offering one’s mundane desires.
- Aachamana, to symbolise the purification of senses.
- Snaana or Abhishekam, ceremonial bathing with milk, sugar, honey and water, to enhance one’s devotion.
- Vastra, offering of new and beautiful clothes and wrapping them around the image. This means donning oneself with divine wisdom.
- Upaveeta, the offering of the sacred thread consisting of three strands, which means to be connected with the Divine in thought, word and action.
- Vilepana, decorating the God/Goddess idol with musk, red powder, and sandalwood paste. This indicates adoring the Lord with one’s noble virtues and thoughts.
- Pushpa, offering of flowers, which symbolises offering of one’s heart.
- Dhoopa, incense burning, which symbolises burning of evil tendencies and thoughts by the ?re of divine wisdom and devotion.
- Deepa, lighting a lamp with oil and wick symbolising ones’ desire for divine light and wisdom.
- Naivedya, offering of food, to express a sense of gratitude to the God/Goddess for providing us food to nourish our body, as everything in this world belongs to God.
- Pradakshina, walking around the idol of the Divine so one may take in qualities of the Divine.
- Shayyaa, offering of the most beautiful bed to God for rest, symbolising the offering of one’s heart to the Divine to recline and rejoice.
Benefits of Chanting Gayatri Mantra
Gayatri will protect your body, make your intellect shine and improve your power of speech.
sarva roga nivarini gayatri: Gayatri is the reliever of all diseases;
sarva dukkha parivarini gayatri: Gayatri wards off all miseries;
sarva vanch-phalashri gayatri: Gayatri is the fulfiller of all desires;
No driver of a car identifies himself with the car. Likewise, the body is the car, the Atma (soul) is the driver. Forgetting one’s true role as the driver leads one to identifying with the body, which is only a vehicle. This truth is emphatically brought about by the Gayatri Mantra.
When one is travelling, chanting of the Gayatri Mantra provides protection to the traveller and all others in the vehicle or vessel they have boarded or embarked.
Krishna and Arjuna
Arjuna is the Jivi, the individual. The body is the chariot and the teacher in the chariot is Krishna, the Lord. The charioteer is the Lord, the inspirer of the intelligence, the Brahmam which prompts It in answer to man’s prayer contained in the Gayathri Mantra “Dhiyo-yonah prachodayath…” (awaken my discrimination, O Lord and guide me). The Kauravas represent the demonic nature; the Pandavas represent the divine. They are Asat, these are Sat; one is evil, the other is good. And there has ever been a struggle between the two. In this conflict between opposing forces, Krishna (the self, the Atma) is ever on the side of Dharma – the reality which sustains, not the delusion which undermines. If you seek to have the Lord on your side as your guide, equip yourself with the divine nature, (Daivi Sampath), the qualities of Dharma. For the Lord is where Dharma is.
Times of Challenge
In these days of challenge we have people all over the world either experiencing or encountering extreme violence, in fact or on social media. We have seen horrid events at London Bridge, Kabul, Minya in Egypt, Baghdad, Manchester, and other places. In recent times, sunrise has shown that the Ascendant is within 1° conjunction with the Sun; in some astrological systems this afflicts that degree in all signs.
Other planetary issues we have seen of late is a gandanta Venus transiting from water to fire sign, Mercury in mutual exchange with Mars (this has just passed), and Uranus – planet of sudden change and transformation – conjunct Venus in a fire sign. Is this the cause for all the violence, all the deaths, the hundreds and hundreds in hospital, injured? We do not know. We cannot limit this to one nation, one birth chart. The violence is seeping everywhere over the Earth.
What we do know is that there is Oneness of Divinity; Ekam sat; vipraah bahuaada vadanthi tell the Veda: truth is one, the wise know it has many names. In this oneness, where one is diminished by violence, we are all diminished. Where two or more gather together with sacred intention, this is multiplied over and over again. Where many join in oneness to send peace and light and the protection of Mother Gayatri to those in danger, this energy is also multiplied. There are no limits to the spiritual realm and what may be achieved. In the spiritual realm, every request for help is met: all you have to do is ASK.
So we are not powerless on this day of Gayatri Jayanti. We may implore Mother Gayatri to extend her purity of thought, word and action to all those in need; we may gather in meditation and send out positive, healing thoughts; we may extend consolation our hearts to the grieving, the injured, the wounded souls. We may also meditate on light, and send the light out:
Meditation on Light
This is sometimes described as The ‘Most Effective Form of Meditation’
View the full screen version of this meditation here
The most effective method of meditation
Set aside a few minutes, every day, in the beginning for this; later, you are sure to extend the period, when you experience the thrill of peace. Let it be the hours before dawn. This is preferable because the body is refreshed by sleep and the peregrinations of day-time have yet to impinge on the senses and distract physical and mental energy. Have a lamp, with a bright little flame, steady and straight, or a candle, before you. The flame does not diminish in lustre, however many lamps may be lit therefrom. So, the flame is the most appropriate symbol of the eternal Absolute.
If you can, sit cross-legged; if your are not able to sit thus, then sit in any comfortable position, in front of the flame. Look on the flame steadily and closing your eyes, try to feel it inside you, between your eyebrows. From there, let it descend down into the lotus of your heart, illumining the path. When it enters the heart, in the centre of the chest, imagine that the petals of the lotus bud open out, one by one, bathing every thought, feeling, emotion and impulse in the Light and removing darkness. There is no space now for darkness to take refuge; it has to flee before the flame. Imagine that the Light becomes wider, bigger, brighter. It pervades the limbs; they can no more busy themselves in dark, wicked, suspicious activities. They have become, you are conscious of it, instruments of Light, that is to say, of Love.
The Light reaches the tongue. Falsehood, slander, bragging and spite vanish from it. It reaches the eyes and the ears. All dark desires that infest and infect them are destroyed by the brilliant Light of Wisdom and Virtue. No more puerility, no more poisoning of the ear. Let your head be charged with Light; all wicked, vicious thoughts disappear, for, these are denizens of darkness. Imagine that Light in you more and more intensely — and it will be so. Let it shine all around you, enveloping you in the brilliance of Love; let it spread from you, in ever widening circles, taking into its fold your kith and kin, the loved ones, friends, companions — nay, strangers, foes, rivals, enemies — all men all over the world, all living beings — all
Do this every day, without break; for as long as you enjoy it; do this deeply and systematically; a time will certainly come when you can no more relish dark and evil thoughts, no more yearn for dark and sinister books, no more crave for toxic food and drinks, no more handle ugly demeaning things, no more suffer infliction of infamy or injury, no more formulate evil designs. You are then in the realm of the Divine, of Peace beyond words.
Stay on in that thrill, witnessing Light, being Light, everywhere, for all. If you are used to adoring God in any form, visualise that Form in that Light. For, Light is God; God is light. When light meets light, it is all Light. There is no boundary between your light and His Light. They merge, they fulfil.
In this peacelessness that is confounding the world, you must seek the higher spiritual peace; in that higher spiritual peace you can visualise Supreme Splendour and in that Supreme Splendour, the all-embracing Light
(immanent and transcendent splendour, boundless, benign) is experienced; in that all-embracing Light, the Universal Eternal Absolute is experienced. When the individual meets the Universal it becomes Universal. I and I become we; we and he become only we. Practise this meditation, regularly everyday. At other times, repeat the Name of God (any name that arouses in you the spirit of adoration and devotion), always taking care to be intensely conscious of His Might, Mercy and Munificence.
You may download an MP3 file with the (jyothi) Light Meditation (given above) here.
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