Gayatri (Sanskrit: गायत्री, IAST:gāyatrī) is the personified form of popular Gayatri Mantra, a hymn from Vedic texts.[1] She is also known as Savitri and Vedamata (mother of vedas). Gayatri is often associated with Savitr, a solar deity in the vedas.[2][3] Saivite texts identify Gayatri as the consort of Shiva, in his highest form of Sadasiva with five heads and ten hands[4][5] and according to Skanda Purana, Gayatri is the name of the consort of Lord Brahma.

Gayatri
The Goddess of the Gayatri Mantra,Vedic Hymns and Melodies.
Gayatri1.jpg
Illustration by Raja Ravi Verma. In illustrations, the goddess often sits on a lotus flower and appears with five heads and five pairs of hands.
AffiliationDevi , Adi Shakti
AbodeSatyaloka, Vishwakarmaloka
MantraGayatri Mantra
SymbolVedas
MountHamsa
FestivalsGayatri Jayanti, Navratri
ConsortBrahma,Vishwakarma

DevelopmentEdit

Gayatri was the name initially applied to a metre of the Rig Veda consisting of 24 syllables.[6] In particular, it refers to the Gayatri Mantra and the Goddess Gāyatrī as that mantra personified. The Gayatri mantra composed in this triplet form is the most famous. Most of the scholars identifies Gayatri as the feminine form of Gayatra, other name of Vedic Solar god which is also one of the synonyms of Savitri and Savitr.[7] However, the transition period of mantra turned into personification is still unknown. There are different sources available to construct her development through ages.

Shaivite GayatriEdit

 
According to Saivite Siddhantic perspective, Gayatri is the consort of Sadasiva, the supreme being Parashivam.[8][5]

Saivism sees Gayatri as the consort of eternal blissful absolute Parashiva who manifests in the form of sun, Sivasurya.[9][10] He is omnipotent omnipresent Sadasiva, whose name is Bharga.[11] Sadashiva's consort Manonmani is non other than the mantra form of Gayatri who possess the power of her husband Bharga, within her.[12][13] The popular form of Gayatri with five heads and ten arms was initially found in Saivite iconographies of Manonmani in North India beginning from 10th century CE.[4][5] Saivite view on Gayatri seems a later development from the combination of vedic practice of Gayatri reverence and its Saivite inclusion as a manifestation of Shakti. This could be the root for the terrific aspect of Gayatri explained in the later puranas as the killer of demon Vetra identifying her with Adi Parashakti.[14]

Puranic GayatriEdit

 
Gayatri Devi appears before Vishwamitra rishi.

In some puranas, Gayatri is said to be the other names of Sarasvati, the wife of Brahma.[15] According to Matsya Purana, Brahma formed from his own immaculate substance a female, who is celebrated under the names of Sarasvati, Savitri and Gayatri.[16] In Kurma Purana, Gautama rishi was blessed by Goddess Gayatri and able to eliminate the obstacles he faced in his life. Skanda Purana tells that Gayatri is the wife of Brahma making her a form of Saraswati[17]

Few Puranic scriptures say that Gayatri is distinct from Sarawati and is married to Brahma. According to them, Brahma's first wife is Savitri and Gayatri is the second. The story continues that Savitri became angry knowing the wedding of Gayatri with Brahma and cursed all the gods and goddesses engaged in the event.[18][6] However, the Padma Purana narrates the same story with little modification. After Savitri was appeased by Brahma, Vishnu and Lakshmi, She accepts Gayatri as her sister happily.[19]

Gayatri further developed into a fierce goddess who could even slay a demon. According to Varaha Purana and Mahabharata, Goddess Gayatri slayed the demon Vetrasura, the son of Vritra and river Vetravati, on a Navami day.[20][21]

DepictionEdit

 
A modern depiction of goddess Gayatri

Earlier bronze images of Gayatri is appeared in the Himachal Pradesh, where she was revered as the consort of Sadasiva.[5] Some of these forms are terrific in nature. One of the bronze images of Gayatri dated back to 10th c. CE was obtained from Champa region and now preserved in Delhi museum. It appears with five faces and ten hands holding, sword, lotus, trident, disc, skull, Varada in left and goad, noose, a manuscript, the jar of ambrosia and Abhaya in right.[8] She resides in the mount Nandi. Modern depictions illustrates swan as her mount. Old iconography of Shaivite Manonmani Gayatri was misunderstood as the same of Brahmanic Gayatri later and Fine paintings of Gayatri appears from 18th century CE in which she is often portrayed with third eye, crescent moon and five heads with five different colors same like Sadasiva.

The well known form of Gayatri (Parvati) with the Saivite influence will appear having five heads (Mukta, Vidruma, Hema, Neela, Dhavala) with the ten eyes looking in eight directions plus the earth and sky, and ten arms holding various types of weapons attributed to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Another recent depiction is 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.[22] She is even depicted four armed mounted on hansa holding weapons symbolizing tridev.vedas of bhrama, Discus of vishnu and trident of shiva and vard mudra. She also has an fearsome three-faced depiction; two faces look like that of goddess kali and one clam one and holding weapons like mahakali goddess. She is shown mounted on lotus holding lotus, noose, trident, Scimitar and vard mudra in right whereas conch, discus, bow-arrow, goad and abhay mudra in left.

24 Forms of Maa GayatriEdit

According to Shrimad Devi Bhagwat Puran goddess Gayatri is ultimate reality and exist in 24 forms one form for each syllabus of the Gayatri Mantra :

1 Adi Shakti: The manifest cosmos arises from the desire of the absolute (Brahman) to engage in the joy of creation of which we ourselves are a part. The force of that desire of the absolute is Gayatri (Adyashakti or Brahmi-Shakti). All other powers of the manifest cosmic creation are dependent for their existence on this primordial generative force whose attributes are production, development and transformation, and which is the Divine Mother Adya-Shakti Gayatri.

2. Brahmi or Brahmani: Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva: creation, development, transformation. In creation or production diligence is most necessary and important, as by diligence on contributes to the welfare of others and becomes the object of their thankfulness. These are the prime attributes of Mother Brahmi by whose Shakti Brahma becomes capable of producing the cosmos.

3. Vaishnavi: Vaishnavi is the power of Vishnu. She is the sustainer, developer and organizer. By another name she is also Lakshmi or the giver of prosperity and culture. Mother Vaishnavi is the sustainer of the good.

4. Shambhavi aka Maheshwari Matrika: Mother Shambhavi is the divinity of auspicious transformation, productive change and beneficent reconstruction. In another form she is the Shakti of Shiva.

5. Vedamata: In this form Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas, as the revelations proceeding from 'Om Bhurbhuvasvah' become the Rigveda; from 'tatsaviturvarenyam' the principles of the esoteric knowledge were rendered in the yajurveda; from 'bhargodevasya dhimahi' came the knowledge of the functioning of the universe contained in the samaveda; and from 'dhiyo yonah prachodayat' the secrets of cosmic and divine power were embodied as the athar-vaveda. For this reason Gayatri is referred to in the scriptures as vedamata, or the mother of the Vedas.

6. Devamata: Gayatri is the celestial mother too, i.e., the bestower of divinity, or of the divine beings. The bestower of divinity, or of the divine beings. The divine beings are divine because they are generous and charitable. The worship of Gayatri as devemata takes us up to the level of divinity by instilling in us the qualities of charity, equanimity, and of right conduct.

7. Vishvamata: Gayatri is the Universal Mother. She sustains and binds the universe by the spirit of unity. By her grace as Vishvamata man acquires reverence for all living beings and becomes and instrument of social harmony and prosperity.

8. Mandakini aka Ganga : Seers consider the sacred Ganga as the visible representation of the subtle and invisible Gayatri. Ganga can cleanse the earthly sins, and Gayatri cuts the bondage of karma. For this reason Ganga and Gayatri as taken to be equally auspicious. Ganga as the earthly representative of Gayatri is called Mandakini (the calmly flowing one) who removes our genuinely repented for sins.

9. Ajapa: In the sadhana of Gayatri a state of grace is reached where the devotee attains a self-maintained contact with god. This state of divine union is called Ajapa (above prayer) state. As it is the power of Gayatri which leads one's soul to this state, she has also been named as Ajapa.

10. & 11. Riddhi and Siddhi: Of the twenty-four deities of Gayatri the lord Ganesa is one. Ganesa is the deity of intellect giving it the capacity of discrimination. Ganesa has two female consort divinities, viz., Riddhi and Siddhi. Riddhi is the giver and the substance of the spiritual attainments; and siddhi is the giver of material and physical endowments. And both of them are the powers of Gayatri, one operating internally and the other externally.

12. Rtambhara: God's greatest gift to man is full cosmic consciousness or perception which when received removes all the bonds of maya. This full cosmic consciousness is Rtambhara Prajna; and Gayatri in her cosmic form is Rtambhara and this realization is self-realisation or Mukti.

13. Savitri: The primordial shakti has two flows, one immanent and transcendental. I.e., spiritual; and the other manifest, i.e. phenomenal and physical. The spiritual flow is called Gayatri, while the physical is named as Savitri. Savitri is seen as five-faced because the perceptible universe is constituted of five fundamental energy-substances or states. Of all the innumerable forms of Gayatri, Savitri is nearest to us and also the most powerful; and the inter-relationship of Savitri and Gayatri is so close that they can be said to be one and the same.

14. Lakshmi: Gayatri as the dispenser of material contentment and happiness is Lakshmi. By her grace we find our material circumstances aiding us in our self-development and adding to our capacity for social welfare and good conduct. Excess of material riches without the grace of Lakshmi is an evil and causes social strife, but the same riches blessed by the grace of Lakshmi become a force for social welfare.

15. Durga \ Kali: Gayatri as the time-force is called Durga or Kali. Life is a battleground where our greatest foes are mostly our own weaknesses of mind and character. By seeking Mother Durga's grace one acquires the strength of spirit to rectify these deficiencies.

16. Saraswati: Awareness has two polar attributes - the perceiving consciousness and the discriminatory intellect. Gayatri is the motivating force of the perceiving consciousness while the discriminatory intellect functions by the grace of Saraswati. Man is nothing more than a brute without right discrimination. Therefore the grace of Saraswati is necessary for us to sustain our intelligent humanity.

17. Kundalini: Gayatri as Kundalini is the quiescent material cosmic energy entwined with the individual embodied self. All yoga is concerned with the arousal of Kundalini for self realization.

18. Annupurna: Food is the first direct necessity for sustaining life. As Annapurna Gayatri is the provident Mother Nature who produces materials made available to us as food. Seeking Gayatri's grace as Annapurna obviates individual want and bestows contentment.

19. Mahamaya: Human identity being limited the human perception is also incomplete. Maya is delusion and Mahamaya is delusionlessness. Gayatri is called Mahamaya because when she has been realized as Mahamaya the true functioning of the cosmos is fully revealed and the self knows its own divine origin.

20. Payasvini: Gayatri as the provider of the elixir of immortality in the form of self-realisation is named Payasvini. Cow because she provides us generously with life-giving milk is taken to be the representative of Gayatri from the animal kingdom, and therefore she is held sacred. She is therefore called Payasvini (provider of milk). Cow is also an example to us of benevolence, charity and self-sacrifice, which are the self-same qualities of personal conduct required to realize the grace of Gayatri.

21. Pranagni: Gayatri is also Pranagni, or the vital fire permeating our bodied self. When Gayatri is realized in this form our weaknesses and deficiencies are consumed by Pranagni and our divine attributes become manifest.

22. Treyta or Tripura: Gayatri reigns over the three spheres of existence and in which capacity she is known as Tripura. A balanced combination of faith, knowledge and action are necessary for any beneficent human activity, and they are also necessary for realizing the triple attributes of sat-chit-ananda (existence-consciousness-bliss) of the all-containing Brahman. By the grace of Gayatri this state of realization is reached.

23. Bhavani: The evil-destroying power of Gayatri becomes personified as Bhavani who is the defender of the good, the meek and the down trodden and defenseless.

24. Bhuvaneswari: Gayatri as the divine sustainer-force of the universal harmony and well-being and as the goddess of the individual's prosperity and happiness is called Bhuvaneswari. By right social effort we earn her grace.

Festivals - Gayatri Jayanti and NavratriEdit

Gayatri JayantiEdit

This holiday recognizes the day when Maa Adishakti took form of Gayatri to kill Vetrasur. It has 2 dates both are believed in different areas of India one is on Shravan Purnima and other on Shukla Paksha Ekadashi during Jyeshtha lunar month and it is usually observed on the next day of Ganga Dussehra.

NavratriEdit

She is worshipped during Navratri as all the forms of Maa Adishakti are worshipped in those days.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Bradley, R. Hertel; Cynthia, Ann Humes (1993). Living Banaras: Hindu Religion in Cultural Context. SUNY Press. p. 286. ISBN 9780791413319.
  2. ^ Constance Jones, James D. Ryan (2005), Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Infobase Publishing, p.167, entry "Gayatri Mantra"
  3. ^ Roshen Dalal (2010), The Religions of India: A Concise Guide to Nine Major Faiths, Penguin Books India, p.328, entry "Savitr, god"
  4. ^ a b Margaret Stutley (2006). Hindu Deities: A Mythological Dictionary with Illustrations. Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers. ISBN 9788121511643.
  5. ^ a b c d Omacanda Hāṇḍā (1992). Śiva in art: a study of Śaiva iconography and miniatures. Indus Pub. House.
  6. ^ a b Bansal, Sunita Pant (2005). Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Smriti Books. p. 23. ISBN 9788187967729.
  7. ^ Ramachandra Rao, Saligrama Krishna (1998). R̥gveda-darśana: Gāyatri mantra. Kalpatharu Research Academy. p. 77.
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  9. ^ Vallyon, Imre (2012). Planetary Transformation: A Personal Guide To Embracing Planetary Change. Bookbaby. p. 245. ISBN 9780909038908.
  10. ^ CHETTY, D. GOPAUL (1923). NEW LIGHT UPON INDIAN PHILOSOPHY OR SWEDENBORG AND SAIVA SIDDHANTA. p. 52.
  11. ^ Frawley, David (2015). Shiva: The Lord of Yoga. Lotus Press. ISBN 9780940676299.
  12. ^ Uma Devi, Mudigonda (1990). Palkuriki Somanatha: His Contribution to Sanskrit Literature. Rasagangotri. pp. 123–183.
  13. ^ Sankaracharya (2000). Śrī Dakshināmūrti stotram: stava rajaṁ, astakam, samsmaranam and upanishat (stepping stone to Vedant). Sānkhyāyana Vidyā Parishat. pp. 6–7.
  14. ^ Jagdish Lal Shastri, Arnold Kunst (1985). Ancient Indian Tradition & Mythology, Volume 31. Motilal Banarsidass. p. 98. ISBN 9780895817778.
  15. ^ Guru Granth Sahib an Advance Study. Hemkunt Press. p. 294. ISBN 9788170103219.
  16. ^ Ludvík, Catherine (2007). Sarasvatī, Riverine Goddess of Knowledge: From the. Brill. p. 119. ISBN 9789004158146.
  17. ^ Kennedy, Vans (1831). Researches Into the Nature and Affinity of Ancient and Hindu Mythology by Vans Kennedy. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown and Green. pp. 317–324.
  18. ^ Sharma, Bulbul (2010). The book of Devi. Penguin Books India. pp. 72–75. ISBN 9780143067665.
  19. ^ Holdrege, Barbara A. (2012). Hindu Mythology, Vedic and Puranic. SUNY Press. ISBN 9781438406954.
  20. ^ B K Chaturvedi (2017). Varaha Purana. Diamond Pocket Books Pvt Ltd. p. 108. ISBN 9788128822261.
  21. ^ Bibek, Debroy (2002). The holy Puranas Volume 2 of The Holy Puranas: Markandeya, Agni, Bhavishya, Brahmavaivarta, Linga, Varaha. B.R. Pub. Corp. p. 519. ISBN 9788176462969.
  22. ^ "Gayatri Mantra". Vedic Rishi. Vedicrishi Astro. Retrieved 7 February 2018.

External linksEdit