You are viewing the old website of the Sathya Sai International Organisation. Use the following link to go to the homepage of the new website.
Date: 17 March 1983  Occasion: Upanaya Ceremony Place: Prashanthi Nilayam

The Gayatri path to God

 Divine Discourse
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Out of action arises the bondage of delusion;
From delusion grows a perverted mind;
Mental perversion leads to perverse deeds;
Such deeds again result in rebirth.

Young embodiments of the Divine! The grand mansion of Hindu thought has been raised on the four walls of karma (action), janma (birth), dharma (righteousness), and Brahman (Supreme Self or God). These four are interdependent. No one can escape the consequences of one's action, whether good or bad. No action goes in vain. Karma is the primary cause of one's birth.

The jivi (individual soul) is born in karma, he grows through karma, he ceases in karmaKarma is the cause of happiness and misery.

It has been well said that "The body indeed is the basis for the pursuit of dharma (Sariramadhyam khaIu dharma sadhanam)." It is by the pursuit of dharma that Brahman is realized. The Gita has declared that whenever dharma declines the advent of the Avatar (Divine incarnation) occurs. This implies that the object of human existence is to uphold dharma. Since creation is a projection of the Divine Will, the aim of every human being should be to live in harmony with that Will. One's life should be dedicated not for promoting one's selfish interests or to serve the interests of other fellow-beings but in the service of the Divine. Whatever is done to anyone, if it is done as an offering to the Divine, it will reach the Divine. Man should consecrate every action by regarding it as an offering to the Divine.

Gayatri initiation gives one the second birth

From the moment of issuing from the mother's womb, one is involved in action. This natural state is common to all and may be described as shudhrathwam (the state of the sudra, that is, one who is not subject to any regimen). After one receives the Gayatri initiation, he is born again and becomes a dwija (a twice-born). The Gayatri is described as "Chandhasam mathah'--the mother of all the Vedas (ancient sacred scriptures). One meaning of Gayatri is that it is a mantra (sacred formula) that protects or fosters the "Gayas" or jivis (individual beings).

You must note that today you have all got a second birth by receiving the Gayatri mantra (Vedic prayer to illuminate the intelligence). By observing the disciplines of the brahmachari (celibate) stage, you will qualify yourselves for the study of the Vedas. When one begins to study the Vedas he is known as "vipra" (brahmin). This is a third birth, as it were. At this stage, by the study and understanding of the Vedas and living up to their precepts, one gets the opportunity to understand Brahman (Supreme Being). Once the Brahman principle is understood, one merges in Brahman. It is only when there is awareness of Brahman can one claim to be a real Brahman. It is not birth alone, but the realization of Brahman, which confers real Brahmanathwa (brahmin-hood) on a person.

Gayatri mantra is the embodiment of all deities The Gayatri mantra has to be recited three times a day: in the morning at sunrise, at noon, and at sunset. These are called "sandhya kalam" --the time of coming together of night and day, of morning and evening, and of day and night. Time, like man, has three qualities: sathwa, rajas, and thamas (poised or serenity, passion, and inertia). The day is divided into three parts. The four hours between 4 and 8 a.m. in the morning and between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. in the evening have the sathwa (equanimous) quality. The eight hours between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. are rajasic (passionate). The eight hours between 8 p.m. and 4 a.m., which are mainly used, for sleep, are thamasic (inactive, lethargic). The eight hours of the day (from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.) are employed by all beings, including animals and birds, in the discharge of their day to day duties and are regarded as rajasic (active pursuit).

When the four sathwic hours of the morning (4 a.m. to 8 a.m.) are used for engaging oneself in good actions like worship, virtuous deeds, keeping good company, one is sure to raise, himself from the human to the Divine level. It is during the sathwic period (from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.) the Gayatri mantra should be recited. This mantra is the embodiment of all deities. It is not related to any particular sect, caste, idol, or institution. It is said to embody nine "colours":

(1) Om
(2) Bhuh
(3) Bhuvah
(4) Suvah
(5) Thath
(6)  Savitur (powers)
(7) Varenyam
(8) Bhargah
(9) Dhevasya.

Dheemahi is related to the meditative aspect. Dhiyo-yo-nah prachodayath relates to the aspect of prayer. The mantra as a whole thus contains three aspects descriptive, meditational, and prayer.

Discover the unity that underlies the diversity

On the basis of differences in behavior, the antahkarana (inner-psyche) has been accorded four names. When it is concerned with thoughts, it is called manas (mind). When it is restless and wavering, it is called chiththa (consciousness). When it is concerned with enquiry and understanding, it is called buddhi (intellect). When it is associated with the sense of "mine" (possessiveness), it is called ahamkara (egotism). Why are four different names and attributes given to one and the same entity (the antahkarana)? The mind is preoccupied with distinctions and differences. The (intellect is concerned with oneness and reveals the unity that underlies the diversity. Ail our efforts must be directed toward discovering the unity that underlies the diversity rather than seeking to divide the One into the many.

The Gayatri mantra (Vedic prayer to illuminate the intelligence) is a sacred mantra, which demonstrates the unity that underlies manifoldness in creation. It is through the recognition of this unity that we can understand the multiplicity. Clay is one and the same thing, though pots of different shapes and sizes can be made from it. Gold is one, though gold ornaments can be multifarious. The Atma (Divine Self) is one, though the embodied forms in which it resides may be many. Whatever the color of the cow, the milk is white always.

There is no object in the world, which does not have a form and a name. The cosmos is made up of things with forms and names. While the forms are subject to constant change, the names remain unchanged. The form may change and even completely disappear but the name remains. Once we know the name, we can recognize what or whom it represents. In a large gathering, it will not be easy to trace a person merely from the description of his features. But when his name is called, he immediately responds and can be identified. Likewise, through the name of the Lord, the form of the Lord can be visualized.

Five faces, three deities

Gayatri is described as having five faces.

The first is Om.
The second is Bhurbhuvassuva.
The third is Thathsavitur Varenyam.
The fourth is Bhargo Dhevasya Dheemahi.
The fifth is Dhiyo-yo nah Prachodhayath.

Gayatri represents in these five faces the five pranas (life forces). Gayatri is the protector of the five pranas in man. "Gayantham thrayathe ithi Gayatri (because it protects the one who recites it, it is called Gayatri)." When Gayatri acts as protector of the life-forces, she is known as Savitri. Savitri is known in the puranic story as the devoted wife who brought back to life her husband, Sathyavan. Savitri is the presiding deity of the five pranas. She protects those who lead a life of Truth. This is the inner meaning.

When one's intelligence and intuition are developed by the recitation of the mantra, the activating deity is Gayatri. When the life-forces are protected, the guardian deity is called Savitri. When one's speech is protected, the deity is called Saraswathi. Because of the protective roles of Savitri, Saraswathi,nd Gayatri in relation to life, speech, and the intellect, Gayatri is described as Sarvadevatha-swarupini, the embodiment of all goddesses.

It is essential to recite the Gayatri mantra at least three times during morning, noon and evening. This will serve to reduce the effects of the wrong acts one does every day. It is like buying goods for cash, instead of getting them on credit. There is no accumulation of karmic (result of action) debt, as each day's karma (action) is atoned for that day itself by reciting the Gayatri mantra.

Redemptive power of the Gayatri mantra

The plea that one cannot find time for reciting the Gayatri thrice a day is specious and untenable. People waste so much of their time in worthless activities that they can easily find a few moments for reciting the Gayatri when they wake up from bed and before they go to sleep, if only they have the will. The Gayatri can be recited even when one is taking his bath. It will mean also offering ablutions to the goddess. At noon, if the Gayatri is recited before taking one's meal, the food will get sanctified and become an offering to the deity.

The brahmacharis (celibates/religious students) should realize the redemptive power of the Gayatri mantra. Through the Brahmopadhesam (initiation into sacred knowledge), the young boys have had a second birth. It is only when they have achieved the purposes of this second birth will they be qualified to enter on the sacred third stage of "viprathvam" (Brahmana-hood), which leads to the realization of Brahman.

"One who is aware of Brahman becomes one with Brahman" is the Vedic saying. To recognize the Brahman principle, one has to understand one's own true nature. There is a story to illustrate how one can see whether one is qualified to realize Brahman. An unmarried girl acquires the right to a half-share in a man's property after she is married to him and he ties the mangalasutra (the auspicious marriage thread) round her neck. It is this sacred thread that confers the fight on her. Likewise, one remains remote from God as long as one has not acquired the thread of "surrender to the Divine" (sharanagathi thathwa). The moment one wears the sutra (thread) of sharanagathi (total surrender), one acquires the right to a half share in the energy and authority of the Divine. We must strive earnestly to pursue the path of submission to the Divine Will and offering everything to the Divine.

The attitude of surrender will grow in us as we recite regularly the Gayatri mantra. This is the reason why boys are initiated into the mantra at an early age. There is also another reason for this early initiation. Boys, who have been indolent or dull before getting the Brahmopadhesam, have been able to develop their intelligence and be more diligent in their studies after they have received the Gayatri mantra. This is a matter of proven experience. Like sunrise after the night, the Gayatri mantra dispels the darkness of ignorance: Dhiyo-yo-nah prachodayaath The rays of the Gayatri mantra illumine the mind and intelligence and promote knowledge, wisdom and discrimination.

I bless the young vatus (boys who have been initiated) so that from today they recite the Gayatri regularly, lead exemplary lives and grow into good, god-fearing, educated, and enlightened citizens of Bharath (India)

Gayathri mantra is the royal road to Divinity

Young people should realize the connection between food and the state of one's mind. For much of the demoniac qualities prevalent among men today, the primary cause is the food they consume. One will develop good qualities if one takes sathwic food, which is wholesome and moderate in quantity. It should not involve causing pain to others. And all that is eaten should be regarded as an offering to God. This is the inner significance of the sandhaya vandana mantras. When uttering the different names of Vishnu, Kesava, Narayana, etc., one should bear in mind the meaning of each name. Narayana, for instance, means that He is the Lord of the five elements. If the name is recited, bearing in mind what it signifies, the full benefit of reciting the mantra will be got.

The Gayatri mantra is the royal road to Divinity. There is no fixed time or regulation for reciting it. Nevertheless, the young brahmacharis (celibates) would do well to recite it during the morning sandhya and evening sandhya (worship during dawn and twilight hours) to derive the greatest benefit. However because the Divine is beyond time and space, any time, any place is appropriate for repeating God's name. The Bhagavatha declares: "Sarvadhaa, sarvathra, sarvakaaleshu Harichintanam (Contemplate on God always, at all places and at all times)." You must learn to think of God in whatever you see whatever you do and whatever you touch. You must realize that you are playing temporary roles on the cosmic stage. You must get back to your true Divine Selves when the play is over. By regularly reciting the Gayatri, you must purify your lives and be an example to the world in righteous living. This is my benediction for you.