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Date: 23 August 1995  Occasion: Upanaya Ceremony Place: Prashanthi Nilayam

Unique potency of the Gayatri mantra

 Divine Discourse
Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba

Embodiments of Divine Love!

Man today spends his life fully preoccupied with worldly concerns. Owing to attachment to the body, he forgets his true nature, is immersed in the affairs of the world, and involves himself in misery. He regards the body as permanent and makes bodily comforts his goal in life. These are the things which every individual experiences in daily life.

If anybody accosts a person and asks him, "Who are you?", out of his identification with the body he gives his name in reply. In answer to further questions he introduces himself as a doctor, a farmer, student, or the like. When the enquiry goes further, he identifies himself with his nationality as an American, an Indian, a Pakistani, or so on. When you examine these answers deeply, you will find that none of them gives the truth. He got his name from his parents. It did not belong to him at birth. His identification with one or other of his professions is not true because he is not the profession.

Body, jiva, and Atma

What, then, is the truth about him? "I am the Atma. That is my true Self." That is the truth. But people identify themselves with their names, professions, and nationality and do not base their lives on the Atma. No driver of a car identifies himself with the car. Likewise, the body is a car and the Atma is the driver. Forgetting one's true role as a driver, one is identifying one's self with the body, which is only a vehicle.

This truth is emphatically brought out by the Gayatri Mantra. Dehabudhyath daasoham --in the context of the body, I am an instrument, a servant. Jivabudhyath Thadamsah --in the context of the jiva (individual soul), I am a spark of That (the Divine). Atmabudhyath Thvamevaham --In terms of the Atma I am you. When one views one's self from the Atmic standpoint, one is identical with the Divine. I am you and you are me.

Three-storied mansion

Every man has thus three aspects. Our life itself is a three-storied mansion. The brahmacharya (celibate) stage is the foundation of this mansion. After that, the stage of grihastha (householder) is the first floor. Then you have the vanaprastha (retirement from the life of a householder) stage as the second floor. Finally, there's the stage of the sanyasa(renunciant) , constituting the third floor. Thus, brahmacharya is the foundation for the other three stages of life. The safety and security of the other three floors depend on the strength of the foundation (viz. brahmacharya). Hence, brahmacharya is the basic foundation.

But, unfortunately this vital fact has been forgotten by people. They feel happy on seeing the super structure. But the whole edifice may collapse at any time if the foundation is weak. When you feel happy at the sight of a tree and its flowers and fruits, you must be concerned about its roots. The unseen foundation is the basis for the visible mansion. The invisible roots are the basis for the visible tree. Likewise, the invisible vital force (prana) is the basis for the visible body. Prana has no form, while the body has a form. There is, however, the Atmic principle, which confers all the potencies for the life force (prana). It is because of the power imparted by the Atma that the life force is able to activate the body. The body inherently is inert. It is made up of different kinds of material substances.

Three potencies in man

The first line in the Gayatri Mantra is Om Bhurbhuvassuvah. This mantra is assumed to refer to three worlds: the earth, the middle world and heaven (or swarga, the land of the gods). Bhu refers to the body. It is made up of the five elements (pancha bhutas). These five elements constitute nature (prakriti). There is an intimate relationship between the body and nature. The same five elements that are in nature are also in the body. Bhuvah is the life force that animates the body (prana sakthi). Even if the life force exists, without jnana (Awareness) the body will be of no use. It is on this account that the Vedas declared: Prajnanam Brahma (Constant Integrated Awareness is Brahmam). It is by the presence of prajnana that the life force is able to animate the body. The body represents inert matter. The life force operates in the body as a vibration. This vibration derives its power from prajnana, which finds expression in radiation.

Therefore, the body, the life force and the prajnana are all within man. The entire cosmos is present in miniature within man. lt is because of these three constituents that we are able to see the cosmos and experience many other things. Every potency is within us. The external is a reflection of the inner being.

It follows from this that true humanness (maanavathvam) is divinity itself (Daivathvam). Hence, the Vedas declared that the divine appears in human form. Every human being is inherently divine, but owing to his attachment to the body he considers himself a mere man.

How did this human body get animated by the life force? Whence has this life force come? It is from the Atma Sakthi (the power of the Self). Making use of this power of the Self, the life force carries out all activities.

Triple aspects of Gayatri

Who is Gayatri? Gayatri is not a Goddess. Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas (Gayatri Chandasam matha). Gayantham thrayathe ithi Gayatri. Gayatri is that which redeems the chanter of the mantra. Gayatri is present wherever the Mantra is chanted.

Gayatri, however, has three names: Gayatri, Savitri, Saraswathi. These three are present in everyone. Gayatri represents the senses. It is the master of the senses. Savitri is the master of the life force (prana). Many Bharatiyas (Indians) are familiar with the story of Savitri, who brought back to life her dead husband, Sathyavan. Savitri signifies truth. Saraswathi is the presiding deity of speech (vak). The three represent purity in thought, word, and deed (Thrikarana suddhi). Although Gayatri has three names, all three are in each of us as the senses (Gayatri), the power of speech (Saraswathi) and the life force (Savitri).

Gayatri is said to have five face and hence is called Panchamukhi. Is there anybody in the world with five faces? No. In the Ramayana, Ravana is said to have ten heads. If really he had ten heads, how would he be able to lie in his bed or move about? This is not the inner meaning of this description. He is said to be ten headed because he was the master of the four Vedas and the six Sastras. Likewise, Gayatri is described as five faced. The five faces are:

Om (the pranava) is the first face. The pranava principle represents the eight different forms of wealth (ashta aiswarya).

The second face is: Bhurbhuvas-suvaha.

The third is: Thath-Savitur-varenyam.

The fourth is: Bhargo Devasya dheemahi.

The fifth is: Dheeyo yo nah prachodayath.

When the Gayatri mantra is understood in this way, it will be realised that all the five aspects of Gayatri are within each of us.

Power of Gayatri mantra

The Gayatri Mantra has all the three elements which figure in the adoration of God : description, meditation, and prayer. The first nine words of the mantra represent the attributes of the divine,

    Om Bhur-Bhuvas-Suvah Thath Savitur Varenyam Bhargo Devasya.

Dheemahi pertains to dhyana (meditation). Dheeyo yo nah Prachodayath is the prayer to the Lord. The mantra is thus a prayer to God to confer all powers and talents.

Sarvaroganivaarini Gayatri (Gayatri is the reliever of all diseases). Sarvaduhkha parivaarini Gayatri (Gayatri wards off all misery). Sarvavaancha phalasri Gayatri (Gayatri is the fulfiller of all desires). Gayatri is the bestower of all that is beneficial. If the mantra is chanted, various kinds of powers will emerge in one.

Hence the Gayatri mantra should not be treated casually. In our respiration process the sound of Gayatri is imbedded. That sound is a reminder of our true form. In the breathing process, there is inhalation and exhalation. In the Yoga Sastra, inhalation is termed purakam and the exhalation is called rechakam. Holding the breath is called kumbhakam. When air is inhaled, the sound that is produced is So-o-o. When it is exhaled the sound is Ham-m-m. So-hamSo-ham (Bhagavan demonstrated how this happens while breathing in and out). So is Thath. Ham is I. I am Thath. I am Divine. Every breath proclaims this. The Vedas declared the same thing in the pronouncements:

Thath Thwam Asi (That thou art),
Aham Brahmaasmi (I am Brahman),
Ayam Atma Brahma (This Atma is Brahman).

Don't imagine God is somewhere remote from you. He is within you . You are God. People want to see God. Sathyam Jnaanam Anantham Brahma, say the scriptures. Truth is God. Wisdom is God. Both these are present everywhere. They transcend the categories of time and place. Truth is that which is valid at all times past, present, an future. That truth is Gayatri.

Gayatri is thus the indweller in the heart (hridaya). Hridaya contains the word daya meaning compassion. There is compassion in every heart. But to what extent is it shown in real life? Very little. All the while, only anger, jealousy, pride, and hatred are displayed. These evil qualities are not natural to man. They are opposed to human nature.

It has been declared that one who bases himself entirely on the mind is a demon. One who bases himself on body is an animal. One who follows Atma (the Self) is divinely endowed. One who relies on the body, the mind and Atma is a human being. Humanness is the combination of the body, mind, and Atma. Man should strive to ascend to the divine and not descend to the demonic or animal nature.

Parent's duty

From today onward parents should teach their children stories with morals. You all know in what a chaotic condition the world is today. Disorder and violence are rampant everywhere. Peace and security are not to be found anywhere. Where is peace to be found? It is within us. Security is also within us. How is insecurity to be removed and security secured? It is by giving up desires. In the language of the ancient Bharatiyas (Indians), this was termed vairagya (giving up attachment). This does not mean giving up home and family and retiring into the forest. It is reduction of wants. As a householder limit your desires to the needs of the family. As a student, stick to your studies. As a professional, adhere to the duties of your profession. Do not indulge in excesses of any kind.

In the practice of the Gayatri mantra, one should realise that everything is within one and thereby develop confidence in the Self. Man today is racked by numerous troubles because he has no confidence in the Self. The aspirant on the spiritual path is he bound to face the troubles caused by the six enemies --lust, anger, greed, infatuation, pride, and envy. He has to he overcome them.

Call to students

Students! On an auspicious occasion like this, you should consider how you can lead an ideal life. Through faith in God you have to sanctify the body. Without the body, you cannot experience the mind and the intellect. To achieve your ideals, the body is the instrument. It should be kept in proper condition. While the body is a instrument, the user of the instrument is the Self. All sense organs function because of the Atma. The Atma is the witness to everything. It is also known as conscience. The conscience derives its sanction from the divine. It is a fragment of the divine.

Every human being is a spark of the divine, as declared in the Gita. The human being is essentially divine, but it tends to forget his divine origin. The Gayatri mantra is enough to protect the person who chants it, because Gayatri embodies all the divine potencies. It is an essential requisite for the young because it ensures a bright and auspicious future for them. The young students are the citizens and leaders of tomorrow. Hence, they should develop pure and noble thoughts. The parents also should foster such a development.

Nearness to God

The Upanayanam ceremony is over. The Gayatri mantra has been imparted to you. You are wearing the sacred thread with three strands tied in one knot. The three strands represent Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheswara. They also represent the past, present, and future. Upanayanam means being near to God. Nearness to God will enable you to get rid of your bad qualities and acquire virtues.


The Vedas have emphasised three duties: Esteem the mother as God, the father as God, and the preceptor as God. Bear this injunction in mind. Gratitude to your parents is your foremost duty. This is the lesson taught by Sri Rama.

Love your parents and remember God. When you please your parents and make them happy, your entire life will be filled with happiness.

Chant the Gayatri as often as possible. If you chant it while you take a bath, your bath gets sanctified. Likewise, chant it before taking your food. The food becomes an offering to the divine. Develop heartfelt devotion to God.

[Swami concluded his discourse with the bhajan: Hari bhajana binaa sukha santhi nahi.]