The five faces of Gayatri

Maa Gayetri

Gayatri is said to have five faces 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 as follows.

1.Om (the Pranava). The Pranava Principle represents the eight different forms of wealth (ashta-aishvarya).
2. Bhur Bhuvas Suvah.
3. Thath-Savithur-varenyam.
4.Bhargo Dhevasya dheemahi.
5.Dheyo yo hah prachodayaath.
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.

Gayatri represents in these five faces the five pranas (life forces). Gayatri is the protector of the five pranas in man.
“Gayantham thrayathe ithi Gaytri (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.

Gayatri has five faces and is the embodiment of all deities –Sarva devatha Swarupam

The Gayatri Mantra

“Om Bhur Buvaha Suvaha
Thath Savithur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dheemahi
Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayath”

The First Word Om (Aum)
It is also called Pranav because its sound emanates from the Prana (vital vibration), which feels the Universe. The scripture says “Aum Iti Ek Akshara Brahman” (Aum that one syllable is Brahman).

When you pronounce AUM:
A – emerges from the throat, originating in the region of the navel
U – rolls over the tongue
M – ends on the lips
A – waking, U – dreaming, M – sleeping
It is the sum and substance of all the words that can emanate from the human throat. It is the primordial fundamental sound symbolic of the Universal Absolute.
The “Vyahrities”: Bhuh, Bhuvah & Svah
The above three words of the Gayatri, which literally means “past,” “present,” and “future,” are called Vyahrities. Vyahriti is that which gives knowledge of entire cosmos or “ahriti”. The scripture says: “Visheshenh Aahritih sarva viraat, praahlaanam prakashokaranh vyahritih”. Thus, by uttering these three words, the chanter contemplates the Glory of God that illumines the three worlds or the regions of experience.

The Remaining Words

Tat simply means “that” because it defies description through speech or language, the “Ultimate Reality.”

Savitur means “Divine Sun” (the ultimate light of wisdom) not to be confused with the ordinary sun.

Varenium means “adore”

Bhargo means “illumination”

Devasya means “Divine Grace”

Dheemahi means “we contemplate”

Dhi means intellect

Yo means “who”

Nah means “ours”

Prachodayat means “requesting / urging / praying”

The last five words constitute the prayer for final liberation through the awakening of our true intelligence.

Finally, it needs to be mentioned that there are a number of meanings of the three main words of this mantra given in the scriptures:
Various meanings of the words used in the Gayatri Mantra
Bhuh Bhuvah Svah
Earth Atmosphere Beyond Atmosphere
Past Present Future
Morning Noon Evening
Tamas Rajas Sattwa
Gross Subtle Causal
In the practice of the Gayatri mantra, one should realise that everything is within one and thereby develop confidence in the Self.

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3 thoughts on “The five faces of Gayatri”

    1. –“Gayatri is the Mother of the Vedas and the destroyer of sins. There is nothing more purifying on the earth, as well as in the heaven than the Gayatri. The Japa of Gayatri brings the same fruit as the recitation of all the four Vedas together…”–

      Rishis and Munis chose the words for the Gayatri mantra and arranged them in such a manner that, the chanting of this mantra created a powerful force. Gayatri manta has a lot of significance and you can yourself feel the power of Gayatri mantra by reciting it in the proper technique. While chanting the Gayatri mantra, always close your eyes and try to concentrate on each and every word that you say and then see the magical effects. To know more about the benefits of chanting Gayatri mantra, read on.

      When a man is gifted with righteous wisdom, half of his problems vanish away. People land into trouble, when they are not able to take the right decisions. People tread the wrong path because they are not mature or wise enough to decide what’s good for them and what’s not. It is here that Gayatri mantra comes to play a major role by bestowing wisdom on the people who chant this mantra in the right way.

      The performance of Gayatri mantra opens the gateway for knowledge and it is the raised intellectual level that enables a person to reach heights. The reciting of Gayatri mantra washes away the sins and provides the individuals with the intelligence to indulge in good deeds. It helps a great deal in purifying the mind, body and soul. You tend to feel relaxed after performing it and also your mind stops wandering, thereby leading to better concentration.

      This single Gayatri mantra is so powerful that it brings the same reward as the reading of the four Vedas. The mantra has to be repeated thrice a day and in turn, it will confer all the blessings on you in the form of good health, wealth, vitality, beauty etc. You can chant the mantra even while carrying out your daily routine works. Many people are in the habit of chanting Gayatri mantra while walking in the morning. To attain enlightenment, there can be no better therapy than chanting this foremost mantra of the Hinduism religion.

    2. Here is yet another view of the significance of 108.
      There are 12 months in an year.Again there are 9 grahas(planets) in astrology.There are 12 rasi houses in the chart.Surya remains in one rasi for a month and goes round all the 12 rasi houses
      in one year.The 12 rasi houses are also transmitted by the other planets during various periods.
      So 12 rasi houses X 9 planets=108.

      Gayathri mantra is worship of Sun God only.Sun is in the centre . All the other planets go round Sun God.

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