by a Thinker, Sailor, Blogger, Irreverent Guy from Madras

The Meaning of Gayathri Mantra

The last couple of days have been hectic because of the massively hit article Yajur Upakarma.  Some comments, very few that they were, have pained Krishnan.Vadhyar, because people are ignorant of the meanings of Mantras.  To explain Upakarma today, after the fact is pointless.  But tomorrow, 21 Aug is Gayathri Japam. So this is an attempt to explain the Gayathri Mantra.

This whole post (almost) has been dictated to me by Krishnan.Vadhyar, but being me, cannot resist shoving my own 2 bits in.  Thus all errors are mine and not his.

This is not about what a Mantra is - which will be written later.  This is an attempt to explain the Gayathri Mantra - so people can read it before doing Japam tomorrow with full understanding of what they say.  Even the Wikipedia entry is amorphous and unclear.

The Gayathri Mantra:

bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ
tát savitúr váreṇ(i)yaṃ
bhárgo devásya dhīmahi
dhíyo yó naḥ pracodáyāt

  • Om:  Om is the Omkaram.  Just accept it as such.  Explaining it is beyond this article.
  • bhūr, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ:  the 3 logas of Bhu loga, Bhuvar loga, Soovar loga - which mean the Manam, Buddhi and Ahangkaram - that is the Mind, Wisdom and Ego.  With this the Gayathri says that one’s Mind, Wisdom and Ego are all within Om.
  • tát, savitúr, váreṇ(i)yaṃ: who, creates everything, the most excellent.
  • bhárgo devásya dhīmahi: form of light, God, attain by meditation.
  • dhíyo, yó, naḥ, pracodáyāt: wisdom and power, one who gives, to us, by stimulation.
Literally in English:
Om; comprising Bhu, Bhuvar, Soovar logas; who, the creator, most excellent; appears as light, the God, we attain by meditating, the wisdom and power, given by him, to us, by stimulation.

Literally in Tamil:
உள்ளடக்கிய பூ, புவர், ஸுவர் லோகங்கள்;
அந்த, அனைத்தும் படைக்கின்ற, சிறந்த,
ஜ்யோதி ஸ்வரூபத்தை, தேவதையை, தியானிக்கிறேன்;
புத்தி சக்திகளை,  எந்த பரமாத்மா, நம்மவற்றை, தூண்டுகிறாரோ;

And that is the way to understand the Mantras and do Japam.  Understand the words, the meanings, and remember them when you recite, chant the mantras.

Because the mantras are in Sanskrit (or actually Granth), we cannot summarize them as such in other languages.  Summaries, like in Wikipedia, help to understand the concept.  But for a Mantra to be fruitful, we have to understand the individual words, memorise their meanings, and then say the Mantras, knowing fully well what we are saying, with each word or syllable.

Next time someone wakes you up and asks meaning of Oṃ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, I hope you will be able to explain to them!


My wicked half whispers, ‘If that Gayathri appears in front of me tonight, I think I probably have the fright of my life.  Imagine a 9 foot tall woman with 12 (10?) hands, 5 faces, and 8 or 10 weapons, including a skull!  Brrrr!’

Gayathri Japam procedure for 2016 available as free PDF download in Tamil, Sanskrit, or English in this post


  1. Subramanian Iyer21/08/2013, 17:38

    Thank you sir, The Tamil PDF is very useful for us who live in the USA.

  2. Glad to be of service. Do visit the blog often - if you can everyday - for more such useful articles. ;-(

  3. Sudharsan Iyengar22/08/2013, 00:44

    Thank you for the pdf. Was very useful.

  4. Thanks for the Avani Avittam procedure you had made available this year. It
    was very useful and i was able to perform Avani Avitaam without any problem
    using the PDF file.
    I appreciate you for taking time and uploading the procedure. I see that
    you have made the Gayathri Japam pdf from the Scratch. The formatting was
    really good:) It is very difficult to keep oneself motivated and do this kind of service

    Nice work.....


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