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Gayatri (Sanskrit: गायत्री, gāyatrī) is the feminine form of gāyatra, a Sanskrit word for a song or a hymn, having a Vedic meter of 3 padas or lines of 8 syllables. In particular it refers to the Gayatri mantra, and the Hindu goddess Gayatri as that mantra personified.
- Having five heads(Mukta, Vidruma, Hema, Neela, Dhavala) with the ten eyes looking in the eight directions plus the earth and sky, and ten arms holding all the weapons of Lord Shiva, Lord Vishnu & Lord Brahma.
- 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.
She is an aspect of Mata Saraswati, Mata Lakshmi & Mata Parvati, all three in one form, a form of Adi Shakti, possessing the Rajasi Guna and hence is the source of Brahma's power. Without her, Brahma remains dormant or unable to create. Its said that if we worship anyone, Gayathri Lakshmi Saraswati Durga or Radha devi it is equal to worshiping all the pancha (5) matha.
Gayatri is in fact the name applied to one of the most well known Vedic hymn consisting of twenty-four syllables. This hymn is addressed to god Surya (sun) as the supreme generative force. Being translated this hymn means "We meditate on that glorious light of the divine Surya (Sun), may he, the lord of light, illuminate our minds". It is ordained that repeating this hymn again and again leads to salvation. One who desires to attain heaven should recite it a thousand times each day. A man of the upper caste, who daily repeats the Gayatri hymn 3000 times for one month, shall be freed from guilt, however great.
Gayatri later came to be personified as a goddess. She is shown having five heads and is usually seated within a lotus. She is another consort of Brahma.
According to the myth one day Saraswati was late to arrive at the time when Brahma was to perform his sacrifices to gods. Brahma became very angry because his consort's presence was indispensable to complete the ceremonies. Brahma asked the priest to fetch him any woman and wed him to her at the spot. Just in the neighborhood was found a very lovely shepherdess. In reality she was no other person than this Vedic hymn of Gayatri incarnated in the shape of that beautiful girl. Brahma immediately married that girl and kept her as his other wife together with Saraswati.
The five heads of Gayatri represent the four Vedas of ancient Aryans and the remaining one represents the Almighty Lord himself. In her ten hands she holds all the symbols of Lord Vishnu including mace, lotus, axe, conch, sudarshan, lotus, etc. One of the sacred texts explicitly reads, 'The Gayatri is Brahma, the Gayatri is Vishnu, the Gayatri is Shiva, the Gayatri is Vedas".
All sects of Hindus accept the importance of this hymn. Even the Arya Samajists, who do not believe in the worship of images and idols, proclaim this hymn as the most sacred one and in every prayer of theirs repeat the holy mantra to achieve success as well as salvation.
In popular culture
During the year 2003-04, a series based on the mythological stories of Goddess Gayatri was aired on Doordarshan, the national TV channel of India on prime time (10 AM, Sunday). Serial also included biography of Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya, founder of All World Gayatri Pariwar.
- Sacinandana Swami: The Gayatri Book., Vasati Verlag, 2005, ISBN 978-3-937238-05-0
- "Gayatri Sahasranam", Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Devi Mandir (ISBN 1-877795-57-7)
- Sadguru Sant Keshavadas (1978,2006). Gayatri: The Highest Meditation. Dehli: Motilal Bandarsidass Publishers PVT. LTD. pp. 148 pages. ISBN 81-208-0697-2.