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A very different Meaning of Gāyatrī Mantra (in Kashmir Shaivism)

A very different Meaning of Gāyatrī Mantra (in Kashmir Shaivism)

bhaṭṭa nārāyaṇa gāyatrī mantra stava cintāmaṇi Dec 19, 2023

In this excerpt from The Magical Jewel of Devotion in Kashmir Shaivism – Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa’s Stava Cintamani, Swami Lakshmanjoo explains the traditional Gāyatrī mantra very differently.

Stava cintāmaṇi is the work of Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa. Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa is one of the most important Shaivite masters. He was one century elder to Abhinavagupta.

That Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa composed his hymn with the intention of introducing his audience to the richness of the path of non-dual Kashmir Shaivism is clearly visible in his unique interpretation of the ancient and highly revered Gāyatrī mantra:
“I don’t care to possess that effulgent light (tat savitur varenyam) of the three worlds (bhuh, bhuvah and svah), and I don’t need my intellect elevated to the state of universal understanding (dhiyo yo nah pracodayat); I want only for that effulgent light to direct me on the path of Shaivism – that is all I long for – and that is the only favor I ask of Gāyatrī.”
In this book, Swami Lakshmanjoo shares with us the secrets gleaned from the ancient masters of the oral tradition of Kashmir Shaivism.

Audio 5 (01:20)

गायत्र्या गीयते यस्य धियां तेजः प्रचोदकम् ।

चोदयेदपि कच्चिन्नः स धियः सत्पथे प्रभुः ॥७८॥

gāyatryā gīyate yasya dhiyāṁ tejaḥ pracodakam /

codayedapi kaccinnaḥ sa dhiyaḥ satpathe prabhuḥ //78//

There is the mantra of the Gāyatrī mantra.145

The Gāyatrī mantra is: “Oṁ bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, tat savitur vareṇyaṁ, bhargo devasya dhīmahi, dhiyo yo na, praco-dayāt.” Oṁ, I accept,146 bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ, there are three worlds (bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, and svaḥ). There is this universe, there is the universe of planets, and there is the universe of . . .147

ERNIE: Heavens.

SWAMIJI: Tat savitur, the sun of all of these three worlds, the shining embodiment of . . .

ERNIE: Light.

SWAMIJI: . . . He puts, He induces, the light on these three worlds, which are existing, which I confess they are existing (bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, and svaḥ); tat savitur, He who is the light giver of these three worlds, and His effulgent light is vareṇyam (vareṇyam is “worth having, worth possessing”). Tat savitur vareṇyam bharga (bharga means, light), His effulgent light is worth having, worth possessing. I meditate on That light.

ERNIE: That’s the mantra.

SWAMIJI: This is the meaning of this Gāyatrī mantra. Vareṇyam teja, vareṇyam bharga, bhargo devasya dhī-mahi, I meditate on It, I contemplate on That light of the Lord, dhiyo yo naḥ, who will elevate our shrunken . . .



SWAMIJI: . . . shrunken intellectual position, who will elevate our shrunken intellectual position and insert it in that effulgent light of the universal sun–Gāyatrī. This is the mantra of Gāyatrī. He says . . . now he refers to that mantra.

JOHN: Gāyatrī means, the universal light, or . . . the word “gāyatrī”?

SWAMIJI: The meaning of gāyatrī? Gāyatrī means, he who sings His glory, he is protected by That–the singer is protected.

ERNIE: And the singer sings this mantra?


Gāyatryā gīyate yasya dhiyāṁ tejaḥ pracodakam; yasya tejaḥ, yasya gāyatryā tejaḥ, gāyatryā gīyate, by this mantra of Gāyatrī, [the purpose for which] it is sung, “Whose effulgent light,” is dhiyām pracodakam, is inducing the power of your individual understanding to insert it in the universal understanding.148. It is pracodakam.149 [Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa says]: I don’t want that! I don’t want that thing to be done in my intellectual cycle. Codayet api kaccit naḥ sa dhiya, let that power of that effulgent light insert me, or direct me, codayet api, on the path of Śaivism. That is my pracodaka. I don’t want to elevate my intellectual cycle. I want to get myself on the path of Śaivism. That is what I . . . I long for this favor from Gāyatrī.

ERNIE: Why? Because that . . .

SWAMIJI: I want Śaivism, bas, that is all.

ERNIE: That is more.

SWAMIJI: That is more than That. I don’t want to get my intellectual cycle elevated only. I don’t want that elevation. I want myself to be stepped on the path of Śaivism.


145 “The Gāyatrī mantra is traditionally recited during the sacred thread ceremony, but in this verse, Bhaṭṭa Nārāyaṇa indicates something else.” Stava Cintāmaṇi (1990).

146 “The recitation of “oṁ” means, [the acceptance of] That state which is condensed with consciousness and bliss, and in which all of these thirty-six elements are merged, are digested.” Swami Lakshmanjoo, Bhagavad Gitartha Saṁgraha of Abhinavagupta, translation and commentary (original audio recording, LJA archives, Los Angeles, 1978), 8.14.

147 See verse 46, fn 85.

148 “The greatest energy of all śāstras has sunk in that light of Gāyatrī, which is produced by the sun (savitur): oṁ, bhuḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ.” Stava Cintāmaṇi (1990).

149 Lit., instigating, to impel.


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