(Essay) Gayatri Initiation by MaryAnn Columbia


Gayatri meditation is the highest form of meditation known in the Vedas.  Sage Vishwamitra is the seer of the Gayatri Mantra, which first appears in the Rig Veda (III, 62, 10).  Gayatri is called the essence of all mantras.  She is the source of divine wisdom and is the Mother of the Vedas.  Gayatri is also called Savitri, which is the name of the solar deity.  It is meditation on spiritual light (and is practiced by Hindus and Buddhists).  She is the light that grows the seed.

I have had two Gayatri initiations thus far.  The first took place in the Himalayas following a Gayatri fire ceremony toward the end of an Ashta Vinayaka (Eight Ganesha) Temple Tour in India in 2007.  Ganesha is the elephant-headed deity in Hinduism who is invoked at the beginning of all pursuits.  I was initiated into the long form of the Gayatri Mantra by Namadeva Acharya (Thomas Ashley-Farrand), my mantra teacher.  It is a memorable spiritual experience that cannot be described in words.  I did 1000 bows to the Chun Bu Kyung through the night before this Gayatri initiation.  Our journey culminated with six fire ceremonies at a campsite high in the Himalayas in a place called Auli. 

The Long Gayatri Mantra:

Om Bhur Om Bhuvaha Om Swaha

Om Maha Om Janaha Om Tapaha Om Satyam

Om Tat Savitur Varenyam

Bhargo Devasya  Dhimahi

Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat

Rough translation:  “O self-effulgent light that has given birth to all the lokas (spheres of consciousness) who is worthy of worship and appears through the orbit of the Sun, illumine our intellect.


Om Bhu(r) –  Earth plane (1st chakra)

Om Bhuvaha – Atmospheric plane (2nd chakra)

Om Swaha – Solar region (3rd chakra)

Om Maha – First Spiritual region beyond the Sun (4th chakra)

Om Janaha – Second Spiritual region beyond the Sun (5th chakra)

Om Tapaha – Third Spiritual region beyond the Sun (6th chakra)

Om Satyam – Abode of Supreme Truth

Om Tat Savitur Varenyam – That realm which is beyond human comprehension

Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi – In that place where all the celestials of all the spheres have received enlightenment

Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat – Kindly enlighten our intellect

I practice a long and beautiful daily sadhana that includes:

–          13 Sun Mantras

–          Pranayama (scientific breathing)

–          Gayatri Hridaya

–          Gayatri Nyasa

–          Agna Nyasa

–          Gayatri Kriya

–          Main Mantra discipline

–          Gayatri Tarpana

–          Gayatri Prathaspana

The sadhana has to be experienced first-hand to understand and appreciate its beauty and value.

Gayatri initiation
– myself and another initiate

I was initiated into the short form of the Gayatri Mantra by Satguru Rama Mata, the wife and lineage holder of Sadguru Sant Keshavadas who founded the Vishwa Shanti Ashram in Bangalore, India.  Rama Mata and Sant Keshavadas were the gurus of Namadeva Acharya who passed into Mahasamadhi 10/1/2010.  Namadeva’s teachings and lineage are now being carried out by his wife Satyabhama (Margalo Ashley-Farrand) with Satguru Rama Mata presiding as her guru.  With my short Gayatri initiation, I was blessed to receive the sacred Gayatri thread called YajnopavitamYajnopavitam consists of three strands, which represent:

–          Goddess Gayatri (Goddess of mind)

–          Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of word)

–          Goddess Savitri (Goddess of deed)

In India, Brahmin and Kshatriya men are called dvija, meaning “twice born.”  A man of these castes is born once in the womb of his mother and again during the Upanayana when he learns the Gayatri Mantra.  The Upnayam (Upanayana) is practiced by the three higher castes in India.  The main point of the Upanayana ceremony is the wearing of the Yajnopavitam thread on the body.  It is my understanding that women were not taught the Gayatri Mantra and it was taught by a father to his son at the time of the sacred thread ceremony.  Fortunately for me, I have encountered teachers who teach the Gayatri Mantra to everyone!  I have been abundantly blessed by my initiations to this very powerful devotional practice.

The Short Gayatri Mantra:

Om Bhur Bhuvaha swaha Om Tat Savitur Varenyam

Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi Dhiyo Yonaha Prachodayat

Individual Words:

Om – Divinity

Bhur – Vital energy on the Earth plane

Bhuvaha – Destroyer of suffering

Swaha – Embodying happiness

Tat – That – meaning God or Divinity, bringing success

Savitur – Bright and luminous, like the sun, producing bravery and perseverance

Varenyam – Best or supreme

Bhargo – Destroyer of sins

Devasya – Divine, or realms of the Devas

Dhimahi – May receive

Dhiyo – Intellect

Yo – Who

Naha – Us

Prachodayat – May inspire

Seven river goddesses
Vishwa Shanti Ashram, Bangalore, India

Deva Premal does a very famous and beautiful version of the Gayatri Mantra (short form) on her CD “Essence.”

Here is a link to a more scientific explanation of the Gayatri mantra:


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