The Gayatri Mantra is so significant that it has affected the lifestyle of people over the centuries. This is the story of a warrior who became a yogi. It is the story of what happens when human power confronts divine power. This is the story of a Mantra. Mantra are incantations. They set up a resonance in the body not just from sound but in resonance. The result is the veil of dissolution of maya, it becomes a little thinner to perceive the Creator behind this creation. Mantras are said to be healing.
There are many mantras – simple one is Rama, Rama, keep chanting this and you will be taken to an uplifted state. Om Namah Shivaya, a six syllable mantra, this is supposed to destroy bad habits in us, grant us thereby great power. A mantra of 12 sylabbles is Om Namo Bhagavate Vasudevaya – this mantra takes us inward, takes the energy into our spine. It directs upward toward God. The mantra of 32 syllable Mritnjaya mantra is the mantra of liberation. But the easiest, exalted, so powerful, filled with benevolence and grace anybody who chants it no matter whatever cosmic burdens that they carry will go towards enlightenment very quickly is – Gayatri Mantra
Gayatri Mantra is a Mantra of 24 syllables and is chanted by millions of people over thousands of years. When a Self-realized master is in communion with God, with a specific intention that is beneficial to everybody, God helps him. By manifesting himself in a set of sounds. These Mantras are heard while in deep meditation. This is the story of Gayatri Mantra, whom was it given to, why was it given to.
Long ago in a higher age, Satya yuga, it is said that Dharma, righteousness, stood on all four feet. It was firmly established. Men and women were able to hear the voice of God more easily than we do today. In that age lived a king called Vishwamitra. Vishwamitra means friend of the universe. He was a great king. Under his rule his subjects were prosperous, lived in harmony, thought of God, lived closer to nature. He was a powerful king and ruled with a perfect combination – Justice, Might and Love. He had a great army and he himself was a great warrior. Under his rule they had conquered many places, remained undefeated and ruled much of the earth.
As a king it was just not sufficient to remain in the palace. One needed to visit the principalities, municipalities and go seeing what people are saying about you and get some field intelligence and make sure everything is going well. Once Viswamitra takes some of his best soldiers and embarks on a tour of his kingdom. The area is so vast that it almost takes an year to cover all the places in his kingdom. His tour was coming to an end and he was happy to observe that all his people in his vast empire were cheerful. Before returning to the palace, he had one more stop to make. That was to a hermitage, an ashram.
Deep inside the forest inside the hermitage lived a rishi by name Vasishta. Vasishta was a Brahmarishi. it’s a title given to someone who has achieved great spiritual achievement. In those days it was well recognized that the material needs were looked after by the king whereas the spiritual well being was equally important and is the responsibility of the rishi. He functioned as a Guru of the king and as a spiritual protector of his kingdom. Vishwamitra meets Rishi Vasishta.
Even among the rishis he was exalted. Vasishta’s soul lived in constant communion with God. Never away from God. Therefore when Vasishta spoke God spoke through him.
It was always true even if it wasn’t true but when he started speaking it would become true by the time he ended speaking because the universe rearranged itself to follow the will of God. His Consciousness was a perfect mirror of divine consciousness so he had a special title Brahmarishi. Brahma means Supreme spirit, who is in touch with the Supreme spirit all the time and as a mark of his spiritual achievements he carried a wooden staff. The staff of Brahma. This was a staff representing the communion with God. So Vishwamitra, the great king, the friend of the universe, visits Vasishta, the Brahmarishi - his Guru through whom God speaks.
Vishwamitra removes his footwear, goes inside and meets Vasishta. Vasishta was an emaciated person with long locks of hair. He had wide eyes that encompassing total peace. His hermitage reflected total peace. Viswamitra greeted Vasishta. Vasishta asked Vishwamitra, “O’ King, I hope you are alright, your people are in peace and harmony. Hope enough rains are happening.” Vishwamitra replied, “O, Gurudeva, by your grace everything is going on well.” Let me ask you in turn, if you have enough ghee for performing the rituals, if the cows are bountiful?”
They exchanged more pleasantries and Vasishta said, “O’ king you have come back from a long tour of the kingdom for an year. You look so tired. Can I give you and your army a banquet tonight, you can have it and then leave tomorrow morning?” Looks like you haven’t had good food in a long time. The King was bemused, “What can a rishi give as food in the middle of the jungle, leave alone a banquet. He looked around and except a few huts could not see a granary or a kitchen !! He accepted the offer saying, “how can I refuse you Gurudeva?”
Vasishta looked at one of the cows which looked quite different from the other cows and looking at Vasishta’s eyes saunters over to him. He held the wooden staff on the forehead of the cow and said, “as you can see we have a lot of guests; can you not please give them a good dinner?” Coming as God’s words the cow shakes a little bit and out comes from its belly tables and chairs and the best possible food in a forest. The king and his soldiers had a sumptuous dinner. All this while instead of eating the food Viswamitra was continuously looking at the cow.
Finally after the dinner, Vishwamitra asked Vasishta, “O ’Venerable sage, If you find a piece of diamond in a forest, will it be of any use to anyone?” Obviously no, replied the sage. Vishwamitra continued, “If this cow which gave us food is there in our palace it can satiate the hungers of all in the kingdom. Please give it and I will give you 1000 cows, 1000 horses and whatever else you want. The sage did not like the approach but said politely that the Creator Brahma Himself has given the cow exclusively for serving me and all the other sages here. It’s not here for exchange. More offers from Vihswamitra and Vasishta declined and said emphatically, “You shall not have the cow. It is not your cow. It is not your Dharma.”
Vishwamitra is not used to disobedience; he becomes very angry. If you do not give the cow, I am going to take the cow. Mind your tone sage, you should know to whom you are speaking to; the land that you stand on is own. Everything on this land belongs to me and so is the cow. He then grouped his soldiers and said, “capture the cow.” The group of soldiers went towards the wish fulfilling cow to capture it and take it away. Vasishta looked at the cow and said, “please holy cow, show what you are capable of responding to the threat.”
The cow made a few movements and mooed and out came a battalion of armed soldiers from the belly of the cow. Vishwamitra’s army is mighty. But what can a human army do in front of a divine host. Very soon the entire army of Vishwamitra was decimated. Vishwamitra the friend of the universe is stunned. He said, “All my life I believed in human power !! I equipped myself to become a great warrior and captured so many kingdoms on this earth. Here a forest monk with a wooden staff and a cow defeated us squarely. Humiliated and cheeks filled red with anger, not a one to give up, he has an indomitable will, he is a warrior, looks at Vasishta and said, “This is not over.”
Vishwamitra goes to the snowy peaks of the Himalayas begins meditating on the great God Shiva. The God of destruction, the patron saint for all weapons, how does he meditate, how does he perform austerities? He stands on one leg, lifts both his arms folded at the top. He eats only the roots and leaves around him. He wanted to take revenge against Vasishta. So burning was his desire. He meditates “Om Nama Shivaya” the Mantra and meditates. Such is the power of his indomitable will and the nature of his unabated anger he meditates for a few hundred years.
Lord Shiva appears in front of Vishwamitra. “Vishwamitra, I am very happy with you !! Tell me what boon do you want.” Vishwamitra replied, “I need all weapons - Physical, astral, celestial. Will you not give mastery over all weapons? I would like to have the mastery over the power of the wind, fire and water. I would like to have the poison of all the snakes within me, the ferocity of all the wild animals. “THATATSU !!” Be it so said Shiva and vanished. !!
Vishwamitra feels the powers felt by his body flies with the help of wind to Vasishta’s hermitage, all the powers repressed for a few hundred years unabated anger and seeking vengeance lands in front of Vasishta. On the meadow where he was humiliated he invokes Agni, the Lord of fire and lifts his palms and shows it over the hermitage. In an instant the fire caught up on all the huts burning them and the animals into ashes. What have you done evil king roared Vasishta? - With a staff in hand he said, “I gave you food to you and your army. Is this how you would repay me?” It’s a big sin that you have committed. His eyes were filled with divine peace even when such a huge great show of anger had turned his hermitage into a graveyard.
Vishwamitra thundered and said, “I have the power of Shiva within me; I have everything destructive in my control. You can’t kill me or do anything with me for I am loaded with all the power, arms and ammunition.” Saying it’s now time for you to face my wrath, he lifts his arms and the power of fire comes out of him and arcs up in the air. Vasishta holds his staff and the fire instead of spreading out concentrated into a single laser beam and went into the centre of his staff and disappears !!
Vishwamitra gets more angry now invokes the power of water, a tsunami of water gathers strength and goes towards Vasishta. Vasishta, the God realized person shows the wooden staff that absorbs all the water. All the waters of the seas, oceans and rivers got absorbed into the staff !! Vishwamitra continues with air, rains mountains, boulders uproots trees, and everything is absorbed by the staff. He now takes out the “Brahmas weapon – Brahmastra.” With a chant he begins to suck out power from the entire cosmos and releases a strange astral power from his forehead.
Such is the power of the beam, Vasishta also could feel it since his skin started becoming darker. . Vasishta holds the staff in his front. The power of the entire creation is absorbed into the staff of the Creator and is dissipated to all the sides and so balance is restored !! Vishwamitra now realizes that against divine power all human powers are absorbed. He looks at the huge sin that he has committed and looks at his hands. What have I done Gurudeva? He is mortified with his sin.
But then he is a kshaktria, a warrior that he doesn’t dwell with what happened. He thought that the only way I can atone for my sin is that I have to become a Brahmarishi myself. When I am in constant communion with God i will be able to know and the way to atone my sin. He says the same thing as he told Vasishta before he leaves, “ Its not over; I will be back.” But this time it was said in a totally different tone !! I will be back, please forgive me.
Goes to the Daivabhoomi, the land of the Gods in the Himalayas and begins to meditate. And what an austerity it was !! He doesn’t drink anything, he doesn’t eat anything, even he doesn’t sleep. With indomitable will Vishwamitra gains mastery over sleep. Begins to focus on God to enable him find a way to atone for his sins. After a few hundred years Brahma the Creator appears and said, “ Vishwamitra, my son, I am very pleased with your great will and single minded contemplation of Me. And with folded hands Vishwamitra was having God contact was thrilled. Brahma told that from now on you will be a “Rajarishi” Means you are a King among rishis and Rishis among kings.
Vishwamitra was aghast. He wanted to be a Brahmarishi but now got a Rajarishi title only. WHY? When he contemplated. Where did I go wrong? Swadhyaya, Self study - He found that when he in deep meditation there was a bird which was making a sound and in a fit of rage Vishwamitra’s rage was invoked because his concentration got affected he curses the bird. And he knew that’s where he went wrong. God may have touched my heart but anger is still deep within me.
Why do I have anger? He meditates on it and finds out that he still have desires, the desire to become a Brahma-Rishi. Why do I have desire? I have desire because I have attachments. He is getting close to the essence of the problem. Why do I have attachments? I have given up my family, my kingdom… I wore the dress of a simple monk. Then why do I have attachments? In another moment of epiphany what a realization it was. I have attachments, simply because, “I DWELL ON THINGS.”
When I dwell on the beauty of a tree, I am attached to the tree, when i dwell on the beauty of the woman, I am attached to the woman. Then what is the solution? I cannot think about the creation, I can think only about the Creator. That is the “TRANSFORMATION.” How shall I seek You, my Lord? Te answer comes, “Seek Me through Service.” “Serve Me by Loving Me.” Viswamitra enters meditation once again, he doesn’t want to be a Brahma-Rishi now. He doesn’t want any attainments now.
The fountain of energy begins to rise from the base of his spine because of his stillness through the central channel washing away the Vrittis, Vasanas of karmic war disease. His heart opens completely to the presence of God and he stays in divine ecstasy. Finally after hundreds of years of meditation the Supreme being Lord Vishnu arms lifted in benediction, appears in front of Viswamitra. Vishnu said, “From now on you will always be with Me.” “You will always be in Infinite Bliss.”
Hold out your hand, Viswamitra holds out his right hand and in the right hand was given a simple wooden staff. When you speak you will speak God’s will. You are now a “BRAHMA-RISHI.” Tears are flowing from Viswamitra’s cheeks. Viswamitra asks Lord Vishnu, “The hands which hold the wooden staff has done a huge sin. How can I atone for that?”
Vishnu replied, “In this dark age, with your sheer grit you have found Me. Otherwise it is very difficult to find ME. When you can find Me you can find ways and means to atone for your sins and in addition the tool that you will find will not only atone your sin but also a tool which can be used by simple human beings to realize Me. Thy will be done Lord. Goes back to meditation. He goes forward in time to the dark ages, descends in mortal form, realizes the suffering of people brought about by lust, desire, possessiveness, and all the cycles of births and deaths. He cannot tolerate the pain and agony of the human beings.
He meditates again feverishly, “ help me get rid of the pain of humanity my Lord” He continues to meditate for hundreds of years and suddenly he hears a small sound in the right ear. He realizes that when he focuses on that sound the pain of humanity, in his heart gets down a little bit. He focuses more and the indistinct sound gets a little bit more clear. The syllables began to get separate from the sound and they arrange themselves in the spiritual eye. 24 SYLLABLES – 3 lines, he looks at those, and begins to chant and when he says the Mantra, the pain in his heart melts away.
Now he knows that the will of God has been done through God’s Grace, that I have found a Mantra that in the darkest depths of human suffering just listening to it, “I shall call it the “GAYATRI MANTRA” he says. He chants and he hears the chants happening outside of him as well. People are chanting with him. He raises his wooden staff and he sees Sage Vasishta !! Smiling and with deep rooted love, compassion and peace, Vasishta said, “BRAHMA-RISHI VISWAMITRA, the friend of the universe, It was God’s play and he used you to discover the GAYATRI MANTRA for the common man - to relieve him from suffering and unveil the maya to a little extent. You have given such a great gift to mankind.
Gayatri Mantra is so powerful and he who chants it shall become Enlightened. Gods surrounding Vasishta said, “Glory to Vishwamitra !!” Through Brahma-Rishi Vishwamitra the Gayatri Mantra was given to us by God Himself. No matter what our cosmic burden might be, chanting this mantra with devotion is capable of parting the maya, a little bit, so that we could see the eternal bliss of the Creator.