The Gita and Two Gayatris

O Lord, Eternal Master, Thou art my Light and my Peace; guide my steps, open my eyes, illumine my heart, and lead me on the paths that go straight to Thee.


THE MOTHER (in a Prayer on 13 December 1913)

In Gayatri Mantras, Gayatri refers to the name of the metre in which they are composed. In the Gita, Lord Krishna says, "I am the Gayatri among the poetic metres" (10:35), implying that it is the best among metres.

There are many Gayatri Mantras, but the best known is:

Om! Bhur bhuvaha swaha tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dheemahi
Dhiyo yo nah prachodayaat

(O God! Let us meditate upon the splendor of that supremely desirable Divine Sun, which is in the earth, the sky, the heaven. May He stimulate our thoughts)

When the One formless Divine chose to manifest through objects that had a form, it was an act of gross self-limitation. The all-knowing all-powerful assumed the appearance of Matter that seemed to know nothing and could do nothing. But thereafter began the process of evolution, by which the Supreme Consciousness of the Divine started manifesting in small doses, little by little. First came creatures with life, who manifested a little more of the Supreme Consciousness than Matter. Then came creatures with a mind, who manifested still more of it. Man is the latest product of evolution, and has an extremely well-developed mind. However, the divinity lying hidden in the creation remained hidden even from man. The mind can ask questions, explore, discover, and reason. These mental processes have been very useful in understanding the physical universe, but the discovery of the Divine has proved beyond the reach of even the human mind. Logic is the best developed faculty of the mind, but logic measures and calculates. On the other hand, discovery of the Divine needs faith, which is beyond logic. The seed that the Divine has planted for taking us closer to the Divine is love. Love knows no logic. Love gives without calculations. Love makes us feel one with some unit of creation other than ourselves. And, the beauty is that although love is irrational, it can be rationalized. That is why; the highest reaches of the mind can take us very close to the Divine. The Gayatri mantra is a prayer for stimulation of the thoughts by the Divine itself. Stimulation by the Divine can give our thoughts the breadth, depth and purity that can take us close to the Divine. That is why, the devotee addresses Savitur, the Creative aspect of the Divine, which has created the earth, the sky and the heaven, for stimulating his thoughts so that his thoughts can reach their highest potential. The highest potential implied here is not that which will enable the devotee to make scientific discoveries, but the state in which his thoughts will work entirely in tune with the Divine. For the prayer to be effective, the devotee has resolved to focus his mind entirely on the splendor, the glory and the greatness of the Divine. For any part of the being to reach its highest potential, single-minded dedication is indispensable. As a result of uninterrupted meditation on Savitur, the devotee's prayer may be granted, and his mind blessed with a perfect understanding of the Divine.

But not many know that Sri Aurobindo has also given us a Gayatri Mantra, which is:

Om! Tat savitur varam roopam jyotih parasya dheemahi
Yannah satyena deepayet

(O God! Let us meditate on the best form of Savitri, on the Light of the Supreme, which shall illumine us with the Truth)

In this mantra also, the devotee meditates on the Light of Savitur, the Creative aspect of the Divine. But the devotee's aspiration is higher. He is not satisfied with reaching the highest potential of his mind. Thinking, even at its best, is a tedious process, and liable to error, doubts and questions. In Sri Aurobindo's Gayatri, the prayer is for the Light of the Supreme to remove all darkness, and to illumine the Truth. Switching on a bright light is a quick way of seeing what was hidden in darkness. The process is not only quick, but also leaves no doubt about what is discovered. The process of the Divine providing the necessary light to the seeker requires a mechanism higher than the mental. It is not the highest reaches of the mind, but something qualitatively different from the mind that can illumine us with the Truth.

In Chapter 10 of the Gita, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna about His (Krishna's) multiple manifestations. That is the mental approach. Now Arjuna knows the Divine at the mental level. But he is not satisfied. That is why, he asks at the beginning of Chapter 11 that although he now knows and accepts the Divine, he still wants to see the Divine (The Gita, 11:1-4).

Since seeing is not possible at the mental level, Lord Krishna gives him divya chakshu, or 'divine eyes' (The Gita, 11:8).

'Divine eyes' are the same as that Supreme Light which can illumine mortal man with the Truth. After seeing the Truth with the 'divine eyes', knowledge of the Divine is no longer mere mental knowledge for Arjuna. Now knowledge of the Divine is part of Arjuna's experience. Experience is far more reliable and convincing than mental knowledge. Unlike mental knowledge, experience leaves us in no doubt about the existence of what has been seen. We get hints of the transition from thoughts to experience also in Chapter 10 of the Gita (10:9-11). In these verses, Lord Krishna says:

"Their consciousness full of Me, their life wholly given up to Me, mutually understanding and speaking of Me, they are ever contented and joyful. To these who are thus in constant union with Me and adore Me with an intense delight of love, I give the Yoga of the Buddhi by which they come to Me." (10:9-10)

It is Yoga of the Buddhi, that Lord Krishna says He gives to His devotees. Stimulation of thoughts by the Divine is what the Vedic Gayatri asks for, and the Lord grants it to His devotees. But the Lord does not stop there. He gives them more, which comes in the next verse.

"Out of compassion for them, I, lodged in their self, destroy the darkness born of ignorance by the blazing lamp of knowledge." (10:11)

The "blazing lamp of knowledge" is what Sri Aurobindo's Gayatri asks for, and the Lord grants it "out of compassion" for His devotees.

- Dr Ramesh Bijlani

........................................................................................................................................................................

24 November 1926 is believed to be the day on which Sri Aurobindo brought overmental consciousness down to earth. That is why, 24 November is celebrated as Siddhi day.

........................................................................................................................................................................