Gayatri, Gāyatrī, Gāyatri: 24 definitions

Introduction

Introduction:

Gayatri means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit, the history of ancient India, Marathi. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

In Hinduism

Vaishnavism (Vaishava dharma)

Source: ISKCON Press: Glossary

Gāyatrī (गायत्री).—A sacred mantra that a brāhmaṇa chants silently three times a day at sunrise, noon and sunset to attain the transcendental platform; the Vedic mantra that delivers one from material entanglement.

Source: Pure Bhakti: Bhagavad-gita (4th edition)

Gāyatrī (गायत्री) refers to “literally, trī–‘that which gives deliverance’, gāya–‘through singing’. Gāyatrī is the mother of the Vedas. Brahma-saṃhitā states that Lord Brahmā first heard the flute-song of Kṛṣṇa through his eight ears as the syllable oṃ, then, when he chanted it himself, it became gāyatrī, by which he became enlightened. Thus he became initiated as a brāhmaṇa”. (cf. Glossary page from Śrīmad-Bhagavad-Gītā).

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Vaishnava (वैष्णव, vaiṣṇava) or vaishnavism (vaiṣṇavism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshipping Vishnu as the supreme Lord. Similar to the Shaktism and Shaivism traditions, Vaishnavism also developed as an individual movement, famous for its exposition of the dashavatara (‘ten avatars of Vishnu’).

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: archive.org: Puranic Encyclopedia

1) Gāyatrī (गायत्री).—One of the seven horses of Sūrya. The other horses are Bṛhatī, Uṣṇik, Jagatī, Triṣṭubh, Anuṣṭubh, and Paṅkti. (Chapter 8, Aṃśam 2, Viṣṇu Purāṇa). (See full article at Story of Gāyatrī from the Puranic encyclopaedia by Vettam Mani)

2) Gāyatrī (गायत्री).—General information. A glorious Vedic mantra. This mantra has twentyfour letters. There are nineteen categories of movable and immovable things in this world and to this if the five elements are added the number twentyfour is obtained. That is why the Gāyatrī has got twentyfour letters. (Chapter 4, Bhīṣma Parva). At the time of Tripura dahana Śiva hung this Gāyatrī mantra as a string on the top of his chariot (Chapter 34, Karṇa Parva). The glory of Gāyatrī. If one recites Gāyatrī once one will be freed from all sins done at that time; if one recites it ten times all the sins done on one day will be washed away. Thus, if one recites it a hundred times the sins of one month; thousand times, the sins of a year; one lakh times, the sins of his life time; ten lakh times, the sins of his previous birth; hundred lakh times, the sins of all his births, will be washed away, If a man recites it ten crore times he becomes a realised soul and attains mokṣa. (Navama Skandha, Devī Bhāgavata). How to recite Gāyatrī. It should be recited sitting still with your head slightly drawn downwards with your right palm open upwards, with the fingers raised and bent to give the shape of the hood of a snake. Starting from the centre of the ring-finger and counting down and going up through the centre of the small finger and touching the top lines on the ring, middle and forefingers, count down to the base of the forefinger, you get number ten. This is how the number of recitations is counted. This method is called the Karamālā (hand rosary) method. This is not the only method that could be used. You can use a rosary made of lotus seeds or glass beads. If you are using lotus seeds you should select white seeds for the rosary. (Navama Skandha, Devī Bhāgavata).

Source: archive.org: Shiva Purana - English Translation

1) Gāyatrī (गायत्री) is a most sacred verse of the Ṛgveda which is the duty of every Brāhmaṇa to repeat in his every day prayers. It is addressed to the Sun, Savitṛ and is called Sāvitrī also.

According to Śivapurāṇa 1.15.—“the word Gāyatrī means that which saves the reciter from downfall. Only a person of purified soul can save others, just as only a rich man can donate anything to others. A man of no means cannot give anything to others in this world”.

2) Gāyatrī (गायत्री) is the name of a mantra that is chanted during Dhārāpūjā, according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.1.14:—“ after performing the regular worship of Śiva, with great devotion in accordance with prescribed rules, the devotees shall pour water in a continuous stream (jaladhārā). This Dhārā worship [viz., Dhārāpūjā] is very efficacious in delirium due to fever (jvarapralāpa). At that time [...] Gāyatrī, [... etc.,] shall be repeated. The Dhārā worship [viz., Dhārāpūjā] is very excellent in regard to flourishing series of pleasures. [...]”.

3) Gāyatrī (गायत्री) is used as an epithet for Goddess Umā, according to the Śivapurāṇa 2.3.3.—Accordingly, as the Gods eulogized Umā (Durgā/Satī) with devotion:—“[...] we bow to her who promotes robustness in all the beings of the universe from Brahmā to a blade of grass in the whole Cosmos. You are Gāyatrī, the mother of the Vedas, Sāvitrī, Sarasvatī, the sustenance of all the universe; you are the triad of the Vedas having Dharma for its form”.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: The Purana Index

1a) Gāyatrī (गायत्री).—A poetic metre;1 a sister of Aruṇa and Garuḍa; recitation;2 wife of Prajāpati.3

  • 1) Bhāgavata-purāṇa III. 12. 45; XI. 21. 41; Matsya-purāṇa 125. 47; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 8. 50; 13. 145; Vāyu-purāṇa 23. 65, 69; 31. 47; 50. 165; 51. 64; 55. 42; 69. 67; 106. 58; 109. 21.
  • 2) Bhāgavata-purāṇa XI. 17. 25; Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa III. 7. 30; Matsya-purāṇa 239. 9.
  • 3) Vāyu-purāṇa 21. 42.

1b) Raudrī, contemplated by Brahmā in the 21st kalpa; gauḥ in Lohita kalpa.1

  • * Ib. 23. 69.

2a) Gāyatri (गायत्रि).—One of the seven horses yoked to sun's chariot; expiation for sin; in Sandhya worship.*

  • * Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa II. 21. 113; 22. 72; 26. 44; IV. 7. 69. Viṣṇu-purāṇa II. 8. 5; IV. 6. 89.

2b) A śakti;1 mind-born daughter of Brahmā, inseparable from him; a goddess enshrined in the Vedas; as the basis of dharma in the Bhāgavata P.2

  • 1) Brahmāṇḍa-purāṇa IV. 44. 86.
  • 2) Matsya-purāṇa 3. 32; 4. 7, 9 and 24; 53. 20; 171. 23.
Source: JatLand: List of Mahabharata people and places

Gāyatrī (गायत्री) refers to the name of a Tīrtha (pilgrim’s destination) mentioned in the Mahābhārata (cf. III.83.26). Note: The Mahābhārata (mentioning Gāyatrī) is a Sanskrit epic poem consisting of 100,000 ślokas (metrical verses) and is over 2000 years old.

Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Śaivism

Gāyatri (गायत्रि) is the Sanskrit name of a deity presiding over Mṛtakeśvara, one of the sixty-eight places hosting a svāyambhuvaliṅga, which is one of the most sacred of liṅgas according to the Śaivāgamas. The list of sixty-eight svāyambhuvaliṅgas and presiding deities (e.g., Gāyatri) is found in the commentary on the Jirṇoddhāra-daśaka by Nigamajñānadeva. The word liṅga refers to a symbol used in the worship of Śiva and is used thoughout Śaiva literature, such as the sacred Āgamas.

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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Natyashastra (theatrics and dramaturgy)

Source: Wisdom Library: Nāṭya-śāstra

Gāyatrī (गायत्री) refers to a class of rhythm-type (chandas) containing six syllables in a pāda (‘foot’ or ‘quarter-verse’), according to the Nāṭyaśāstra chapter 15. There are twenty-six classes of chandas and out of them arise the various syllabic meters (vṛtta), composed of four pādas, defining the pattern of alternating light and heavy syllables.

Natyashastra book cover
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Natyashastra (नाट्यशास्त्र, nāṭyaśāstra) refers to both the ancient Indian tradition (śāstra) of performing arts, (nāṭya, e.g., theatrics, drama, dance, music), as well as the name of a Sanskrit work dealing with these subjects. It also teaches the rules for composing dramatic plays (nataka) and poetic works (kavya).

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Chandas (prosody, study of Sanskrit metres)

Source: Shodhganga: a concise history of Sanskrit Chanda literature

Gāyatrī (गायत्री) is one of the twenty-six varieties of Sanskrit metres (chandas) mentioned in the Chandaśśāstra 1.15-19. There are 26 Vedic metres starting with 1 to 26 letters in each pāda. It is a common belief that the classical metres are developed from these 26 metres. Generally a metre has a specific name according to it’s number of syllables (akṣara). But sometimes the same stanza is called by the name of another metre from the point of view of the pādas.

Gāyatrī is one of the seven prominent metres mentioned by Piṅgala as being associated with the Devatā (deity): Agni, Svara (note): Ṣaḍja, Colour: wite and Gotra (family): Āgniveṣya.

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Chandas (छन्दस्) refers to Sanskrit prosody and represents one of the six Vedangas (auxiliary disciplines belonging to the study of the Vedas). The science of prosody (chandas-shastra) focusses on the study of the poetic meters such as the commonly known twenty-six metres mentioned by Pingalas.

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Kavya (poetry)

[«previous (G) next»] — Gayatri in Kavya glossary
Source: Wisdom Library: Kathāsaritsāgara

Gāyatrī (गायत्री) is one of the epithets of Durgā, according to the Kathāsaritsāgara, chapter 53. Accordingly, as Vīravara praised Durgā: “... thou art the principle of life in creatures; by thee this world moves. In the beginning of creation Śiva beheld thee self-produced, blazing and illuminating the world with brightness hard to behold, like ten million orbs of fiery suddenly produced infant suns rising at once, filling the whole horizon with the circle of thy arms, bearing a sword, a club, a bow, arrows and a spear. And thou wast praised by that god Śiva in the following words ... [Gāyatrī, etc...]”.

Also, “... when Skanda, and Vasiṣṭha, and Brahmā, and the others heard thee praised, under these [eg., Gāyatrī] and other titles, by Śiva well skilled in praising, they also praised thee. And by praising thee, O adorable one, immortals, Ṛṣis and men obtained, and do now obtain, boons above their desire. ”

The Kathāsaritsāgara (‘ocean of streams of story’), mentioning Gāyatrī, is a famous Sanskrit epic story revolving around prince Naravāhanadatta and his quest to become the emperor of the vidyādharas (celestial beings). The work is said to have been an adaptation of Guṇāḍhya’s Bṛhatkathā consisting of 100,000 verses, which in turn is part of a larger work containing 700,000 verses.

context information

Kavya (काव्य, kavya) refers to Sanskrit poetry, a popular ancient Indian tradition of literature. There have been many Sanskrit poets over the ages, hailing from ancient India and beyond. This topic includes mahakavya, or ‘epic poetry’ and natya, or ‘dramatic poetry’.

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Ayurveda (science of life)

Source: Shodhganga: Edition translation and critical study of yogasarasamgraha

Gāyatrī (गायत्री) is another name for “Khadira” and is dealt with in the 15th-century Yogasārasaṅgraha (Yogasara-saṅgraha) by Vāsudeva: an unpublished Keralite work representing an Ayurvedic compendium of medicinal recipes. The Yogasārasaṃgraha [mentioning gāyatrī] deals with entire recipes in the route of administration, and thus deals with the knowledge of pharmacy (bhaiṣajya-kalpanā) which is a branch of pharmacology (dravyaguṇa).

Ayurveda book cover
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Āyurveda (आयुर्वेद, ayurveda) is a branch of Indian science dealing with medicine, herbalism, taxology, anatomy, surgery, alchemy and related topics. Traditional practice of Āyurveda in ancient India dates back to at least the first millenium BC. Literature is commonly written in Sanskrit using various poetic metres.

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General definition (in Hinduism)

Source: archive.org: South Indian Festivities (hinduism)

Gāyatrī (गायत्री).—The word Gayatri means “that which chanted, saves”. It is therefore the Eternal Sound, the word that was in the beginning, the Saviour. This sound pervades the whole Universe; yea, it creates, maintains and destroys it. These three aspects of the Logos - the Gayatri, the Song-Saviour are symbolised above. This is the highest meditation, hearing of this cosmic chant—the sruti—is the highest revelation. While meditating on the Gayathri lest us aspire towards this goal.

This potent incantation of the Hindus going by the name Gayathri is derived from the Rig Veda. The burden of the incantation is that the individual prays to the sun to give him light, knowledge, and energy. In fact he is in the midst of all these but a certain amount of will is essential to absorb and assimilate some of these energies of the sun and the repetition of Gayathri enables him to accomplish it with a more or less amount of success.

Source: WikiPedia: Hinduism

1) Gāyatrī (गायत्री): A revered mantra in Hinduism, found in the Yajur Veda.

2) 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.

Source: sreenivasarao’s blogs: Sri Gayatri – Part one

Gayatri Mantra that is recited daily by millions of devout is indeed very ancient; and is regarded the most sacred of all mantras. The tradition accords Gayatri an unrivalled importance.

Gayatri is a mantra dedicated to Savitri; and is not a prayer in the ordinary sense of the term. Gayatri, it is said, is both mantra (a specific structure of sound patterns coded in syllables and vowels) and prarthana (a prayer with a meaning and a philosophical significance.), a profound invocation. It has the intrinsic shakthi of mantra; as also the intense devotion and reverence of prarthana. It signifies a determined aspiration for enlightenment.

Gayatri is essentially symbolic (sanketa vidya), inspiring righteous wisdom. It points to the absolute reality (Brahman) conditioned by names and forms as settled in solar orb, the visible form of divinity. The mantra formulates the nature of oneself and also the nature of Brahman, the supreme Consciousness (para-brahma nirupanam).

India history and geogprahy

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Indian Epigraphical Glossary

Gāyatrī.—(IE 7-1-2), ‘twentyfour’. Note: gāyatrī is defined in the “Indian epigraphical glossary” as it can be found on ancient inscriptions commonly written in Sanskrit, Prakrit or Dravidian languages.

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The history of India traces the identification of countries, villages, towns and other regions of India, as well as royal dynasties, rulers, tribes, local festivities and traditions and regional languages. Ancient India enjoyed religious freedom and encourages the path of Dharma, a concept common to Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism.

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Languages of India and abroad

Marathi-English dictionary

Source: DDSA: The Molesworth Marathi and English Dictionary

gāyatrī (गायत्री).—f (S) A sacred verse from the Vedas, to be recited mentally. It is usually personified and considered as a goddess, the metaphorical mother of the first three divisions of the Hindu people in their capacity of twice-born.

Source: DDSA: The Aryabhusan school dictionary, Marathi-English

gāyatrī (गायत्री).—f A sacred verse from the Vedas to be recited mentally. A cow.

context information

Marathi is an Indo-European language having over 70 million native speakers people in (predominantly) Maharashtra India. Marathi, like many other Indo-Aryan languages, evolved from early forms of Prakrit, which itself is a subset of Sanskrit, one of the most ancient languages of the world.

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Sanskrit dictionary

Source: DDSA: The practical Sanskrit-English dictionary

Gāyatrī (गायत्री).—

1) A Vedic metre of 24 syllables; गायत्री छन्दसामहम् (gāyatrī chandasāmaham) Bg.1.35.

2) Name of a very sacred verse repeated by every Brāhmaṇa at his Sandhyā (morning and evening devotions) and on other occasions also. Great sins even are said to be expiated by a pious repetition of this verse, which is as follows :-तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात् (tatsaviturvareṇyaṃ bhargo devasya dhīmahi dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt) Rv.3.62.1.

3) A number of mystical verses in Tantra literature.

4) Name of Durgā, Ks.53.172.

-tram A hymn composed and recited in the Gāyatrī metre.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Shabda-Sagara Sanskrit-English Dictionary

Gāyatrī (गायत्री).—f. (-trī) 1. A measure of verse in the Vedas, a stanza usually of twenty-four syllables, variously arranged, but most commonly in three lines. 2. A sacred verse from the Vedas to be recited only mentally; this is usually personified and considered as a goddess, the wife of Brahma; the metaphorical mother of the three first classes, in their capacity of twice born, investiture with the sacred and distinguishing string, &c. being regarded as a new birth; there is but one Gayatri of the Vedas, but according to the sytem of the Tantrikas, a number of mystical verses are called Gayatris; each deity has one in particular. 3. A kind of mimosa, (M. catechu:) see the preceding, &c. E. gāyan who sings, and trai to preserve, affixes ka and ṅīṣ; this applies especially to the mystical verse, the repetiton of which is necessary for salvation; the word is also written gāyattrī.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Aufrecht Catalogus Catalogorum

1) Gāyatrī (गायत्री) as mentioned in Aufrecht’s Catalogus Catalogorum:—Oudh. Xix, 22. Oppert. 3611. 7050.
—a collection of the 24 gāyatrī. Oudh. Xvii, 80.

2) Gāyatrī (गायत्री):—Oudh. Xxi, 20. Xxii, 34.

Source: Cologne Digital Sanskrit Dictionaries: Monier-Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary

1) Gāyatrī (गायत्री):—[from gāyatra > gā] a f. an ancient metre of twenty-four syllables (variously arranged, but generally as a triplet of eight syllables each), any hymn composed in the Gāyatrī metre, [Ṛg-veda x, 14; 16 & 130, 4; Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā; Atharva-veda] etc.

2) [v.s. ...] the Gāyatrī (id est. [Ṛg-veda iii, 62, 10]; tat savitur vareṇyam bhargo devasya dhīmahi dhiyo yo naḥ pracodayāt, [Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa xiv; Śāṅkhāyana-gṛhya-sūtra; Mahābhārata] etc.; this is a very sacred verse repeated by every Brāhman at his morning and evening devotions; from being addressed to Savitṛ or the Sun as generator, it is also called Sāvitrī; cf. [Religious Thought and Life in India pp. 19; 342; 361; 403]; the Gāyatrī verse is personified as a goddess, the wife of Brahmā and mother of the four Vedas, [Harivaṃśa 11666 ff.]; it is often mentioned in connection with the Amṛta, both together constituting as it were the essence and type of sacred hymns in general, [Atharva-veda]; the Gāyatrī personified is also considered as the mother of the first three classes in their capacity of twice-born, [Horace H. Wilson]; cf. [Religious Thought and Life in India pp. 200 f.]; some other verse [perhaps, [Ṛg-veda x, 9, 1]] is denoted by Gāyatrī, [Suśruta vi, 28, 7]; with Tāntrikas a number of mystical verses are called Gāyatrīs, and each deity has one in particular)

3) [v.s. ...] Name of Durgā, [Matsya-purāṇa; Kathāsaritsāgara liii, 172]

4) [v.s. ...] Acacia Catechu, [cf. Lexicographers, esp. such as amarasiṃha, halāyudha, hemacandra, etc.]

5) Gāyatri (गायत्रि):—[from ] 1. gāyatri metrically for trī, [Harivaṃśa 11516.]

6) [v.s. ...] 2. gāyatri in [compound] for trin q.v.

7) Gāyatrī (गायत्री):—[from ] b f. of tra q.v.

8) [from gāyaka] c etc. See, [ib.]

context information

Sanskrit, also spelled संस्कृतम् (saṃskṛtam), is an ancient language of India commonly seen as the grandmother of the Indo-European language family (even English!). Closely allied with Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit is more exhaustive in both grammar and terms and has the most extensive collection of literature in the world, greatly surpassing its sister-languages Greek and Latin.

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