Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gayathri Mantra goes pop-culture

Right in the middle of one of my yogasana's, during one of my Yoga
classes, I heard a westernized version of the Gayathri mantra, set to
serene Enya like music.

The Gayathri mantra is becoming very pop-culture. Here are some more
examples where it is used - An abbreviated form of the Gayatri Mantra
is sung in the opening theme for the TV show Battlestar Galactica; The
Treasure Quest video game soundtrack by Jody Gnant includes a song
entitled "The Gayatri"; Cher, in her 2002-2005 live performances on
Living Proof: The Farewell Tour; Deva Premal's album "The Essence"
includes two versions of this chant; and An abbreviated form of the
Gayatri mantra is chanted in the Bollywood film "Kabhi Khushi Kabhi
Gham"; it can also be heard during the credits of The Matrix

What is the Gayathri Mantra?

Om Bhur bhuvah svah, Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo Devasya dheemahi, Dheeyo yonah prachodayaat

Hinduism considers this the supreme mantra, the king of all mantras.
This is believed to be the basis of all mantras and the essence of all
the Vedas. Those that chant the Gayathri mantra are protected from all

One interpretation of the meaning of the Gayathri Mantra is -- We
meditate upon the spiritual effulgence of that adorable supreme divine
reality, the source of the physical, the astral and the heavenly
spheres of existence. May that supreme divine being enlighten our
intellect so that we may realize the supreme truth.

It is said that young girls and women should not chant the Gayathri
Mantra. One of the beliefs behind this is that the chanting of this
mantra generates a lot of energy in the female's body, that which is
not conducive to girls/women of childbearing age. This not any
different from women not being allowed to chant many other mantras
from the Hindu Scriptures, such as the Rudram and Chamakam, etc.
Another belief is that chanting the Gayathri mantra gives tremendous
"Shakti" or strength, to one who chants it, since women are considered
an epitome of Shakti anyway, they need not chant it.

As with many traditions and beliefs this one is meant to be broken as
well and many women chant this mantra in today's modern world, as they
do the Rudram, Chamakam and other "prohibited" mantras in Hinduism.

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