The Brahma Gayatri
bhvades tat savitur varenya-vihitam ksetra-jna sevyarthakam
bhargo vai vrsabhanu-jatma-vibhavaikaradhana sri-puram
bhargo jyotir acintya lilana-sudhaikaradhana sri-puram
bhargo dhama-taranga-khelana-sudhaikaradhana sri-puram
bhargo dhama sada-nirasta-kuhakam prajna-lila-puram
devasya dyuti-sundaraika-purusasyaradhya-dhih presinah
gayatri-muralista-kirtana-dhanam radha-padam dhimahi
gayatri gaditam mahaprabhu-matam radha-padam dhimahi
dhir aradhanam eva nanyad iti tad radha-padam dhimahi
Glorification of Sri Gayatri Devi
by Srila Bhakti Raksaka Sridhara Maharaja
The meaning of the Brahma Gayatri must come in the same line as the full-fledged conception of Srimad Bhagavatam or equivalent. The Gayatri Mantra and the Srimad Bhagavatam are one and the same. Srimad Bhagavatam is the elaborate commentary of the Gayatri Mantra. The meaning of the Gayatri must therefore come in line with Srimad Bhagavatam. How is this possible? The intermediate steps are supplied in supportive sastra revealing that the meaning of Gayatri is non-different from Srimad Bhagavatam.
artho ‘yam brahma-sutranam, bharatartha-vinirnayah
gayatri-bhasya-rupo ‘sau, vedartha-paribrmhitah
(Garuda Purana & Hari-Bhakti-Vilasa 10.39
What is the meaning of Gayatri? It means in Sanskrit, ganat trayate, “A particular kind of song which gives us salvation, relief and emancipation.” Gayatri is called “Veda-Mata” – the Mother of the Vedas – as Gayatri has produced the entire Veda. The first emanation is the transcendental syllable Om then comes the Gayatri, the Vedas, the Vedanta-Sutra and then finally, the Srimad Bhagavatam – the mature fruit of all Vedic conclusions. The meaning, the purport of the Gayatri mantra is found in the full-fledged conception of the Srimad Bhagavatam. This Krsna conception of Godhead is the highest. Gayatri must give us this meaning. How to extract the Krsna conception from Gayatri? This is the present objective placed before us. How to extract Srimad Bhagavatam, the Krsna conception, from within the womb of Gayatri? The Gayatri mantra must say that there is Krsna consciousness within her womb and that should be drawn out.
I heard that Srila Jiva Goswami had given such a meaning but I could not find it. I heard that he had extended the meaning of Gayatri leading to Krsna consciousness but I could not discover that anywhere. However, the search itself prompted me to draw the meaning of the Gayatri towards Krsna consciousness and so, I did it in that way.
The general meaning of Gayatri is, “That song which grants us emancipation – liberation. Liberation must have meaning in the positive line. Liberation does not only mean, “to be free from the negative side, “ but continued positive attainment. The definition of true emancipation in Srimad Bhagavatam is positive attainment.
muktir hitvanyatha rupam svarupena vyavasthitih
“It is not only to attain freedom from the negative side, but Srimad Bhagavatam gives the positive attainment.” Until and unless we attain “our” positive position, true liberation is not effected. A mere withdrawal from the negative side cannot be said to be liberation proper. Hegel said, “The object of our life is self-determination.” We must determine our normal function in the organic whole. Not mere emancipation from the negative side, but our participation in the positive function which is considered to be the highest attainment for us. This is only possible through service in the land of dedication. This is the true meaning of the Gayatri Mantra. The word, “Gayatri” comes from two Sanskrit words – ganat and trayate. Trayate means “Positive attainment to the final stage (svarupena vyavasthitih)”. We are to take this meaning. Ganat means “Not mere sound, but musical sound.” This musical sound draws us to Mahaprabhu’s sankritana that carries the touch of the flute of Krsna. We find Divine Sound and music there. Now we shall analyze what is the Brahma Gayatri Mantra.
om bhur bhuvah svah, tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi, dheyo yo nah pracodayat
Om is the seed mantra which contains everything within it. Bhur is where we are – the world of our experience, the world of our sense perception. Bhuvah is at the back of that – our mental acquisition. The effect of our mental acquisition takes us to our present position of experience. It is not by accidental existence that we are here in this world of our experience. We have acquired such a position by our previous karma. And the area of our previous karma is called bhuvah-loka. Bhuvah-loka is the mental sphere.
This physical sphere is only an outcome of that mental sphere. The present world of experience is the product of our previous mental impulses. Svar means Buddhi-loka, the plane of decision-making. What to do? What not to do? What I like; what I dislike. This is called sankalpah/vikalpah. I like this; I don’t like that – this is the soil of the mental world of acceptance and rejection. You may like to do something, but you may not do that – otherwise you will be a loser. This faculty or reason is svar-loka. In this way, in this mundane world, there are different planes of existence – Bhur-, Bhuvah-, Svah-, Mahar-, Jana-, Tapah- and Satya-loka. The negative side has got these seven planes of life from Bhur-loka up to Satya-loka where the creator, Lord Brahma, lives. The master of the whole world of experience of the negative side lives in Satya-loka. The four Kumaras - devotees who hold high positions as saints – also reside in Satya-loka.
These seven layers of the material world, from the gross to the subtle, are dealt with in detail in Srila Sanatana Goswami’s Brhat Bhagavatamrtam. The negative side, consisting of the combination of the three modes of material nature that produces this world, finishes in Satya-loka. Then begins Viraja, the verge of the equilibrium of the negative side – the last limit of material consciousness. And the verge of equilibrium of the positive side is Brahmaloka, the beginning of the “Land of Service” – the equipoised verge of the positive world.
Then, the world of Reality, the world of dedication and service, the soul’s world proper, begins there in Siva-loka and continues further in the plane of Vaikuntha. The devotee, Siva, then Sri Narayana in the Vaikunthas. In this way, they develop into Krsna-loka, Vrndavana. The seven planes that are represented in the Gayatri mantra by Bhur, Bhuvah and Svah, are summarized in one word – tat.
Savitur means Surya, the sun. Sun means figuratively, ‘that which illuminates all objects.” This – the three gross and subtle strata of the world – is shown to us by a particular light. What is that? That is jivatma – the soul. The sun does not show us the world, but the soul’s influence does. It is not the sun, but it is really the soul that shows us this world. In Bhagavad-gita we find, ekah krtsnam lokam imam ravih: “This world is really being expressed to us by the atma, the soul which is just like the sun. The sun can show us the colour-world, the ear can reveal the sound-world, the sense of touch can reveal the touch-world, etc. However, in the centre is the soul who gives us an understanding of the environment, the world of perception. This perception is possible only because of the soul. The soul is like the sun as it is showing everything – tat savitur.
To summarize, all these seven strata of our experience are reduced to one word, tat – that. Who is showing us “that”? The illuminator – the sun is showing us. “Sun” here means soul. The soul means not the “universal soul”, but the “individual soul”. The individual soul is the cause of the world. “It is not that the mind is in the world, but that the world is in the mind,” said Berkeley. The world is in the mind. Everything is also in the sun. Whatever we see – that is in the sun. The sun can show us everything. If there is no sun, then everything is dark and we cannot see anything. The soul is light, the subject, and the objects are these seven planes of experience. If the atma – the soul – withdraws, then everything is gone. This kind of consciousness gives birth to the path leading to Goloka.
Varenyam means puja, worshipable, venerable and reverential. Our soul is venerable. The soul is the subject and this world is its object. However, there is another domain that is venerated and worshiped by the soul. This is the Supersoul area. “Bhargo”.
Bhargo means the Super-subjective area where the Supersoul, the Super-subject resides. Bhargo means:
dhamna svena sada nirasta-kuhakam satyam param dhimahi
In the first verse of Srimad Bhagavatam it is mentioned that here we are going to deal with another world, by whose rays all misconceptions are brushed aside. In its own pristine glory, it shows the very abode of the Lord. I am talking about that world. So, the subject is the soul, and the object is the world of mundane experience. And the subject’s venerable area that is superior to the subject – the soul – is that Super-subjective area. Bhargo means, “More subtle than the soul, and holding more important position than the jiva-soul.” That is the Supersoul area. Bhargo means in general, ordinary light. But, really it is the Supersoul Who can see and can show everything in more detail. Just as an x-ray can show us what the ordinary eye cannot see, so bhargo, the svarupa-sakti, the higher more powerful light, can also reveal the soul. Then bhargo belongs to whom? It belongs to Deva, pertaining to Deva.
Devasya means belonging to Deva. What is the meaning of Deva? Deva means, “Who is very beautiful and playful.” That is Sri Krsna – Reality the Beautiful. He is non-differentiated substance, but is full of lila – Divine Pastimes. Deva means beauty and pastimes combined. His domain is bhargo which is venerated by the jiva-soul. What is that? It is the svarupa-sakti, the vaibhava, the extension of Srimati Radharani. She holds the full service responsibility and energy to serve Sri Krsna. So bhargo is no less than the vaibhava, the extended body of Srimati Radharani containing everything for the service of Sri Krsna. This is the Rasaraja-Mahabhava conception. Bhargo represents Mahabhava, the Predominated Moiety, and Deva – Krsna – represents Rasaraja, the Predominating Moiety.
Dhimahi in the Gayatri mantram means, “bhargo devasya dhimahi”. We are invited, “You come and meditate.” What sort of meditation is possible there in that Super-subjective area? That meditation is in the sense of culture – cultivation of service to the Higher by the practice of veneration and worship. This sort of experience is possible there. Dhimahi is not abstract meditation but means Krsnanusilanam – to participate in the spontaneous flow of the current of devotion in that Super-subjective area, Vrndavan.
Dhiyo yo’ nah pracodayat – And what will be the result? The capacity of your cultivation will be increased.
dasa kare vetan, more deha prema-dhana
We serve and what remuneration will we get? We will receive a greater capacity with more willingness to serve. What is the remuneration of service? The serving principle, the serving spirit is increased and enhanced – just as interest is added to capital in the bank. I am getting the interest: I do not draw the money but the interest comesand is added to the capital – in this way.
dasa kare vetan, more deha prema-dhana
We shall try to cultivate with all our attention towards that plane. We shall try to serve, to dedicate ourselves, and the dedicating principle will be increased again and again. He will give us prema as remuneration. Prema means the special capacity to render loving service. This is the inner meaning of the Gayatri Mantra. The Gayatri Mantra is the song of salvation. This song that begins from Goloka descends as sankirtana in the middle stages to improve our service towards the highest goal. Kirtana means that which is sun. So, sankirtana begins with the Brahma Gayatri and then comes to the Gauranga stage. It began in Krsna-kirtan, touching this plane and then again, it reaches Vrndavana as the flute-song – kirtana. “The sweet sound of the flute of Krsna”.
The sankirtana of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu reinstates us very quickly in our highest serving position as all are interconnected.
When we enter the area of Vrndavana, there – the sound of the vamsi, the flute, helps to excite and engage the servants in their own respective duties. When the flute is sounded, then the Gopis and other devotees become well adjusted in their respective duties. At night, hearing the sound of the flute of Krsna, the Gopis will run to the Yamuna thinking, “Oh, is He coming or is He going?” When Mother Yasoda also hears the flute, she thinks, “My son is nearby and He is coming home very soon.” In this way, the sound of the flute is engaging the different servants of respective positions to be mindful of their own duties, their service.
krsna kirtan gayatri-radha padam dhimahi
Radha padam dhimahi: all these services are represented fully in Sri Radhika: and all others like branches are parts of Her. Madhurya-rasa is the mukhya-rasa, the chief rasa, the culmination of all rasas. In the conception of Rasaraj-Mahabhava, Srimati Radharani is Mahabhava who represents the whole serving attitude of Goloka, the Abode of Sri Krsna.
The flute-song of Sri Krsna is reminding us and engaging us in our service. And what is that service? That service is to surrender ourselves to Srimati Radharani and to accept Her suggestions. The Brahma-Gayatri Mantra will excite and entice us to be mindful about Srimati Radharani’s sweet lotus feet – to obey Her orders. She represents the whole Super-subjective serving area. So, to try to engage in Her service, under Her order, to accept Her direction and to obey Her – that is service to Srimati Radharani. In this way, the meaning of the Brahma Gayatri has been drawn to Radha-dasyam, self-determination – svarupena vyavasthitih.
The partial representation in vatsalya-rasa and sakhya-rasa are also present there in some other way. They are part and parcel of the mukhya-rasa, the chief rasa and they all support this main rasa. In vatsalya-rasa, the devotees will serve Nanda-Yasoda. In sakhya-rasa, they will serve Sridham-Sudama, but ultimately the whole substance in one conception is included in Srimati Radharani. So, Radha-dasyam – service to Srimati Radharani has been drawn out from the Brahma Gayatri mantra. This is the ultimate end of our life. It cannot but be upward and progressive.
bhargo vai vrsabhanuja-atma-vibhavaikaradhana sri-puram
Bhanu means the sun, or who illuminates by light, Srimati Radharani is the daughter of King Vrsabhanu so the word bhanu has been selected. This represents Her personal extended self. Vaibhava means that which comes out as extended self. Prabhava is the central representation and vaibhava is the outer extension. The very gist of the svarupa-sakti is Srimati Radharani and the whole svarupa-sakti, the internal potency, is Her extended self.
What is Her characteristic? She is aradhana – Who worships Herself.
She is Sri, Laksmi, the gist of beauty, the beauty and sweetness of service to Sri Krsna. The town, the abode of Her beautiful service is the whole svarupa-sakti. Just as rays of light extend from the sun, so the whole svarupa-sakti is an extension of the person Mahabhava, Sri Radhika. Rasaraj and Mahabhava – this svarupa-sakti – is the extension of Mahabhava. Bhargo means the extended self of Mahabhava. Mahabhava means aradhana (a particular mood of worship that satisfies Sri Krsna), Sri, and Laksmi.
Radharani is also called Sri. Her sobha is Her extension, Her beautifully extended self and that is the whole bhargo, the whole area. She is the gist, the essence, and this is the extended self. And what is Her nature? That is All-Serving. She has developed this whole area of “bhargo”. She has developed Herself into such a beautiful area of Her svarupa-sakti, and thereby She serves Her Lord, Sri Krsna. They all come out from Her beautiful, effulgent Self. The very gist, the very sweetness is She. Sri Radha in the Rasaraj-Mahabhava conception. This is the inner meaning of the Brahma Gayatri Mantra.
anyabhilasita sunyam, jnana-karmady-anarvtam
“The fleeting desires and the permanent, elevating nature of those who want to become ‘knowers’ and ‘masters’ of everything, is suicidal. To make progress on our knowing and understanding capacity is a waste of energy. So, try to drive out the ghost – the ego – in different forms as karma, jnana and yoga, etc.” In other words, the lording-it-over tendency must be vanquished.
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