by Swami Krishnananda
There is another Gāyatrī Mantra of Anustubh metre, not the Gāyatrī metre that occurs in the Veda. Gāyatrī is a Mantra; it is a deity; it is also a metre. Now, Gāyatrī is a particular metre in the Veda, and this metre is of twenty-four letters. But Anuṣṭubh is another metre which has thirty-two letters. So, there is another Gāyatrī Mantra mentioned somewhere else which is constituted of thirty-two letters and is chanted in the Anuṣṭubh metre. The Upaniṣhad says, 'That is not the proper Gāyatrī.' The proper Gāyatrī is the one which is in the Veda, not the Anuṣṭubh one. Tᾱm haitᾱm eke sᾱvritrīm anuṣṭubham anvᾱhuḥ: 'There are some people who think that the Anuṣṭubh Mantra (Gāyatrī) is the real one.' Vᾱg anuṣṭup; etad vᾱcam anubrῡma iti. na tathᾱ: 'It is not so,' says the Upaniṣhad. Na tatha kuryat: 'You should not chant the other one.' Gᾱyatrīm eva sᾱvitrīm anubrῡyᾱt: 'Only the Gāyatrī Sāvitri which is in the Vedas should be chanted', not the Anuṣṭubh one which is of thirty-two letters. Yadi ha vᾱ apy evaṁ-vid bahv iva pratigṛhṇᾱti, na haivatad gᾱyatryᾱ ekaṁ cana padam prati: 'What is the glory of this Gāyatrī? If you are to accept as gift everything that is available anywhere; if you can receive such a gift, that altogether cannot be regarded as equivalent even to one foot of Gāyatrī.' Apy evaṁ-vid bahv iva pratigṛhṇᾱti, na haivatad gᾱyatryᾱ ekaṁ cana padam prati: Even one single foot of Gāyatrī, when it is recited properly, will take you to such realms of glory and magnificence, which transcend in magnitude anything that you can receive as a gift in this world.
Sa ya imᾱṁs trīn lokᾱn pῡrṇᾱn pratigṛhnīyᾱt, so'syᾱ etat prathamam padam: 'When you chant the first Pada, first foot of the Gāyatrī Mantra, you become endowed with mastery over the three worlds.' Āpnuyᾱt; atha yᾱvatīyaṁ trayī vidyᾱ, yas tᾱvat pratigṛhnīyᾱt, so'syᾱ etad dvitīyam padam ᾱpnuyᾱt: 'If you can chant correctly even the second foot merely, you become endowed with all the glory that comes to one by study of the three Vedas.' Atha yᾱvad idam prᾱṇi, yas tᾱvat pratigṛhnīyᾱt, so'syᾱ etat tṛtīyam padam ᾱpnuyᾱt: 'If you recite the third foot of the Gāyatrī Mantra, you become capacitated to rule over every living being anywhere.' Athᾱsyᾱ etad eva turīyaṁ darśataṁ padam, parorajᾱ ya eṣa tapati, naiva kenacanᾱpyam: 'If you are to meditate on the fourth foot of Gāyatrī, what can I tell you,' says the Upaniṣhad. 'How can I explain to you the glory that will come to you? Nothing of this world can equal that. No gift of the three worlds can equal this fourth foot.' Not the three Vedas, not all beings put together, 'nothing mentioned up to this time can equal the glory that comes to one who meditates on this fourth foot of Gāyatrī'. Parorajᾱ ya eṣa tapati, naiva kenacanᾱpyam; kuta u etᾱvat pratigṛhṇīyᾱt: 'How can you describe the glory that comes through the meditation on the fourth foot? It is inexpressible; it is transcendent; it is superior to everything which is material or visible.'
Tasyᾱ upasthᾱnam gᾱyatri: You have to pray to Gāyatrī, meditate on Gāyatrī by certain methods. One of the methods is a verbal chant, a prayer offered to the great deity of the Gāyatrī. A particular chant is given here. Tasyᾱ upasthᾱnam: 'A holy devout worship or adoration is called Upasthāna.' What is it? Gāyatrī ity: 'O Gāyatrī, the great one! You are one-footed, two-footed, three-footed and you possess the fourth foot also.' Eka-padī dvi-padī tri-padī catuṣ-pady: You are one-footed, two-footed, three footed or four-footed as the case may be. 'You are everything, but really you have no feet. That is also true.' A-pad asi: Who can say that you have feet. These feet are only concepts in our mind. You are universal, all-comprehensive. So, you are A-pad, 'without any feet whatsoever'. Na hi padyase: 'You never move anywhere', therefore why should you have any feet? You are the immovable all-pervading being. Therefore you never move like the four-footed animals or four-footed beings-na hi padyase. Namas te turīyᾱya: 'Prostration to you, the fourth reality indicated by the Supreme Consciousness.' Darśatᾱya padᾱya: 'That Reality which appears to be there in front of us, yet we cannot recognise through our intelligence.' Parorajase; asᾱv ado: 'That Being which is above all manifestation in the form of Sattva, Rajas, Tamas, the material form.' Mᾱ prᾱpad iti; yaṁ dviṣyᾱt, asᾱv asmai kᾱmo mᾱ samṛddhīti vᾱ; na haivᾱsmaī sa kᾱmaḥ samṛddhyate yasmᾱ evam upatiṣṭhate; aham adaḥ prᾱpam iti vᾱ: 'Whatever you wish in your mind at the time of the chant of the Gāyatrī Mantra, that materialises itself. That becomes your property. Not only that; nobody can get what you can get. You stand above all people. You may prevent someone from getting by the chant of the Gāyatrī, and you may get everything that you require by the chant of the Gāyatrī.' Both things are possible. The positive and the negative aspects of the power that accrues to one by the chant of Gāyatrī are mentioned here. The positive aspect is that you are capable of acquiring everything. The negative aspect is that you are able to prevent anything, if it is necessary to do so. You can oppose and prevent anything from taking place if it is not supposed to take place at all according to your will; or if it is to take place, it can take place also by your positive will. So, if you wish it should take place, it will; and if you wish it shall not, it will not.
Etadd ha vai taj janako vaideho buḍilam ᾱśvatarᾱśvim uvᾱca: This is a peculiar anecdote here. It appears, there was a sage called Buḍila Aśvatarāṣvi. Perhaps, he was a reciter of the Gāyatrī Mantra. He became an elephant in his next birth by the chant of the Gāyatrī. Janaka was riding that elephant, and due to Purvavāsanā the elephant could speak. It said that it was a reciter of the Gāyatrī Mantra. Yan nu ho tad gᾱyatrī-vid abrῡthᾱḥ, atha kathaṁ hastī bhῡto vahasīti: Janaka says: "You say you are a meditator on Gāyatrī. How have you become an elephant upon which I am sitting and riding?" What is the secret? How can a Gāyatrī Upāsaka become an elephant in the next birth? Mukhaṁ hy asyᾱḥ, samrᾱṭ, na vidᾱm cakᾱra: The elephant said: "King, I did not know the face of Gāyatrī. I made a mistake in the chant. I did not know some aspect of it. I knew everything except something. That something has brought me to an elephant's birth." "I see," said Janaka. "This is the case." Iti hovᾱca; tasyᾱ agnir eva mukham: "Fire is her mouth. This you did not understand," says Janaka. Here fire can mean anything; one does not know what actually the Upaniṣhad intends. Perhaps it is to be identified with the Sun himself. He is symbolic of the fire-principle. Also in the ritual of the chant of the Gāyatrī there are certain Nyasas, as they are called, placements which invoke Agnī and other deities as the various limbs of the conceived body of the deity of Gāyatrī.
Yadi ha vᾱ api bahu ivᾱgnau abhyᾱdadhati, sarvam eva tat saṁdahati; evaṁ haivaivaṁ-vid yady api bahv iva pᾱpaṁ kurute, sarvam eva tat sampsᾱya śuddhaḥ pῡto'jaro'mṛtaḥ sambhavati: 'Just as anything that is thrown into fire is burnt to ashes, whatever it be, so does one burn to ashes every sin that one might have committed in the earlier births, provided one knows the secret of Gāyatrī in its entire form.' Agnī as the Mukha and the fourth foot, particularly, must be understood. We must meditate on Gāyatrī in its entirety and not part by part, and must also be able to identify the deity of the Gāyatrī as one with one's own being, united with one's own being, and with the chant which is Gāyatrī Mantra. All three should become one. The Sādhanā which is the Gāyatrī, the Sādhaka who is the meditator, and the deity, should all be contemplated as a single being. This is the intention of the Upaniṣhad. By this one attains to supernal regions.