Gayatri: The Profound Prayer ….
The Sun is the visible face of the Para Brahmn, the Supreme, writes R K MADHUKAR
The spiritual light which is hidden within the Sun is the most brilliant light, Jyotir Uttamam. It is shining through the hearts of all living beings in the form of consciousness. The spiritual light which is shining within the physical Sun also shines within the heart of every human being ….. Yajnavalkya Samhita
The Gayatri is essentially a mantra which invokes the Savitr. According to the vedas and other ancient scriptures, Surya, Savitr and Savitri are the names used to address the Sun. Numerous vedic hymns praise and offer worship to the Sun as Surya and Savitr. The Sun is not merely a natural phenomenon but, more significantly, is Shakti or divine power.
In Hinduism, the Sun is regarded as the visible representative of the Para Brahmn — Supreme Power. The related vedic statement expressing this is Asavadityo Brahma. That means Aditya is Brahma. The ancient scriptures assert that the Brahmanda or the entire universe has emerged from Para Brahma, the Supreme Being. Since this universe came into existence at the instance of the Supreme Being, he is also known as Aditya. This Aditya is the Para Brahma or Isvara, master of this creation. And, Surya is the symbol of this Supreme Being.
In the Bhagwad Gita, Krishna says, Suryah Atmah Jagatashustascha. “I am the radiance and glow that is evident in the Surya.” Similarly, assigning the Sun a very high place, the Bhavishya Purana notes: “Because there is none greater than him — Surya, nor has been, nor will be, therefore, he is celebrated as the supreme soul of the vedas.” This explains why the most sacred mantra of the Hindus is addressed to Surya Shakti, Savitr. The scriptures suggest that while Surya refers to the visible form of the Sun, Savitr refers to his invisible form or the power behind the Sun.
There is another explanation of the term, ‘Savitr’. Savituh is said to be the possessive form of Savitr. It is derived from the root, su, which means, to bring forth. Savitr, therefore, is the one who brings forth everything into this world. It is Surya who is the cause of all that exists and the state in which they exist.
Swami Harshananda notes that Surya is a vedic deity of great importance, who gives light, produces day and night, gives power and strength to living beings, makes them active and destroys their laziness and disease. Savitr is the aspect of Sun before the sunrise. He gives life and energy and guides people on the right path. That is the reason the famous Gayatri Mantra is dedicated to this Savitr.
Surya supports the entire life system around us and impels and inspires every human. He stands out for His distinct qualities, and as such, is a shining example of commitment and steadfastness, brightness and energy, service and selflessness. Swami Shankarananda underscores this by describing the three noble qualities of the Sun:
The Sun takes no vacation. Since time immemorial, he has not missed a single day and is on duty 365 days a year. He has no ‘Sunday’ we all enjoy. All days are ‘sun-days’. He has no national or public holidays and takes no sick leave. All beings in the universe take nourishment from the Sun; there will be chaos if he does not
The Sun makes no discrimination. Sunlight is available uniformly to all, animate and inanimate, humans and animals, on earth and in water, to angels and demons, to the kind and the cruel, and so on. There is absolutely no discrimination on any basis — caste, creed, colour, gender, region, religion, size or stature.
The Sun has no expectations from anybody. His services and benevolence are freely available to one and all. There is no charge for sunlight.
Surya is God Supreme and Hindus worship him as Surya Narayana or the Solar Logos. All powers are derived from this supreme power. The scriptures note that “we live, move and have our being in Him”. Surya is the nourishing power and Savita, the Supreme Consciousness. Narayana, the supreme lord of the Hindus, is described as Savitramandala Madhyavarthi, or the one who resides in the centre of the Sun’s sphere or circle.
As the renowned Kannada scholar, Devvudu Narasimha Sastry notes, the concept of sun or Savitr is thus not only physical, but also metaphysical and spiritual. Just as he shines brilliant in the world outside, he shines within us too. The tejas or radiance of Savitru Deva, his transcendental luminosity, which the vedas call samasthi swaroopa, is there in every living being and impels the activity of the mind and the intellect. He is the soul and spirit that resides in every human being. This Savitru is on par with Para Brahmn and resides in the cave of the heart of every human being. Ramana Maharshi, the great spiritual master, says Hrudaya kuhara madhye kevalam Brahma matram. It is Brahmn alone who resides in the centre of the cave of our hearts.
The vedas describe Surya in different ways. He is called Jyotir Uttamam, the Supreme Light. Another word often used is Tamase Viprce, or the dispeller of darkness. Again, he is referred to as the creator of the universe, Viswakarman. Surya is also referred to as Karmasakshi, which means ‘a witness to all our actions’. That is why it is said that nothing can be hidden from the Sun. Surya is also known as Adityopi Savutyuchchate. It is also called Savita. While the Sun causes sunrise and sunset, the principle behind this phenomenon is Aditya. He is also called Bhaskara, the provider of light.
As the vital life giving force, Savitr is referred to as moola prana — basic energy, or anantha prana — infinite energy. It is this divine force that resides in every person as Savitr. That is the reason for invoking Savitr through the Gayatri Mantra. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad states, Gayatrimeva Savitrim Anubruyat. It means, ‘Gayatri is also called Savitri’. Gayatri and Savitri mean one and the same. This Savitr, the deity of the Gayatri Mantra, is nothing but the light of consciousness that dwells in all of us.