Gayatri mantra

Gayatri Mantra: Meaning, Benefits and How to Chant

Published on
August 25, 2022

What Sanskrit verse has been chanted daily for nearly 4,000 years and entered into pop culture by the Battlestar Galactica series and Cher? If you answered the Gayatri mantra, familiar to yogis and fans of kirtan singer Deva Premal, you’d be right. This mantra is said to contain all the knowledge of the universe, so obviously its fullest meaning and proper invocation takes time, devotion, and practice to understand and master. If you are a fan of mantra chanting, then it is worth exploring this verse in more detail to learn its meaning, benefits, and history.

What is the Gayatri Mantra?

The Gayatri Mantra is a Sanskrit mantra that has been chanted for thousands of years. It was written down during the Vedic period (1500-500 BCE) and is considered to be one of the oldest known and most powerful mantras. It is said to contain all the knowledge of the universe.

The mantra is an expression of gratitude and praise to the powers of transformation, inner growth, and self realization provided by the radiant light of the divine. Meditating on this spiritual light purifies the heart chakra and opens it up to receive higher vibrations of love, wisdom, and bliss.

The Gayatri mantra

The Gayatri has 24 syllables, and is listed below with phonetic pronunciation in brackets:

Om bhuh, bhuvah, swaha (Aumm Bhoor Bhoo-va Su-va-ha)

Tat savitur varenyam (Tat Sa-vee-toor Var-ayn-yam)

Bhargo devasya dhimahi (Bar-go Day-vas-ya Dhee-ma-hee)

Dhiyo yo nah prachodayat (Dhee-yo Yo Nah Pra-cho-da-yaat)

The meaning of the Gayatri Mantra

A general translation of the mantra is:

O Divine mother, may your pure divine light illuminate all realms (physical, mental and spiritual) of our being. Please expel any darkness from our hearts and bestow upon us the true knowledge.

Translations vary, but Vyaas Houston’s is among the most accessible : “Earth, atmosphere, heavens. We meditate on the sacred light of the effulgent source. Let that inspire our thoughts.” Stuck on the word “effulgent”? Merriam-Webster’s defines it as “radiant splendor,” but in a yogic sense, it refers to the all-pervading light of the celestial realms.

A word-for-word translation is:

  • Om: The primeval sound
  • Bhur: The human body, earth, physical realm, existence
  • Bhuvah: The vital energies, heaven, consciousness
  • Suvah: The soul, inner space, spiritual realm, bliss
  • Tat: That
  • Savitur: The Sun, solar powers
  • Varenyam: To choose, the best, adore
  • Bhargo: Effulgence, self-luminous, divine light
  • Devasya: The divine, radiant
  • Dhimahi Dhiyo: the intellect
  • Yo: Which
  • Nah: Our, of us
  • Prachodayat: Illuminate, inspire

A mantra of power, knowledge, and light

Across cultures and throughout time, the sun symbolized spiritual light. The word “savitur” refers to Savitri, the Vedic sun deity. The mantra, considered the essence of all mantras, is personified as the resplendent Gayatri, the power behind the sun and the mother of the universe. As we chant her mantra, we tune into the frequencies of universal light and bring it down to the earth plane (bhuh) and ourselves.

The mantra is personified by the goddess Gayatri Devi, who is the bestower of knowledge and is referred to as “the mother of the Vedas.” She is often depicted as having 5 heads and 10 arms, and she rides upon a swan. The five faces symbolize the five pranas and the five elements of the universe. Gayatri Devi represents the combined strength of the three Goddesses, Lakshmi, Saraswati, and Kali. Her divine powers are protection, wisdom, and strength.

History of the Gayatri mantra

How the universal mantra came to be chanted here on earth is a rich story of anger, envy, lust, and forgiveness. It begins in ancient times, when King Vishwamitra and his army visited Sage Vashista, who was able to feed their numbers thanks to a wish-fulfilling cow. Vishwamitra wanted to take the cow with him, and Vashista’s refusal angered the king so much that he vowed to undertake austerities and meditate until his spiritual powers surpassed the sage’s. Each time Vishwamitra believed he was nearing success, however, he failed another test of ego.

When Vishwatmitra at last recognized his shortcomings and begged Vashista’s forgiveness, he experienced spontaneous Samadhi and the gods gifted him with the words of the Gayatri. (The poses Vashistasana and Vishwamitrasana honor these sages.) Vishwamitra is among the authors of the Rig Veda, the oldest known source of the Gayatri. His tale teaches that enlightenment is possible for anyone who practices with dedication, and the Gayatri is recommended as a practice suited to people from all walks of life.

Benefits of chanting the Gayatri

It’s said that by regularly chanting the Gayatri mantra , you accumulate spiritual light, and that you will not only raise your own vibratory level but also the levels of those around you your family and friends, your circle of acquaintances, the entire global community.

The sound of the Gayatri mantra brings us back to our own true nature, which is pure consciousness itself. It reminds us that we are already perfect beings, and that we have been given everything we need to manifest our highest potential. When we practice the Gayatri, we remember that we are divinely connected to the universe, and that we are blessed by its abundance.

A regular meditation practice using this mantra can bring peace, joy, grace, and happiness prosperity. It is also said to strengthen concentration, heal the physical body, and protect against negativity, fear, anger, jealousy, hatred, greed, and envy. The ancient texts claim that chanting the Gayatri 10 times per day removes the bad karma in this lifetime, and chanting 108 times daily will dissolve the karma from previous lives.

How to chant the Gayatri mantra

Although it can be chanted at any time of the day, it is advisable to chant the mantra both early in the morning and at night before sleeping. Keep your mind focused on each word as you chant the mantra. Notice where you feel the vibration of the sacred sound in your head and chest. You may need to keep your eyes open to read the mantra at first, but eventually work on memorizing it so you can practice with your eyes closed.

It will be most powerful to chant the mantra silently. When reciting the Gayatri Mantra, visualize the sun’s light as it enters your heart, radiating outward to bless the world.

Here are the nine steps to chanting the Gayatri mantra:

  1. Sit comfortably in a quiet place where there is little distraction.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few slow deep breaths.
  3. Focus on your breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils.
  4. Say the mantra out loud while focusing on your breathing.
  5. Repeat it the second time with a whisper while continuing to focus on your breathing.
  6. Repeat it the third time silently in your head.
  7. Continue to repeat the mantra as long as you’d like.
  8. When you have finished reciting the mantra, take a few deep breaths to feel the effects of the mantra on your body, mind, and heart.
  9. Continue to repeat the mantra daily until you feel its positive currents of energy flowing into your heart.

Gayatri mantra videos

You may find it helpful to listen to one or more Gayatri mantra videos to learn the proper pronunciation, cadence, and melody of this powerful mantra. There are many versions of the Gayatri mantra available, each one with its own unique interpretation and style. Some videos even include visuals that help to deepen your understanding of the mantra’s meaning. Here are the ones we recommend, but feel free to explore YouTube to find the ones that resonate best with you.


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29 responses to “Gayatri Mantra: Meaning, Benefits and How to Chant”

  1. martisure Avatar

    Gayatri mantra is definitely on of the most complete and powerful mantras. At first, it was forbidden to chant this mantra to people other than brahmin males, that is why I am doubtful about its current use in a soundtrack for a tv series!…anyways, the sound of the words is soothing and recharging at the same time. Recommended before and/or after a yoga practice.

  2. sreekumar118 Avatar

    Ellery- For millenia the Kshatriyas & Vaishyas also chanted the Gayatri mantra. It is a misconception to state that it is disallowed to anyone who is not Brahmin. I suggest reading the Upanishads & Manu Smriti

  3. Sapna Avatar

    One of Hinduism’s biggest mantras is without a doubt the Gayatri mantra. It is stated that reciting the Gayatri mantra regularly will give you tremendous strength to engage in and triumph over all of life’s battles.

  4. prav Avatar

    The practice of writing this 108 times is also another powerful process for those wishing to seek further.

  5. Patricia Lynn Moore Avatar
    Patricia Lynn Moore

    I became familiar with The Gayatri Mantra and Deva Premal during a very difficult time in my life. In the midst of so much chaos happening in and around me, I was directed by Spirit to a recording of the manta that Deva was singing. At the time, I had no idea what a mantra was but the words and music began to calm me down. I knew that Spirit had given me the comfort I so desperately needed.
    I contacted Deva to thank her for her gift. She in turn gifted me further with the 21 Day Mantra course for free. I am forever grateful for her kindnesses. Thank you. 🙏🏼

  6. Nalini Chauhan Avatar
    Nalini Chauhan

    Gayatri mantra recite it daily mainly when stressed, helps calm the nerves down.

  7. Satyanarayana Y C Avatar
    Satyanarayana Y C

    There is duality in the way Gayatri should be chanted. One- Loudly, another silently with in yourself.

    Which is the correct way ?

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      They are both correct, but generally it is considered more difficult and powerful to chant mantras silently.

  8. Krishna Avatar

    Goodness and greatness of Sanatana Dharma. If most of us realize this wisdom, there will be more joy and happiness and less sorrow and hatred.

  9. Mahendra Pujara Avatar
    Mahendra Pujara

    Gayatri mantra is truely lifting up your spirit and raises calmness. Agitation and anxiety are suppressed and daily living becomes more lively.I encourage every soul to chant Gayatri mantra daily.

  10. Tristan Jagery Avatar
    Tristan Jagery

    I’m so grateful to have discovered the Gayatri Mantra! It’s been such a joyful practice that’s really connected me to my spiritual side.

  11. Guru Kumar Avatar
    Guru Kumar

    I’m chanting Gayatri mantra. It is good when I’m chanting. But sometimes getting irritating after chanting. I’m unable to concentrate on goddess maa. I want to become more wealthy, prosperous and powerful. But my mind is wandering, not Gayatri mantra if I should chant laxmi mantra. When I chant laxmi mantra, again Durga mantra is calling me. To be frank I’m unable to concentrate and focus on a single goddess. How do I confirm and concentrate and get trust? Please enlighten me.

  12. Sunil Thakore Avatar
    Sunil Thakore

    Guru Kumar, it is not about what you acheive and want to become. Sanatana does not have belieief in God, so there is no godess that is going to provide a boon just because you wish it. The idea of Mantra is selfness and connecting with the person you are. Life is about living happy and in peace with everything and all around you. To be rich does not make you special, but being a perfect human. That is why you can go to the poorest parts of India and still be treated like a guest. Money is a construct, life is not. To be rich does not make your life rich. The culture of India is just too complex to dictate in a few words, but life is a gift that should be cherished over your own wants and needs. Mantras were created to tap into the phyce of people to create a peace and harmony with both the body and mind, not to provide. Only you can provide for yourself

    1. Jane Avatar

      Beautiful response. Thank you :-)

  13. Roopesh Rao Avatar
    Roopesh Rao

    I was tremendously stressed thinking about my family’s financial future and suddenly I started chanting the Gayatri Mantra. I chanted 108 times twice back to back. My worries disappeared and I started feeling enlightened. I strongly recommend every one to practice this powerful Mantra.

  14. Ava Roberts Avatar
    Ava Roberts

    I have always been fascinated by mantras and their significance. The Gayatri Mantra seems to be one of the most powerful mantras with deep spiritual meaning. I had no idea that the Gayatri Mantra is considered the most sacred mantra in Hinduism. It is interesting to learn about the history and origins of this mantra.

  15. Emily Davis Avatar
    Emily Davis

    I really appreciate the detailed explanation of the Gayatri Mantra’s translation and meaning. Thank you for sharing this knowledge with us!

  16. Andrew R Avatar
    Andrew R

    I love how the article explains the meaning of each word in the mantra, making it easier for me to understand and connect with its powerful message. Thank you for breaking it down so clearly!

  17. Lucas Adams Avatar
    Lucas Adams

    The Gayatri Mantra being used in pop culture, like in the Battlestar Galactica series and by Cher, shows how influential this mantra has become. The translation of the mantra, “O Divine mother, may your pure divine light illuminate all realms of our being,” is so beautiful and powerful. It really captures the essence of seeking enlightenment and spiritual growth.

  18. Lennie Armiso Avatar
    Lennie Armiso

    I appreciate the step-by-step guide on how to chant the Gayatri mantra. Especially focusing on each word while visualizing the sun’s light entering our hearts, radiating outward to bless the world. It’s a beautiful visualization technique.

  19. Himadri Potter Avatar
    Himadri Potter

    This explanation was somewhat useful – a step on the way to me understanding how to chant this mantra but the phonetic pronunciation shown involves 30 components while it is stated that the mantra has 24 syllables which seems contradictory. This suggests the sounding out of the words does not actually involve all 30 components as suggested. It would have been useful if there had been a recording of the chant so I could hear if each of the 3 components in sa-va-ha are pronounced or whether (as in a recording I heard elsewhere) the sound is simply sa-va? The website is plagued with adverts that cause the text to jump around as the advert inserted between the first and second line changes shape and size…. the monetising of the information through advertisements decimates the communication.

    1. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      Thanks for the feedback, we have now added several videos with the pronunciation of the mantra.

  20. Thomas Wilson Avatar
    Thomas Wilson

    I love the idea of visualizing the sun’s light entering your heart and radiating outward as you chant the Gayatri mantra. It’s like spreading blessings to the world.


    Om bhuh, bhuvah, swaha – WRONG
    Om bhur, bhuvah, swaha – RIGHT

  22. Li Wei Avatar
    Li Wei

    The benefits of chanting the Gayatri mantra are truly inspiring. It’s amazing to think that this mantra is said to contain all the knowledge of the universe.

  23. Natalia Torres Avatar
    Natalia Torres

    The meaning of the Gayatri Mantra is so beautiful. It’s all about illuminating all realms of our being and seeking true knowledge. I can see why it’s so cherished.

  24. Daniele Martins Avatar
    Daniele Martins

    The meaning of the mantra is so beautiful. I’m excited to give the Gayatri mantra a try and see how it affects my body, mind, and heart.

  25. Lee Avatar

    I want my child to focus on her studies .She feels very low energy and low or no concentration on her studies or any work given .As she is growing I want her to focus on her studies.Can chanting Gayatri mantra for her good future by me will bring any positivity in her life

  26. Rafael Avatar

    I didn’t have time to review all comments so forgive me if this has been raised before.

    I am wondering about the bit of the proposed translation that says ‘Please expel any darkness from our hearts’

    I cannot correlate this to any term within the full list of direct Sanskrit translations that are listed below. Could you please explain the reason for introducing the concept of ‘our hearts’ and ‘darkness’ into it? I’d like to understand it.

    Thanks very much


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Kathleen Bryant Avatar
About the author
A former teacher and forever student, Kathleen Bryant swapped her running shoes for a yoga blanket in 1992, when she joined her first Hatha Yoga class in the back room of a local crystal shop. After earning a 500-hour teaching certificate from the International Yoga College, she taught anatomy, asana, and other subjects at 7 Centers School of Yoga Arts in Sedona, AZ. Kathleen is especially interested in the therapeutic aspects of yoga and continues to learn from Rama Jyoti Vernon, an amazing yogini who inspires her students to integrate yoga philosophy and mythology with contemporary life. An award-winning author, she has also published a children’s story, a cookbook, and books that focus on Southwest culture, travel, and natural history.
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