Ennapadam Bhagavati

Bhagavathi at Ennapadam Temple at Kerala

Wednesday, August 31, 2011





Vakratunda Mahakaaya
Suryakoti Samaprabha
Nirvighnam Kuru Mey Deva
Sarva Kaaryeshu Sarvada


The Lord with the curved trunk and a mighty body, who has the luster of a million suns, I pray to thee Oh Lord, to remove the obstacles from all the actions I intend to perform.

Shuklaambara Dharam Vishnum
Shashi Varnam Chatur Bhujam
Prasanna Vadanam Dhyaayet
Sarva Vighna Upashaanthaye

We meditate on Lord Ganesha - who is clad in white (representing purity), who is all pervading (present everywhere), whose complexion is gray like that of ash (glowing with spiritual splendor), who has four arms, who has bright countenance (depicting inner calm and happiness) and who can destroy all obstacles (in our spiritual and worldly path).

Gajaananam Bhoota Ganaadhi Sevitam
Kapitta Jamboophaala Saara Bhakshitam
Umaasutam Shoka Vinaasha Kaarnam
Namaami Vighneswara Paada Pankajam


The Lord with the elephant face, served by all the Ganas, One who takes as His food, the essence of Kapitta and Jamboophala (these are two favorite fruits of Ganesh), son of Uma (Mother Parvati), destroyer of misery of the devotees, controller of obstacles, we worship Your Lotus Feet.

Agajaanana Padmaarkam
Gajaananam Aharnisham
Anekadantham Bhaktaanaam
Ekadantam Upaasmahey


I worship day and night that elephant faced Lord Ganesha who is like sun to the lotus face of Mother Parvati. Giver of many boons, the single tusked Ganesh, I salute Thee to give e a boon.

gananaam tvaa ganapatim havaamahe kavim kaveenaam upama shravastamam ,

jyeshtharaajam brahmanaam brahmanaspata Aa nah shrunvannootibhih seeda saadanam

(Rig Veda 2.23.1)
The great Vedic scholar Shri M.P.Pandit of Sri.Aurobindo Ashram, Pondichery translated the above verse as follows:

gananaam tvaa ganapatim=The leader of the host of mantras
havaamahe=We invoke thee
kavim kaveenaam=A superb poet amongst poets
upama shravastamam= Who causes the hearing of divine inspiration
jyeshtharaajam brahmanaam brahmanaspata= The leader, the Lord of Chants
Aa nah shrunvantu=May He hear us and
ootibhih seeda saadanam=May He manifest Himself in us with His protections

Three Eyed Ganesha Temple at Ranthambore in Rajasthan

 The Ganesha temple in the fort of Ranthambore is one of the most important Ganesha temples of Rajasthan. This temple attracts thousands of devotees from different parts of North India on Ganesh Chathurthi Day---the Birthday of Lord Ganesha---every year.

Inside Ranthambore fort there are three Hindu temples dedicated to Ganesh, Shiva and Ramlalaji constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries from red Karauli stone. There is also a Jain temple of Lord Sumatinath (5th Jain Tirthankar) and Lord Sambhavanath (3rd Jain Tirthankar) within the Fort premises

Ganesh Chaturthi or “Vinayak Chaturthiis one of the most important and hoary festivals celebrated by the Hindus. It is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Bhadrapada, starting on the shukla chaturthi (fourth day of the waxing moon period). THIS YEAR GANESH CHATHURTHI FALLS ON THE 1 SEPTEMBER 2011. The festival lasts for 10 days, ending on Ananta Chaturdashi, and is traditionally celebrated as the birthday of LORD GANESHA.

According to Hindu mythology, Lord Ganesha is the son of Shiva (The God of Destruction in the Hindu Holy Trinity of Creator-Preserver-Destroyer) and Parvati (Shiva’s consort). The cutest and most lovable Indian God, Ganesha or Ganpati has the head of an elephant on which rests an elegant tiara, four podgy hands joined to a sizeable belly with each hand holding its own symbolic object – a trishul or a trident in one, an ankush or goad (made from his very own broken tooth) in another, a lotus in the third and a rosary (which is sometimes replaced by modak, his favourite sweet) in the fourth. Revered as the deity of auspiciousness and wisdom, as the Divine remover of all obstacles/bottlenecks, Lord Ganesha is also famous for being a trickster, with a profound sense of humour.

Lord Ganesh was born on the fourth day (chaturthi) of the bright fortnight of the Hindu lunar month of Magh. Since then, the association between Ganesh and Chaturthi has become proverbial, legendary and eternal. Thus the festival dedicated to the worship of Lord Ganesha on Chaturthi day is named as Ganesh Chaturthi.

There is an interesting tale about the birth of Ganesha. It is believed that once when Parvati was bathing, she created a human figure from a paste which was an amalgam of an unguent and a balm, gave it life and charged it with the responsibility of guarding the door while she was bathing. After a long period of meditation on Mountain Kailash (Lord Shiva’s abode), Shiva chose that very moment to drop by to see his better half, but was abruptly stopped by the human figure which Parvati had created and installed at the door for keeping guard. Outraged by the cheek of this stranger, Shiva cut off his head only to discover moments later that he had killed Parvati’s son! For fear of enraging his wife, Shiva immediately dispatched his ganas (attendants) to get him the head of the first living creature they could find in the immediate neighborhood. Well, the first living creature that happened to be there in the vicinity was an elephant. As instructed by Lord Shiva, the head of the elephant was chopped off and brought back to Shiva, who placed it on the body of Parvati’s son, bringing him back to life instantaneously in the twinkling of an eye. This elephant-headed god was welcomed into the first family of the Hindu heavens and named Ganesha or Ganapati, which literally means the chief of the ganas, or the attendants of Shiva.
Ganesha is the foremost god of the Hindu pantheon. This brave guardian of the door to Parvati’s bath is worshipped today as the most auspicious God for launching all new ventures. We can see him carefully guarding entrances to temples and homes, peeping out of calendars and happily gracing marriages and all such auspicious occasions.

No one knows when and how Ganesh Chaturthi came to be celebrated. But according to the historian Shri Rajwade, the earliest Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations can be traced back to the times of the rule of dynasties such as the Satavahanas, the Rashtrakutas and the Chalukyas.

Historical records reveal that Ganesh Chaturthi celebrations were started in Maharashtra by Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaja, the great Maratha ruler, in the 17th century to promote Hindu culture and foster Hindu nationalism. And it has continued ever since to this day. There are also references in modern Maratta history to similar celebrations during the regime of the Peshwas. Lord Ganapati was the family deity of the Peshwas. After the end of Peshwa rule in 1818, Ganesh Chaturthi remained a family affair in Maharashtra till 1892.

Lokamanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856-1920) saw how Lord Ganesha was worshipped by the upper stratum as well as the rank and file of Maharashtra. This great visionary who declared “Swaraj is my birthright” fully realized the cultural importance of this deity and popularised Ganesha Chaturthi as a National Festival “to bridge the gap between the Brahmins and the non-Brahmins and to find an appropriate context in which to build a new unity at the grassroots level between them”. Tilak also understood that without such a social unity, it was not easy to drive the British out of Maharashtra or India. For creating such an fraternal atmosphere in Maharashtra, Tilak chose Lord Ganesha as a rallying point for Indian protest against British rule in 1893 because of His wide appeal as “THE GOD FOR EVERYMAN”.

From 1893, Tilak began to organize the Ganesh Utsav as a social and religious function. It was he who inaugurated the tradition of installing large public images of Ganesha on public platforms/pavilions and established the tradition of their immersion into a river, a lake or the sea on the tenth day. This grand Ganesh Festival facilitated enthusiastic community participation and vigorous involvement in the form of learned discourses, dance dramas, poetry recital, musical concerts, debates, etc. In short the Ganesh Festival became a focal point for common people of all castes and communities, for getting together at the same public place at a time when all social and political gatherings were forbidden by the British Government in India. Thus Ganesh Festivel became very popular in Maharashtra between 1893 and 1905 and after 1905 as India’s freedom Movement picked up, it became an all India festival and remains so even today. With the independence of India in 1947, it was proclaimed as a national festival.

In almost every town and village in India, statues of Lord Ganesa are made with great devotion and fervour and installed at public places at least two days prior to the auspicious day of Ganesh Chaturthi. This year tomorrow—1 September 2011, Thursday-is Ganesh Chathurthi Day.

Let me conclude with the SANKATA NASHAN GANESH STOTRAM

Sunday, August 21, 2011



Today (21-8-2011, Sunday) is JANMASHTAMI --- the birthday of Lord Krishna. On this day we remember the celestial and immortal message of Lord Krishna given by him to Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. Bhagavad Gita contains the guiding principles for every Hindu, nay every human being regardless of his religion, every day for every moment of his life. Lord Krishna told Arjuna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra: ‘All paths lead to ME’. It is because of this universality that it has found favour with all Classes and Schools for centuries. Nowhere perhaps, with the possible exception of Mathura, Vrindavan, in UP is Janmashtami celebrated with that kind of elemental passion which it arouses in the State of Gujarat. The ancient and timeless Krishna Temples at Dakore in Kheda District and Dwaraka in Jamnagar District of Gujarat have attracted throngs of devotees of Lord Krishna for thousands of years. In these 2 temples in Gujarat, Janmashatami is the most important and sacred day of the year.

Lord Krishna is better known in India’s cultural and religious history as the King and Emperor of Dwaraka. According to ancient Hindu mythology, Dwaraka was a new country founded by the Yadava clan of chiefs who fled from the Surasena Kingdom due to fear from the king Jarasandha of Magadha.


Another interesting aspect about the life and times of Lord Krishna and which is often forgotten by most scholars and historians is that Lord Krishna was a Royal Kshatriya Prince belonging to the YADAVA CLAN. To the best of my knowledge, the only scholar who has delved deep into  this aspect is F.E.Pargiter I.C.S. who was Chief Secretary to the Government of The United Provinces of Agra and Oudh at the turn of the 20th Century. He was a great Sanskrit scholar and wrote a remarkably original and seminal work on Ancient India titled Ancient Indian Historical Tradition’ which is published by the Oxford University Press in England in 1922.Pargiter also wrote a brilliant translation in English of the ‘Markandeya Purana’, in order to elucidate its geographical chapters. In 1922 Pargiter described how his detailed study of the Geographical Chapters of the Markandeya Purana invetibly led him to dive deep into the sources of the ‘Ancient Indian Historical Tradition’:

“Geography included political divisions, and led to an examination of Ancient Kingdoms, and so on to their dynastic genealogies and traditions---subjects that were generally regarded as of little value or no historical value, and were practically neglected by all serious historians. With no views about Ancient Indian Historical Tradition, and the desire merely to see whether there was any substance in it, it was collected, compared, and studied, and inferences were drawn therefrom, revised continually with fresh material, and discarded freely if they proved untenable---which is simply the scientific process of collecting and testing facts copiously before forming any opinion or theory. At length some substance and order seemed to manifest themselves, and certain results gradually took shape; and some of them have been published in the JOURNAL OF THE ROYAL ASIATIC SOCIETY during the last 14 years….the outcome of all these inquiries is set out here.”

I am presenting below the Front Cover of Pargiter’s book on Ancient India published in 1922.

Pargiter declares with authority that OUR KNOWLEDGE of the most ancient times in India rests mainly on TRADITION. The PURANAS, the MAHABHRATA, and in a minor degree the RAMAYANA profess to give an account from TRADITION about the earliest occurrences. The RIG VEDA contains historical allusions, of which some record contemporary persons and events, but more refer to bygone times and persons and are obviously based on tradition. Almost all the information therefore comes from TRADITION. Pargiter says “The results I have obtained from an examination of PURANIC and EPIC TRADITION as well as of the RIG VEDA and VEDIC LITERATURE  have been set forth in my book on ‘Ancient Indian Historical Tradition’.

I am presenting below the Geneological Tables relating to the ancestors and forbears of Lord Krishna as detailed by Pargiter.




Lord Krishna was the King of Dwaraka. Dwaraka was the brainchild of Vasudeva Krishna, the great personality of the Dwapara Yuga. The territory of Dwaraka includes the Dwaraka Island, many neighbouring islands like the Antar Dwipa and the mainland area neighbouring the Anarta Kingdom, making it similar to Greece having many islands and a mainland forming its territory. The kingdom was situated roughly in the north-western region of Gujrat state. Its capital was Dwaravati (near Dwarka, Gujarat). The Mahabharata does not mention Dwaraka as a kingdom but rather as the capital city of Yadavas who ruled the Anarta Kingdom. It was also known as Dwaravati. It was also a port-city, having trade relations with many sea-faring nations. The name Dwaraka, in Sanskrit means a gate or a gateway. It could be that this ancient port-city was a gateway for foreign sea-faring kingdoms into the Indian mainland and vice versa.

Dwaraka is one of the seven Holy Cities. Ayodhya, Mathura, Haridwar, Benares, Kanchi, Ujjain and Dwaraka. Dwaraka’s majesty and beauty have been described by many poets and writers, saints and sages of ancient India. It is referred to as Golden City in Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Skanda Purana, Vishnu Purana, Harivansha and Mahabharata. It was the capital of Lord Krishna’s Kingdom. All the Islam-embracing, Christianity-coveting and Hindu-hating perverted pseudo secularists in the Government of India and all the political parties would be shocked to know that Dwaraka is not just a legend or the product of a figment of imagination but a real, concrete and terrestrial truth. Dwaraka was a well-planned city with a modern and technologically advanced harbour suitably designed to deal with the marine traffic of large ships entering the port.

One of the verses in the Bhagavada says: ‘The yellow glitter of the golden fort of the Dwaraka City in the sea throwing yellow light all round looked as if the flames of Vadavagni came out tearing asunder the sea’. Then came the deluge and Dwaraka ‘A City of Gold’ vanished under water. Around 1500 BC, the whole Western course of India disappeared along with Lord Krishna’s Capital City of Dwaraka. This is how it was described by Vedavyasa in the Mahabharata: ‘The sea, which had been beating against the shore, suddenly broke the boundary that was imposed on it by nature. The sea rushed into the City of Dwaraka. It coursed through the streets of the beautiful city. The sea covered up everything in the city. I saw the beautiful buildings becoming submerged one by one. In a matter of a few moments it was all over. The sea had now become as placid as a lake. There was no trace of the city. Dwaraka became just a name; just a memory’.

The ruins of ancient Dwaraka city have been found under the sea following recent oceanographic studies conducted near the modern temple-city of Dwaraka. The first Archaeological excavations at Dwaraka were done by the Deccan College, Pune and the Department of Archaeology, Government of Gujarat in 1963 under the direction of an outstanding Archeologist of Ancient India H.D. Sankalia. It revealed the existence of many artefacts, hundreds of centuries old. Almost 20 years later, The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), conducted a second round of excavations under the direction of Dr S R Rao, a world renowned Underwater Archeologist. Dr S R Rao is to the discovery of the ancient town of Dwaraka, what Isaac Newton is to the Law of Gravitation or Albert Einstein to the Theory of Relativity.

Excavations at Dwaraka helped add credence to the legend of Krishna and the Mahabharata war, as well as provide ample evidence of the advanced societies that lived in these areas such as the Harappan settlements.

Dwarakadhish Temple

Dwarakadhish Temple at night

 I am presenting below a brilliant summary by Hari Prasad Das of the historic results of the excavations carried out by Dr.S.R.Rao at Dwaraka between 1983 and 1990.

“The Dwarakadhisa Temple prompted the setting up of a Marine Archaeology Unit (MAU) jointly by the National Institute of Oceanography and the Archaeological Survey of India. Under the guidance of Dr. Rao, a great marine archaeologist, a team consisting of expert underwater explorers, trained diver-photographers and archaeologists was formed. The technique of geophysical survey was combined with the use of echo-sounders, mud-penetrators, sub-bottom profilers and underwater metal detectors. This team carried out 12 marine archaeological expeditions between 1983 to 1992 and articles and antiquities recovered were sent to Physical Research Laboratory for dating. By using thermo-luminescence, carbon dating and other modern scientific techniques, the artifacts were found to belong to the period between 15th to 18th century B.C. In his great work, The Lost City of Dwaraka, Dr. Rao has given scientific details of these discoveries and artifacts.”

“Between1983 to 1992, the well-fortified township of Dwaraka was discovered, extending more than half mile from the shore. The township was built in six sectors along the banks of a river. The foundation of boulders on which the city's walls were erected proves that the land was reclaimed from the sea. The general layout of the city of Dwaraka described in ancient texts agrees with that of the submerged city discovered by the MAU.”

“According to the discoveries, Dwaraka was a prosperous city in ancient times, which was destroyed and reconstructed several times. The work of great excavators like Z.D. Ansari and M.S. Mate allowed chance discovery of temples of the 9th century A.D. and 1st century A.D. buried near the present Dwaraka.”

“Conclusions arrived at after carrying out these underwater archaeological explorations support and validate the dates arrived at through astronomical calculations. They also prove that the reconstructed city was a prosperous port town, and that it was in existence for about 60-70 years in the 15th century B.C. before being submerged under the sea in the year 1443 B.C.”

(Editors' note: Although the adherents of western, empirical science date Dwaraka to 1443 B.C. or roughly 3,400 years ago, ancient Vedic astronomical texts and present-day practitioners of the Vedic tradition assert that the current epoch of Kali-yuga began in 3102 B.C. Lord Krishna's disappearance and the subsequent submergence of Dwaraka occured shortly before this date. Therefore, Dwaraka can be no less than 5,000 years old.)

Dr.S.R. Rao, former adviser to the NIO, has described the historic significance of the excavations carried out by him between 1983 and 1990 in these words:


Dr. Rao has rightly lamented that if only a fraction of the funds spent on land archaeology were made available for underwater archaeology, more light could be shed on Dwaraka, which has much greater archaeological significance because it was built during the second urbanization that occurred in India after the Indus Valley civilization in north-western India. Dwaraka's existence disproves the belief held by Western archaeologists that there was no urbanization in the Indian subcontinent from the period between 1700 B.C. (Indus Valley) and 550 B.C. (advent of Buddhism). As no information was available about that period, they had labelled as the Dark Period.

Among the objects unearthed that has proved Dwaraka's connection with the Mahabharata epic is a seal engraved with the image of a three headed animal. The epic mentions such a seal given to the citizens of Dwaraka as a proof of identity when the city was threatened by King Jarasandha of the powerful Magadh kingdom (now Bihar). The foundation of boulders on which the city's walls were erected proves that the land was reclaimed from the sea about 3,600 years ago. The epic has references to such reclamation activity at Dwaraka. Seven islands mentioned in it have also been discovered as having been submerged in the Arabian Sea.

Pottery, which has been established by thermo-luminescence tests to be 3,528 years old and carrying inscriptions in late Indus Valley civilization script, iron stakes and triangular three-holed anchors etc. discovered by Dr.SR Rao’s Team, find mention in the Mahabharata. As Dr.SR.Rao has summed up: "The findings in Dwaraka and archaeological evidence found compatible with the Mahabharata tradition remove the lingering doubt about the historicity of the Mahabharata. We would say that Krishna definitely existed."

Thus the discovery of Dwaraka by Dr S R Rao confirms that the descriptions found in the text of the Mahabharata and other important Sanskrit texts regarding Dwaraka are true. It also means that the Mahabharata is NOT A MYTH BUT AN IMPORTANT SOURCE OF INFORMATION FOR STUDYING THE ANCIENT HISTORY OF INDIA.

T R Gopalakrishnan has succinctly summarised the importance of the excavations and discovery of Dr S R Rao: ‘The strongest Archaeological support comes from the structures discovered under the sea- bed off the coast of Dwaraka in Gujarat by the pioneering team led by Dr S R Rao, one of India’s most respected Archaeologists. An Emeritus Scientist at the Marine Archaeology Unit of the National Institute of Oceanography, Dr Rao has excavated a large number of Harappa sites including the Port City of Lothal in Gujarat. In his book THE LOST CITY OF DWARAKA published in 1999 he writes about his undersea finds. It has set at rest all doubts expressed by historians about the historicity of Mahabharata and the very existence of Dwaraka City. It has greatly narrowed the gap in Indian history by establishing the continuity of the Indian Civilization from the Vedic Age to the present day’.

Kannadasan, the great Tamil Poet, was a great devotee of Lord Krishna. I read his SRI KRISHNA KAVACHAM, composed in Divine Tamil Daily. In his introduction to this hymn to Lord Krishna, Kannadasan wrote in TAMIL as follows:

I am presenting below a few verses from Sri. Krishna Kavacham:

Let me conclude this story of LORD KRISHNA by offering my reverential salutations to HIM by citing the English Translation of a few of the Sanskrit verses from Sri Krishna Karnamrutham (Nectar to the ears of Lord Krishna). Sri Krishna Karnamrutham was composed by Sage Leela Shuka (also known as Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar, Bilwamangala Thakura). The English translation has been done by P.R.Ramachander.

This great work was composed by Sage Leela shuka according to the last sloka of the first chapter. Elsewhere he mentions that he is a shaivite but attached to Lord Krishna. It is generally agreed by historians that Leela Shuka was his pseudonym and that he was known as Vilwamangalathu Swamiyar. He is also known as Bilwamangala Thakura in North India. Though his Samadhi is supposed to be in Mathura, the local legend there agrees that he is from South India. Most of the literary commentators seem to be of the view that he hailed from Kerala.

 I worship that sweet child with blue colour,
Who is the boundary of cleverness,
Who is source of very temporal glances,
Who has pretty eyes nurtured by the waves,
Of the nectar like sea of prettiness,
Who is honoured by the side long glances of Lakshmi,
Who is interested in playing by the sandy shores of river Yamuna,
And who begot a son who was the God of love.

My mind is illuminated by the pretty wonderful light form,
Whose shining hair is decorated by peacock feathers,
Who has a face which is ebbing with sweetness,
Who shines with the new youthfulness,
Who plays the flute that produces the nectar like music,
And who is surrounded and worshipped by Gopis,
Having slightly thick breast tips.

Let my mind be lit by that which has broad eyes and is beyond words and sight,
Which has lotus like face, shining with the very sweet nectar like smile,
Which is decorated, by the feather of a peacock, with the great zest,
Which has the very prettily made up bundle of hair,
And which wants to eat the piece of meat of pleasures of the world,

Let the lotus like face of my Lord Krishna,
Which has two eyes, similar to the lotus buds,
Which is full of the honey from, the pollen of the music from his flute,
And which has clear cheeks shining like glass,
Shine completely in my mind. 

Friday, August 12, 2011



THE AVANI AVITTAM FESTIVAL FALLS ON 13TH AUGUST 2011. Avani Avittam or Upakarma in South India is celebrated as Raksha Bandhan (the bond of protection in Hindi) or Rakhi (in Devanagari) in different parts of India. It is a Hindu festival and also a Sikh festival, which celebrates the noble and abiding relationship between brothers and sisters. The festival is marked by the tying of a Rakhi, or holy thread by the sister on the wrist of her brother. The brother in return offers a gift to his sister and vows to look after her. The Rakhi may also be tied on other special occasions to show solidarity and kinship (not necessarily only among brothers and sisters), as was done during the days of India's independence movement.

Devi Bhagavatam proclaims: “Sadhana of Gayatri mantra is the essence of Vedas. Even God like Brahma meditates on and performs Gayatri japa at the time of twilight. A Brahmin who performs only Gayatri japa regularly attains salvation. Daily worship of Gayatri has been described in all the Vedas. A Brahmin devoid of Gayatri is doomed in all respects. A Brahmin who gives up Gayatri goes to hell although he may worship Vishnu or Shiva”.

Adi Sankara Baghavadpadha has declared: “It is beyond human competence to describe the glory of Gayatri. Nothing is so important in the world as to have wisdom. This wisdom by which self –realisation is attained through divine insight is inspired by Gayatri. Gayatri is the initial mantra. It is an incarnation to destroy sins and promote virtues”.

Swami Ramakrishna Paramahansa has stated: “I tell people that it is not necessary to get engaged in prolonged sadhnas. Perform simple Gayatri Sadhana and see the result. Great siddhis are attained by Gayatri sadhana. This mantra is small, no doubt, but it is extremely powerful”.

Swami Vivekananda thundered thus “Gayatri is a mantra of righteous wisdom and therefore, it has been called a be-jeweled crown of all the mantras”.

Mahamana Madanmohan Malviya said “Gayatri is the most precious gem which has been given to us by Rishis. It purifies the intellect and the soul is enlightened with the light of God. Countless souls have been liberated from worldly bond by this enlightenment. Gayatri has the power to inculcate feeling of dedication to God and removes scarcity of worldly requirements. Gayatri sadhana is extremely necessary for Brahmins. A person who does not perform Gayatri japa is guilty of neglecting his duties”.

Thus our saints and sages and saintly public men FROM TIMES IMMEMORIAL have described the time-defying glory and grandeur of the eternal message of GAYATRI MANTRA

I have just finished reading a newly published exhilarating book titled “Ruk, Yajus, Samaveda Sandhya Vandanam” written by Sri Narasimha Ragavachariar (1927-2007), a profound scholar and more importantly a man of God.   In 1999 he was appointed as ‘Srikaryam’ of Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashram.  He continued in that capacity until he passed away on 5 October, 2007.

“Ruk, Yajus, Samaveda Sandhya Vandanam

Starting his career as a Hindi Pundit in Mannargudi, he led a life of self-effacing PUBLIC SERVICE—a life of love, self-abnegation and selfless service fully informed and fortified by his unmatched knowledge and transcendental wisdom.

With his mastery over several languages like English, Tamil, Sanskrit, Hindi and Urdu, he could compose verses in all those languages with splendid ease. He has authored several books and monographs on ‘Vaishnava Dharma’.  He served as Principal of Srirangam Patasalai for four years from 1983 to 1987.  Prior to his appointment as ‘Srikaryam’ of Srirangam Srimad Andavan Ashram in 1999, Sri Narasimha Ragavachariar had served as Adviser to the TVS Group in Madurai.


We can see from Sri. Narasimha Ragavachariar’s book that a follower of Sanathana Dharma is required to offer his prayer thrice a day with ‘Gayatri Mantra (Hymn)’. This is the most enchanting hymn among the prayers current in different religions all over the world.  The central spiritual core of this prayer is an appeal to SURYA-NARAYANA to refresh one’s intellect and make it ever alert and luminous. 

Such a prayer has no sectarian tinge. Its spirit is universal and all encompassing. It elevates, exalts and ennobles one’s mind, heart and soul.  The meditation of ‘Gayatri Hymn’ is the fundamental part of the prayer that a follower of SANATANA DHARMA is required to offer three times a day.  This prayer of Sanatana Dharma is called ‘Sandhya Vandanam’ because it is offered morning, mid-day and evening twilight.

‘Sandhi’ means union. Sandhya prayer is observed at three unions, viz, Night and Day is one union, ‘Prathaha (Morning) Sandhya’.  The second union is at Forenoon and Afternoon, ‘Madhyanhika (Mid-day) Sandhya’. The third union is Day and Night ‘Sayam (Evening) Sandhya’.

This prayer has to be preceded and followed by certain prescribed details of religious ritual of great spiritual significance. First one has to recall the place and the day of offering the prayer. Reference to place starts from the entire BRAHMANDA. Located in it are the BHARATHAKHANDA, JAMBUDVEEPA and the concerned river on the bank of which one resides. Similarly reference to the time (Time as well) also commences with ‘Kaliyuga’; then comes the name of the year concerned, the season, the month, and the day. 

Such reference to the place and day at the commencement of this prayer every day serves two purposes; firstly it makes one conscious of the relevance of the place and time and secondly it helps one to develop a sense of belonging to his place and time in a wider context of the whole nation being viewed as a part and parcel of the larger continuum of endless  time.

The salient parts of Sandhya Vandanam are:

At the heart of Sandhya Rituals is the Gayatri Mantra.  Like the light of the early morning sun, which sweeps away the darkness of the night as it illumines the landscape, the Gayatri Mantra is ordained to be purifying and enlightening.  Our authentic tradition has it that it embodies the collective wisdom of the entire Vedic revelation.  For this reason it is described as ‘Veda Mata’, ‘The Mother of Vedas’.

The Gayatri ‘richa’or verse is found in the ‘Rig Veda’ (3.62.10).  It takes its name in part because it is written in a meter called ‘Gayatri Meter’—24 syllables divided into three lines of 8 syllables each. But the word ‘Gayatri’ also means “She who protects the singer” (from gai, to sing and trai, to protect).  Thus, Gayatri is a name of the Divine Mother, She who protects her children and leads them towards self-realization.

It was first revealed to SAGE VISHWAMITRA.  Because of its importance it has been subsequently incorporated in the other as well as other scriptures.  But a ‘richa’ by itself is not a ‘Mantra’.  A ‘richa’ becomes a ‘Mantra’ only when it begins with ‘OMKARA’.
The original ‘richa’ reads:

tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat

This ‘MANTRA’ has an additional line which contains the sound ‘OM’, followed by three short seed sounds called ‘VYAHRITIS’: ‘bhur bhuvah, and svah.  Thus, the complete ‘GAYATRI MANTRA’ as it is used in daily meditation is as follows:

Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi 
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat

The meaning of Gayatri Mantra can be summarised as follows: We meditate (Dhimahi) on the Spiritual Effulgence (Bhargas) of that Adorable Supreme Divine Reality (Varenyam Devasya), the Source or Projector (Savitr) of the three phenomenal world planes the gross or physical (Bhuh), the subtle or psychical (Bhuvah), and the potential or causal (Suvah) both macrocosmically (externally) and microcosmically (internally). May that Supreme Divine Being (Tat) stimulate (Prachodayat) our (Nah) intelligence (Dhiyah), so that we may realise the SUPREME TRUTH.

The Chhandogya Upanishad gives us a sense of the three ‘vyahritis’ and the sound ‘OM’.  It explains that Prajapati, the Lord of the Universe, contemplated the nature of the three worlds or Lokas: Earth, Sky and Heaven.  Prajapati was able to discover the essential guiding force of each: Agni (fire or energy) governed the earth; Vayu (the vital force or Prana) governed the sky; and Aditya (the Sun) governed the vault of heaven.

Once more Prajapati applied his concentration to the three guiding forces and obtained their essences: from the fire he obtained the verse of the ‘Rig Veda’; from the vital energy he obtained the ‘Yajur Veda’; and from the Sun he obtained the ‘Sama Veda’.  Prajapati applied his concentration once more, now to the three Vedas themselves. From the ‘Rig Veda’ he obtained the syllable ‘bhuh’; from the ‘Yajur Veda’ the syllable ‘bhuva’; and from the ‘Sama Veda’ the syllable ‘svah’. 


Since solar consciousness is present in the sounds of the Gayatri Mantra, it can gradually be realized by all of us by reciting and internalizing the ‘mantric’ sounds.  This practice of internalizing a mantra is similar to the experience of listening to music. If we allow the tone, melody and rhythm of musical sounds to do so, they will transform us.  It is just so with a mantra like ‘Gayatri’.

The meaning of Gayatri Mantra can be summarised as follows: We meditate (Dhimahi) on the Spiritual Effulgence (Bhargas) of that Adorable Supreme Divine Reality (Varenyam Devasya), the Source or Projector (Savitr) of the three phenomenal world planes the gross or physical (Bhuh), the subtle or psychical (Bhuvah), and the potential or causal (Suvah) both macrocosmically (externally) and microcosmically (internally). May that Supreme Divine Being (Tat) stimulate (Prachodayat) our (Nah) intelligence (Dhiyah), so that we may realise the Supreme Truth.

The traditional saying in Sanskrit is Gayantam traayate yasmaat Gayatri'tyadhiyate. This means Whoever sings 'Gayatri' is protected. Sings is not used here in the sense of singing a song. It means intoning or chanting the 'Gayatri Mantra' with concentration and devotion. While speaking about 'Gayatri Mantra', the Vedas use these words: Gaayatrim Chandasaam Maata. 'Chandas' means the Vedas. So, 'Gayatri' is the Mother of all Vedic Mantras and the Vedas themselves proclaim this truth with authority. It has 24 aksharas (letters or syllables) and three feet, each foot of eight syllables. This is why the 'Gayatri Mantra' is also called 'Tripada Gayatri'. Each foot is the essence of a Veda. Thus, 'Gayatri' is the essence of the Rgveda, Yajurveda and Samaveda. The Atharvaveda has its own 'Gayatri'. 'Gayatri-Japa' is essential to all rites performed according to the Sastras.

N Rajagopalan, a great musicologist and Sanskrit scholar rightly observes: "'Gayatri Maata' is the source of all Vedas and Mantras and is appropriately hailed as Mother. SHE is worshipped by chanting in mornings and at noon as 'Savitri Devata', and in evenings as 'Saraswati Devata'." It is said that the Mantra originated from the effulgent face of the Lord Narayana when He thought of creating the world. This gives the cue to the most primordial origin of the 'Gayatri Mantra', its prime timing and its high relevance. This is made clear by Lord Krishna in Bhagwad Gita (Chapter X verse 36), wherein He candidly asserts that In metres I am 'Gayatri'. 'Gayatri' is thus the pith and essence of the first three Vedas.

'Gayatri Mantra', when chanted with faith, devotion, dedication and sincerity, confers energy, health, valour, intellectual eminence and glamour to the individual. Sins are wiped off bringing in light into a life of darkness. It is well known that Sage Viswamitra secured unexcelled valour and eminence only by worshipping 'Gayatri Devata'. Sage Valmiki used one of the letters of the 'Gayatri Mantra' at the commencement of each of the successive thousand slokhas. Dr S Radhakrishnan extolled the significance of 'Gayatri Mantra' when he said: "Meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant Sun. May He inspire our intelligence!"

India is a land of underlying cultural unity amidst apparent diversity. The following table brings out the fact that different nomenclatures are used in different parts of India to refer to the Upanayanam (Initiation) ceremony and the 'Yagnopavitam' (the sacred thread):

When I contacted, Prof Hetukar Jha, a great Scholar of Sanskrit and former Head of the Department of Sociology of Patna University, an author of renown told me 'In north India most of the Brahmins are Yajur Vedis and only a miniscule are followers of Rig Veda and Sama Veda and a majority of the latter belong to Sandilya Gotra. Practically all followers of Yajur Veda are of the Madyamika Shakha who observe rituals of Vachaspayee Samhita. None of these Brahmins observe the annual ritual of changing the sacred thread. However, in Northern India, the practice of changing the sacred thread by those performing the rites, at the commencement of all important religious rituals or funeral rites when it is worn on the reverse, are observed chanting the same Mantras as in the South.'

‘Gayatri’ is the hypnotic means of liberating ourselves from worldly existence as well as of controlling our desire and realising the goal of our birth. We must keep blowing on the spark that is the ‘Gayatri’ and must take up ‘Gayatri-Japa’ as a vrta. As Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam rightly concluded: “The spark will not be extinguished if we do not take to unsastric ways of life and if we do not make our body unchaste”. 

Kanchi Paramacharya spoke about the ritual and spiritual significance of Sandhya Vandanam in Tamil on 23-11-1932 and 24-11-1932. I am quoting his exact words spoken in Tamil on those 2 days, 79 years ago:


For those readers who do not know Tamil language, I would like to give the gist and essence of Kanchi Paramacharya’s Message in Tamil on Gayatri Mantra and Sandhya Vandanam presented above:

In Dhanur Veda, there is a reference to 2 types of weapons, namely Astram and Sastram. When we chant a powerful Mantra and then send out an Astram, then that very Astram goes and destroys the object or article towards which that Astram has been directed. Our daily life calls for the deployment and use of Astra Prayoga. In order to drive out and destroy the Asuras invading our minds, hearts and souls, we have to effectively follow the procedure of Astra Prayogam. What is Astram in this context? In order to defeat and decimate the Asuras of greed, anger, hatred, fear, lust and prejudice, we have to use the Astram of water. This pouring of water is known as giving of Argyam in Sandhya Vandanam. Argyam helps us to put an end to our deluded existence based on sin and falsehood. In order to usher in the reign and rule of the resplendent SUN OF GYANA (Solar Energy of Knowledge and Wisdom), we have to do Astra Prayoga. This has to be done by controlling the breath by tightly holding our nostrils. We have to follow this procedure three times every day. This is what is known as Giving of Argyam in Sandhya Vandanam. In order to get the full benediction of the Almighty, we have to do Sankalpam, Marjanam, Prasanam, Argya Pradanam, Japam, Stotram and Abhivadanam……..

The great Maharishis, Saints and Sages of Ancient India obtained remarkable spiritual powers by strictly performing Sandhya Anushatanam, thrice a day. In Sandhya Vandanam, Argyam and Gayatri Mantra are the vital components. If you want to get the blessing of Veda Mantra Siddhi, we have to do both Argya and Gayatri Japa with unfailing devotion and regularity three times every day…..

‘Gayatri Mantra’, when chanted with faith, devotion, dedication and sincerity, confers energy, health, valour, intellectual eminence and glamour to the individual. Sins are wiped off bringing in light into a life of darkness. It is well known that Sage Viswamitra secured unexcelled valour and eminence only by worshipping ‘Gayatri Devata’.

To conclude in the words of Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) “Thus the text of our every day meditation is the ‘GAYATRI’, a verse which is considered to be the epitome of all the Vedas. By its help we try to realize the essential unity of the world with the conscious soul of man, we learn to perceive the unity held together by one ETERNAL SPIRIT, whose power creates the earth, the sky, and the stars, and at the same time irradiates our minds with the light of a consciousness that moves and exists in unbroken continuity with the outer world”.

Disinterested intellectual curiosity is the bedrock of a real civilization. Social history constitutes one of its best forms. At bottom, the fascination of history is imaginative. Our imagination longs to see in life and blood our ancestors as they really were going about their daily business and daily pleasure. Carlyle (1795-1881) declared with aplomb that the smallest real fact about the past of man which any antiquarian or historical researcher could unearth was more poetical than P B Shelley (1792-1822) or more romantic than Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832). I am often enthralled by the mystery of Time, by the mutability of all things, by the succession of the Ages and generations. As Carlyle puts it: "The mysterious River of Existence rushes on, a new Billow thereof has arrived, and lashes wildly as ever round the old embankments, but the former Billow with its loud, and eddyings, WHERE IS IT? WHERE? "

As a lover of antiquarian books, journals and newspapers, I recently came across a book printed in England in 1851 titled 'THE SUNDHYA OR THE DAILY PRAYERS OF THE BRAHMINS', ILLUSTRATED IN A SERIES OF ORIGINAL DRAWINGS FROM NATURE, DEMONSTRATING THEIR ATTITUDES AND DIFFERENT SIGNS AND FIGURES PERFORMED BY THEM DURING THE CEREMONIES OF THEIR MORNING DEVOTIONS AND LIKEWISE THEIR POOJAS TOGETHER WITH A DESCRIPTIVE TEXT ANNEXED TO EACH PLATE AND THE PRAYERS FROM THE SANSKRIT TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH'. In this great and inspiring book, there are 24 Plates of Colour Drawings done by a lady artist called Mrs S C Belnos. These drawings (lithographs) were done during the period from 1845 to 1850.The frontispiece on cover page of this very rare book above relates to a religious scene on a boat berthed on Triveni at Allahabad. Our nation celebrated the 150th anniversary of what that incomparable patriot and freedom fighter Vir Savarkar (1883-1966) described as the First War of Indian Independence of 1857 in 2007. It is interesting to note that this book on 'Sundhya Vandana' was printed in 1851, 6 years before the First War of Indian Independence in 1857. When this book was printed in England, Lord Dalhousie (1812-1860) was the Governor General of India. I am presenting below 13 colour drawings-Lithographs from this book.














Printmaking as an art form emerged in India in the last decade of the 19th century. However, printing, in which lie the origins of contemporary printmaking, came to India in 1556, about a hundred years after Gutenberg's Bible. Calcutta, the capital of British India, was the hub of printing and publishing in colonial times. The printed picture, in the form of the book illustration, developed in early 19th century British India. European printmakers in 18th century India remained entirely disconnected from mainstream, indigenous printing activity since they had little or nothing in common with Indian culture and tradition. Their prints depicted exotic Indian landscapes that tended to appeal mainly to the colonial European sensibility. After 1820, the English East India Company invited several British painters and artists to visit India and do colour drawings of different aspects of British India---its religion, its literature, its culture and above all its people in all parts of India. It is thrilling, fascinating and highly instructive to see the cultural panorama of the Indian sub-continent unfolding under the scrutiny of intelligent foreign observers and painters in British India in the 19th century, bequething to us all the wealth of information on every aspect of Indian life, the memorable East-West encounter and above all the extraordinary nature of the adventures and confrontations of this historic association.

I derive my Himalayan inspiration to write about the glory of 'Gayatri Mantra' from the following everlasting words of Sri Aurobindo (1872-1950): 'I write not for the orthodox, nor for those who have discovered a new orthodoxy, Samaj or Panth, nor for the unbeliever. I write for those who acknowledge reason but do not identify reason with Western Materialism; who are sceptics but not unbelievers; who, admitting the claims of modern thought, still believe in India, her mission, her gospel, her immortal life and her eternal rebirth.'