Gayatri Mantra: A Request for Inspiration

The Gayatri Mantra is a prayer to Brahman for the inspiration of our thoughts and involves meditation on the solar deity Savita, who represents the divine light of Brahman for all beings living in the solar system. With the divine light inspiring our thoughts, we not only become energetic but also turn righteous. Because our thoughts make our samskaras, this continual guidance from God allows us to generate only sattvic karma. As our mind gets disinfected from many of our attachments and habits of the past, our nature turns spiritual.

By continuing our meditation,** we eventually derive the knowledge of our Self, which is the ideal objective of the Gayatri Mantra. We get to realize our oneness with Brahman and see the whole universe within our Self.

**All potent mantras and meditation processes require an initiation and training from an experienced guru.

Happy New Year!

Siddhis from Yoga

In the Srimad Bhagavat Purana, Lord Krishna informs Uddhava about numerous mystical powers that can be achieved through yoga. While selected siddhis seem to defy the fundamental laws of physics by giving us the ability to reduce or increase our physical size and mass beyond what we can imagine, others focus on controlling fellow beings, circumstances, or the entire world and on obtaining all objects of our desire. Krishna also discusses lesser yogic powers like freedom from hunger and thirst, mind reading, invincibility, clairvoyance, and the ability to instantly reach a desired destination.

Though Lord Hanuman possessed many such siddhis, his childhood experiences, including a curse from a sage, had taught him to use such powers sparingly — only when needed. Later, due to his sole focus on Rama, the source of all powers, and his wisdom, Hanuman obtained the boon (from Goddess Sita) to bestow any of the siddhis on his devotees at his own discretion.

In contrast, many Indian mystics have enjoyed displaying their petty yogic powers to their followers. A siddhi, unless used unfalteringly for universal benefit, is not a mark of spiritual success. In the absence of bhakti and jnana, it is only a certificate of participation in yoga and may indicate that the seeker has had material desires in his or her mind while meditating. Besides, the enjoyment of controlling nature is not so distinct from being trapped (or controlled) by nature; both are forms of deeper involvement in nature, not attachment to the Supreme Person. So, what is the aim of yoga? Transcending nature, not controlling it. This is why Krishna warns us that siddhis may turn out to be a waste of an advanced-level yogi’s time.

Lord Brahma’s first experience with meditation

In Vaishnava theology, Lord Vishnu manifests Lord Brahma from His navel so that Brahma may create the universe. According to the Srimad Bhagavata Purana, the first day of Brahma, which he experiences in the ‘latent universe’, or whatever you call it, is not a smooth day. Following his birth on a lotus, floating on water, connected by a stem to Lord Vishnu’s navel, Brahma sees only a few things around himself: the lotus, water, space, and air. Brahma, who is born with the knowledge of the Vedas, starts introspecting, “Who am I, sitting on this lotus?” He begins the day by searching for the origin of the stem that supports his lotus but is unsuccessful; the stem beneath the water is just too long.

Finally, he opts for meditation – the solution of all problems for seekers of knowledge. After a hundred years of yoga (his ‘year’ is apparently longer than ours), Brahma, in his mind, sees Lord Vishnu lying on his eternal serpent bed, perceives the origin of the stem that connects his lotus, and gains knowledge about the Lord.

With some uncertainty still present, Brahma sings praise for the Lord. Vishnu appears and instructs him to meditate again so that all the necessary information for getting started on universal creation can be transferred. As Brahma follows this instruction, he sees the sketch of the universe in his mind and then observes the Lord pervading all the worlds and his own self as well. Similarly, he perceives his own presence, along with that of the universe, within Lord Vishnu. This is all that he needs to manifest the universe. And in the process of introducing the universe, he launches the tradition of meditation.

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