Recited by the music ensemble in Gurudev Siddha Peeth.
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What I love about gayatri mantras is that they are mantras—“sacred syllables with the power to purify, protect, and transform the one who repeats them”1—and also prayers. In fact, many mantras can be understood as prayers, as a means of communicating with the Divine. What is powerful about the practice of mantra recitation on the Siddha Yoga path is that we strive to recognize the Divine to whom we are praying as the very essence of who we are, our very own Self. The potency of a mantra empowered by the grace of the Guru is inherent in the syllables and can be unlocked when the syllables are vocalized with intention. When you sing a gayatri mantra in the traditional Vedic melody or gayatri meter, the sound vibrations move through your physical body and into the surrounding space, invoking the energy of the deity honored by the verse.
In cultures across the globe, Earth goddesses have been recognized as an important object of worship, closely linked to fertility, agriculture, and abundance. A fundamental form of Bhumi Devi is mentioned in the Vedas, among humankind’s most ancient scriptures, where earth, bhumi, is named as one of the five primary elements, the pancha-mahabhutas, that form the basis of this entire physical creation. Later, the Puranas refer directly to Bhumi Devi, Earth Goddess, and there are several scriptural stories in which she is revered as the support of all life.2
On the Siddha Yoga path, we regularly offer gratitude to Mother Earth for her gracious abundance and generosity by venerating the divine Shakti that pervades the entire universe. Some of the ways we, as seekers, can honor Mother Earth is by respecting our natural surroundings; by incorporating practices that care for nature, plants, and the land into our daily lives; by committing to preserving Mother Earth; and by offering prayers of protection and peace for all beings. When we recite the Bhumi Gayatri mantra, we are invoking the presence of Bhumi Devi and are, therefore, able to offer our loving prayers directly to the supreme Goddess. In this way, we can experience a connection with our planet and with all forms of life that exist upon it.
While this gayatri mantra does not specifically mention Bhumi Devi by name, the images it employs tell us this mantra is, indeed, honoring the Earth Goddess. For instance, in the first line of the verse we pray to know “the one who bears (dharayai) the bow (dhanu).” In traditional Indian iconography, the bow represents potential energy—in this case, the underlying force of all manifestation, the pure creative potential of Chiti, divine Consciousness. This bow is the implement of Bhumi Devi, the one whose potential energy is a life-giving force.
I studied Sanskrit in graduate school, where I focused on South Asian religious traditions. What I find most fascinating about Sanskrit is that all words—verbs and nouns and adjectives—come from a verbal root, or dhatu. Often each root has several different meanings, and these give different perspectives to the meaning of a word. In this way, Sanskrit is full of delightful movement. The root of dhanu (bow) is dhan, which denotes both “to sound” and “to cause to move quickly.”3 This adds another layer of meaning to this gayatri mantra, suggesting that Bhumi Devi is of the nature of mantra, the conscious vibration that creates and sustains the universe. Thus, the line intends to invoke the prayer: “May we recognize within ourselves the supreme Goddess that vibrates as the source of all potential in this universe.”
In the final line of this gayatri mantra, the word dhara appears again. Dhara is “the supporter,” “the holder,” and “the bearer.” This is, again, a clear sign that Bhumi Devi is the focus of this mantra because Mother Earth is the supporter of all, the source and sustenance of all life in this world. We pray for her grace to illumine our path and enlighten us with knowledge of the Truth.
In this audio recording, the Bhumi Gayatri mantra is recited by the Siddha Yoga music ensemble in Gurudev Siddha Peeth, the Siddha Yoga Ashram in India. As you listen, familiarize yourself with the melody and the meter and let the lush sounds of this mantra wash over your being. Reflect on the fact that this style of singing has been a living, vibrant practice in India for thousands of years. Allow the momentum of this ancient practice to carry you into meditation.
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