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Gayathri Maha Yagna At The Hindu Temple Of New Hampshire

K. Arvind
10/03/2016

Gayathri Maha Yagna
At the
Hindu Temple of New Hampshire

बृहत्साम तथा साम्नां गायत्री छन्दसामहम् |
    मासानां मार्गशीर्षोऽहमृतूनां कुसुमाकरः || १०.३५ ||

Of the Sama Veda hymns, I am Bruhat Sama, also of mantras composed in poetic meter I am the Gayathri; of the months I am the harvest month in fall and of seasons the spring.
(Srimad Bhagavad Gita, Vibhooti Yoga, Chapter 10, Verse 35)

 

The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, Nashua, NH, inaugurated the Dasha Laksha Gayathri Maha Homam at the Temple premises on Sunday, September 11, 2016. This year-long chanting marathon where volunteer ritwiks will perform havan, and simultaneously chant the sacred Gayathri Mantra a million times collectively over the year, is intended to seek the grace of the Almighty for the well-being of the community, especially the youth. The Temple invites members of the community to attend, participate in and/or sponsor one or more of the numerous opportunities that this unique event provides, and thereby support a noble cause.

Gayathri Maha Yagna

Mantra Yoga

The Sanskrit word “mantra” means “that which protects the one who dwells on it”. Mantras are sacred and powerful spiritual sounds, which are considered to be pathways to well-being, self-realization and divinity. According to tradition, there are over 70 million mantras, each attributed to a rishi or seer. Sri Kanchi Paramacharya explains that “Veda mantras properly recited with the proper discipline produce the necessary emotions in the mind which ensure well-being to the person reciting as well as to the world. Other baser emotions are also kept out in the process.”

Gayathri Mantra

The Gayathri Mantra, which appears in the Rig Veda, is very special among mantras, and is regarded as the mother of all Vedas (“गायत्रीं छन्दसां माता – “Gayathri chandasaam maataa”). In the tenth chapter of Srimad Bhagavad Gita, in which Lord Sri Krishna describes the various forms in which he manifests himself, he reveals that among all mantras he is the Gayathri Mantra. The Gayathri Mantra, is set in a poetic meter (also called “Gayathri”) that consists of 3 padas (metrical feet) of 8 syllables each for a total of 24, and is preceded by the pranava vyaahruti, which consists of the words om (), bhooh (भूः), bhuvah (भुवः) and suvah (सुवः). The 24 syllables are part of a verse which can be parsed into the following Sanskrit words – तत् (that), सवितुः (the Sun, the Creator), वरेण्यं (one who is adored), भर्गः (divine effulgence), देवस्य (the Lord), धीमहि (meditate on), धियः (intellect), यः (who), नः (our), प्रचोदयात् (stimulates). The whole verse is rendered as follows (the first line being the pranava vyaahruti). Like all Veda Mantras, there are norms with respect to syllabic fidelity (akshara shuddhi), temporal fidelity (maatraa shuddhi) and tonal fidelity (swara shuddhi) prescribed for chanting the Gayathri Mantra, in order to produce the proper positive effect – these norms are not captured in the rendering below.

                       
ॐ भूर्भुव: सुवः
                  तत्सवितुर्वरेण्यं
                  भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि
                  धियो यो नः प्रचोदयात्

A translation of this mantra as per Sage Agastya (translated from “Acharyaalin Vilakkam – Sandhyavandanam”, Tamil, Sringeri Mutt) reveals that the Gayathri Mantra in essence provides a vehicle to dwell on the divine: “I dwell on the divine effulgence of the Divinity (Savita) who stimulates our intellect towards the path of Dharma.” To benefit those who prefer approaching the divine through a less abstract and more comprehensible form that they can focus on (saguna upasana), Gayathri is worshipped as Gayathri Devi who is depicted as a five-headed Goddess seated on a lotus. Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba describes the Gayathri Mantra as a universal prayer that combines adoration, meditation and prayer to awaken and strengthen the intellect. Here are links to a couple of rare videos of Bhagavan Sri Satya Sai Baba teaching children the significance of the Gayathri Mantra: 1, 2.

Gayathri Yagna

Yagna is a tradition that involves the performance of prescribed rituals with the aid of Agni (Fire) and accompanied by Veda Mantras. Sri Kanchi Paramacharya explains that to perform a yagna is to perform a ritual whole-heartedly with a feeling of devotion to the Supreme self and the devatas. Yagna promotes the unification of thought, word and action, by transforming a meditative thought, to an audible chant, and then to a bodily action in the form of the ritual. The yagna is an action or karma meant to cleanse the mind, and the purification occurs because the yagna is performed for the well-being of the entire world without any expectation or attachment to the results.

The Gayathri Yagna consists of doing a “homam” (offering to Agni) or “havan” accompanied by the chanting of the Gayathri Mantra. The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire will be performing the havan in the grand homa kunda that was installed in the Temple earlier this year. Ritwik volunteers seated around the homa kunda offer various oblations while chanting the Gayathri Mantra 1008 times.

The Temple invites anyone in the community who is qualified by tradition to chant the Gayathri Mantra (this usually means initiation through an upanayanam ceremony), especially the youth, to participate in the homam at the Maha Yagna. Devotees who are unable to participate in the homam are welcome to simply perform the Gayathri Japa (repetitive meditation) instead, or can simply be present at the event and still benefit. The Yagna timings are 7:30AM through 9:30AM every Saturday and Sunday.

The Temple seeks your support and invites you to sponsor the Maha Yagna, and support the operations and service activities of the Temple. Various tiers of sponsorship are available. For more information, please contact Sri Veeramani Ranganathan. The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire is 501c (3) certified (Tax ID: 30-0467085) and your donations for sponsorship are tax-deductible.

THE TEMPLE

The Hindu Temple of New Hampshire, which has been serving the cultural and religious needs of the Hindu community in the Nashua and Greater Boston area, started its operations 8 years ago in a small rented space in a commercial plaza off the busy Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua, NH, and then expanded to a larger, relatively more sequestered rented space located at 1 Progress Avenue in Nashua, NH. The current premises were purchased by the Temple about 3 years ago to accommodate the growth of its devotee population and the increased scope of its service activities. During these 8 years of operation, the Temple has been visited, graced and blessed by many well-known spiritual leaders and scholars including the founder of the Art of Living movement Padma Vibhushan Guruji Sri Sri Ravishankar, the prolific and popular Vaishnavite scholar and exponent Sri U. Ve. Vellukudi Krishnan Swamy, the Dasa Sahitya expert Dr. Aralumallige Parthasarathy, who has been spreading awareness about Srimad Bhagavatham and Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam all over the world, Prof. Subrahmonia Iyer, former Dean of Academic Affairs, IIT Bombay, Shri Shenkottai Hari, the well-known Bhagavathar and expert in Divya Nama Sankeertana and Sampradaya Bhajans, Smt. Poornimaji and Sri Ramanujamji, senior disciples of HH Maharanyam Sri Muralidhara Swamiji, a proponent of Nama Sankeertana, and Sri Siddheswarananda Bharati Swamiji, Shankaracharya Paramahamsa of Courtallam Mutt. In addition to the religious and spiritual activities that form its core, the Temple has also been involved in various cultural and service activities to benefit the community, in conjunction with Bharati Vidyashram, the cultural arm of the Temple. For more information about the Temple, please contact Sri Veeramani Ranganathan at mailto:rveermani@gmail.com.

गायत्री वेदजननी गायत्री ब्रह्मणः प्रसूः |
गायन्तं त्रायते यस्माद्गायत्रीति प्रगीयते ||

(Gayathri is the mother of Vedas. Gayathri gives life to the learned. She protects those who chant her and is therefore known as Gayathri)

 



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