By Urmila devi dasi
I watch the sun rising over the horizon where the Pacific Ocean touches the sky. In the beauty of its red glow painting sea, sky, and clouds, I chant the Brahma gayatri mantra, a meditation on the sun. Receiving and chanting this mantra is an essential part of diksa, initiation into the succession of spiritual teachers and disciples from the beginning of universal creation. Those unfamiliar with gayatri might wonder why modern educated people would mediate on the sun, having been taught that only primitives engage in sun worship. Increasingly, however, people interested in yoga and enlightenment have heard of this queen of mantras which allows entrance into advanced wisdom and realization. Srila Prabhupada’s translation of the Sanskrit of the Brahma gayatri is: “Let us meditate on that worshipable effulgence of the divine sun who enthuses our meditation.”
In the sacred Bhagavatam we find that great saints such as Bharata regularly mediated on a sun mantra. Srila Prabhupada comments (SBp 5.7.13), “The predominating Deity within the sun is Hiranmaya, Lord Narayana. He is worshiped by the gayatri mantra. He is also worshiped by other hymns mentioned in the Rg Veda, for instance: dhyeyah sada savitr-mandala-madhya-varti. Within the sun Lord Narayana is situated and He has a golden hue.” And in his comment on the next verse Prabhupada writes, “Actually Narayana within the sun is maintaining the entire universe. Therefore, Narayana should be worshiped by the gayatri mantra or the Rg mantra.”
Not only have saintly persons throughout history chanted this mantra, but the Supreme Lord Krishna Himself chants the gayatri mantra. In the cities of Dwaraka and Mathura, it’s a part of His daily activities. Although Krsna is the source of the mantra, in the Lord’s pastimes Garga Muni initiated Krsna into the gayatri, and gave Him the sacred thread. This thread crosses the upper body and gets wrapped around one’s fingers while chanting gayatri and thus indicates a person who has been initiated into gayatri. Worship of the sun also exists in Vrndavana where Krishna’s consort Radharani worships the sun daily. The sacred Yamuna River in Vrndavana is the daughter of the sun god. Her twin brother is Yamaraja the lord of death.