This is an eloquent expression of the inner meaning of the Gayatri Mantra and serves as an excellent reminder of how fortunate we are to have the Goddess in our lives.
Written by our very own Shivani Saraswati, this article was published in the September 2015 issue of “Common Ground Magazine.”
The yoga path is about giving up negativity and uniting with our true selves. It’s based on the Sanskrit idea of Sanatana Dharma – the Eternal Ideal of Perfection, which refers to universal truths of love and harmony and our divine capacity to express these ideals in our own, unique ways.
The Gayatri Mantra, considered the root mantra of Sanatana Dharma, is a heartfelt prayer for wisdom that encompasses the shift from selfishness and egotism to selflessness and giving. It’s a prayer to be the best, most illuminated version of ourselves in every circumstance. As a Goddess in the Hindu pantheon, Gayatri represents an attitude toward life – a beautiful way of being – and her rich symbology sheds light on how we as spiritual seekers can cultivate greater love and wisdom in our own lives.
Swami Satyananda Saraswati of the Devi Mandir translates Gayatri as the Song of Wisdom (gaya) of the Three (tri). He explains that Goddess Gayatri is actually the combined essence of three Hindu Goddesses who represent the most fundamental energies of nature: Maha Saraswati (creation), Maha Lakshmi (preservation or being), and Maha Kali (transformation).
These energies constantly shape our lives through the subtle coming and going of each moment, as well as through more dramatic life events like birth, death, job changes, and shifts in relationships. But the three Goddesses also exist in our inner worlds, and when we delve into their stories and teachings, we learn about the spiritual path – about what it takes to move from the darkness of egotism to the light of wisdom.
As creative energy, Maha Saraswati is associated with art, music, learning, knowledge, and wisdom. In Sanskrit scripture she is the slayer of two very nasty demons – shumbha and nishumbha, or “self conceit” and “self deprecation.” To me, Maha Saraswati represents self-knowledge and acceptance. When we accept ourselves and begin to feel divinity within, we have less need to judge ourselves and compare ourselves to others. We begin to view ourselves and others as equals, through the eyes of compassion. We form real friendships and connections based on truth, kindness, and respect, and we can be strong and uphold boundaries as necessary.
With Saraswati’s blessings of self- knowledge, we find power and harmony in our true nature. We tune in and turn on, which gives creativity energy – Saraswati – more room to express Herself through us, whether that’s through cooking a meal, working on a business project, making an altar, sitting down to meditate, or writing an article on Saraswati. As we engage in positive activities harmonious with our goals, talents, and nature, we become even more energized and inspired to go deeper and share our love with the world. Major positive feedback cycle!
Maha Lakshmi is the energy of being. She is balance, harmony, and beauty, and is often described as the Goddess of Wealth. In Sanskrit, Lakshya actually means “the goal.” Lakshmi represents all of our goals and aspirations, including the ultimate goal of spiritual liberation or self realization – the true wealth of existence.
Maha Kali is the energy of transformation. She is the Remover of Darkness and She Who is Beyond Time, and Sanskrit scripture praises her as the slayer of madhu (too much) and kaitabha (too little), and the destroyer of raktabija (the seed of desire). Devotional art depicts Kali with a protruding red tongue, often dripping with blood, a garland of skulls, and a skirt made of human arms. This gory imagery is really about Kali taking away our darkness – our egotism, selfishness, meanness, anger, unhealthy attachment, misguided passion, fear, confusion, hatred, self doubt…the list goes on.
As we go through life’s ups and downs we have two choices: we can sink back under the weight and wallow, attempting to find what little joy we can, wherever and whenever we can, or we can listen, learn, and grow. We can transform. We can become softer, kinder, more humble, more compassionate, stronger, and wiser. That is Kali’s gift.
Each of these three Goddesses represent both the goal and the path. Saraswati is creativity and knowledge. Lakshmi is peace, harmony, and true wealth. Kali is transformation and the path of wisdom. Creativity and knowledge creates the space for peace and harmony in our minds. Peace and harmony allows us to approach life with positivity and introspection, paving the path for transformation and greater wisdom. When we have greater wisdom, more creative energy flows, creating harmony in our outer and inner worlds, leading us to deeper transformation.
So where does one Goddess begin and another end? They all flow together into one beautiful Song of Wisdom: Gayatri. It’s a way of life and a way of being that has the power to take us deeper and deeper until we reach the ultimate goal.
But until that day when we realize our eternal, Divine nature, even baby steps create unimaginable positive change in our lives. When we invite wisdom into our lives through prayer, meditation, yoga, and loving service, we get peace and energy. We learn to surf life’s waves with our own special sparkle and dance to the universal rhythm with peace in our minds and love in our hearts. We find the Light of Wisdom warming us from the inside out, and we begin to radiate that light to all with whom we come into contact.
Who could ask for more?