Thoughts on the Gayatri

By Elisabeth Prent
Tat savitur varenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi,
dhiyo yo nah prachodayat.

Brahmans recite this ancient Hindu hymn during both their morning and evening religious exercises. G. de Purucker paraphrases it thus:

Oh thou golden sun of most excellent splendor, illumine our hearts and fill our minds, so that we, recognizing our oneness with the Divinity which is the heart of the universe, may see the pathway before our feet, and tread it to those distant goals of perfection, stimulated by thine own radiant light.

Who or what is the sun in this invocation? Is it the golden star we see pouring its light and warmth over the earth? The answer is Yes and No. Like every other being, the sun uses a physical body to manifest its inner essence and come in contact with other beings -- in short, to continue its peregrinations through boundless space and time. What we perceive is this outer garment which clothes the sun addressed in the hymn.

How is it that we can relate to the spiritual heart of the sun? In the core of every being resides a spark of the same essence as the sun. Our real self is potentially a sun -- it is unfolding, through aeons upon aeons, its latent capacity to become a star.

The sun continuously sends forth infinite numbers of rays; and one knocks at the door of each human heart. If we are attentive enough, we can open the door and let this ray enter our being so that it can meet our own divine spark. In this process the sun does not create anything within us; it simply lends a helping hand to a fellow pilgrim on the path. It becomes a teacher who assists in bringing forth all the qualities sleeping within us.

The more we become aware that fundamentally we are identical with the sun, the more our hearts become illumined and that quality becomes a dominant factor in our lives. Then our minds are filled with the sun, and our thinking becomes increasingly attuned to the noblest in us. Lower tendencies lose their hold as we increasingly sense the divine presence within us. This is the real human task -- although, as we all know, it is a challenging one. And yet, the more we reflect on these thoughts, the more the door will open. Every small victory over lower qualities enables us to climb another step toward the light, so that the solar ray within falls on "the pathway before our feet." It is just here, close to us, that we need light: here are our duties and our work, here we meet fellow human beings who need help and light on their paths, too.

The sun travels its impartial course in more perfect spheres: its help reaches us regardless of what we choose to do with it. And yet, perfection does not lie far away beyond the horizon. There is no gap between us and the essence of the sun; the gap exists in our consciousness, in our lack of deeper understanding of who we really are. Daily practice in fulfilling the small things in life best sharpens our awareness and makes us feel this proximity. The "distant goals of perfection" lie dormant in our hearts, and help is just before us. And it lies within each of us to tread this path and become co-workers with nature's noblest goals.

  • (From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1999. Copyright © 1999 by Theosophical University Press.)

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