Find a Gayatri Mantra translation to suit your Sun Salututations

The Gayatri Mantra and the Sun Salutation series are meant to be performed together. While it’s true the Gayatri is more than 5000 years old, and the Sun Salutation series, or vinyasa, is younger than the turn of last century, the two have an ageless relationship. Both chanting the mantra and the yoga series honour the highest good in the form of divine light, and the expression of gratitude for continued awakening.

There are as many ways to do Sun Salutations, or Surya Namaskar, as there are translations of the Gayatri Mantra. Most yoga students have encountered the series, and will notice the variations are endless, which is good because each body is different and each teacher is an interpreter. As with the salutations, the many translations of the Gayatri are a varied as each heart who prays it. Much can be learned from studying the following translations, and from reciting the ancient prayer in one’s own way while doing the Sun Salutation vinyasa, which is in essence prostrations to earth and sky.

Om bhur bhuvah svah
tat savitur varenyam
bhargo devasya dhimahi
dhiyo yonah prachodayat

The eternal, earth, air, heaven
That glory, the resplendence of the sun
May we contemplate the brilliance of that Light
May the sun inspire our minds.

We put our focus on
Our self-effulgent light (throughout all the realms: earth, air, heaven and beyond)
Which illuminates our subtle intellect
For the enlightenment of beings everywhere.

The Gayatri Mantra in Sanskrit

May we attain that excellent glory of Savitar the god, so may he stimulate our prayers.
~ The Hymns of the Rigveda

We meditate on the glory of that Being who has produced this universe; may He enlighten our minds.”
~ Swami Vivekananda

1. We meditate on the effulgent glory of the divine Light; may he inspire our understanding.
2. We meditate on the adorable glory of the radiant sun; may he inspire our intelligence.
~ Two interpretations by S. Radhakrishnan

O God ! Giver of life, Remover of all pain and sorrows, Bestower of happiness, the Creator of the Universe, Thou art most luminous, adorable and destroyer of sins. We meditate upon thee. May thou inspire, enlighten and guide our intellect in the right direction.
~ The Arya Samaj interpretation

We meditate on the worshipable power and glory of Him who has created the earth, the nether world and the heavens (i.e. the universe), and who directs our understanding.
~ The Brahmo Samaj interpretation

Unveil, O Thou who givest sustenance to the Universe, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, that face of the True Sun now hidden by a vase of golden light, that we may see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat.
~ Interpretation by William Quan Judge in his commentary on the Gāyatrī Mantra

Let us adore the supremacy of that divine sun, the god-head who illuminates all, who recreates all, from whom all proceed, to whom all must return, whom we invoke to direct our understandings aright in our progress toward his holy seat.
~ A paraphrase by Sir William Jones

Whoever produced me and the one recites this mantra, let Him save both of us from sinning against each other.
~ A common prayer

The Gayatri Mantra in Tamil

There are many other translations

We meditate on the transcendental Glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of Heave.  May He stimulate and illuminate our minds.

Through the coming, going and the balance of life the essential nature which illumes existence is the adorable one may all perceive through subtle intellect the brilliance of enlightenment.

May we meditate on the effulgent Light (or Power) of the Worshipful One Who Has given birth to all worlds. May this One direct our Mind-rays towards the path of Good.

O Lord, Thou are the protector of life and of breath,
dispeller of miseries and bestower of happiness.
Thou are the creator and the most acceptable intelligence,
possessing eternal qualities. May Thine qualities and Thy inspiration pass to us.

Literal translation

  • bhūr bhuva sva “earth, air, heaven”. These are the names of the first three of the seven vyāhṛti or higher worlds of Hindu cosmology.
  • dhīmahi “may we attain”
  • tat vareniyam bharghas “that excellent glory”: varenya– ‘desirable, excellent’ and bhargas– ‘radiance, lustre, splendour, glory’
  • savitur devasya “of savitar the god”: Savitr-, ‘stimulator, rouser; name of a sun-deity’ and deva– ‘god, deity
  • ya prachodayat “who may stimulate”: set in motion, drive on, urge, impel
  • dhiya na “our prayers”: dhi– ‘mind, thought, meditation’