What is Gayatri Mantra?
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Question: Could you please explain what is Gayatri mantra.
Thank you for submitting your question about Gayatri mantra. Gayatri is actually a Vedic meter (chanda) and does not refer to a particular mantra. There are numerous mantras that fall into the category of Gayatri. Practically every deva has a unique Gayatri mantra. There is a Gayatri mantra for Surya, for Ganesha, for Durga, and even a Nandi gayatri for Lord Shiva's bull.
The Gayatri mantras are to be recited at least three times a day, corresponding to the three sandhyas or transitions of the day. Generally when people refer to Gayatri mantra they are refering to the Surya gayatri, which begins with "om bhur bhuvah svah...", etc. This mantra is very powerful for increasing mental abilities, but there are many rules and regulations for chanting it.
Among mantras, the nama-mantras (mantras made of the names of a deity) are easier to chant and bring about much quicker results. The nama-mantras do not have so many rules and restrictions for chanting, and are therefore open to all people. Examples of the nama-mantras are "sri rama jayam", "hare krishna mantra", etc. Ultimately all mantras receive their power from the names of the deities, thus many people choose to directly recite the sahasra-namas (thousand names of the deity) instead of a particular mantra.