“Every mantra needs siddhi to become effective, which is not possible without the avahan (invocation) of its devata, rishi and chhanda. The rishi in the case of the Gayatri Mahamantra is Vishwamitra, who lived the life of a king, enjoyed all the pleasures and then left them to attain to the Divine — a true saint and a Brahmarshi who remains unsurpassed till date.” – Yogi Ashwini
There would hardly be anyone who has not heard the Gayatri Mantra — Om bhur bhuvah svah, tat savitur varenyam, bhargo devasya dhimahi, dhiyo yo nah prachodayaat. Maybe a few thousand people also understand what it means. But there would be hardly anyone who knows of the rishi — Brahmarshi Vishwamitra — who got this mantra from the Divine. It is such a powerful mantra that Krishna called it the mother of all mantras — mahamantra — and Ram himself protected the yagyas of this great rishi.
Hardly anyone would relate this mantra to Vishwamitra, who is mostly remembered for his love affair with Menaka. This is the first mantra of the Rigveda, the first veda, but for some reason Vyas, who compiled the Vedas, put it later, like so many other mantras given by Vishwamitra. But why?
Vishwamitra was a Kshatriya king with vast resources and power. However, after realising that physical powers and siddhis were just a trap of the physical world and tapo bal (the yogic power of penance) was supreme power, he renounced his kingdom and went on to become a Brahmarshi who even set out to create a parallel universe; the Gods, of course, had to come down to request him to desist.
Vishwamitra was revered and feared in all the lokas. He had acquired an unsurpassed radiance because of his rare siddhis. His radiance was so phenomenal that when the time came for him to leave his body, the Gods became worried how to receive him and in which dimension they would place him.
Thus it was difficult to grant him salvation as he had withheld his urge for sex. So Menaka was sent down to tone down his energy, divert a bit of it into physical creation and also to help him indulge his sexual urge. It happened. Menaka lured him into sexual union, Shakuntala was born and Vishwamitra got salvation. He merged back with the divine.
Why then has Vishwamitra not been given the pedestal due to him? Obviously the age-old rivalry between the Kshatriyas and Brahmins is a reason. In spite of accepting Vishwamitra as a Brahmarshi, the egos of the other rishis could not accept that a Kshatriya could surpass them in their own field.
Every mantra needs siddhi to become effective, which is not possible without the avahan (invocation) of its devata, rishi and chhanda. The rishi in the case of the Gayatri Mahamantra is Vishwamitra, who lived the life of a king, enjoyed all the pleasures and then left them to attain to the Divine — a true saint and a Brahmarshi who remains unsurpassed till date. – Deccan Chronicle, Chennai, 12 April 2012
» Yogi Ashwini, the guiding light of Dhyan Foundation, is an authority on yoga, tantra and the Vedic sciences. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.