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KAUAI, HAWAII, December 24, 2006: An issue came up at the Hindu Mission of Canada in Quebec regarding the chanting of the famed Gayatri Mantra by the ordinary devotees. Some brahmins held the position that the mantra should be chanted by everyone only when a priest is leading the chant. The chairman of the mission, Dharam Pal Verman, asked Hinduism Today to research the issue.
We, in turn, asked our Delhi correspondent, Rajiv Malik, to consult with experts in India. He reported the following points:
1. The chanting of Gayatri Mantra collectively in large groups is something very common place in the temples and Arya Samajas all over India. It takes place everyday. No one ever objects to non-brahmins joining the priests and other brahmins in this chanting of the Gayatri Mantra.
2. In an earlier interview with Hinduism Today, the Shankaracharya of Puri said that mantras need to be chanted by common people in an extremely careful manner so that they do not get harmed by the high level of energy generated in the process of chanting them.
3. In consultation with Swami Pragyanand of Delhi, who is a big promoter of Gayatri Mantra, Swami said:
a. “Gayatri mantra is for everybody. Why I say this is because every mantra has a devata and in the case of Gayatri Mantra, the devata or God is the Sun God. Now the Sun God is for every creature in this world. therefore gayatri is also for everybody in this world. Gayatri is also known as mother and again mother is for everyone and therefore Gayatri is for every child of God. Anything which is created by God is for everybody, whereas if a man creates something it may be used for the benefit of some people only.
b. “In Bhagavad Gita lord Krishna said that among mantras I am myself the Gayatri Mantra. So how can anybody be deprived of chanting the Gayatri Mantra?
c. “The essence of Gayatri Mantra is that God may grant wisdom to all. Now wisdom is not a monopoly of any one person, state, religion or sect. Therefore as wisdom is for everybody, Gayatri Mantra is also for everybody.
d. “When I went to Surinam in South America for the first time, in some of the temples they did not allow chanting of Gayatri Mantra. But when I explained the meaning and essence of Gayatri Mantra to the people there, they got convinced and the things changed. Today, a few radio stations have a round-the-clock recitation of Gayatri Mantra.”
e. Asked about the point of view of the Puri Shankaracharya, Swami said that as the Shankaracharya was of orthodox views therefore he held this kind of opinion on this matter. In an earlier case, the Puri Shankaracharya objected to women chanting the Vedas. Others who wish to comment on this issue may e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
disclaimer: am a hindu by birth and donot want to argue regarding who can and not chant !
But the statement “mantras need to be chanted by common people in an extremely careful manner so that they do not get harmed by the high level of energy generated in the process of chanting them” should be considered carefully
It is similar to handling fire i.e., like letting a child near/inside fire when the child doesnot understand/realise/sense the power of fire !