Chhandas forms the base…

“The body has its own natural obligation to get subjected to the process of the movement of time, and thus has to one day or the other enter a condition called senility, old age, it is expected that our mental, intellectual and spiritual life is not to attain senility. That our understanding be vigorous even to the last moment of our life, and that this understanding be directed properly, is the prayer of a great mantra of the Veda called the Gayatri.”

Swami Krishnananda

And so the Gāyatri mantra is not a prayer for wealth or prosperity or belongings, for these are either taken away at some point, or fall by the wayside. The Gāyatri mantra is a prayer that concerns our “understanding”.

It seeks inward illumination and is a request that the understanding be directed suitably.

What is this understanding? Now that is quite a complicated philosophical question, best attempted after a few years of practice. For now, let it suffice that the Gāyatri mantra is a prayer for a look within, and not for external objects.

Continuing on the topic of Chhandas…

One cannot truly comprehend a Vedic mantra without a good understanding of its Chhandas, or the meter in which it is recited.

छन्दः पादौ तु वेदस्य हस्तः कल्पोऽथ पठ्यते ।
ज्योतिषामयनं चक्षुर्निरुक्तं श्रोत्रमुच्यते ॥ ४१॥

पाणिनीय शिक्षा

These are the six Vedānga, of which Chhandas is considered the base, or feet.

Chhandas is a word derived from the root (dhatu) चदि , giving rise to ahlade (आह्लादे, joy or delight).

The term Chanda (Sanskrit: छन्द) , therefore, indicates that which is ‘pleasing, alluring, lovely, delightful or charming’. And, Chhandas is the joy in structuring the syllables and words of the mantra, and sets the rhythm for chanting of the mantra. 

And since the purity in transmission of the Vedas is highly dependent on the sound or the way the padas are uttered, Chhandas is critical for their accurate utterance and transmission.

Tomorrow, we will explore the Gāyatri Chhandas.

For tomorrow, continue to repeat the exercise, at the same 42 times. And tell me what you feel. See you tomorrow!