CHAPTER 8 – Gayatri Mantra
Let us now consider the word gayatri.
Gayatri is actually the name of a particular form of Sanskrit shloka written in what is known as the gayatri meter. The gayatri meter consists of twenty-four syllables, aksharas, evenly distributed in its three padas, feet. Hence it is also known as tripada gayatri. (There are other meters which contain twenty-four syllables but their distribution is not as in the Gayatri.) There are other gayatri mantras also: for example, the first Vedic mantra itself is in gayatri meter. But the Gayatri Mantra, by virtue of its universal appeal, has appropriated for itself the name of the meter, so that any mention of this meter evokes the words of this mantra.
Each foot of the Gayatri represents the Rig, Yajur, and Sama Vedas. (The Atharva Veda has its own Gayatri.) In fact, it is mentioned in the Vedas: Gayatrim chandasma mata. Chandasma here means the Vedas and, therefore, Gayatri is the mother of all the Vedas.)