The Gayatri Mantra is recited during the Sacred Thread Ceremony (Upanayana) as a means to introduce a boy (who is at least 7 years old) into Brahman belief system. The Gayatri Mantra is an important Vedic Sanskrit mantra that teaches the boy about the Ultimate Reality as it applies to Brahman. It is a call to Savitar that asks the God to stimulate the prayers of the person who is reciting the mantra. The Gayatri Mantra is influenced by Savitr which is a representation of the sun which gives light, warmth and life. The Upanayana in essence introduces the boy to Brahmin teachings and signifies the boy’s acceptance as a scholar of Brahmin concepts.
Previous to the nineteenth century the Gayatri Mantra was limited by caste and gender – this system was abolished as Hinduism saw a revival in the latter part of the nineteenth century. This was to allow greater accessibility on a greater scale to people who wished to become scholars of Brahmin. This removed the male requirement of the recital of the mantra and allowed women to be taught the mantra. Swami Vivekananda was instrumental in this change as it was his belief that the Gayatri Mantra and Upanayana were important for all scholars of Brahmin to be properly initiated into the religion.
The Gayatri Mantra is found in various Vedic texts and not limited to the Upanayana exclusively. It is actually a fairly important mantra designed at invoking the God Savitr. The Gayatri Mantra consists of three Vyahrtis. It appeals to the deity responsible for the creation of the university and meant to give enlightenment to the chanter. Various translations of the Gayatri Mantra exist but many follow this same ideology. The common theme amongst all translations is the acknowledgement of the creator and the sun – referenced often as Savitr.
The Gayatri Mantra is often recited every morning by Brahmin followers. It can be used as an introspective mantra that sheds light on the condition and feelings of the chanter. It is also used during various rituals that give offering to the sun (japa). It is a perfect mantra to introduce young boys to the belief system held by Brahmin worshippers as it embodies the basic theme of wisdom and enlightenment associated with the Brahmin faith. While it is not exclusive to the Upanayana or any specific ritual – it has a very important place in both of these.