Dominik A. HaasNov 22, 2023
Mantra and Mother of the Vedas
Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften 2023
The mantra known as Gāyatrī or Sāvitrī (Ṛgveda III 62.10) is one of the most frequently recited texts of mankind. Over the course of time it has not only been personified as the mother of the Vedas – the oldest religious literature of South Asia –, but has even come to be venerated as a goddess. Today many consider it the most important, most efficacious, or holiest mantra of all.
In Gāyatrī: Mantra and Mother of the Vedas (Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, 2023), Dominik A. Haas reconstructs the history of the Gāyatrī-Mantra for the first time, tracing it from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE. He shows how an inconspicuous verse became an emblem of Brahminical Hinduism and presents the processes that led to its deification. To this end, he not only subjects passages from more than one hundred source texts in Vedic and Sanskrit to philological-historical analysis, but also draws upon perspectives and insights from religious studies. The Gāyatrī-Mantra plays an important role in contemporary Hinduism as well as in modern yoga and alternative spiritual currents around the globe. This book therefore not only contributes to South Asian studies and religious studies, but is also of interest to a wider readership.
This book is available open access here.
Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see rajbalkaran.com.