Gayatri is the five-headed, 10 armed, multi-weapon and token carrying Goddess of the ancient hymn known as the Gayatri or Savitri Mantra. It’s one of the most famous Gayatri – which is actually a meter form in Sanskrit mantras in addition to bearing the goddess’s name – and is the most ancient prayer in human history that is still chanted to this day. Gayatri is often chanted in the morning, at dawn, and we become Gayatri herself calling to the sun to rise and greet us:
Om Bhur Bhuvah Swaha,
Om Tat Savitur Varenyam
Bhargo Devasya Dhimahi,
Dhiyo Yo Nah Pracho Dayateh
Her Mantra comes from the Rig Veda, the expansive text at the heart of South Asian religion and culture. The hymn is thought to be a song sung by the goddess to awaken her lover, Savitrir the Solar God. In this way, she is sometimes referred to as Savitri, as the creation/feminine aspect of and counterpart to the sun god. Gayatri herself is often called the Mother of the Vedas, in addition to being the deity form of the goddess of knowledge, education and virtue. Since Sanskrit as a language is thought to be the body of the goddess or great mother herself, this deity is often personified as Gayatri. She is the consort of Brahma, but according to some texts is actually his second wife.
Some sects believe Gayatri is the root goddess and all other goddesses are manifestations of her, the Great Mother with particular aspects more prevalent in subsequent forms. These groups believe Gayatri takes 24 forms – including Lakshmi, Kundalini, Kali, Bhavani, among others – and each of the 24 forms represents a syllable in her mantra. She is shown seated on a lotus, the symbol of wisdom and spiritual awakening through practice.
In Shaivism, Gayatri is the consort of Parashiva. Parashiva is the blissful absolute who takes the form of the sun. He is absolute conscious bliss and she is the radiant shakti intertwined with him in bliss.