I am not competent to write on Gayatri Mantram. However, I am writing this article as one who chants it often though not as religiously and as regularly as I am supposed to. I chose to write on it because not a single day has passed since my Upanayanam three decades ago without me reciting it at least a few times.
At my Upanayanam ceremony (Sacred thread ceremony) my parents have put the circular-sacred thread called Yagnopavitam or Jandhyam on my left shoulder, across my chest and extending up to the right side of my waist. Then my father whispered into my ear; through Brahmaopadesam the Gayatri Mantram, which I have repeated after him. The sacred thread denotes that one who wears it should be pure in thought, word and deed. I continue to wear this sacred thread through these thirty years changing it at times every year. Since then I am also supposed to practice Sandhyavandanam which I do very rarely, due to various modern day priorities. Sandhyavandanam is a ritual to be carried out thrice everyday at Sunrise, Noon and Sunset. I only manage to perform Sandhyavandanam at times in the morning. During Sandhyavandanam Gayatri Mantram has to be chanted a number of times, the minimum being three times. As I am not performing Sandhyavandanam regularly, I recite Gayatri Mantram as and when I have some free time, say while driving, walking, sitting or lying.
The Gayatri Mantram has been revered for thousands of years by both Hindus and Buddhists. It has its origins in the Vedas. Mantram or Mantra is a religious syllable, hymn, sloka or poem in Sanskrit. The literal translation of Mantra would be “Mind Tool”. Man in Mantra stands for Manas that is Mind and Tra stands for Yantra that is a Tool.Gayatri is Sarvadevata Swarupini and Sarvamantra Swarupini - embodiment of all Gods, Goddesses and all Mantras. Gayatri is the mother of the Vedas. There is no need to chant any other Mantram if you chant the Gayatri Mantram. Chanting is the process of repeating a Mantram, number of times. Chanting Gayatri Mantram would benefit an individual with knowledge, wisdom, enlightenment, fulfillment of wishes, desires and ward off miseries and ill-health.
The Gayatri Mantram and its meaning are as portrayed in the above poster.