In this dissertation project under the supervision of Marion Rastelli, Dominik A. Haas is investigating the little-known early history of the Hindu Gāyatrī mantra and its deification.
The verse Ṛgveda III 62.10, commonly known as “the Gāyatrī” or “the sāvitrī”, is considered one of the most important mantras of Brahminical Hinduism. As the first of thousands of mantras that a Vedic student must learn by heart, it is also called the “Mother of the Vedas”. Over the course of time, it has even gained the status of being worshipped as a goddess itself.
The aim of the project is (1) to investigate how the mantra gained prominence as a religious text, (2) how it was deified and (3) developed into an independent deity, and (4) how these processes interacted with and influenced each other. The sources being studied range from Vedic texts to Sanskrit works from the early Middle Ages. In addition to historical-philological methods, concepts from religious studies are also being drawn upon to explain the mantra’s deification.
Because the Gāyatrī mantra also enjoys great popularity in modern alternative religious currents, the project will not only be of interest to philologists and scholars of classical South Asia and religious studies, but also to a broader audience. The main deliverable of the project, which is being funded by an ÖAW DOC scholarship, will be a dissertation in English. News, presentations, as well as publications for download can be found at oeaw.academia.edu/DominikAHaas. The project proposal is archived on PHAIDRA and has been made publicly available in the spirit of Open Science; see doi.org/10.25365/phaidra.103. Current information on the author can be found at orcid.org/0000-0002-8505-611.