I read that gayatri mantra should be learned from a sage or yogi OR Brahman. I want to start learning gayatri mantra. What is the procedure to follow for this and whom should I contact?
There are different views on this. However here is a view of this, a more liberal one.
Can all Hindus chant Gayatri Mantra
The Gayatri Mantra is considered by saints as the Universal mantra, one that all can chant, regardless of caste or creed. A pure mind is of course a good pre-requisite to any Sadhana.
A man can repeat Gayatri mentally in all states while lying, sitting, walking etc. There is no sin of commission and omission of any sort in its repetition. One should thus perform Sandhya three times with this Gayatri Mantra every day, in the morning, noon and evening. It is the Gayatri Mantra alone that can be commonly prescribed for all the Hindus. The Lord commands in the Vedas "Let one Mantra be common to all" "Samano Mantrah. " Hence the Gayatri should be the one Mantra for all the Hindus. "The secret lore of the Upanishads is the essence of four Vedas, while Gayatri with the three Vyahritis is the essence of the Upanishads. " He is the real Brahmin who knows and understands thus, the Gayatri. Without its knowledge he is a Sudra, though well versed in the four Vedas.
There is no milk superior to cow's milk. Even so there is no Mantra superior to Gayatri. As Omkara or Pranava is for Sannyasins, so is Gayatri for Brahmacharis and householders. The fruits that are attained by meditation on Omkara can be attained by meditation on Gayatri. The same goal that is reached by a Paramahamsa Sannyasin can be reached by a Brahmachari or a householder by meditating on Gayatri.
What is the meaning of Gayatri Mantra
It is about worshipping that Brahman that illumines all three worlds and asking Her to enlighten our intellects.
Swami Sivananda's translation of Gayatri Mantra:
Om - Para Brahman; Bhur - Bhuloka (Physical Plane); Bhuvah - Antariksha Svah; Svarga Loka Tat - Paramatma Savitur; Isvara (Surya); Varenyam; Fit to be worshipped; Bhargo - Remover of sins and ignorance; Devasya - Glory (Jnana Svaroopa); Dheemahi - We meditate; Dhiyo - Buddhi (Intellect); Yo - Which; Nah - Our; Prachodayat - Enlighten.
Let us meditate on Isvara and His Glory who has created the Universe, who is fit to be worshipped, who is the remover of all sins and ignorance. May he enlighten our intellect.
How to chant the Gayatri Mantra:
Discipline and steadfastness is the key to success in any field, and this includes spirituality. All the best.
Get up at 4 a. m. in Brahmamuhurta and start Japa and meditation on Gayatri (Panchmukhi or five-faced Devi seated in lotus flower), sitting on Padmasana, Siddhasana or Virasana, facing North or East. Burn incense in the room. In summer you can take a bath. In winter you can simply wash your face, hands and feet and do achamana only. Continue the Japa for two hours or more. Have another sitting at night between 7 and 8 p. m. Constantly feel that you are receiving light, purity and wisdom from Gayatri. This is important. Keep the image of the Gayatri at the Trikuti, the space between the eye-brows by closing the eyes and concentrate there, or keep the image in the lotus of the heart and concentrate there. You will have Darshan of Gayatri.
It is better if you do Japa of Gayatri 3000 to 4000 times daily. Your heart will be purified rapidly. If you are not able to do this number, you can do 1008 times daily. If you find it difficult to do this number also, do at least 108 times daily, 36 times at sunrise, 36 times at noon, 36 times at sunset. There is special, mysterious spiritual force or wonderful magnetic power at Sandhi or junction of the time, sunrise and sunset. The mind will be elevated quickly. It will be filled with Sattva. Concentration will come by itself without any effort at this time. If you find it difficult to get up at Brahmamuhurta, get up before sunrise. That man who fails to do Gayatri at the Sandhis fails in the discharge of his daily duties. He becomes a Bhrashta or fallen man. He loses vigour, vitality and Brahma-tejas.
Spiritual Benefits of reciting Gayatri Mantra:
Gayatri Mantra, is considered as a very pure mantra with tremendous powers.
The mind is purified by constant worship. It is filled with good and pure thoughts. Repetition of worship strengthens the good Samskaras. "As a man thinks, that he becomes. " This is the psychological law. The mind of a man who trains himself in thinking good, holy thoughts, develops a tendency to think of good thoughts. His character is moulded and transformed by continued good thoughts. When the mind thinks of the image of Gayatri during worship, the mental substance actually assumes the form of the image. The impression of the object is left in the mind. This is called Samskara. When the act is repeated very often, the Samskaras gain strength by repetition, and a tendency or habit is formed in the mind. He who entertains thoughts of Divinity becomes transformed actually into the Divinity himself by constant thinking and meditation. His Bhava or disposition is purified and divinised. The meditator and the meditated, the worshipper and the worshipped, the thinker and the thought become one and the same. This is Samadhi. This is the fruit of worship or Upasana.
REFERENCE: All the quotes are from Gayatri Japa by Sri Swami Sivananda
NOTE: The rules of any sadhana are that one practices discipline and auterity at least to a certain extent before practicing other types of sadhana. Fire when controlled will be useful but when out of control, will burn us. Similarly the mantra siddhis obtained by such sadhanas, when done with a pure heart, pure mind and pure intellect, will confer auspiciousness and be of benefit to the society, but when used improperly, will lead to one's own downfall!
Thus in conclusion, we can say that Gayatri Mantra is the King of all mantras, and leads to complete Unity with God.
All the best!
In my POV the mantra can be chanted by any one from Bhuloka Bhuvah Svah loka. By a Brahmachari or a householder by meditating on Gayatri. Like Mohamantra its a exempt from Ari Mantra. Any one can Chant Mohamantra, Gayatri Mantra of Rigveda, Om Namha Shivaya, Om TatSat etc.
Please check more info from Pt. Sanjay Rath Book's Vedic Remedies in Astrology of Mantra Sastra Chapter.
If you have any doubt about the mantra be sure its suites (check the akathaha cakra for suitability of a mantra) you and gives the positive result. For any Mantra you can concatenate an ātma bīja from both side of mantra.
Gayetri Mantra is exempt so you can chant it but you have to follow some codes of conduct please do not consume beef i.e. eating meat, no alcohol etc. Because its a Swastika mantra and these thing will make attenuation so the result will be less fruitful.
For Atma Bija you can refer to this Article http://www.manblunder.com/2012/09/how-to-derive-atma-bija.html