Datta Gayatri mantra is a very powerful one. Our sins get washed away with Japa (chanting the divine names) coupled with dhyana (meditation). We can even attain salvation. We can quote the lives of many devotees as examples in this regard.
During the contemporary period of Sree Rama, there lived a tribal lady named Shabari. Everybody knows her story but we must remember the story of such a pious lady time and again. Even though she was a tribal, her mind was very pure. Hence, she got the rare opportunity to stay at the ashrama of sage Matanga. The disciples of the sage became her Gurus. As a result of their teachings, she became even more sacred. They observed her transformation and gave her the initiation of “Rama” mantra. They explained the greatness of Rama and the mantra extolling that Rama is none other than Vishnu and chanting that Rama taraka mantra will bestow one with great fortune. Since the initiation, her only work is to chant the name of Sree Rama. She eagerly waited to see Rama and serve him. Lost in the thoughts of Sree Rama, she chanted his divine name and lived like a saintly woman following stern discipline and austerities.
One day, Sree Rama finally arrived along with Lakshmana to see Shabari and bless her. She lost herself totally in the chants of Sree Rama and his divine darshan. She happily shared her partially eaten fruit with Rama. We all know her story. Sree Rama accepted the fruit that she offered out of sheer devotion. He blessed her with salvation even though she was a tribal. Prahlada and King Bali are demons. But, they both attained salvation by worshipping Lord Narasimha and Vamana respectively. Just like Shabari was blessed by Sree Rama’s name, they too were greatly blessed by the japa of their gods even though they were of demonic nature. Bānasura also was a demon who protected his life by reciting the name of Shiva.
In Kali Yuga, Namadeva chanted the names of Pānduranga and attained the power to talk to him every day. The great Tukaram reached Vaikunta because of chanting the names of Vishnu. Such is the greatness of japa.
How can we attain liberation? By doing japa, we can attain jnana (divine knowledge) and control over senses. Japa means dhyana (meditation). Why do we have to do japa? It is meant for concentration. To attain that, we need an object. One way is to chant the mantra that Guru has given and concentrate on it. Another way is to concentrate with a strong resolve by controlling the life force either by bahir kumbhaka or antar kumbhaka. This is a technique of Kriya Yoga to control the senses and life force. When we practice with the mantra given by Guru and meditate upon it with such japa, the results we yield are unbounded. The stories of demons and Shabari matha are few examples in this regard.
Jai Guru Datta! Sri Guru Datta!