In India, we repeat the Gayatri mantra to gain illumination:
Aum bhur bhuvah svah
Tat savitur varenyam
Bhargo devasya dhimahi
Dhiyo yo nah pracodayat
We meditate on the transcendental glory of the Deity Supreme, who is inside the heart of the earth, inside the life of the sky and inside the soul of the Heaven. May He stimulate and illumine our minds.
Gayatri is a supreme goddess. She is worshipped by Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and all the other cosmic gods. This particular goddess resides inside each and every human heart in the form of a swan. If you meditate and dive deep within, you will see a swan, and that is the goddess Gayatri. The swan is the symbol of God-realisation.
It is said that if you can repeat the Gayatri mantra seven times most soulfully, all your sins will be washed away; all your past wrong karma will be nullified. Again, it is said that if you can repeat the mantra ten times most soulfully, you will realise the Highest; you will attain God-realisation. Finally, if you can repeat it most soulfully seventeen times, you will go beyond God-realisation.
Our philosophy is also self-transcendence. But in the case of the Gayatri mantra, the thing that comes after God-realisation, according to tradition, is quite unexpected. It is said that if you repeat the mantra seventeen times, you will he liberated from the sin of killing a cow or a Brahmin. These two sins are considered the worst possible sins, so their nullification has been placed even above God-realisation in order of importance.
Again, it comes down to the whole question of Brahmins and Kshatriyas. Because the Kshatriyas are powerful, the Brahmins are afraid of being killed by them. So they have found a secret way to ensure their protection!