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Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra

Can any one give the exact explanation of this mantra? What is the logic behind chanting this Mantra? How the mind of a person related to this and is it true that we can save the life of a dying person if we chant this mantra for him?

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    Only Proper pronounciation and recitation of Maha Mrutyunjaya Mantra will help to save a dying person. With help of this Mantra Markandeya extended his life by grace of Lord Shiva. See this page to know about subtle body and science behind immortality.
    – The Destroyer
    Feb 24, 2016 at 6:29

3 Answers 3

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The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra

In Devanagari script:

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिंम् पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माऽमृतात् ।।

In English script:

om tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ pushtivardhanam ǀ
urvārukamiva bandhanān mrityormukshīya mā'mritāt ǁ

This is Great Death-conquering Mantra, also called the Tryambakam Mantra, is a verse of the Rigveda. It is addressed to Tryambakam, "the three-eyed one", Lord Shiva. It is also called the Rudra mantra, referring to the furious aspect of Lord Shiva. It is sometimes known as the Mrita-Sanjivini mantra because of its "life-restoring" powers.

tryambakaṃ (त्र्यम्बकं ) - Three-eyed(Knowledge of future,Past & Present) God, Shiva
yajāmahe (यजामहे ) - honour
sugandhiṃ (सुगन्धिंम् ) - sweet smelling pushti (पुष्टि) - prosperous
vardhanam (वर्धनम्) - strengthening
urvārukamiva (उर्वारुकमिव ) - like the cucumber
bandhanān (बन्धनान् ) - tied down (under captivity)
mrityor (मृत्यो) - from death
mukshīya (र्मुक्षीय) - liberate, free mā'mritāt (माऽमृतात्) - give me immortality

Meaning: We worship the Three-eyed Lord who is fragrant and who nourishes and nurtures all beings. As is the ripened cucumber freed from its bondage (to the creeper), may He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality.

Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is the great mantra for conquering death for it protects against all threats with its divine vibrations. It purifies the karmas of the soul at a deep level. It is beneficial for mental, emotional and physical health. It is also a moksha mantra which bestows longevity and immortality.

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  • Nice, is this your translation? May 19, 2016 at 20:29
  • 1
    @AmitSaxena No, I found from Internet....
    – Bhavin
    May 20, 2016 at 3:59
  • How माऽमृतात् means immortality. If I break it down it becomes मा अमृतात् which means "not Amrita".
    – Lokesh
    Jan 6, 2019 at 10:00
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MahaMrityunjaya mantra is one of the most special mantra from Veda Samhita addressed to Lord Shiva.

It is in Rig Veda Samhita 7.59.12. Sage Vasistha is the Rishi (who heard) of the mantra and Devata is 'Rudra'. Similarly Mahamrityunjaya mantra is also avaliable in YajurVeda Samhitas like Taittariya Samhita 1.8.6.i, Vajasaneyi Samhita in 3.60 etc...

The mantra is as:

त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम्
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माऽमृतात्
।।

om tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ pushtivardhanam ǀ
urvārukamiva bandhanān mrityormukshīya mā'mritāt ǁ

The meaning of mantra is as:

We worship the Three-eyed Lord who is fragrant and who nourishes and nurtures all beings. As is the ripened cucumber freed from its bondage (to the creeper), may He liberate us from death for the sake of immortality.

Sukra while teaching this mantra to Dadhichi tells that this is the best mantra as per him:

मृतसञ्जीवनीमन्त्रो मम सर्वोत्तमः स्मृतः ।
एवं जपपरः प्रीत्या नियमेन शिवं स्मरन् ।। (Shiva Purana Rudra Samhita chapter 38)

In my opinion, this Mrityunjaya mantra is the excellent of all. Repeat the mantra regularly with your mind devoted to Shiva.

Lord Trayambakeshwara appears before Sage Dadhichi as he does penance by this mantra and he asks for three boons:

दधीच उवाच
देवदेव महादेव मह्यं देहि वरत्रयम् ।
वज्रास्थित्वमवध्यत्वमदीनत्वं हि सर्वतः ।।

Dadhicha said "O Great lord of the gods, kindly bestow three boons to me. First my bones should be strong like Vajra, No one should be able to kill me and I should never feel distress.

Similarly Suta also states that Mahamrityunjaya mantra is the best of all Veda mantras:

नानेन सदृशो मंत्रो लोके वेदे च सुव्रताः ।
तस्मात्त्रियंबकं देवं तेन नित्यं प्रपूजयेत् ।। (Linga Purana II.54)

There is no mantra better in the world as well as in Vedas (than this). Therefore one should always adore the God Trayambakeswara in the world.

Explanation of the words of the mantra is avaliable in Shiva Purana and Linga Purana;

Tryambakam:

Trayambakam denotes that Lord who has three eyes is the lord of three worlds, three Gunas, Trimurtis etc.. or Lord of everything which exists in Triad:

त्रयम्बकं यजामहे च त्रैलोक्यपितरं प्रभुम् ।
त्रिमण्डलस्य पितरं त्रिगुणस्य महेश्वरम् ।। (Shiva Purana Rudra Samhita chapter 38)

We worship lord Shiva having three eyes, who is the lord of three worlds and the master of three gunas.

त्रयाणामपि लोकानां गुणानामपि यः प्रभुः ।
वेदानामपि देवानां ब्रह्मक्षत्रविशामपि ।
अकारोकारमकाराणां मात्राणामपि वाचक ।।
तथा सोमस्य सूर्यस्य वह्नेरग्नित्रयस्य च ।
अंबा उमा महादेवो ह्यंबकस्तु त्रियंबक ।। (Linga Purana II.54)

The word ‘Tryambaka’ has been defined as the one, who happens to be the lord of the three worlds, three gunas, three Vedas, three gods, three castes— He is revealed by the three syllables ‘a’, ‘u’, ‘m’. He is the lord of three fires, Viz. : the sun, the moon and the fire. He represents Amba, Uma and Mahadeva. Thus, the lord of all the sets of three is known as Tryambaka.

Yajāmahe:

Mantra contains the words 'Yajãmahe' to denote that such Lord who is Trayambaka is to be worshipped by various methods:

तं पुष्टीवर्धनम् देवं घृतेन पयसा तथा ।
मधुना यवगोधुममाषबिल्वफलेन च ।।
कुमुदार्कशमीपत्रगौरसर्षपशालिभिः ।
हुत्वा लिंगे यथान्यायं भक्त्या देवं यजामहे ।। (Linga Purana II.54)

Yajãmahe (we worship him) is thus defined. We worship lord Siva in a proper manner and devoutly by performing homas with ghee, milk, honey, wheat, black gram, wood apple fruits, lilies, Arka flowers, Sami leaves, white mustard and Sali grains in a Linga.

Sugandhim:

Lord is called 'Sugandhim' because he is the essence of Everything which exists in this Universe just as Sugandha (fragrance) is the essence of a flower:

इन्द्रियेषु तथान्येषु देवेषु च गणेषु च ।
पुष्पे सुगन्धिवत्सरः सुगन्धिरमरेश्वर ।। (Shiva Purana Rudra Samhita chapter 38)

As the fragrance is enshrined in the flowers, similarly he is found present in all the sense organs, the gods, gunas, in a very strong manner. And thus he is the Ishwara.

सुपुष्तितस्य वृक्षस्य यथा गंधः सुशोभनः ।
वाति दूरात्तथा तस्य गंधः शंभोर्महात्मन ।।
तस्मात्सुगन्धो भगवान्गंधारयति शंकर ।
गांधारश्च महादेवो देवानामपि लीलया ।।
सुगंधस्तस्य लोकेस्मिन्वायुर्वाति नभस्तले ।
तस्मात्सुगन्धिस्तं देवं सुगंधी पुष्टिवर्धनम् ।। (Linga Purana chapter 54)

The splendid fragrance of a tree in a full bloom is wafted to a great distance. Similar is the fragrance of the great Lord. The lord is the fragrance or the holder of the fragrance on all other Devas. His fragrance is wafted in the world where the wind blows. Hence the attribute Sugandhim refers to the Lord. Now the word Pushtivardhanam is being defined.

Pushtivardhanam:

Lord is called Pushtivardhanam because he is the cause of the growth of the Universe, and source of nourishment of everyone:

विष्णोः पितामहस्यापि मुनीनां च महामुने ।
इन्द्रियाणां च देवानांतस्माद्वै पुष्टिवर्द्धनः ।। (Shiva Purana Rudra Samhita chapter 38)

O Excellent sage, he happens to be Brahma, Visnu and other gods, who derive their nourishment from him.

यस्य रेतः पुरा शम्भोहरेर्योनौ प्रतिष्ठितम् ।
तस्य वीर्यादभूदण्डं हिरण्यमयमजोद्भवम् ।।
चंद्रादित्यौ सनक्षत्रौ भूर्भुवः स्वर्महस्तपः ।
सत्यलोकमतिक्रम्य पुष्टिवीर्यस्य तस्य वै ।।
पञ्चभूतान्यहंकारो बुद्धिः प्रकृतिरेव च ।
पुष्टिर्बीजस्य तस्यैव तस्माद्वै पुष्टिवर्धनः ।। (Linga Purana II.54)

Formerly, the semen of the lord Shiva was deposited in the womb of Vishnu. It was from this semen that the cosmic golden egg, the source of origin of Brahma originated. The nourishment of his semen extends beyond the moon, sun, stars, earth, Bhuvah. Svah. Mahah, Tapah and Satya. The Five elements, the cosmic ego. the cosmic intellect and Prakrti are nourished by his semen virile Hence. the lord is Pushtivardhanam (the nourisher).

urvārukamiva bandhanān mrityormukshīya mā'mritāt ǁ

It is the latter half part of the Mantra. In the former part, Lord is praised with various attributes while this latter half part asks from the Lord. Mantra says that just as the ripened cucumber is freed from it's bandhan (bond) in the similar way may Lord free us from death and give Moksha which is Immortal.

सत्येनान्येन सूक्ष्मायान्मृत्युपाशाद्भवः स्वयम् ।
बन्धमोक्षकरो यस्मादुर्वारुकमिव प्रभुः।। (Shiva Purana Rudra Samhita, chapter 38)

you will be surely freed from the noose of Yama. The lord is the cause of both bondage and Moksha and hence Lord is denoted as Urvarukamiva (in the mantra).

ऋतेनानेन मां पाशाद्वंधनात्कर्मयोगतः ।
मृत्योश्च बन्धनाच्चैव मुक्षीय भव तेजसा ।।
उर्वारुकाणां पक्वानां यथा कालादभेत्पुनः ।
तथैव कालः संप्राप्तो मनुना तेन यत्नतः ।। (Linga Purana II.54)

The later half of the mantra is now interpreted. By the grace of the Rta (systematic worship), let me be released from the bondage of actions and reactions as well as fetters of death. Let me be released from the resplendence of the worldly existence. Just as a mature cucumber falls from it's stalk when the season arrives, so also, the time of liberation has arrived by the grace of mantra.

Thus it is very clear that the Mantra is primarily asking Moksha from Lord Shiva so that one can become Immortal as Moksha is related to Immortality. But the Mantra is also chanted  to gain long life in the worldly existence. It is because as clear from the above, Lord becomes the cause of bondage and liberation for the chanter. And one is also freed from the Bandhan of Kãla (i.e., Yama Pãsha) as he is freed from every kind of Pãshas:

शिवस्य सन्निधौ ध्यात्वा नास्ति मृत्युभयं क्वचित् ।। (Shiva Purana Rudra Samhita chapter 38)

In case the penance is done in presence of Shiva, there is no fear of death from any quarters.

एवं मन्त्रविधिं ज्ञात्वा शिवलिंगं समर्चयेत् ।
तस्य पाशक्षयोऽतीव योगिनो मृत्युनिग्रहः ।।  (Linga Purana II.54)

One should worship ShivaLinga after well understanding the meaning and the rites related to Mantra. The Yogi shall severe all the bonds. He can control death.

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Rudra and Yama in relation to Death: Is there any reference to Rudra and Yama other than the Rig Vedā? Yes, Sukla Yajur Vedā Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā 16.33 says “Homage to the one allied to Yama”. And Caraka-Katha Aranyaka III-239 states that when the yagamana (one performing the Yajñá) makes mistakes, then Rudra will become Yama (death). Further, Mahābhāratam Itihasa, Drona Parva – Narayanastra-mokshana Parva Section 203 calls Rudra “You are Yama”. Among the 70 Svayambhu Liṅgas Vrishasthāna takes the 40th position in the list and is called Yamaliṅga. Now that we know the Path-of-Yama (of Truth) and the abode of the Supreme Truth (Rudra), how does one ask Rudra for liberation? Well, the hymn present in both Rig Vedā 7.56 and Kṛṣṇa Yajur Vedā Taittirīya Saṃhitā 1.8, famously known as the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra.

Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is not about protecting us from just physical death, but about liberation beyond the cycle of birth and death and into the forever state of immortals’ truth – amṛta. Please note the word “Sugandhim”, which usually means fragrance, but here it means the nostalgia one feels upon experiencing a certain sound or fragrance or taste, why? Because Rudra is the Sukshma (subtle) and is the Prana and Atman (Bhrd Aran Upa). It is this nostalgia that surfaces during the final moments before death, and it is in these moments that one’s core compulsions – rooted deep into the conditioned mind – arise, and it is this nostalgia and thoughts that define the next life (upadhi). Through the path of Yoga, one has to condition their mind towards Ishwara or remove the cloud of Avidya, and through detachment from compulsions (Vairāgya), one’s true self can come forth. One must note the title “Trayambakam“, which we discussed earlier, is also found in Kṛṣṇa Yajur Vedā Śrī Rudram 4.5, and in Sukla Yajur Vedā Vājasaneyi Saṃhitā Kanda 3.56 and also in Śatapatha Brahmāṇa Kanda 2, Adhyaya 6, Brahmana 2 which explains a Yajñá dedicated to Rudra as Tryambaka performed towards the safety and prosperity after the war. This mantra is chanted while circling around the Yajñá Vedi and seeing oneself be separated from death and enter into the immortal truth.

त्र्यंबकं यजामहे सुगंधिं पुष्टिवर्धनं । उर्वारुकमिव बंधनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात् ॥ 7.59.12 Oh Triambaka (3 eyes/seasons), we offer our oblation (यजाम), nourish us (पुष्टि) and bestow us (वर्ध) into the trance of fragrance (सुगंधिं) | May you untie our bonds (बंधना) like a ripened gourd fruit (उर्वारु) unties itself from the stem, and take us beyond death (न्मृत्यो) and deplete (क्षीय) our compulsions (र्मु) and take us (मा) into the immortal state (अ॒मृत॑) Please note: सुगंधिं does not mean physical perfume, but the nostalgia one feels upon experiencing a certain sound or fragrance or taste. So it means to bestow us into the sweetness of imagining Thy Divinity during the transcendental states of dhyana/dharana. र्क्षीय: means to deplete, and र्मुक्षीय means to deplete our moha/compulsions arising out of Avidya. ~Rig Vedā 7.59

This mantra has its linkage from Rig Vedā to Yajur Vedā Samhitas, but the Caraka-Katha School (Shaka) of Yajur Vedā places this homage into implementation as a part of its Pravargya Yajna, so let’s see how the Yajamana of Yagna goes beyond death giving us a practical relevance to Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. So let’s start with a little background of Katha Shaka’s basis and move to the context of Mrityu:

The Pravargya is said to beat off recurring death (punarmrtyum apahanti, III 219). The discussion of recurring death represents the intermediate state in the development of Upanishadic thought, emerging as the theory of rebirth with karma in the Upanisads. How ‘second-death’ is to be affected seems to be dependent on the effect of this additional and more severe diksa. It is significant that the undertaking of this special observance results just like that of a normal diksa — in a kind of rebirth of the yajamana. In the present case he not only becomes another consecrated person with a new name, a diksita, but in addition, he also separates himself from death by undergoing the avantaradika in the wilderness. The Katha (Katha Shaka) clearly stands at the crossroads of traditional brahmana ideas and the beginnings of Upanishadic thought. The idea of punarmrtyu (Katha III 219 apa punarmrtyum jayati, ya evam veda) is one of the steps leading to the Upanishadic concept of Karmic rebirth. In fact, there were several strands of belief that. for the first time in Vedic thought, resulted in the idea of constant rebirth, seen gradually developing in the older Upanishads.

Rebirth : Now, let’s understand what is rebirth (punarmrtyum) mentioned by Katha Shaka, and how is Rudra related to this, and finally how the Yajamana can achieve what is mentioned in Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra:

The Yajamana is implicitly identified with Rudra during the Pravargya (II 100-101). Like Rudra, he gains a new bodily form, svargakrti (II 143, cf. III 225), a ‘heavenly body’. This can be done in several ways. After taking the Pravargya vessel and the other utensils eastwards (III 177), all are laid out in the form of a man. This action creates a new body for the Yajamana, with the Pravargay vessel that glowed during the ritual as his head. In sum, the sponsor of the ritual also becomes adiyavarna ‘sun-skinned’, and goes to heaven like Rudra (III 183). In the Katha Aranyaka, this is the Pravargya, a ritual in which a blazing clay vessel (mahavira) is identified with the Sun and Rudra Mahavira. This ritual also aims at giving the sponsor of the ritual (Yajamana) a new, heavenly body. This is established by multiple Upanishad-like identification between various entities of microcosm (man), ritual (Yajna), and macrocosm. Please note: this heavenly body is a subtle body to ascend to heavens (sargo vai loka auttaravedikas III 233: 91.1-2)

From reading the above, as a seeker one must ask two questions, Is Rudra Adiyavarna “sun-like luster”? Second, does the famous Katha Upaniṣhad concur with the above? The answer is yes to both. Rig Vedā itself addresses Rudra with Sun-like luster along with other Vedic Saṃhitā. Coming to Katha Upaniṣhad which itself is a primary Upaniṣhad that belongs to Caraka-Katha Shaka says:

अङ्गुष्ठमात्रः पुरुषोऽन्तरात्मा सदा जनानां हृदये संनिविष्टः। तं स्वाच्छरीरात्प्रवृहेन्मुञ्जादिवेषीकां धैर्येण। तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतं तं विद्याच्छुक्रममृतमिति ॥2.3.17 The Purusha, the Spirit within, who is no larger than the finger of a man is seated for ever in the heart of creatures; one must separate Him with patience from one’s own body as one separates from a blade of grass its main fibre. Thou shalt know Him for the Bright Immortal, yea, for the Bright Immortal. ~Katha Upanishad 2.3.17 For further details please search in Google "Sanatanadhara Rudra Shiva across Vedas and Itihasa"

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