7

The word tryambakam is used in Rig veda 7:59:12 and in yajurveda and is dedicated to Lord Rudra/Shiva. According to some translations this word means the three eyed one, but according to some scholars the word Ambika in Vedas means Mother and in Mahabharata and Ramayana it means Eye, because in Vedas the word Ambika is used for Goddess Saraswati which means mother.

So does the word Ambika mean mother or eye? If it means mother, then why is Lord Shiva associated with three mothers?

  • 3
    अम्बा = mother and अम्बक = an eye. See I want to know the exact explanation of Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra – The Destroyer Aug 19 '17 at 7:18
  • 3
    Ambika is mother and Ambaka is an eye. Shiva/rudra is called Trayambaka not Trayambika. – Sarvabhouma Aug 19 '17 at 7:40
  • 1
    Trayambaka means 3 eyes, everyone has two eyes one sees outside for voluntary actions like world affairs and other sees inside involuntary actions like metabolism, digestion etc, one with 3rd eye sees both states and is above all, the third eye – user10298 Oct 14 '18 at 18:57
6

Rig Veda 7:59:12 and Yajur Veda 3.60 are called Mahā mṛtyuñjaya mantra Mantra. If we divide the word Tryambaka, it is Tri+ambaka. त्र्यंबक = त्रि + अम्बक. The two words are joined based on यणादेश संधि (Yaṇādeśa sandhi).

The mantra is:

त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् |
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माऽमृतात् ||

Oṃ tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭivardhanam |
urvārukamiva bandhanānmṛtyormukṣīya mā'mṛtāt ||

Meanings:

1. Om, We Worship the Three-Eyed One (Lord Shiva), Who is Fragrant (Spiritual Essence) and Who Nourishes all beings. May He severe our Bondage of Samsara (Worldly Life), like a Cucumber (severed from the bondage of its Creeper), and thus Liberate us from the Fear of Death, by making us realize that we are never separated from our Immortal Nature.

2. Om, We Worship the Three-Eyed One (Lord Shiva), Who is Fragrant (Spiritual Essence) and Who Nourishes all beings. May He severe our Bondage of Samsara (Worldly Life), like a Cucumber (severed from the bondage of its Creeper), and thus Liberate us from the Fear of Death, Give me some life rejuvenating nectar.

3. Om, We Worship the Three-Eyed One (Lord Shiva), Who is Fragrant (Spiritual Essence) and Who Nourishes all beings. May He sever our Bondage of Samsara (Worldly Life), like a Cucumber (severed from the bondage of its Creeper), and thus Liberate us from the Fear of Death, Free me from certain death.

Differences in the translations is due to the different interpretation of "माऽमृतात्" at the end of the mantra.

Ambaka means an eye in Sanskrit whereas Ambika is an epithet of a mother. Ambika is also a character in Mahabharata who is the mother of Dhritarashtra. Ambaka and Ambika are different words.

Lord Shiva is known to have three eyes. Hence, Tryambaka means the one who has three eyes.

On a side note, The consort of Shiva, Lalita Devi is also known as Tryambakā.

From Lalitā sahasra nāma,

trivarga dhātrī śubhagā tryaṃbakā triguṇātmikā

She who gives dharma, Assets and pleasure, She who is pleasing to look at She who has three eyes, She who is personification of three gunas viz Thamo, Rajo and Sattva

  • 3
    What is the source of the 3 translations? – Rickross Aug 19 '17 at 16:09
  • @Rickross I added the links now. The translation is from greenmesg.org But the second and third are from Wikipedia. The change is due to the difference of interpretation of माऽमृतात्. – Sarvabhouma Aug 20 '17 at 9:47
6

While reciting the Trayambaka Mantra in Ghana Patha, the word 'Trayambakam' is chanted as:

त्रि अम्बकं इति त्रयम्बकं
triambakamiti trayambakam

three eyed one is trayambaka

'Ambaka' means "eye" and "one having Three Ambaka" is known as "Trayambaka".

Though the primary meaning is 'having three eyes' it also represents that the Lord is the Lord of everything which exists in triad as I discuss here:

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.

  • Isn't it the tryambaka? You write Trayambaka every time. – Sarvabhouma Oct 26 '17 at 1:52
  • No, not the respect. I'm saying tryambaka not Trayambaka. a in the Tryambaka. त्र्यम्बक , त्रयम्बक. Got the difference? Tri + ambaka = Tryambaka. Yanadesha Sandhi. – Sarvabhouma Oct 26 '17 at 5:51
  • @Nog Shine त्र्यंबक and त्रयंबक are same... it's only in case of pronounciation in Vedas it's used as त्र्यंबक... In Puranas both त्रयंबक and त्र्यंबक are used... – Tejaswee Oct 26 '17 at 6:26

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .