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The Maha-Mrityunjaya Mantra
The Maha-Mrityunjaya Mantra is a life-giving Mantra. It is a mantra that is said to rejuvenate, bestow health, wealth, a long life, peace, prosperity and contentment. It wards of death and accidents of all descriptions. Besides, it has a great curative power. It is a Moksha mantra also. It is Lord Shiva's Mantra. By chanting this Mantra, Hindu's believe that divine vibrations are generated which ward off all the negative and evil forces and create a powerful protective shield. And it is said to protect the one who chants against accidents and misfortunes of every kind. It is a vibration that pulsates through every cell, every molecule of the devotee's body and tears away the veil of ignorance. It ignites a fire within us that consumes all our negativity and purifies our entire system. It is also said to have a powerful healing of diseases declared uncurable even by the doctors. It is a Mantra to conquer death and connects the devotee to his/her own inner divinity.
Om Tryambakam Yajaamahe
Sugandhim Pushti Vardhanam
Urvaarukamiva Bandhanaat
Mrityor Muksheeya Ma-Amritaat
"Let us worship Shiva (the three-eyed One), who is sacred (fragrant) and who nourishes all beings. Just as the ripe cucumber is automatically released from its attachment to the creeper, may we be liberated from (total identification with) death (our mortal body and personality) and be granted (realisation of) our immortality nature."
Mritu = death
Jaya = victory
This mantra is so called because, when chanted sincerely with reflection on its meaning, it can convey realisation of our Essential Nature which is beyond birth and death. In this way, it gives us victory over unquestioned assumptions and ignorance of what we are.
OM = symbol of underlying Reality; mystic mantra for evoking heightened Awareness
Tryambakam = the three-eyed, indicating Shiva (Consciousness)
This third eye is the faculty of intuition and insight (in-sight; inner vision; subtle perception) which allows us to realise Shiva (our Essential Nature). Besides our two fleshy eyes, each of us has a third eye which lies dormant unless it is awakened by the practices of Yoga or any other transformative system. When it awakens we can live in the world of mundane affairs (with the two fleshy eyes) whilst remaining in contact with the Roots of our Being (with the third eye).
Yajaamahe = we venerate or worship.
Sugandhim = fragrant. When the third eye is awakened everything becomes fragrant; that is, everything is seen to be fundamentally sacred.
Pushti = nourishes. Reality nourishes (sustains or supports) everything.
Vardhanam = increases. On the Yogic path, our understanding increases day by day.
Urvaarukamiva = a creeper that bears cucumber-like fruits.
Here it symbolises each of us and our relationship to existence. Just as each cucumber ripens on the creeper and, at the right time, falls off, so each of us can grow and mature (aided by Yoga) until we realise a deeper Element behind our existence and that of everything. This gradually releases us from our self-obsessions and we ripen - we start to open up to a wider dimension of existence. It is a natural process; Yoga is part of this process of maturation.
Bandhanaat = bondage.
Mrityor = death; ignorance.
Muksheeya = liberate.
Therefore bandhanaat mrityor muksheeya means 'liberate us from the bondage of death or ignorance.'
Maa-amritaat = (realisation of) the immortal Reality behind everything.
Constant repetition of this ancient Sanskrit mantra purifies the heart and awakens our perception (third eye) so that we start to understand on a deeper level. Simultaneous reflection on its meaning also helps to awaken our intuitive faculties. It may also be chanted to aid those who are suffering or ill.
Summary of the Mantra
We worship Shiva - The Three-Eyed Lord. Whose eyes are the Sun, Moon and Fire
Who is fragrant and nourishes all beings; May he protect us from all disease, poverty and fear
And bless us with prosperity, longevity and health.
May he liberate us from death, For the sake of immortality;
As the cucumber is automatically liberated, From its bondage from the creeper when it fully ripens.
The great mantra dedicated to Shiva as Mrityunjaya is found in the Rig Veda (Mandala VII, Hymn 59), where it is attributed to the sage Vasistha. The hymn in which it is found begins with eleven stanzas honoring the forces of nature (the maruts) said to be the children of Rudra/Shiva. The maruts control the energies of storms, winds, cyclones, and clouds (and thus the nurturing light of the sky). They possess destructive energy, but they are also the protectors of the household. When they act in harmony, they create an environment of peace and prosperity.
Vasistha pays homage to these forces and then continues with the final stanza, a mantra revered throughout the scriptures. It is called the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra, the Great Death-Conquering mantra. It is a mantra that has many names and forms. It is called the Rudra mantra, referring to the furious aspect of Shiva; the Tryambakam mantra, alluding to Shiva's three eyes; and its is sometimes known as the Mrita-Sanjivini mantra because it is a component of the "life-restoring" practice given to the primordial sage Shukra after he had completed an exhausting period of austerity. The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is hailed by the sages as the heart of the Veda. Along with the Gayatri mantra it holds the highest place among the many mantras used for contemplation and meditation.
There was a time, it is said, when there was no death. But the world became congested, and its resources approached the point of exhaustion. So Yama was given the role of bringing death to beings to restore nature's balance and relieve the suffering of the planet. Death needed servants to accomplish its task. Disease, famine, accidents, and old age played this role and acted as death's messengers. But, not understanding its place in the order of the universe, all beings feared death. They witnessed premature death and worried about they be taken before their appropriate time. When that time did come, fear of death led to even greater suffering. To overcome this fear, it is said that Lord Shiva himself gave humanity the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. Whenever there is listlessness, stress, grief, or illness, or when fears of death intrude in awareness, this great mantra can be used for healings, for maintaining vitality, and for refuge.
The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra restores health and happiness and brings calmness in the face of death. When courage or determination are blocked, it rises up to overcome obstacles. It awakens a healing force that reaches deep into the body and mind. Just as a plant patiently gathers nutrients from the soil, so healing and nourishing forces enter the human body through foods, medicines, supportive emotions, and encouraging thoughts. The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra attracts these forces and creates an inner environment to enhance their effectiveness. Thus the mantra can be used whenever any restorative process is undertaken.
There are no restrictions as to who may learn and practice the mantra, not is it necessary to embrace the mythology surrounding the mantra in order to use it. It is enough to approach it with respect. The first step is to learn to recite the mantra correctly. Although it may appear long, it has only thirty-two syllables and it can be learned with a modest effort. Slow repetition combined with a review of the meaning of the individual words will help in remembering them. Once the mantra is learned, bring it to mind as you begin your daily meditation, as a kind of invocation to your normal practice. After calming the body and breath, do 3, 11, 21, or even 36 recitations, and allow your mind to become absorbed in the sounds and rhythm of each line. Let the mantra draw your awareness to the heart center or the eyebrow center, whichever feels most natural to you, and use that center as the focal point of your awareness. If you are reciting the mantra to help with a health problem, focus your awareness at the navel center. At some point you may wish to do more repetitions in a given period of time. There are many reasons for wanting to do this. You may be going through a period of poor health or low energy; you may be seeking a deeper sense of security or confidence; you may feel stressed or overwhelmed by events or attachments in your life.
The temple of human life is the body; prayers and acts of worship culminate in meditation; and that the inner lingam which blesses us with immortality is the energy flowing from the base of the spine to the crown of the head.
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