The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is a powerful and ancient Sanskrit mantra that is chanted for protection, healing, and overcoming the fear of death.
The word “Maha” means great, “Mrityu” means death, and “Jaya” means victory or triumph. Therefore, the Maha Mrityunjaya is known as the “Great Death-conquering mantra”. It is sometimes written as one word or without an ending “a” like “mahamrityunjay”.
This chant invokes the power and qualities of Shiva, who is known as the lord of destruction and transformation. Shiva is associated with the third eye, which represents the power of spiritual knowledge and wisdom beyond the physical realm. He represents the cycle of life and death and invokes the power to transform negativity into new growth and opportunities. He is also known as the great Yogi and is often depicted seated in meditation or in a state of cosmic dance.
The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra originates from the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas, and is credited to Rishi Markandeya, an eminent sage whose wisdom has had an indelible impact on Vedic philosophy. The mantra first appears in Rigveda 7.59.12, which is a composite hymn attributed to Vasiṣṭha Maitrāvaruṇi. The last four verses (in which the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is found) are late additions to the hymn, and they make references to the Sākamedha, the last of the four-monthly rituals.
The Maha Mrityunjaya mantra is usually divided into four lines, with each line containing eight syllables:
Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
A general translation of this Sanskrit chant is:
We meditate on the three-eyed One, who is fragrant and nourishing to all. How a ripe fruit falls effortlessly off from a plant’s stem, may liberate us from ignorance, untruth, and death, for all of immortality.
A word-for-word translation is:
Om – The primeval sound, absolute reality
Tryambakam – the three-eyed one (Shiva)
Yajamahe – we worship, revel in meditation, adore
Sugandhim – the fragrant one, sweet-smelling, the fragrance of devotion
Pushtivardhanam – the bestower of nourishment and sustenance
Urvarukamiva – like a ripened cucumber or melon
Bandhanan – bound down
Mrityor – from death
Mukshiya – may you liberate
Maamritat – from immortality
Listen to the below video which contains the translation and powerful recitation.
Image creditNaveen Ramanathan, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons