In the Vedic Tradition there are two great mantras that stand out from all the rest. These are the Gayatri Mantra for enlightenment and the Mrityunjaya Mantra, the most powerful mantra for healing and longevity.
This mantra is addressed to Shiva for warding off untimely death. While its energy protects, it re-links consciousness to its deeper essential nature and repetition of the mantra develops concentration that leads to a transformation of awareness. Whereas the Gayatri Mantra is meant for purification and spiritual guidance, the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra is mainly meant for healing rejuvenation and nurturance.
OM TRYAMBAKAM YAJAMAHE
SUGANDHIM PUSHTI VARDHANAM
MRTYOR MUKSHIYA MAMRTAT
We pray to Lord Shiva, the three eyed one whose eyes are the Sun, Moon and Fire, who is fragrant with Divine attributes (peace, completeness and Self wisdom), and who sustains all living beings. May He protect us from all disease, poverty and fear. May he bless us with prosperity, longevity and good health, liberating us from the cycle of birth and death and lead us to immortality, just as the cucumber is released from its bondage to the creeper when it fully ripens. Let us never turn away from the source of immortality.
It is also known as the Tryambakam (three eyed one) Mantra, the supreme healing mantra on all levels. It is said to remove all physical disease, protect against accidents, untimely death and premature aging. It removes mental diseases such as confusion, fear (including the fear of death), sorrow, frustration, anger, negativity, vengeful thoughts and removes spiritual diseases like ignorance, ego and the six enemies (lust, greed, delusion, etc.)
It also bestows highest knowledge, guides us to perform right actions, removes difficulties and sorrows and showers us with health, happiness and the fulfillment of desires. It drives away fear, bringing bliss, peace and prosperity, creating a pure stable, one-pointed Dharmic purpose in life and ultimately spiritual immortality.
All physical disease begins in the subtle body. This mantra clears the subtle seeds of illnesses, including those as a result of past Karmas.
The word Mahamrityunjaya is comprised of three words. Maha means great, Mrityun means death and Jaya means victory. Together they mean, “the great one who gains victory over death”. In mythology it is sometimes known as the Mrita-Ssanjijani Mantra because of its apparent life-restoring power.
The mantra is found in the 7th Mandala (chapter) of the Rig Veda and also appears in the Yajur Veda. It is one of the oldest mantras in the Vedas and is dedicated to the ferocious aspect of Shiva,known as Rudra. It is part of a longer chant known as the Rudram. The Rudram is said to be filled with powerful mantras like precious gems in a crown and the Mrtyunjaya is the most radiant jewel set in the center of the crown.
The mythological story says that a rishi and his wife were childless. They started praying to Lord Shiva and finally managed to make him appear before them. He agreed to give them a boon of a son but with a condition. The son would either be very wise but have a short lifespan or, would have a normal lifespan but would be of average intelligence. The couple decided to go for the first option and gave birth to a son named as Markandeya. However, Lord Shiva said that the child would live only for 16 years.
Unaware of his fate, Markandeya was a staunch devotee of Lord Shiva. When Markandeya started approaching the age of 16, his parents became extremely depressed. He insisted on knowing the reason and finally his parents revealed the truth and his fast approaching demise.
Markandeya started praying sitting in front of a Linga (physical representation of Shiva).
When he turned 16, he was in deep meditation and prayer. Lord Yama, the god of death, came to take Markandeya. Markandeya didn’t want to go and embraced the Shiva Linga, surrendering himself to the mercy of Lord Shiva.
Lord Yama, decided to apply force and threw a rope around Markandeya. Unfortunately, the rope fell around the Shiva Linga, which made Shiva angry and he appeared in front of Markandeya and Yama. Shiva was so furious that he instantly killed Yama.
The other gods panicked and said that death of Yama would completely disrupt the universe’s balance and hence, reviving him was necessary. Shiva agreed to the plea of other gods but put forward a condition that the boy Markandeya would live forever. Everyone agreed to the condition and Yama was revived.
It is said that during his prayers to Shiva, Markandeya had created the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra and that the mantra was known only to him.The legend continues as to how the mantra became public.
It is said that once, one of the gods put a curse on the Moon God, Chandrama. Because of the immortal curse, Chadrama gradually started to die. To save Chandrama, Sati (who was actually Shakti born as Sati so that she could marry Lord Shiva) went to Rishi Markandeya and asked for the Mahamrityunjaya mantra to maintain the balance of universe. Markandeya gave her the mantra and stated that if several rishis chant the mantra along with Sati before Chandrama dies completely, the effect of the curse will be reversed. Chandrama was saved but because the curse could not be completely removed, Lord Shiva appeared and accepted to place Chandrama on his head so that Chandrama will never die.
While it can be chanted at any time, the best time to chant the Mrityunjaya is early in the morning, to energize and cleanse the physical and the subtle body and create a shield to protect us throughout the day.
Sit relaxed, facing the direction of the sun, with eyes closed and, if comfortable, with the attention in the Ajna Chakra (the space between the eyebrows) or the heart center. The attention can be in the navel area if the mantra is being used for a specific health challenge.
Chanting the mantra 108 is said to give the the qualities of Shiva in our lives. However, if time doesn’t permit, chant it 27 times or as many as you do have time for. When chanted aloud, its benefits radiate to bring peace to the whole Universe.
Wearing a rudraksha mala (the beads of Shiva) and using a rudraksha mala to keep count is also auspicious. If you can’t chant the mantra, listening to it is also very valuable.
Monday, Shiva’s day, is the best day to chant the Mrityunjaya and also during the period of a full moon. The mantra can be chanted at the beginning of a journey for protection from calamity.
The mantra may also be chanted directly or by a recording, to support a person who is seriously ill.
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. The mantra can be recited when taking medicines, to prepare the body to make the best use of them. Those working in the healing professions will benefit from reciting the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra regularly by tapping into an infinite reserve of healing energy.
Anyone may chant the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra. There is a recording in the Chant Section of my website and many others are available on the Internet.
Wishing you a long and healthy life.