Shiva as Mrityunjaya: Someone who conquers death

The pandemic that the world is facing today has caused physical and mental imbalance in the world, households and within each person. Fear and uncertainty is lurking everywhere. The best way to face these tough times is by taking necessary medical precautions mingled with surrender and prayers. Who better than Shiva himself though of course you can choose your own divine calling. Let’s see why Shiva…

Shiva is fierce as Rudra but at the same time gullible, easy to please as Bholenath. As a bhakt or devotee you can pray to him in the simplest of ways but with complete surrender. He is at the beck and call of his bhakt. Shiva is the darkness that envelopes the universe but at the same time he is the light that destroys the darkness. He is the destroyer and the giver of life.

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Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra is dedicated to Shiva as Rudra which is the fierce form of Lord Shiva. He symbolically destroys all evil within us and outside too. This mantra is a powerful tool to invoke the hidden cosmic energy that lies dormant in all of us. Therefore, if recited with full devotion and concentration, it can elevate your consciousness to a higher level and bring you closer to Shiva himself.

Since Shiva is responsible for dissolution and regeneration, chanting this potent mantra ensures a disease-free, blissful and long life. This mantra which is found in the Rig Veda is attributed to rishi Vasishtha. This mantra is a part of the hymn which talks of the forces of nature, the maruts, and the children of Rudra/Shiva. They control the energies of storms, winds, cyclones and are destructive and protective in nature. They create an atmosphere of peace and prosperity when they are in harmony.

The Maha mrityunjaya mantra is divided into four lines, each containing eight syllables. Translations vary. No single translation can ever do justice to all its levels of meaning. Sanskrit as a language where words can be used in versatile ways too adds dimensions to it. The sounds of the mantra are more important than the meaning. The positive sound vibrations created by chanting this mantra, leads the mind to an inner, deeper experience. The literal meaning of the mantra therefore, becomes secondary.

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Death especially sudden and due to disease or accident is feared by all. To overcome this fear, it is said that Lord Shiva himself gave humanity the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. Whenever there is stress, grief, illness, fear of death this mantra can be used for healing and maintaining vitality. This mantra restores health, happiness and brings calmness in the face of death. It gives courage, determination and helps 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 our body through food, medicines, emotions, and positive thoughts. This magical mantra attracts these forces, creating a positive inner environment, beginning a restorative process.

Many of our ancient scriptures have stories praising Shiva as Mrityunjaya and the practice of chanting the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. The varied meanings given could be literal or symbolic.

The power of the mantra has been explained by Shiva himself in the Netra Tantra, a conversation recorded between Shiva and his wife, Parvati in which he not only answers her questions but also explains to her the importance of the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra. Shiva being a yogi or someone who is self-realised had knowledge on every field but didn’t share it with anyone since he was always in deep meditation. Once married he had his wife Parvati as his audience. She was curious and Shivji satisfied her curiosity. These conversations became very important as they were overheard by animals, birds and rishis who further spread this knowledge and so mankind benefitted from them for years to come.

Parvati wondered how Shivji’s eyes that were so full of compassion could be destructive enough to burn Kamdev. He then explained how his eyes were not mere eyes but that the light in them was all-pervading with the fire element in them. This fire residing in them manifested in the form of Mrityunjaya mantra. It is the source of life for all living beings, he further added. He said that the radiant energy in his eyes infused matter with life. This force helps him destroy, create and possess healing powers, he further added. Shivji said that he was given the title of “Mrityunjaya, “the conqueror of death.” as he was capable of granting freedom from all forms of misery and diseases. He suggested meditating on the glowing light manifesting in the form of Mrityunjaya mantra which provides relief from worldly and spiritual problems. Shiva said that apart from ensuring mental and physical health, it can help rid you of the five Avidhyas which are Raag, Dwesh, Abhinavesha, Asmita and Avidya or false knowledge itself.


The first step is to learn to recite the mantra correctly. Slow repetition with the knowledge of the meaning of the individual words will help in remembering them. While chanting the mantra allow your mind to become absorbed in the sounds and rhythm of the chant. Using a mala is recommended. One complete mala ensures 108 repetitions of the mantra. You can use any mala but a Rudraksha mala would be apt since it represents Shiva himself.

This mantra can be used to grow in your spiritual practice too. Tantra is a word that has been misunderstood as the real meaning of the word is not known to peopleThe word Tantra can be understood by breaking it into 2 parts. Tan means human body, and Shashtra, means knowledge. Therefore,it guides us to use our body for spiritual growth. The yogis, sadhak and rishis with their long drawn sadhna and research discovered the knowledge of chakras, nadis, Kuundalini along with the ways like yogic practices to use these tools for self-realisation and to attain moksha or salvation from the cycle of life and death. They then documented them in these scriptures for the benefit of mankind. Chanting the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra activates some of the chakras in our body, causing transcendental changes.

Let’s analyse the meaning of the Maha Mrityunjaya mantra:

AUM, Triambikam, Yaja-Mahe, Sugandhim Pushti Vardanam,

 Urvarukmiva, Bandhanan, Mrityormokshiya,Mamratat !”

Literal meaning of the mantra-

Aum is the universal sound.

Triambakam means one who is three eyed.

Yajamahe means we worship.

Sugandhim means sweet smell.

Pushtivardhanam means nourishes and increases.

Urvarukmiva means like a cucumber.

Bandhanan means the bondage.

Mrityormokshiya means free me from the bondages of death or the Karmic cycle

Mamratat means lead me to immortality.

Use this mantra to relieve you of all stresses of the material world and to bring about transcendental and spiritual changes in you. You can chant it as a family whatever number of times is convenient for the well-being and protection of the family which is required in these difficult times. Please note that it is not to be chanted for someone in a critical condition, fighting for his or her life.

Written by Shalini Modi

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