Spirituality

Death to Death and Immortality

nataraja2.jpgThere are many stories and tales in the Hindu scriptures that if taken literally could be very silly, but if one were to ruminate on them, they suddenly sound very profound! Like this one, which really intrigued me!

Long time ago a couple, Rishi Mrikandu and his wife Marudmati worshipped Lord Shiva (the Destroyer), so they could get a son. Lord Shiva appeared and gave a choice – Gifted kid with short life OR Dull kid with Long life? They selected the former. And Markandeya was born. He was destined to die at 16 although an exemplary kid. [1]

As the day of death came, he was in the Shiva temple praying to the almighty. Yama, the lord of Death came to take him away as he was busy in his prayers. Seeing this Shiva appeared and apparently angered over Yama taking his devotee while he was in prayer, fought with Yama. And defeated him to the point of death! So, Shiva gave Death to Death himself – thus earning the name Kaalakalaya – the one who brought Death to Death!

The boy, Markandeya is supposed to have lived on forever then. When he had lived for billions of years, the sun flickered and extinguished as did the earth. Markandeya floated in space for years, until the Universe started anew and the sun and earth were again created and he could walk on earth again. He is supposed to have experienced the extinguishing of one Universe and the birth of another one…. but more importantly, has been a witness to the void in between.

Now, what is interesting is that no one can beat Death or live forever. As Yoga Vasistha says, even Vishnu and Shiva are manifestations which will go away. So, what about the devotee of Shiva himself? Markandeya’s greatest significance is that he symbolizes a witness of the “change over”. Scientists have talked of our Universe not being the “first one” – it seems there have been multiple ones before this as the creation and destruction cycles go on. Markandeya (mythical as it may be) is the witness of that cycle, as it were!

Let us go a little deeper. Rishi Markandeya is supposed to be the originator of Maha Mritunjaya Stotram. The word Stotram comes from the base word (or Dhaatu) “Stuti” or praise. It is a poem of praise of Maha Mritunjaya. Maha Mritunjaya mantra is supposed to be the mantra that gives immortality. And this Stotram from Markandeya is really a poem in praise of the Mantra and the Lord prayed to in the Mantra!

The full Stotram is given at the bottom. Notice two things – One, the poem oscillates between the profound (in blue) and the mundane (when going into the description of Shiva’s personality), which I think has been the major source of confusion for years! Why couldn’t someone who had understood the profound not stay with it… and not descend into the mundane? Almost as if the schizophrenic interplay between Mind and the Pure Consciousness is going on relentlessly!

Two, he says he will start chanting on the “thryambaka mantra”. What is that Mantra? It is also known as Maha Mritunjaya Mantra and comes from Yajurveda (TS 1.8.6.i; VS 3.60), and also has another variation in Br.hada-ran.yaka Upanishad 1.3.28. [2]

tryambakam. yaja-mahe sugandhim. pus.t.i-vardhanam
urva-rukam iva bandhana-n mr.tyor muks.i-ya ma-mr.ta-t

ॐ त्र्यम्‍बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम्
उर्वारुकमिव बन्‍धनान् मृत्‍योर्मुक्षीय मा मृतात्

The English translation is:

“OM. We worship and adore you, O three-eyed one, O Shiva. You are sweet gladness, the fragrance of life, who nourishes us, restores our health, and causes us to thrive. As, in due time, the stem of the cucumber weakens, and the gourd is freed from the vine, so free us from attachment and death, and do not withhold immortality.”

The freedom from death is also freedom from attachment. Both go together. It is not meant to be a “miracle” and against nature but at the very heart of Karma Yoga and core of Vedantic philosophy. The pivotal word being – attachment. But reading the story and the rituals that go on with the chanting of this mantra one would come to believe as if the chanter is trying to pull off a miracle and trying to give immortality to someone as he/she lives in this body and world! But is that so?

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That is the trouble with most Vedantic scriptures now – that profound has been buried under the dust of the “miraculous”. In the world of Pure consciousness, there is no such thing as a Miraculous or Divine. It is just that.. business as usual, as it were.

Reference links:

1. Markandeya
2. Mahamrityunjaya Mantra
3. Trambakeshwar
4. Avatar Kalki World

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Maha Mritunjaya Stotram [4]

Atha Nyasam (Now the introduction)

Om Sri Ganesaya Nama. Om asya Sri Maha mrutyunjaya stotra mantrasya, Sri Markandeya rishi, Anushtup chanda, Sri Mrutyunjayo devatha, Gowri shakthi, samastha mrutyu santhyartham , sakala aiswarya prapthyartham, jape viniyoga

Salutations to Lord Ganesa. I am chanting this ?Maha mrutyunjaya mantra (Chant to win over death), which is composed by Sage Markandeya, in anushtup meter, with Mrutyunjaya as God, Gowri as the strength, with a view to win over death and getting of all sorts of wealth.

Atha Dhyanam (Now the prayer)

Chandrarkagni vilochanam, smitha mukam,
Padmadwayantha sthitham,
Mudra pasa mrugakshasuthra vilasath paanim
Himaam suprabham,
Kotindu prakalathsudhaplutha thanum haaraathi,
Bhooshojwalam,
Kantham viswa vimohanam, pasupathim,
Mruthyunjayam bhavayeth.

I meditate on that victor over death,
Who has moon, sun and fire as eyes,
Who has a smiling face,
Who sits on two lotus flowers,
Whose hands shine with the sign, the rope,
The deer and the garland of rudraksha,
Who has the pleasant shine of the ice,
Who has a body drenched by nectar,
From billions of moons,
Who ornaments himself with several garlands,
Who is very handsome,
Who can attract the entire world,
And who is the lord of all beings.

Jape Viniyoga (Now the chant is being started)

Rudram, pasupathim, sthanum, neelakandam, umapathim,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 1

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god,
Who is the angry one,
Who is the lord of all beings,
Who is stable,
Who has a blue neck,
And who is the consort of Uma.

Neelakandam, kalamoorthim kalagnamr kalanasanam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 2

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god,
Who is having a blue neck,
Who is the form of death,
Who knows past, present and future,
And who destroyed the god of death.

Neelakandam, viroopaksham nirmalam vimalapradham,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 3

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god,
Who has a blue neck,
Who has a different eye,
Who is clean,
And who is dazzlingly bright.

Vamadevam mahadevam lokanadham jagatgurum,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 4

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god,
Who judges according to merit,
Who is the greatest god,
Who is the lord of the universe,
And who is the teacher of the world.

Devadevam jagannatham devesam vrushabhadwajam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 5

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god,
Who is the God of gods,
Who is the lord of the earth,
Who is the god of devas,
And who has a bull flag.

Traiksham chathurbhujam santham jata makuta dharanam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 6

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god,
Who has three eyes,
Who has four hands,
Who is peaceful,
And who wears matted hair and a crown.

Bhasmoddulitha sarvangam nagabharana bhooshitham,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 7

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god
Who is covered with ash,
All over his body,
And who wears the serpent,
As an ornament.

Anatham avyayam santham akshamala dharam haram,.
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 8

What can death do to the one,
Who salutes with his head that god,
Who is limitless,
Who cannot be explained,
Who is peaceful,
Who is the killer,
And who wears the garland of eyes

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Aaandham paramam nithyam kaivalya pada dhayinam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 9

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god
Who is happiness,
Who is beyond thought,
Who is stable,
And who grants salvation.

Ardhanaareeswaram devam parvathy prana nayakam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 10

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that god
Who is the god half male half female,
And who is the darling of Parvathy.

Pralaya sthithi karthaaram adhi kartharameeswaram,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 11

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that God
Who creates the state of deluge,
And who is the God who made the beginning.

Vyomakesam viroopaksham chandrardha krutha shekaram,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 12

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that God
Whose hair is the sky,
Who has a different eye,
And who has collected half of the moon.

Gangadharam sasidharam sankaram shoolapaninam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 13

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that God
Who carries the river Ganga,
Who keeps moon as an ornament,
Who is Lord Shankara,
And who carries a trident.

Swargapavarga datharam srushti sthithyanthakarinam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 14

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that God,
Who grant heaven and salvation,
Who looks after creation, upkeep and destruction.

Kalpa ayur dehi mey punyam yavad ayur arogatham,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 15

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that God,
Who can grant a life of an eon,
Who can bless you with a long life,
Bereft of any sickness.

Shivesanam mahadevam vamadevam sadashivam,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 16

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that God,
Who is Shiva as well as Easwara,
Who is the great God,
Who gives correct judgments,
And who is always peaceful.

Uthpathi sthithi samhara karthara meeswaram gurum,
Namami sirasa devam, kim no mrutyu karishyathi. 17

What can death do to the one
Who salutes with his head that God,
Who takes responsibility,
Of creation, upkeep and destruction,
And who is a great teacher.

Markandeya krutham stotram ya padeth shiva sannidhou,
Thasya mruthyu bhayam nasthi na agni chora bhayaam kwachith. 18

Any one reading this prayer,
Written by Markandeya,
In front of Lord Shiva,
Would not have
Fear of death,
Nor fear of fire and thieves.

Shathavrutham prakarthavyam sankate kashta nasanam,
Suchir bhoothwa padeth stotram sarva sidhi pradhayakam 19

Reading it one hundred times,
In times of misery,
Will get rid of it,
And reading it with a clean mind,
Would make one get all his wants.

Mruthyunjaya mahadeva thrahi maam saranagatham,
Janma mrutyu jara rogai, peeditham karma bandhanai. 20

Oh great God, who has won over God of Death,
Please save me as I am submitting to you,
From births, deaths, old age and disease,
And also the ties of Karma which affect me.

Thaavaka stvad gatha prana thawa chithoham sada mruda,
Ithi vignapya devesam thryambakakhyam japeth,
Nama sivaya Sambaya haraye paramathmane,
Pranatha klesa naasaya yoginaam pathaye nama. 21-22

I appeal to the God that,
My soul goes towards you,
And my mind always meditates on you,
And then chant of thryambaka mantra,
And salute that Samba,
Who is the inner soul of the destroyer,
And pray, Destroy all life’s problems,
Oh Lord of Yoga, I salute you.

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Desh Kapoor

The panache of a writer is proven by the creative pen he uses to transform the most mundane topic into a thrilling story. Desh – the author, critic and analyst uses the power of his pen to create thought-provoking pieces from ordinary topics of discussion. He writes on myriad interesting themes. Read the articles to know more about his views and “drishtikone”.

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