Friday, February 12, 2010

shiva - the lord of lords

om tryambakam yajAmahe, sugandhim puShTi_vardhanam |
urvArukamiva bandhanAt, mRityor_mukShIya mAmRitAt ||
rigveda - 7.59.12

we meditate to the three-eyed, (like) fragrance, the nourisher |
give us liberation from death like a (ripe) cucumber, not from immortality ||

i will keep the post short, since it is very easy to write pages and pages on shiva, and not even make a start!

tryamabakam = tri (three) + ambakam (eye)
it is NOT triambakam, lingustic rules make the i+a = y. that is why the vowels are a, e, i, o, u and sometimes y. because y is made of i + a

the three eyes of shiva are sun, moon and fire (see next shloka). the sun and moon are the day and night, the physical world being watched, caused by shiva, and the third, the fire or knowledge is the inner sight. this fire of knowledge is what burns down desire, kAmadeva. this third eye of fire of knowledge burns all sins, and removes all darkness of inside.

sugandhim = fragrance
shiva is as subtle as fragrance, and without being seen, pervades all that is there.

puShTi-vardhanam = puShTi (nourishing, health) + vardhanam (one who increases)
shiva is the raw nature, all his symbols are about time and growth. shiva is the energy that nourishes all.

urvArukamiva = urvArukam (cucumber) + iva (like)
bandhanAt = from bondage (bandhanam)
mRityoH = of death
mukShIya = liberate me

like a cucumber, here the reference is to a ripe cucumber, which separates from the vine very easily. compared to an unripe one which you can tug and tug and even break the vine but not separate the cucumber.

this is symbolic of our attachment to this world. unless we ripen, mature, grow out of the attachments of this mortal world, the death, separation can't be easy.

some explanations say that urvArukamiva = from great disease.
the break up given is urvaa = huge, arukam = disease
this is completely wrong, and is an axample of how, when we get carried away in 'devotion', we start creating new explanations, which are not even warranted from the words.

for it to be 'big disease' it has to UrvA not urvA (short u at beginning). and then how do you explain the 'iva' (like)?

this is a very ancient mantra of shiva, appearing in rig-veda, the earliest extant large volume works of humanity, and verily prized possession of the aryans. this itself should disprove all the aryan invasion theories, since if the aryans really invaded from outside, why would they hold shiva, the 'pagan', 'local' god, in such high esteem? (couldn't help that side remark : ) aryan invasion or migration into india is purely a colonial distraction.

vande shambhum umA-patim sura-gurum, vande jagat-kAraNam |
vande pannaga-bhUShaNam mRiga-dharam, vande pashUnAm patim |
vande sUrya-shashA~nk-vahni-nayanam, vande mukunda-priyam |
vande bhakta-janAshrayam cha varadam, vande shivam sha~nkaram |

praise the joy-giver, husband of pArvatI, guru of the gods,
praise the cause of the universe.
praise the snake adorned, animal protector,
praise the lord of living beings (animals).
praise the one with sun, moon and fire as eyes,
praise the one dear to viShNu.
and praise the refuge of devotees, the boon giver,
praise the auspicious, good-doer.

the last one is shiva lingAShtakam.

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and now the language aspects of the shloka -

tryambakam = (to the) tri (three) + ambakam (eye) = to the three eyed
yajAmahe = we meditate, pray
sugandhim = to the (one like) fragrance
puShTi_vardhanam = puShTi (nourishment) + vardhanam (increaser)
urvArukamiva = urvArukam (cucumber) iva (like)
bandhanAn = bandhanAt = from bondage (trailing t become n due to sandhi)
mRityor = mRityoH = from death. together with bandhanAt, it means from the bondage of death
mukShIya = liberate us
mAmRitAt = maa + amRitAt = not from immortality

all shiva names ending in -am mean 'to such ... shiva'
vande = praise (as verb)
shambhum = giver of joy, prosperity. shiva
umA-patim = umA (parvatI)'s husband (patI)
sura-gurum = guru of sura (gods)
jagat-kAraNam = cause (kAraNam) of the universe (jagat)
pannaga-bhUShaNam = one who has jewelry (bhUShaNa) of snakes (pannaga)
mRiga-dharam = protector of animals (mRiga = deer, animal)
pashUnAm patim = lord (pati) of animals (pashunAm) [ pashu = animal]
sUrya-shashA~nk-vahni-nayanam = one with the eyes (nayanam) of sun (sUrya), moon (shashAnka) and fire (vahni)
shashA~nka = moon, one with the mark (a~nka) of rabbit (shasha)
mukunda-priyam = dear (priyam) to viShnu (mukunda)
bhakta-janAshrayam = refuge (Ashrayam) of devotees (bhakta-jana)
cha = and
varadam = boon (vara) giver (-da)
shivam = auspicious
sha~nkaram = doer of good

god bless the great creators of beautiful art in form of shiva images, and those who upload them. the images of shiva here are used from the internet. the lingAShTakam is from my book title 'hindu prayer book (2004)'

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(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
Practical Sanskrit. All rights reserved.


  1. Great job. Thank you. One minor point:

    It should be "liberate me from mortality."

    Mam (me) mritat (mortality)

    Thank you for your goodness.

  2. Very informative. Enhances our devotion to the Supreme One.


  3. Thank you so much for explaining the maha MRITYUNJOY mantra.

    I want the meaning and explanation of another mantra which is Shani dhyan mantra - sourastrang kashyap_ang shudra_ang......
    Please explain it.


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