[Advaita-l] त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे

girish girish girishwe at yahoo.com
Tue Feb 28 05:10:05 EST 2017

ॐ त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगंधिं पुष्टिवर्धनम् || 
उर्वारुकमिव बंधनात् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय माsमृतात्||
[From Rigveda]

Vasistha Maharshi was the द्रष्ट (Person who first saw/heard this mantra) of this mantra.  So anyone who wishes to know anything about this mantra should first offer respects to him. – वसिष्ठ महर्षये नमः

Meaning of the mantra:

यजामहे - We pray 
Whom?-  त्र्यम्बकं (3 eyed ones), सुगंधिं (good scented) and पुष्टिवर्धनम् (who nourishes and gives full health and well being)
For what? उर्वारुकमिव बंधनात् मृत्योर्मुक्षीय – protection from death like the cucumber / melon protected by its stem
(मुक्षीय) माsमृतात्   and not from immortality

Out of so many names of Rudra, why त्र्यम्बकं, सुगंधिं and पुष्टिवर्धनम् are only appearing?  Further, why only 3 names, it could have stopped at one or have had a couple of them more.     This, again, has significance.  The prayer is for protection from death.  Death is a trouble / problem.  We face three types of problems (ताप) – आधिभौतिक (from nature/ environment), आधिदैविक (from acts of god like floods, famine etc.,), आध्यात्मिक (from self).  Generally we tell ॐ शांतिः शांतिः शांतिः to get the rid of these three troubles.  

Now, these three names of Rudra are significant because each of the names represent that form of Rudra which has power to eliminate the respective trouble when remembered.  (मननात् त्रायते इति मंत्रं)

1.	त्र्यम्बकं form of Rudra is prayed to overcome आधिदैविक problems – as in this form He as the supreme vision through three eyes (त्रीनि अंबकानि यस्य सः).  This means Rudra has अनंत दृष्टि – his vision can cut through time and space.  (सहस्राक्षः सहस्रपात् in पुरुष सूक्त; and सर्वतः चक्षुः in Vishnu Sahasranama).  He is the one and only witness – साक्षि (संयक् ईक्षण शक्ति – means always seeing). 
2.	सुगंधिं form of Rudra is prayed to overcome आधिभौतिक problems – He is सु-गंधिं – the गंधं is interpreted as one of the पंचतन्मात्र s - शब्द, स्पर्श, रूप, रस & गंध.  As per the उपलक्षक न्याय it is not only सुगंधिं, but applies to all as सु-शब्द, सु-स्पर्श, सु-रूप and सु-रस.  By praying so, the entire पंचभूतs do not constraint us.
3.	पुष्टिवर्धनम् form of Rudra is prayed to overcome आध्यात्मिक problems – He is not only देह – पुष्टिवर्धनम् but also आत्म पुष्टिवर्धनम्.  What has happened is that the all prevailing आत्म has confined itself into a small mortal body and thinks that it is only that mere body (जीवात्म).  This is due to आवरण शक्ति of माय that this जीवात्म feels he is small.  Now, for him to realize that he is big – ब्रह्मन् –he needs lot of पुष्टि – Hence this form of Rudra is prayed for realization of one’s true form which is not the mere body as we think.

So, to sum up, the prayer is addressed to Rudra in his three forms which would eliminate the three troubles (ताप).  

What is the purpose of prayer – मृत्योर्मुक्षीय to get away from the death.  How is it sought?  उर्वारुकमिव बंधनात् – like how the cucumber / melon is protected by its stem.  All of a sudden, why has cucumber / melon come in?  Are there no better comparables? उर्वारुकम् has other meaning. उर्वा + अरुकम्.  उर्वा means big and अरुकम् means disease.  Now, this उर्वारुकम् is adjective to मृत्यु.  A big disease called death is holding me – Oh Rudra! Please protect me.  This is the inner meaning.

Is it possible to get protection from death?   Krishna in the Geetha says जातस्यहि धृवो मृत्युः meaning “everyone born has to die”.  Is it not in contradiction to the prayer in the above mantra?  What is the position now?  The extreme science has to be understood in a very methodical way.  Else, we are bound to fall in confusion.  

What Krishna said is “everyone born has to die” – So death is for person who takes birth.  What is birth – it is change of form, from one उपाधि (body) to another उपाधि (body).  So whose form is changed from one उपाधि to another उपाधि ? – The birth and death is to whom? – Now clarity emerges.  Birth and death is to body and not for the आत्म चैतन्य (soul) which resides in the body.  So if one thinks he is the mere body, he has birth and death.  If the same person thinks he is the very soul, he has no birth and so no death. 

Now we understand the last word of the mantra – माsमृतात् which means – Oh Rudra, do not push me from the state of अमृत (I am not mere body, I am the soul - आत्म चैतन्य).  This is what even Krishna said – if you take a birth you will die.  Effectively, death is nothing but a change.  What would change is the nature – प्रकृति.  If one recognizes the self as mere body, change is bound to be there.  The body takes birth, grows and dies.  But for the pure consciousness (आत्म चैतन्य) there is no question of such changes as it just exists in that body and only witnesses the changes साक्षि.  Now we can understand the significance of the name - त्र्यम्बकं in a better way.

To sum up:  This is another supreme mantra which the Almighty has revealed through Vasistha Maharshi.  The prayer is to Rudra for protecting ones true self, being just a witness (the state of साक्षित्व).  Even though it is aimed to bestow the ultimate realization of one’s true self, it also helps to keep the उपाधि protected from the troubles (ताप).


V Girish

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