As per Krishna Yajur Veda, Śrī Rudram ends with 11th anuvāka. But there are eight additional mantras, which are by default chanted at the end of Śrī Rudram. Among these is an important mantra known as mṛtyuñjaya mantra. These mantras are in the form strong prayers aiming for Liberation.
त्र्यम्बकं यजामहे सुगन्धिं पुष्टिवर्धनम्।
उर्वारुकमिव बन्धनान्मृत्योर्मुक्षीय मामृतात्॥
tryambakaṁ yajāmahe sugandhiṁ puṣṭivardhanam |
urvārukamiva bandhanānmṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt || (1)
Our salutations to the naturally fragrant; the One who sustains this universe and the One who has three eyes. Please make me not to transcend the path to Liberation. Let me attain mokṣa by releasing me from the clutches of saṁsāra, like a ripened fruit of cucumber getting released from the plant on its own.
How to attain mokṣa? Kṛṣṇa explains this in Bhagavad Gītā. “The one who has an even mind gets rid of both virtues and vices, even during this life. Therefore, be with this yoga which is the art of executing all actions. Those wise men with balanced mind, by surrendering the fruits of actions, free themselves from the bondage of death, reach the Supreme place. When your wisdom fully transcends the darkness of delusion, then you reach the stage of callousness to the matters that have been heard and yet to be heard. A wise aspirant should seek the Supreme State of the Lord, with a resolve to seek refuge in the Primeval Puruṣa, the eternal source of energy of everything. Those who are free from pride and delusion, having won over the miseries of attachment, perpetually connected with the Lord, whose desires have ceased to exist, totally freed from dyads reach the supreme state of immortality. That Supreme Abode of mine is not illuminated by sun, moon or fire and those who reach here, never go back to the material world.”
For such a being, death happens in fraction of a second. Shiva says, “A few minutes before death, five superimposed sheaths known as kośa or bodies contract and become one with me. This is called absorption or contraction. In other words, at the appointed time of death, gross body dies and merges into subtle body. After fraction of a second, subtle body dissolves into the causal body and they become prāṇa. You (Śakti) also get dissolved into this prāṇa and at the appointed time of death, you push me outside the body through an orifice at the top of the skull, known as brahmarandra, also known as my orifice (orifice of Brahman). This is meant only for my exit from the body. You in the form of prāṇa push me with the highest force and make me exit from the body and then the concerned body is called dead. You attain maximum potency in a human body only at the time of death. By using your extreme force, both of us (Śiva and Śakti) exit from the body. Just a few seconds before the final exit, his or her karmas are condensed and attached to me as the tiniest particle and this particle is known as karma, derived from the word karman, known as remuneration for all the actions done in one’s life, not only in this birth, but also during his or her past births. If there are no karmic imprints for them, they become one with me and this is called Liberation.”
Repeated repetition of this mantra gives painless death.
यो रुद्रो अग्नौ यो अप्सु य ओषधीषु यो रुद्रो विश्वा भुवना विवेश तस्मै रुद्राय नमो अस्तु।
yo rudro agnau yo apsu ya oṣadhīṣu yo rudro viśvā bhuvanā viveśa tasmai rudrāya namo astu | (2)
Salutations to Rudra, who prevails in fire, water, plants and all the worlds.
His omnipresence is emphasized. All the worlds refer to the seven worlds declared in Gāyatrī mantra - bhūḥ, bhuvaḥ, svaḥ, mahaḥ, janaḥ, tapaḥ and satyaṁ.
तमुष्टुहि यः स्विषुस्सुधन्वा यो विश्वस्य क्षयति भेष जस्य।
tamuṣṭuhi yaḥ sviaṣussudhanvā yo viśvasya kṣayati bheṣa jasya | (3)
Salutations to Rudra, who has excellent bow and arrows; and who is in the form of remedies (medicines) that cures all ailments.
Repetition of this mantra cures all types of ailments. This mantra is both salutation and prayer to Rudra. Subtle prayer is “You are the medicine for all the ailments (both physical and mental) and please free me from my ailments.”
यक्ष्वामहे सौमनसाय रुद्रं नमोभिर्देवमसुरं दुवस्य।
yakṣvāmahe saumanasāya rudraṁ namobhirdevamasuraṁ duvasya | (4)
O Lord! Salutations to you who annihilates demons; please give us benevolent kind mind.
Mind involves both saṃkalpa and vikalpa. Saṃkalpa means resolve, process of thought. Vikalpa means difference of perception. Both are opposite to each other. Mind is also subtle like knowledge. Mind is reflected through the five sensory organs. It has both saṃkalpa and vikalpa quality as it acts through the impressions received from sense organs that get fine-tuned in the form of thought and finally explodes in the form of actions. Since lack of knowledge is the cause for duality, it is called bondage. If one has knowledge, he will say I am That (Brahman). Innate nature or unconditioned state of mind is called ānava mala. It refers to the limitation pertaining to empirical individual. It is the primal limiting condition which reduces universal consciousness to a jīva or individual soul. This state of mind is called innate because, the mind does not realise the Brahman and as a result gets bonded. Liberation is needed to get out of this bondage. This liberation is possible only with knowledge.
अयं मे हस्तो भगवानयं मे भगवत्तरः। अयं मे विश्वभेषजोऽय शिवाभिमर्शः॥
ayaṁ me hasto bhagavānayaṁ me bhagavattaraḥ | ayaṁ me viśvabheṣajo'ya śivābhimarśaḥ || (5)
These hands of mine are His hands and are highly blessed. My hands are medicines for all my ailments. These are the hands that feels Shiva and worship Him.
This is an affirmation from His devotee. He feels the Bliss of worshipping Him with His hands.
There are four types of consciousness. They are sālokya, sarūpa, samībha and sāyujya. Beyond this is kaivalya. Sālokya is the stage where one performs ritual worship, worshipping idols or portraits of gods. In sarūpa he leaves idol worship and does not differentiate himself from god. In samībha he goes near the god and in sāyujya stage he merges with god. These are the stages of one’s consciousness that finally lead to kaivalya. One has to progress from one stage to another and this progression happens depending upon the level of spirituality. The realization happens through a series of processes beginning with ritual worship, mantras, recitations, study of Vedanta, meditation, perpetual meditation leading to a stage where all materialistic worships cease and final emancipation takes place.
ये ते सहस्रमयुतं पाशा मृत्यो मर्त्याय हन्तवे। तान् यज्ञस्य मायया सर्वानवयजामहे॥
ye te sahasramayutaṁ pāśā mṛtyo martyāya hantave | tān yajñasya māyayā sarvānavayajāmahe || (6)
O Lord of death! You have innumerable weapons such as noose, etc. to take the lives of beings. I request you to remove them through our pūjā and prayers.
Pūjā and prayers purify our minds and lead to ‘internal oblation’ or tatvaśodhana, wherein all the dualities are sacrificed as oblations in the internal fire. Brahman can be realised only through spiritual knowledge. Realization happens through different stages. First, one has to be ritualistic. For example, the aspirant is involved in performing pūjā-s. Next he gets initiated into japa-s (recitation of mantras). He begins to perform japa-s. Over a period of time, he reduces his pūjā-s and is more involved with his japa-s. At this time, he begins his quest for realization. He begins his search for a spiritual guru (generally different from a guru who initiates him into mantra) and with the help of his guru he begins to pursue his spiritual path. He moves away from his japa-s to concentrate on meditation and internal exploration. At the appointed time and with His Grace, he realizes the Self within. This transformation happens in fraction of a second and without any prior symptoms. The self becomes the Self and he remains in the state of bliss all the time.
मृत्यवे स्वाहा मृत्यवे स्वाहा। ॐ नमो भगवते रुद्राय विष्णवे मृत्युर्मे पाहि॥
mṛtyave svāhā mṛtyave svāhā | om namo bhagavate rudrāya viṣṇave mṛtyurme pāhi || (7)
O all pervasive Bhagavān! Salutations to you Rudra! My prayers are offerings to you. My prayers are offerings to you. Please save me from the pangs of death.
Śiva means auspiciousness. His Grace on His devotees is auspicious, hence He is called Śiva. Māṇḍūkya Upaniṣad (7) says that the sum total of all that is good is known as Śivam. Śiva is adored here as Viṣṇu, because He is the embodiment of all auspiciousness. The Upaniṣad says, “prapañcopaśamaṁ śāntaṁ śivaṁ प्रपञ्चोपशमं शान्तं शिवं”. This means the total cessation of the world as such, the embodiment of peace and the sum total of all that is good.
It subtly conveys the way to realize Him, which is a prerequisite for liberation. As per the saying of this Upaniṣad, prapañcopaśamaṁ means prapañca + upaśamaṁ. Prapañca means the material world and upaśamaṁ means negation or elimination. Unless the material world is negated, one will not get śāntaṁ, which means mental peace. If one does not get śāntaṁ, he cannot receive His Grace, which is a prerequisite for mokṣa. Since mind is an exclusive gift to humankind, liberation is possible only during a human birth.
This is also endorsed by Mahānārāyaṇa Upaniṣad (21) which says, “May the Supreme, who is the ruler of all knowledge, controller of all created beings, the preserver of the Vedas be benign to me.” This Upaniṣad uses Śivam to mean benignancy.
This nāma can also be interpreted to mean that there is no difference between Viṣṇu and Śiva. They are the two different names of Brahman. Names and forms are useful only in the initial stages of spiritual life, in order to contemplate on certain prescribed forms. In due course, the forms vanish, leading to the realization of the Divine Light.
This mantra prays for mokṣa, as nobody can escape from death.
प्राणानां ग्रन्थिरसि रुरो मा विशान्तकः। तेनान्नेनाप्यायस्व॥
prāṇānāṁ granthirasi ruro mā viśāntakaḥ | tenānnenāpyāyasva || (8)
O Rudra! You connect all the prāṇa-s (there are different types of prāṇa-s that perform various activities in a human body) and sensory organs. Please enter into me in the form of food I consume. Please satisfy with oblations I make in the form of taking food and bless me.
Taittirīya Upaniṣad (II.ii.2) says, “Different from the food sheath, known as kośa of food, prāṇamayaḥ, i.e. in the form of prāṇa is Ātma.” Again (III.3) says, “prāṇa is Brahman, for it is from prāṇa that all beings have emerged; having emerged, they are sustained by prāṇa and when they die they dissolve into prāṇa.”
When senses and sensory organs interact, they become the cause for pleasures for those who are attached to materialistic life. Surely they are the cause for grief. Further they have beginning and end. The one, who is able to resist the temptations of desire and anger, becomes a yogi. He is indeed a happy man. A resolute person who feels the beatification and elucidation within, attains the everlasting peace of the Brahman, who is in the form inner light, whose sins and incertitude are obliterated by acquiring knowledge and whose minds are conditioned and firmly established in the Brahman and actively engaged in service to humanity, attain the everlasting peace of the Brahman,
What is prayed for in this mantra is cessation from rebirths. The devotee wants only Liberation. After having worshipped Rudra and His various actions, finally the devotee conceives Him within and seeks Liberation. Saving from pangs of death means, cessation from transmigration.
ॐ शान्तिः ॐ शान्तिः ॐ शान्तिः om śāntiḥ om śāntiḥ om śāntiḥ
ŚRĪ RUDRA PRAŚNA CONCLUDED