Recited by the music ensemble in Gurudev Siddha Peeth.
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Shri Rudram, Chapter 11
Click here to learn more about the music notation of Shri Rudram.

A Prayer for Immortality

by Pramod Srivastava

This verse is known as the Mahā Mrityunjaya Mantra—“the great mantra that grants victory (jaya) over death (mrityu).” It is also known as the Rudra Mantra or the Tryambaka Mantra. This mantra appears originally in the Rig Veda, the oldest of the four Vedas, and again in the Yajur Veda, which is where the rest of Shri Rudram is from. Although this mantra is not part of the Namakam, it has traditionally been included in its recitations. The Mahā Mrityunjaya Mantra is well-known for granting mental, physical, and emotional health and is used to heal, nurture, rejuvenate, and to ward off untimely death.

Death is inevitable once a form has taken life. What, then, does the author of this mantra seek from Tryambaka, “the three-eyed Shiva”? The sage seeks that we be detached from the bondage of death and come to embrace our immortality. This powerful line alludes to the fact that we are actually attached to physical life even though it inevitably leads to death and, at the same time, we are attached to the immortality of the Self. The prayer encourages us to let go of the first attachment but not the second. How then can we detach from the bondage of death? The verse provides a startling and natural metaphor for renunciation—urvārukam iva, as a ripe cucumber effortlessly falls off from the vine holding it. This unusual metaphor reminded me of the times during my childhood when I would wander through our farms and be fascinated to see the large gourds and cucumbers hanging from their vines. I can easily imagine the author of this great mantra wandering about in his own garden, contemplating the fear of death and then seeing a cucumber fall off its vine, naturally on its own. Perhaps it was just such a simple and natural event that was the stimulus for the correct understanding to dawn.

The Mahā Mrityunjaya Mantra imparts the knowledge that immortal life can be experienced as one lets go of the fear of death and attachment to physical life.

Learn more about Shri Rudram.
Verses from Shri Rudram - 1Verses from Shri Rudram - 2

There are four musical pitches or notes in the melody of this recitation. The melody is notated using three marks—an underline, an accent, or a double accent—to indicate when changes in pitch take place.

A vowel with no marks above or below is sung on a central note.

A vowel with a horizontal line beneath is sung on a note lower than the central one (for example, kavim).

A vowel with a single accent above is sung on a note higher than the central one (for example, namáste).

A vowel with a double accent above it is held for two beats and sung on a higher note on the second beat (for example, namő ).

A good way to learn the melody and pronunciation for reciting Shri Rudram is by listening to someone who knows it, or to a recording, while reading the words. Begin by reciting mentally as you listen, then gradually practice reciting aloud.

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