“Triyambakam yajaamaheh
Sugandhim Pushti Vardhanam
Oorvaaruka miva Bandhanaat
Mrityormuksheeya Maamritaat”

Tri-ambakam: Ambakam means ‘Eye’ which is instrumental for sight. Sight proceeds and darts forward. To propel is its nature. So also is the case with an arrow that is shot. Hence ambakam may also mean ‘arrow’. Hence, Triyambakam signifies the three looks, which are the three arrows emanating as tongues of flame, from ‘Chidagnikunda’ (the Fire-pit of Universal Consciousness), and alighted upon us. The three arrows struck us. The three are: ‘Tejus, Ap and Anna’ (Effulgence of light, water, and food). The Mother-Deity cast a look. That brought forth Luminous Effulgence. That Effulgence proceeded and became ‘Water’, which in due course solidified into ‘earth’ that is the source of ‘Anna’ (Food). All our thoughts are mingled with these three alone. We are not able to bypass these threee, or look beyond them. That Triyambaka is, by nature, characterized by Triguna-s’ i.e., three qualities or attributes. Hence, ‘Triyambakam Yajaamaheh’, If we adore that ‘Triyamlakam’, that itself is our Yagnya. That is our ‘maanasa yagnya’ (mental ritual) or ‘Gnyaana yagnya’, the Sacrifice involving knowledge or Wisdom, as mentioned in Bhagavad Geeta: ‘Gnyaana Yagnyena Taynaaham’. We have that intelligence, that awarenss, basically in our ‘mind’. What we have to do is ‘Dhyaana’ (Meditation). By that, our Gnyaana gets identified with ‘gneya’ (the Cognized), which in turn should merge into the ‘Gnyaata’ (cognizer). Then, the Gnyaata be indentified as one’s own True Nature (Swaroopa), which is the final result, the fruit of the Dhyaana. That is the ‘Sugandham’ (Cherished Fragrance) which is ‘Pushti Vardhanam’ (Sustainer of strength and vitality). Thus if we adore ‘Triyambaka’, then, it fructifies into the vitalizing Sugandha.

Another interpretation of the Mantra (of course in a lighter vein) is also in vogue. Something interesting and common place, but appealing to the layman. Triyambakam can refer to a coconut, which is known to be bestowed with much importance and auspiciousness in Hindu rituals and ceremonies. When we go to a temple, we offer a coconut to the Deity, and receive coconut water as ‘Teerdham’. In ceremonies, as in Satya Narayana Vratam etc., we deify the coconut (Kalasam) as the Deity Itself. Thus it has a very religious and auspicious significane. The coconut has, at the top of the shell, three small depressions, equally distanced, like eyes as it were, and hence deserves to be called ‘Triyambakam’ or three-eyed! Also, it has not only a characteristic pleasant fragrance (sugandhim), but also contains within the shell delicious water and tasty soft kernel which is nutritious and strength giving (pushtivardhanam). Thus the coconut satisfies the three characteristics viz., being three eyed, endowed with good fragrance, and imparting strength. Then the ‘Oorvaruka miva Bandhanaat Mrityor Muksheeya’ may be implied by its capability to ward off disease and ill-health, delinked from them as it were, in a natural way. This interpretation of the Mantra is of course, to be taken lightly!

There is another interpretation of the Mantra in the philosophical domain itself. The thoughts that sprout from one’s mind, are colored by three ‘guna-s’ (qualities), they being ‘Sutwan, Rujus and Tamas’. The mind is the seat of these tri-guna-s and hence can be conceived as the Triyambakam. If we were to ‘Yajamaheh’ i.e., worship it (the implication being to render it chaste and pure), then, good thoughts of Satvic quality woul spring forth from it. They are the ‘sugandha’ (of good flavour), in contrast to the impure and virulent thoughts of bad odour that normally sprout. Such fragrant thoughts impart strength and fortitude to the mind (pushti vardhanam). As Satvic nature grows and develops, a noble and enlightened outlook is generated. Then, ‘Oorvaruka miva Bandhanaat Mrityor Muksheeya’, like the delinked ripe cucumber fruit, the mind is unshackled from the undesirable afflictions of stress and strain. The mind consequently can repose in peace and serenity.

Now let us come to grips with the deeper significance and import of this Mantra. Triyambakam refers to the Supreme Being, the ‘Paramatma’, who is perceiving with His Tri-Netra (three eyes). They are Sun, Fire and Moon. These are symbolic of ‘manas, buddhi and ahankaara’, i.e., mind, intellect and ego. Spiritually, it is Paramatma alone that is manifesting through this trio of mind, intellect and ego, which are but the media. These are the three-pronged projections of the One Supreme. However, sometime or other, they alone have to uplift us. Also referred to as ‘Antahkarana Chatushtaya’, the foursome of ‘manoe buddhi chitta ahankaara’, i.e., mind, intellect, the feeling center, and the ego. These elevating and enlightening propensities of the Supreme, the Siva Principle, are countered by the demoting tendencies of the Maaya Sakti of the Mother Deity. Symbolically, as portrayed in Maha Bharata, it can be seen how the king Santanu (meaning, the bestower of happiness) watches the River-Deity Ganga throwing away her progeny into the river (implying the Ocean of Samsaara). But surely the benign Grace of the Supreme Being, the Bhagawat Tattva, can rescue us from the above predicament of extinction. If we were to meditate steadfastly (Yajamaheh) on the Three-Eyed (Triyambaka), then, that Divinity would elevate us from one stage to the higher, transforming the mind into the intellect, the intellect into the chitta, the chitta into the ego (lower), and finally into the Supreme Cosmic Ego, the ‘Poornahankara’. That is the ‘Bindu’ the Dot Principle. The Dot projecting and proliferating under the effect of Maaya, and then, on contemplation upon Triyambaka, by His Grace, the whole paraphernelia shrinking back into the Dot Principle. This is what is stated in the Mantra that, if one were to ‘Yajaamaheh’ (contemplate) on Triyambaka the result would be ‘Sugandhim Pushti Vardhanam’, i.e., the fragrant aroma of Divine Grace that is strength-imparting and vitalizing. If that fragrance were to be deeply inhaled in, surely would it result in Immortality. Thus if we were to be pursuing and persevering towars that Fragrance-Principle, that could be considered as a ‘Yagnya’ (Sacrifice), rather a ‘Gnyaana yagnya’, as enunciated in Bhagavad Geeta (‘Gnyaana yagnyena Taynaaham’. 18-70), a Sacrifice involving knowledge and wisdom. That alone is Pushti Vardhanam. It is the real enduring strength, and not the momentary strength gained by filling one’s belly. Such an enduring ‘Pushti’ bestowed by contemplation on the Brahma Tattwa, would grow from strength to strength, as the ‘Brahmakara Vritti’, the one-pointed Awareness of Brahman, gets well established in the purified and enlightened mind.

   Next is indicated the mode of that supreme benefit culminating in Immortality:

“Oorvaruka miva Bandhanaat Mrityor Muksheeya --------”

We must be ruminating ‘Muksheeya, muksheeya’ i.e., pray for release from the shackles of this ‘Samsaara’. Even that release be ‘Oonvaarukamiva’, as in the case of the ripened Cucumber. Cucumber is a creeper that spreads on the ground (of creeps on supports) yielding cucumbers. The speciality of a well-ripened Cucumber is that it volunteerily detaches itself from the stalk, and rests on the ground, without the need of someone plucking it. The analogy here is that of ‘death’ in place of the creeper. Just a the ripe cucumber detaches itself from the creeper, so too we must delink ourselves from the hold of death. It is pertinent here to quote a Sufi (Shaik Sanad) who exclaimed “Oh you! The harvesting season is fast approaching, and why you are still raw?”, the implication being that death is soon approaching to pluck you out forcibly, and why you are not ripe enough to delink yourself voluntarily from it. Hence through spiritual ‘Saadhana’, we become ripe with Wisdom, and detach (delink) ourselfves from death, as does the riple cucumber from the creeper. Like the king Raghu who so well planned his life, and who after passing through the various stages viz., infancy, youth, middle and old ages, voluntarily left his body.

The next question is, after delinking from death, after the ‘Yajaamaheh’ of ‘Triyambaka’, anything further that remains to be done? yes, we come out of the holdof death, but we have to hold on to Immortality. ‘Maa Amritaat’. Release from hold of mortality, but not that of Immortality. Holding on to ‘Amritatwa’, no more ‘Yajaamaheh’ of ‘Triyambaka’, but now ‘Aatma Yajaamaheh’. Be well established in ‘Swaroopa’. Why this is being stessed upon is, till now we have been popping out, and again popping in, from life to death, and again from death to life, on and on, shringing like a pendulum. We so much got used to it. We have to break this cylcle, and be rooted in Amritatwa. To attain such a state, the ‘saadhana’ has to be processed in various stages, through teachings from the Preceptor and the Sastra-s, as also from worldly experience, and, ‘sravanam and mananam’, leading to mental enlightenment. On adoring the Gaayatri Deity, the rays of wisdom would fill our being, and elevate us to the realization of the ‘Aham Brahmasmi’ state, the self itself becoming Mrityunjaya. This is the revelation of the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra.

Om Santihi Santihi Santihi