In the serial Chakravartin Ashoka Samrat, we saw how Ashoka and his father Bindusar chanted the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra during the occasion of Mahashivratri. `Now since we know many of the mantra(s) and chalisa(s) including Hanuman Chalisa were written post the Mauryan era, we are surrounded by several queries such as – how old is the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra? Who wrote/founded it? What is its origin? Etc etc etc.
Let’s us get into the details here
When Was Mahamrityunjaya Mantra Written? How Old is Mahamrityunjaya Mantra?
The Mahamrityunjaya Mantra dedicated to Lord Shiva is found in the ancient Hindu text, the Rigveda (Mandala 7, Hym 59). The mantra is attributed to the rishi Vashishta – one of the Saptarishis. He is mentioned as the son of Urvasi and MitraVaruna. Sage Vashishta is the author of Mandala 7 in Rigveda. He in his possession had the divine cow Kamadhenu who could bestow his owner with any wish.
What Is The Origin of Mahamrityunjaya Jaap?
The mantra of Mahamrityunjaya was founded by (or given by Lord Shiva) to Sage Markandeya. There is a story behind this – Once sage Mrikandu and Marudmati, his wife took a long penance in the hope of begetting the boon of a son. Lord Shiva was quite impressed with their devotion and he gave them a choice – An intelligent son with a short life or a son with low intelligence but a long life. Mrikandu rishi accepted the former offer, and soon was blessed with Markandeya, an intelligent son but with a life span of only 16 years.
Both the rishi and his wife decided not to reveal this truth to their son. However, when the son was about to approach the age of 16, his parents started becoming depressed. Markandeya couldn’t understand their pain. On his insistence, the two narrated the entire incident. Markandeya then started his own penance in front of Shiva ling. When Lord Yama’s messenger on his 16th birthday came to the earth to take him, they found too absorbed in prayers and couldn’t complete the act.
Next Lord Yama himself came to take him away. However, the kid remained stubborn and wrapped his arms around the shiva linga and surrendered himself to the mercy of Lord Shiva. Yama who was determined to take the child away removed his noose. But, the noose instead fell on the ling. This made Shiva so angry that he himself appeared out of the ling and punished the Yama by killing him.
However, killing the Yama could disrupt the universe, so Shiva revived Yama into life on insistence of several other Gods but only with the condition, that the kid would remain alive forever. This is the reason why Lord Shiva is also called as Kalantaka (The End of Death) at times. This Mantra is said to be a secret mantra known only to Rishi Markandeya.
The Benefits of the Mantra
Om Triyambakam yaja-mahe
sugandhim push Tivardhanam,
The benefits of the mantra are not one but many – This jaap is a prayer to Shiva to overcome death. Here the concern is more to have a victory over spiritual death than physical death. According to the ancient Puranas, this mantra was given by Rishi Markandeya to Sati when Chandra suffered a curse from Prajapati Daksha. It is said that the mantra when chanted by several rishis and Sati, could slow down the effects of the immortal curse. Following which Lord Shiva placed Chandra on his head.
In addition, the mantra is not beneficial for mental, physical and emotional healthbut also bestows longevity (I would refrain from using the word immortality here for obvious reasons)