I’m deeply indebted to the beautiful work of Christopher Wallis, Tantrika and Sanskrit Scholar for this translation.
The Maha Mrityunjaya is the Death Conquering Mantra
This is a healing mantra for overcoming fear and pain, fear of death or death. It is found in the Rig Veda in the 7th mandala. It is approximately 4000 years old and is one of the oldest mantras in unbroken continuous use throughout the world and as such has accumulated a lot of devotional shakti.
Vedic mantras are also used in Tantra
Om tryambhakam yajamahe
Mrytor muksiya m’amrotat
Maha Mritunjaya- is another name for Shiva who was a conqueror of fear. This form of Shiva is also known as Amrtesvara as taught in the Netratantra. It is not a specific form of Shiva from a Vedic point of view, but in the Tantrik lineage it gets associated with Amritesvara- Lord of Nectar. He holds a pot of nectar and his consort is Lakshimi- the Goddess of abundance. This form of Shiva is no longer worshipped.
Tryambhakam- the three-eyed lord- another name for Shiva
Yajamahe- we worship you
Sugandhim- who is fragrant and sweet smelling. This is referring to the fragrance of awake consciousness
Pustivardhanam- he who increases abundance, wellbeing and prosperity
Urvarukam- like a cucumber. This is referring to a cucumber being separated from its vine
Bandhanam- from bondage
Muksiya amritat- liberate us
Together this means: liberate us from bondage like a cucumber separated from its vine (you can’t reattach a cucumber to its vine once it’s picked.)
The Tantrik version includes a couple of bija mantras at the beginning and reads as such:
Om jum sauh tryambhakam yajamahe……..