As turbulence shook and rattled the cabin I chanted the Mahamrityunjaya mantra silently to myself to offer protection, to myself and to the entire plane. I had done the same thing in buses and car rides in India, when the terrain was so uncertain, when the cliffs were only inches away and I had no other way to comfort myself. We had chanted this mantra weekly during my time at the ashram and I had felt its power. I had become certain, finally, in the head-on collision which met me back in the U.S. on my first day back to teaching yoga, when I felt my field expand to protect me in the crash, this mantra works.
As one of the incarnations of Lord Shiva himself, the Great Healing mantra of the Mahamrityunjaya has layered meaning as does Shiva himself. Lord Shiva is both fearsome and gently compassionate at the same time. He represents the multi-faceted nature of reality and incarnation, that we can move into grace and protective care or the destructive power of rage and dissolution as the situation calls for. When chanted often and with devotion, this mantra is known to heal any ailment and even to ward off untimely death. It is the balm for illness while at the same time a warrior for protecting the life-force energy in embodied human.
At yoga school, every Saturday evening the entire ashram and often people from the village would gather for the chanting of the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra. It would be a havan (fire with offerings) ceremony and spices and fruits would be prepared to throw into the fire with every round of the chant. I sat kneeling, holding my mala with 108 beads, counting each repetition as I took in the mantra for the first time, second time, third time…I would learn it eventually. “Just let it in,” I would tell myself as the hundred voices around me strengthened the power of the mantra.
After several weeks, without even trying, I heard the chant coming out of me. It had taught itself to me. It was effortless! My mind had absorbed it and was now regurgitating it with fluidity and precision. It felt as though I was being chanted. The words were coming through me. I felt the power of Shiva; this was when I first knew of the realness of this mantra and of the aspect of consciousness known as Lord Shiva.
Over the years I have spent many mornings up at dawn completing a mala of one of the most powerful mantras I know. I feel it guards me and my family. It comes to me in times I feel fear wishing to well up in me or uncertainty looking for room in my being. It is the conqueror of death, not only of form, but of the sort of death that most humans live…a lifeless life of programming and repetition. This mantra wakes you from the sleeping state of consciousness and brings life to life in a way one may have never realized possible without this mantra.
OM to the three-eyed reality as represented by the trifecta of Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma consciousness. The gatekeepers of our Divine Mind. May protection, healing, and Divine blessings permeate our lives like a fragrance. May we be liberated from disease, suffering, and even death as the cucumber is liberated from the bondage of the creeping vine. This is one way to translate this powerful mantra.
Is there physical illness in your home? Emotional suffering? Mental strife? Is anyone you know challenged in their spirit or battling with any sort of personality dis-ease? If so, this mantra is for you and your family. Chant it on behalf of them. Invite them to join you, if they will. State the intention of healing desired before completing a daily mala-worth of chants and continue it for at least 40 days in a row. You will find healing seeping in where pain was before. Miracles happen when this mantra takes its place in daily life. It is like inviting Lord Shiva to accompany you in your day and in your relationship happenings. There is power in having the divine on your side in all things. That is the purpose of this chant.
Go forth in all things and be healed. Go forth with protection and with peace. The power of mantras is yours to wield.