Rudra-Shiva concept (Study)

by Maumita Bhattacharjee | 2018 | 54,352 words

This page relates ‘Tryambaka Homa’ of the study on the Rudra-Shiva concept in the Vedic and Puranic literature, starting with the concept of God as contemplated by the Rishis (Vedic sages). These pages further deal with the aspects, legends, iconography and eulology of Rudra-Shiva as found in the Samhitas, Brahamanas, Aranyakas, Upanishads Sutras and Puranas. The final chapters deal with descriptions of his greatness, various incarnations and epithets.

In the context of the Cāturmāsya, Tryambaka Homa is described under Sākamedha offerings. Cāturmāsya consists of four monthly sacrifices. These are—Vaiśvadeva, Varuṇapraghāsa, Sākamedha and Śunāsīrīya. Amongst these four sacrifices the Sākamedha is performed in the month of Kārttika or autumn season. These offerings are of two days ceremony. On the first day, of Sākamedha offering carus are offered to Agni Anīkavat, Maruta Sāntapana and Maruta Gṛhamedhī.[1] In the afternoon of the same day Mahāpitṛyajña is performed. After the performance of Mahāpitṛyajña, Tryambaka Homa is performed to Rudra.[3]

Purpose of Tryambaka Homa

The Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa mentions that the gods killed Vṛtra by performing the great oblation. The gods who were pierced by the Asura’s arrow, they pulled out those arrows by performing Tryambaka offering. Through the performing of this sacrifice it is desired that no arrow or misfortune will hit their (yajamāna’s) offsprings. Tryambaka sacrifice is offered to Rudra. The sacrificer protects the born and the children those are not yet born from Rudra, by the performing of this Tryambaka sacrifice.[2]

In the Tryambaka Homa, oblation is offered to Rudra in the north quarter. Because northern quarter is of Rudra’s quarter. In the Purāṇas, Siva’s resident is mentioned as Kailāsa.[4] A close resemblance has been found between the two quarters because Kailāsa mountain is situated on the Himālaya. And Himālaya mountain is in the north quarter.[5] This oblation is offered on a road since he (Rudra) roves on a road and also offered on a cross-road because cross-road is favourite haunt of Rudra.[6] In the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa, Rudra is declared as Tryambaka, a remedy or Bheṣaja for cows, horses, human beings and blessing for ram and ewe.[7] A mantra has been found addressing to Tryambaka. Now-adays, this mantra is popular by the name of mahāmṛtyunjaya mantra.

The mantra is uttered thus—

tryambakaṃ yajāmahe sugandhiṃ puṣṭivardhanam | urvārukamiva bandhanātmṛtyormukṣīya māmṛtāt.[8]

R.T.H. Griffith translates this mantra thus—

“Tryambaka we worship, sweet augmenter of prosperity. As from its stem a cucumber, may I be freed from bounds of death, not left of immortality.”[9]

Footnotes and references:






kailāsavāsine śambho sarvalokāṭanāya ca | namaste parameśāya līlākārāya śūline || Śiva-purāṇa,


astyuttarasyāṃ diśi devatātmā himālayo nāma nagādhirājaḥ | Kumārasambhava, 1.1


...anvāhāryapacanāḍulmukamādāyodaṅ paretya juhotyeṣā hyetasya devasya dik pathi juhoti pathā hi sa devaścarati catuṣpathe...jñāpitaṃ prajñātamavasānaṃ yaccatuṣpathaṃ tasmāccatuṣpathe juhoti || Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa,


ava rudramadīmahyava devaṃ tryambakaṃ...bheṣajamasi bheṣajaṃ gaveśvāya puruṣāya bheṣajaṃ sukhaṃ meṣāya meṣyā...|| Ibid.,


Śatapatha-brāhmaṇa,; Vājasaneyi-saṃhitā, 3.60


Vide, Griffith, R.T.H., The Texts of the White Yajurveda, p.24

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