Thursday, 28 July 2011

Om Trayambakam

All the rain this year may have limited our chances to tan but it has certainly been a blessing for gardeners!  Bountiful crops are coming to harvest and we are enjoying the sweet and juicy fruits of our efforts and of the cycle of nature in abundance! 

A delicious gift of garden tomatos and a fresh cucumber from a generous student got me thinking about one of my favorite fresh summer salads (Israeli Salad Recipe on the Prasad Page) and a summer several years ago, when I worked at a U-pick cucumber farm to deepen my understanding of one of the most famous mantras in Yoga, the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra.  This is the mantra of great liberation, also known as the Om Trayambakam.

Lord Shiva, Lord of the Yogis, destroying the demon of ignorance.

Dedicated to Lord Shiva, whose eye of intuition (or third eye) opens to bring about the dance of destruction, this mantra is often chanted at the beginning of important endeavors and voyages and at occassions which mark time like birthdays, and passings.  Traditionally it is chanted as an amulet to protect the chanter or others from calamities like scorpion stings, rampaging elephants and other equally nasty disasters! 

Nowadays, at the ashram and at home, we chant it whenever we get into a vehicle, praying for the safety of the driver, the passengers and everyone on the road or in the air or on the ocean as the case may be.  We love to "Om Trayambakam" our friends when they depart, wishing them a safe journey and a speedy return.

This mantra evokes the image of a cucumber being severed from the vine, and reminds us that we too are released from the bondage of our own mortal limitations, not one itsy-bitsy moment too early or too late.

Om Tryambakam Yajamahe
Sugandhim Pushtivardhanam
Urvarukamiva Bandhanan
Mrityor Mukshiya Maamritat
We Meditate on the Three-eyed reality
Which permeates and nourishes all like a fragrance.
May we be liberated from death for the sake of immortality,
Even as the cucumber is severed from bondage to the creeper.

This mantra, handwritten in Devanagari or the written form of Sanskrit, as well as the transliteration and translation above can be found at:

You can chant this mantra 3 times, 9 times, or 108 times to bless and remind your Self that all things happen according to cycle of nature and divine timing! 

As I plucked the ripe cucumbers that summer, I chanted this mantra over and over and over again and re-learned a basic truth in gardening and in life.  Everything has a season.  There is a time to sow the seeds, and a time to reap the harvest of what we've planted. 

If the cucumbers are tugged before they are ready to release from the plant, the vine itself is damaged.  If they are left too long, they sag into the soil and rot.  The art in cucumber picking, and maybe life, is not to struggle against either. 

Be diligent in maintaining your garden and your practice and you won't lose or limit your harvest.  Be gentle and patient and at just the right moment, the sweet reward will drop willingly into your hands!

Om Trayambakam!

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