One normally refers to Lord Yamarajah as the God of Death. Death, according to Hinduism, is a series of changes through which an individual passes. The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad describes thus the passing of a soul: When the soul departs from the body, the life-breath follows: when the life-breath departs, all the organs follow. Then the soul becomes endowed with particularized consciousness and goes to the body which is related to that consciousness. It is followed by its knowledge, works, and past experience. Just as a leech supported on a straw goes to the end of it, takes hold of another support, and contracts itself, so does the self throw this body away and make it unconscious, take hold of another support, and contract itself. Change is the law of life. There has to be destruction for creation to take place. Mrityu, Goddess of Death was the forerunner to Lord Yama. Let us see if we can put some coherent notes together.
BRAHMAVAIVARTA PURANA: When Lord Brahma first opened his eyes, He was filled with the fear that comes with the awareness that one exists and that one exists alone. As he longed for company, he created children; the manasputras molded out of his thoughts, Brahman asked his mind-born sons to multiply, but they refused and disappeared. The four mind-borns created asexually are referred to as Sanat-kumaras. They are visualised as four prepubescent boys. Their male gender indicates that they are like Brahma. They are innocent of sexual thoughts. Sex presupposes the existence of two beings: oneself and the others. The Sanat-kumaras could not oblige Brahma to produce for they did not know how to split. Moreover Brahma’s creations are not sexual. Therefore Brahma proceeded to create seven more. They were willing to produce. How?
Brahma’s seven sons were willing to populate but did not know how. As Brahma pondered this question, he saw the vision of Lord Shiva in His Ardhnarishwara form and his left was a woman. Brahma was inspired so he split himself in two. From his left half he created woman. Such was the beauty that desire rose in the heart of Brahma and his sons. Desire took the form of Kandarpa, the God of Lust, who rode a parrot and aroused the five senses by shooting the five flowered-tipped arrows with his sugarcane bow. Overwhelmed by yearning to embrace this woman, Brahma and his sons spurted semen and began to multiply.
The sexual act is a metaphor for acknowledging the material reality that is perceived as a woman. That the material reality exists within Brahma indicates that creation is a subjective phenomenon, not an objective event. God and Goddess, spiritual and material realities, always exist. But creation happens only when God perceives the Goddess. Goddess exists to help Hod know himself. She is born of him. He knows himself because of of Her. Each needs the other.
By acknowledging material reality all jivas are drawn into the matrix of existence. Inside samsara all things change. All that comes into beings cease to be. Brahma, the creator, thus creats Mrityu, the Goddess of death and the embodiment of change.
Brahma’s children multiplied but did not die. Soon the cosmos was overflowing with jivas, which alarmed Brahma. So Mrityu’s creation was justified. When informed of her duty, Mrityu ran away.
BIRTH: Mahabharata, Book 12, Chapter 249, Verses 15 & 16: After the Self born had withdrawn and suppressed that fire, there came out, from all the outlets of his body, a lady attired in robes of black and red, with black eyes, black palms, wearing a pair of excellent ear-rings, and adorned with celestial ornaments. This Goddess of Death was reluctant to kill infants, youths, and aged ones who have done her no injury.
Mrityu, did tapas for fifteen billions of years first. Brahma repeated what he said earlier. Then she did tapas for standing upon one foot for twenty billions of years. Then she led a life in the woods with the deer for another long period consisting of ten thousand billions of years. She passed another twice ten thousand years, living upon air only as her sustenance. She observed the excellent vow of silence for eight thousand years, passing the whole time in water.
Proceeding thence to the summit of Himavat where the deities had performed their great sacrifice, she stood there for hundred billions of years, supporting her weight upon only the toes of her feet with the object of gratifying the Grandsire with such an act of austerity.
Brahma finally said Mrityu, Goddess of Death, “Living creatures shall be afflicted by disease, and dying never cast the blame on you, Goddess of Death and the blame is attributed to the disease: 12.250.29b.
Mrityu, Goddess of Death is Eternal righteousness, dharmah sanatanah - Mahabharata, 12.250.28: Brahma said to Goddess of Death: 'Eternal righteousness shall now take refuge in you. Myself and all the deities shall always be employed in seeking your good.'
Mrityu relented only when told that whose she would kill would be reborn. “When you strike, there will be desire and anger in the heart of the dying man that will ensure his rebirth” said Brahma. She would kill only the material and hence mortal, component of Jiva. Mrityu being elevated as goddess, then Brahma goes on to create Saraswathi, his daughter, who is also pursued for lust. She takes asylum in Kaliash.
Mrityu, Goddess of Death was said to be unhappy from the moment she was born from the scowl of high God Brahma. She was assigned the test of destroying life. She wept until her eyes were red as sari but Brahma convinced her that because human would fear her, they would be captured once again for the wheel of desire, esnsuring that they would be reborn.
Mrityu grew into her job, becoming a goddess who killed children in the womb and grooms on their wedding nights. She lived in the cremation grounds outside the village, where food was offered her in hopes that she would stay on the periphery and not wander into the village homes.
The Hindu pantheon expanded from Vedic Gods and Goddesses to Puranic Gods and minor deities. Later when the Sun God Surya married Saranya, she gave birth to a pair of twin, Yama and Yami. Yama later becomes the God of Death. Manu was the Lord of the living. The idea that life and death, fortune and misfortune, creation and destruction are twin aspects oif the same material reality is consistent in Hinduism.
MRUTHYUNJAYA HOMAM is dedicated to Lord Shiva to avoid untimely death. The Mruthyunjaya Homam is performed to achieve Jaya or Victory over Mritya or death. The object of worship of this homa is Lord Shiva. One of the synonyms of Lord Shiva is Mrityu. Mrityu which means death of the death or the destroyer of death. During this homa one chants 21 mantras. The prominent offerings in this homa are durva grass and an herb called amrita.
Hara Hara Mahadeva
Yogi Ananda Saraswathi.