How do Vaishnavas interpret the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra?


Lord Narasimha is described as Mrityumrityu (Death's death) in the Nrisimha Mantra. Accordingly, Sri Vaishnavas interpret tryambaka - the three-eyed one as Narasimha. This is supported in various places including Shruti, Smriti and works of Acharyas (whether or not they subscribe to Vishishtadvaita philosophy). Here are a few examples:

  1. Nrisimha-Purva-Tapaniya Upanisad (NPTU) refers to Narasimha as three-eyed one and also as Mrityumrityu. The NPTU is pre-Sankaran as Sankara himself has written a commentary on it. See English translation here.

  2. Adi Sankara in his commentary on the NPTU There he says that the Lord Nrisimha is three-eyed and is referred to by names commonly used for the Lord Shiva such as pinAkI and nIlakaNTha "tasmāt nṛsiṃhaḥ parameśvaraḥ trinetraḥ nīlakaṇṭhaḥ pinākī iti siddham"

  3. The Ayushya Sukta of the Rigveda which is chanted in the Ayushya Homa and in the Udaka Shanti ceremony prays to Narasimha for a long life "suvarṇarambha grahamarkamarcam" referring to the "One who came out of a golden pillar"

  4. Vedanta Desika in his Kamasikashtakam verse 2, refers to Lord Lakshmi Narasimha as the three-eyed one - tapana indu agni nayanaH - One who has the Sun, Moon and Fire as his eyes. He also connects it with the Tapaniya Upanisad.

tapanēndvagni-nayanaḥ tāpānapacinōtu naḥ |
tāpanīya-rahasyānāṃ sāraḥ kāmāsikāhariḥ ||

tapana indu agni nayanaḥ – He has three eyes – the Sun, the Moon and the Fire
tāpanīya rahasyānām sāraḥ – He is the esoteric essence of the Nṛsimha Tāpanīya Upaniṣad
kāmāsikā hariḥ – He is Lord Narasimha of Tiruveḷukkai
naḥ tāpān apacinōtu – May He destroy our suffering.

Apart from these, there are several verses in the Pancharatra Agamas, etc. supporting this view.

Note: “The question: How do Vaishnavas interpret the Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra?” is licensed by Stack Exchange Inc (; user contributions licensed under CC BY-SA.