By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Mrtyu, MRtyu, Mrrityu
Mṛtyu literally means ‘that which brings about death’.
According to the scriptures, the concept of death has to be looked at from two different standpoints. The first is a deity or a goddess who brings about the separation of the jīva from its body. The second is as Yama, the king of the world, to where the souls are taken, before disposing off their cases according to their good or bad deeds.
Mṛtyu as the goddess of death is said to have manifested out of the anger of Brahmā who had been moved by the piteous waiting of Bhudevī since she was over-burdened by the ever increasing number of living beings, who never died. When she was assigned her duty of killing the living beings, she was horrified and started crying, shedding copious tears. However, Brahmā assured her that she would never incur any sin by this. But, at her special request, Brahmā also created the six enemies like lust, anger and greed to be embedded in the hearts of the living beings making them vulnerable to death.
- Jīva means individual soul in bondage.
- Brahmā means the creator.
- Bhudevī means Mother Earth.
- Six enemies means ariṣaḍvarga.
- Mahābhārata, Droṇparva chapters 53 and 54
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore