Mrtyu (from Vedic Sanskrit: मृत्यु IAST:mRtyu ; Latin cognate mortis), is a Sanskrit word meaning Death. Mrtyu or Death is often personified as the demigods Mara (मर) and Yama (यम) in Dharmic religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.
- Mara (Hindu goddess), the goddess of death according to Hindu mythology.
- Mrtyu-mara as death in Buddhism or Mara, a "demon" of the Buddhist cosmology, the personification of Temptation.
- Yama (Sanskrit: यम) is the lord of death in Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Brhadaranyaka Upanishad (a mystical appendix to the Shatapatha Brahmana and likely the oldest of the Upanishads) has a creation myth where Mṛtyu "Death" takes the shape of a horse, and includes an identification of the Ashvamedha horse sacrifice with the Sun:
- Then he became a horse (ashva), because it swelled (ashvat), and was fit for sacrifice (medhya); and this is why the horse-sacrifice is called Ashva-medha [...] Therefore the sacrificers offered up the purified horse belonging to Prajapati, (as dedicated) to all the deities. Verily the shining sun [ye tapati] is the Asvamedha, and his body is the year; Agni is the sacrificial fire (arka), and these worlds are his bodies. These two are the sacrificial fire and the Asvamedha-sacrifice, and they are again one deity, viz. Death. (BrUp 1.2.7. trans. Müller)
Notes and references
- implicitly, in eṣa vā aśvamedho ya eṣa tapati "verily, that Ashvamedha is that which gives out heat [tap-]"