(Sanskrit for "instrument of thought"), in Hinduism,
a magic phrase or prayer. The term originally meant a Vedic
Gayatri invocation of the
sun, chanted at sunrise, is the most popular Vedic mantra,
but mantras of various kinds accompany every Hindu ritual,
asking (or compelling) the god to give the desired blessing.
Mantras from the Atharva-Veda
are believed to have the power of magic and to work directly
on a friend or enemy. Tantric mantras combine these two
aspects, invoking the gods while conjuring up magic
powers directly through the power of the word (see Tantra).
see also my chapter Ganesh,
Hinduism & More -
By: Wendy Doniger, M.A., Ph.D., D.Phil. Mircea Eliade Professor
of History of Religions and Indian Studies, University of
Chicago. Author of The Origins of Evil in Hindu Mythology,
Siva: the Erotic Ascetic, and Dreams, Illusion, and Other
"Mantra," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2001 http://encarta.msn.com
© 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.