Mantra and Metaphor in Nepali & Indian Himalayan Communities

By Krista Rodin.

Published by The Humanities Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The Vedas speak of four levels of speech/communication, with human speech being the farthest from that of divine communication, Para. Mantras used by peoples in the Himalayan region consist of seed sounds, Sanskrit and Tibetan words that are combined in special ways to elicit particular vibratory patterns. They are considered a prerequisite to personally experiencing the divine. Many mantras also use metaphor to create meaning. The specific vibrations and meanings behind particular mantras and seed sounds are intended to attune the body and mind to higher spheres and to connect with waves, much the way our electronic communication devices pick up sound signals.

This presentation will discuss how the use of two types of metaphor, epiphor and diaphor, creates meaning in Mantras beyond Vaikhari, normal human speech patterns, and how this aids in elevating the mantra to Madhyama, the next level of Vedic communication, to possibly Pashyanti, which is solely for spiritual use. Metaphors can be found in the three basic kinds of mantra used in the Himalayan region: those that are considered universal, such as the Gayatri and So-Hum/Hamsa, those which are specifically aligned with a particular faith, such as the Om Mani Padme Hum of the Tibetan Buddhists and those specific to Hindu deities, and those that are chanted by both Hindus and Buddhists, but are only communicated by the guru or lama to the practitioner. The differences among the three basic types will be discussed in relation to their use of epiphor and diaphor.

Keywords: Vedas, Mantra, Metaphor, Buddhism, Hinduism

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 8, Issue 8, pp.1-10. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 607.451KB).

Dr. Krista Rodin

Professor of Humanities, Department of Comparative Cultural Studies, College of Arts & Letters, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ, USA

Dr. Rodin is Professor of Humanities and Music at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She teaches “Humanities in Western Traditions,” “Art & the Sacred,”“Critical Judgments in the Humanities,” and “Asian Culture and Values.” Her research is in Mantrayama, Himalayan Wisdom Traditions, and Austrian and Italian Opera. Before returning to teaching, she was Associate Vice President and Campus Executive Office for NAU-Yuma. Prior to that position, she was at the University of Connecticut as both the Vice Provost for Outreach and the Dean of the College of Continuing Studies. Earlier in her career, Dr. Rodin was a member of the ensemble as an operatic stage director at both the Landestheater Salzburg and Staedtische Buehnen Augsburg and a freelance opera director throughout the German speaking world. Her Ph.D. is from the University of Salzburg in Austria with undergraduate and graduate work at Wayne State University in Detroit.

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