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Contemporary Anthropology of Religion

Living Mantra

Mantra, Deity, and Visionary Experience Today

Authors: Rao, Mani

  • An intellectual journey through mantra practice at three Goddess-centered mantra communities in Andhra-Telangana, India
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  • Combines narrative, autoethnography, and recent scholarship to paint a full picture of mantra as lived experience
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  • Reinterprets mantra in the light of fieldwork to bring a new understanding of mantra to anthropological and religious scholarship
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eBook $64.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96391-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $84.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96390-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

Living Mantra is an anthropology of mantra-experience among Hindu-tantric practitioners. In ancient Indian doctrine and legends, mantras perceived by rishis (seers) invoke deities and have transformative powers. Adopting a methodology that combines scholarship and practice, Mani Rao discovers a continuing tradition of visionaries (rishis/seers) and revelations in south India’s Andhra-Telangana. Both deeply researched and replete with fascinating narratives, the book  reformulates the poetics of mantra-practice as it probes practical questions. Can one know if a vision is real or imagined? Is vision visual? Are deity-visions mediated by culture? If mantras are effective, what is the role of devotion? Are mantras language? Living Mantra interrogates not only theoretical questions, but also those a practitioner would ask: how does one choose a deity, for example, or what might bind one to a guru? Rao breaks fresh ground in redirecting attention to the moments that precede systematization and canon-formation, showing how authoritative sources are formed.    

About the authors

Mani Rao, PhD, is a poet and independent scholar. She has nine poetry books and two books in translation from Sanskrit including The Bhagavad Gita and Kalidasa for the 21st Century Reader. See manirao.com for links and updates.    

Reviews

“Mani Rao moves beyond aesthetic and linguistic interpretations to elaborate mantra as an activating force and transformative embodied experience. Mantras, deities, practitioners, communities of practice, even authoritative texts, emerge as dynamic, evolving assemblages of meaning, knowing and feeling. We are invited to think of mantra as a form of potency dynamized by the agency of its practitioners. An insightful, gripping and accessible scholarly work.” (Lata Mani, Historian, Cultural Critic, Filmmaker)
“Mani Rao shows an extraordinary ability to enter into the lived experiences of her informants. In this ‘anthropology of mantra,’ Rao studies modern situations of visionary and auditory religious experience, with many descriptions of the relationship between image and sound, deity and mantra. This book should be of great interest to scholars of Indian religion and to practitioners of both Hindu devotion and yogic meditation.” (June McDaniel, Professor Emerita of History of Religions, College of Charleston, USA)

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $64.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96391-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: PDF, EPUB
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $84.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-319-96390-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Living Mantra
Book Subtitle
Mantra, Deity, and Visionary Experience Today
Authors
Series Title
Contemporary Anthropology of Religion
Copyright
2019
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s)
eBook ISBN
978-3-319-96391-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-319-96391-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-3-319-96390-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIX, 215
Number of Illustrations
2 b/w illustrations, 10 illustrations in colour
Topics