Encyclopedia

Written by schooltiger on Friday, December 14, 2007 at 10:35 PM

Maya

In Hinduism, term used in the Veda to mean magic or supernatural power. The term is pivotal in the Vedanta system of Shankara, where it signifies the world as a cosmic illusion and also the power that creates the world.

Mantra

In Hinduism, mystic words used in ritual and meditation. A mantra is believed to be the sound form of reality, having the power to bring into being the reality it represents. There are several types of mantras. Sanskrit verses used in the Vedic sacrifice are known as mantras. Bija-mantra or "seed-sounds", used mainly in Tantra, are syllables without semantic value having an occult affinity for particular deities or forces; use of such mantras usually requires initiation by a guru. Extremely common is the repetition (japa) of the name of a deity and the singing of devotional phrases (mahamantra); for those mantras initiation is not required.

Tantra

Tantra in Hinduism, esoteric tradition of ritual and yoga known for elaborate use of mantra, or symbolic speech, and mandala, or symbolic diagrams; the importance of female deities, or Shakti; cremation-ground practices such as meditation on corpses; and, more so in Hindu tantra, the ritual use of wine, meat, and sexual intercourse. Tantric practices use both ritual and meditation to unify the devotee with the chosen deity. In Hindu Tantra, practice is graded into three types, corresponding to three classes of devotees: the animal, that is, those in whom the guna, or quality, of tamas (darkness) predominates; the heroic, those in whom the guna of rajas (activity) predominates; and the divine, those in whom sattva (goodness) predominates . The practice of the heroic devotee entails actual use of the five elements, called the five m's: fish (matsya), meat (mamsa), wine (madya), aphrodisiac cereals (mudra), and sexual intercourse (maithuna). The animal devotee, not yet ready for the heroic practice, performs the rituals with material symbols; for the divine devotee the rituals are purely internal and symbolic. The object of the rituals, attainable only by the divine devotee, is to awaken kundalini energy, which is identified with Shakti, and merge with the Godhead.

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