understanding Mantras explores the origin, nature, function, and significance of mantras within the bounds of the hindu tradition. It analyses the use of mantras in the Vedic age in the great theistic movements of Saivism and Vaisnavism, and in Tantra. A brief introduction by Alper outlines the major controversies in Western scholarship concerning the nature of mantras and gives an insightful and suggestive paradigm for resolving the issues. The essays provide enlightenment into the Indian mantric tradition, and into Western attempts to understand that tradition. They also discuss the issues surrounding the debate over whether mantras should count as instances of language.
Of immeasurable worth is the comprehensive bibliographical and methodological essay and list contributed by Professor Alper. This essay covers more than 1600 items and situates mantra contextually in Indian history, society, and culture. It approaches a bibliography on all of Hinduism and will serve as an invaluable tool for future research.
"This is the single best effort to date on the whole issue of mantra."-Paul R. Courtright, Univ. of North Carolina, Greensboro
"I know of nothing in its field that approaches this collection in scope and quality. Superior both in objectivity and in command of Sanskrit, its contributors represent the new grade of excellence in Asian studies produced in half a century of academic maturation in America. In this continent, no better selection could have been made."-Norvin J. Hein, Yale Univ.
"The bibliography by Alper is a tremendous piece of work-almost publishable in and of itself."-Brian K. Smith, Barnard College
"Its greatest assert is the contribution it makes to the scholarly study of Indian religions, and more broadly to the study of ritual and to the philosophy of language."-Glenn Yocum, Whittier College
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