Familiarity with the word “mantra” in the West often coincides with its mispronunciation and inaccurate connotation, as in its representation of social or political opinion (i.e. the Democratic Party mantra is “raise
taxes”). The correct pronunciation of the word mantra is close to “mun-tra,” with both “a’s” sounding like the letter “u” in fun, not “fan.” In partial response to misinformation, and to assist those who seek some guidance in this topic, this article provides an introduction to the study of mantras in the Vaishnava tradition of Hinduism, beginning with a general outline of mantra in ancient India, including linguistic debates and Tantra, followed by examples from selected Vaishnava lineages up to the present-day. While not an exhaustive examination,
this essay includes references to key academic sources and suggestions for a new direction in the study of religion and music that will impact the study of sound and mantra.
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