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Sound Of Mantras in Hinduism– Importance

Kanchi Periyava explains the importance of sound of mantras in Hinduism

The sounds of some mantras have greater value than their meaning. Their syllables chanted in a particular manner create a special energy, but their meaning has no special significance. Take the mantra recited to cure a man stung by a scorpion. The words, the syllables, constituting the mantra have no special meaning. Indeed, they say, the meaning is not to be told. But by chanting the mantra, the vibrations are caused in space and one stung by a scorpion will be cured: the potency of the syllables of the mantra is such. The efficacy of sounds varies with the difference mantras.

Evil is caused by reciting certain mantras or formulae: this is called "abhicara" (understood as the black magic in the West). In all this the clarity with which the syllables are enunciated is important. There was the practice of knocking off the teeth of those who practiced billi sunyam (a form of black magic). The black magician, if toothless, will not be able to articulate the mantras properly and so his spells will not have the intended effect.

If the syllables of the spell are not clearly and properly enunciated, they will not give us the desired benefit. If we appreciate the fact that sounds have such power, the question of the language of the mantras loses it importance. It would be meaningless then to demand that the mantras must be expressed in some other language (that we understand). It would be equally meaningless to wonder whether the mantras of the sraddha ceremony should be rendered into English, Tamil or some other language so that our departed parents would understand them better.