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Friday, January 3, 2014

Magic power of Words

In all ancient traditions, words are treated as if they have special powers. There is a section in Atharva Veda called Abhicȧrakalpa. It is a treatise on words with magical powers which were recommended to ward off evil and bring special favors to people etc. Such works are called Thaumaturgy in English. According to Yatindramatadipika of Yamunacharya, the premise of this section of Atharva Veda is as follows: “ If it could be demonstrated that certain mantras have powers with reference to the things of the world, it may convince even an unbeliever to have faith in the efficiency of the mantras in relation to the attainment of heaven etc…”  (page 176)

There is a basic belief in the power of words in all traditions. Hindus, in general, believe that words and sounds have mystical powers. There is a section called phalastuti at the end of all prayers which lists the benefits of reciting the prayer in general. They also list several sub-benefits depending on how many times you repeat them.

There are special benefits associated with chanting the mantrs properly and there are specific bad consequences for chanting the wrong way. If you make mistakes in pronunciation, there are special procedures to repent and make amends with.

Special sounds like bha, vaśa, astraya bhat, hoom bhat etc are used during homa ceremonies and daily chanting to drive off the evil spirits (asura) from taking away the food and offerings made into the fire (agni) meant for the ḍevs.

These special sounds and mantras with superior powers play a particularly big part in Tantra śstra.

In the Old Testament, there are references to the idea that God will not reveal his true name because once man can name a thing, he will have control over it! Then, there is the story of the Tower of Babel, in which God was concerned that man was getting powerful with the use of words and decided to separate them and send them to different parts of the world with different languages.

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