Living Mantra

Mantra, Deity, and Visionary Experience Today

  • Mani Rao

Part of the Contemporary Anthropology of Religion book series (CAR)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xix
  2. Preparation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Mani Rao
      Pages 3-12
    3. Mani Rao
      Pages 13-26
    4. Mani Rao
      Pages 27-49
    5. Mani Rao
      Pages 51-63
  3. Fieldwork

  4. Conclusions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 181-181
    2. Mani Rao
      Pages 183-207
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 209-215

About this book


Living Mantra is an anthropology of mantra-experience among Hindu-tantric practitioners. In ancient Indian doctrine and legends, mantras perceived by rishis (seers) invoke deities and have transformative powers. Adopting a methodology that combines scholarship and practice, Mani Rao discovers a continuing tradition of visionaries (rishis/seers) and revelations in south India’s Andhra-Telangana. Both deeply researched and replete with fascinating narratives, the book  reformulates the poetics of mantra-practice as it probes practical questions. Can one know if a vision is real or imagined? Is vision visual? Are deity-visions mediated by culture? If mantras are effective, what is the role of devotion? Are mantras language? Living Mantra interrogates not only theoretical questions, but also those a practitioner would ask: how does one choose a deity, for example, or what might bind one to a guru? Rao breaks fresh ground in redirecting attention to the moments that precede systematization and canon-formation, showing how authoritative sources are formed.


mantra tantrism religious practice Hindu deities gurus seers visionary experience Andhra-Telengana India South Asia

Authors and affiliations

  • Mani Rao
    • 1
  1. 1.BengaluruIndia

Bibliographic information