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The Theory and Practice of Mantra

The Theory and Practice of Mantra
Item Code: NAF582
Author: Moo-Saeng Ghim (Gyeong JUng)
Publisher: Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788121510981
Pages: 464
Cover: Hardcover
Other Details: 9.0 inch X 6.0 inch
weight of the book: 700 gms
About The Book

The contents of this book focus on the evolution and practice of mantra. This work consists of five chapters. The second and third chapters discuss the historic speculation of mantra and the purpose of matric practice and its practical aspect in Brahmanic and Buddhist traditions respectively. The fourth chapter draws out the basic theory of mantric practice, and clarifies the role of mantra in Esoteric Buddhism. Firstly, it brings out the theory of vibration and symbolism in the practice of mantra, and from them it examines how they are applied to mantric practice. The book highlights the position of mantra in Esoteric Buddhism. Thus, the definition of Esoteric Buddhism is examined, and the basic theory and practical system of Esoteric Buddhism. Lastly, the dimensions of mantric practice are suggested briefly.


About The Author

Ven. Dr Moon-Saeng Ghim (b. 1984) is a priest of Jingak Buddhist Order in South Korea. He has been interested in the mantra practice from early time. He received MA from Donguk University in Korea and PhD through M Phil from the University of Delhi specialization of Mantra. He was Professor at Uiduk University, Dean of Graduat School )2000-2003), Vice-President and the acting president there, and President for Affair of Ritual and Theory in Jingak Buddhist Order in South Korea (2005-13). He has worked a lot in the field of Esoteric Buddhism. He has also been working as a chief priest of Sinduk shimindang (temple) in Jingak Buddhist Order.



THE PRESENT WORK is based on the thesis for the degree of PhD in University of Delhi. I have gone through the book and also studied intensively many parts of it to assess its merits and demerits and am happy to say that the work is the product of considerable painstaking labour spread over a long time and deserves to be commended on the whole as a very honest attempt to explore the none-too-easily tractable field of mantras, particularly so in its practical aspects. He had tried to add an additional dimension by studying the traditions of Esoteric Buddhism in the light of Hindu tradition of mantras from the Veda downwards, the journey is long and arduous, but Dr Moo-Saeng Ghim has boldly faced the inherent challenges. I am quite impressed by the wide sweep and range of the primary and secondary sources he has studied, which include texts in Pali and Sanskrit besides, Tibetan and Chinese works which however, are closed looks to me. This, by itself, is clear evidence of his will to do something substantial and original in his chosen field. It is truly gratifying to note that for doing proper justice to Buddhist studies, he has learnt Sanskrit, Pali, and Tibetan under different teachers (as indicated in his preface) and equipped himself for such comparative research, this is and ought to be the right spirit of a serious researcher though; unfortunately, it is fast vanishing in the present climate of our universities, where acquiring degree for employment has almost become the sold aim of our young men who enter the portals of our universities at various levels, one can hope that this fine example of a dedicated Korean monk will infact others too in his department, as well as other departments, albeit in a limited measure.

The book is divided into five chapters, of which the three middle chapters constitute its flesh and bone. Of these, the second chapter is devoted to the history and theory of mantras and the treatment of four major mantras, Orh Hamsa, Krsnamantra (Orh klim krsnava namah), and Glyatri. The choice of Krsnamantra here for special treatment has no justification. There are certainly many more mantras with wider application and currency. The writer was probably influenced by the Krsna movement in the west, in the recent past, which has no roots in the practice of mantras in the Hindu tradition. The Pancaksari, Astaksari, and Panca-dasaksarl (or Sodasaksari) practised widely in the Saiva, Vaisnava, and Sakta cults are certainly more important in the history of mantra-practice in India. The treatment of the mantras in Hindu tradition reflects not only Dr Ghim's wide reading but also his deep understanding—at the intellectual level—of the tradition.

The third and the fourth chapters devoted to the "Mantra in Buddhist tradition" and its doctrinal position in Esoteric Buddhism which together constitute the kernel of Ghim's work—the latter being the most pertinent section of his whole thesis—are ably presented with great expertise, reflecting his intimate, personal acquaintance with all the ramifications of the theory and practice of mantras.

A refreshing feature of the book is that it comes from one, who is not a mere theorist but has the necessary know-how and experiential background. This should certainly be counted as a real asset to Dr Ghim for authentic presentation of the subject of mantras. His insight into the different shades and nuances of the Buddhist theory and practice and his appreciation of the Hindu tradition impart, in my opinion, a special importance to this fine contribution.

There are some very minor lapses in the presentation of the facts related to Hindu tradition of mantras, like the mention of Prajapati as the rsi for the Vyahrtis for instance. The correct position is the seven Vyahrtis have different rsi-s and devata-s, though there is a little divergence in this in this is the different regions of the country. These, however, are of little consequence. But I have already made it clear that the oust standing merits in respect of the content, thought and presentation for outweigh, the negative impact of theses and are almost sight of in the total evaluation of the book. The documentation in the work and the appended Bibliography are both accomplished on the scientific lines.



The present work is based on my thesis, “The Evolution and Practical Foundation of Mantra in Esoteric Buddhims,” submitted in 1995 to the University of Delhi and approved for the Doctor of Philosophy in 1996. The practiced mantra, especially Om mani padme Hum from my early time. Since that time, I have been interested in the function of mantra, that is to say, “How does mantra function to evolve certain results?” With this question, I stayed in India for seven years to carry out my doctor works about mantra. I collected various primary and secondary materials, and discussed the mantra with many scholars and practitioners. This work is a result of the research.

Actually we know that the practice of mantra has been very much popular all over the world with diverse ways. Because mantra is a religious practice, however we have not given a question about the fact, how mantra evolves a certain result. They say simply that the things of religious faith are beyond the scientific horizon, but we can include any of the religious practices into realm of scientific study. The scientific study helps the practitioners to understand the practice more deeply, and further more to fulfill the practice.

At first, I surveyed the phenomena of the mantric practice born by each tradition, Brahmanic and Buddhist. The following process focused on the function of mantra, especially based on Buddhist mantra. I could find out two basic functions with which mantra works to give a certain result, namely, symbolic and vibrational. Mantra is a word symbol with a special vibration. Matnra as a verbal symbol has two factors, a symbolized meaning and a symbolizing form. Mantra as a symbolizing form is the mantric formula which symbolizes the eternal truth. The symbolized meaning in the mantic formula indicates the eternal truth, actually the power of the deity in religious faith. In this case, the deity is an embodiment of the human innate divinity which pervades, being not limited in human body, but in the universe.

The symbolic function of mantra leads to express one’s faith in the divine reality, which is something more than a cognitive belief. From this representative function, mantra makes us realize the levels of reality which are hidden and cannot be grasped in any other way. The mantric formula has a certain vibration which gives some effect to our mind. The recitation of mantra causes to vibrate our consciousness.

Through the recitation of mantra, mental vibration which is not limited to physical vibration, unites with the primordial vibration which is the same to he universal consciousness.

Thus mantra is, in fact, a superb psychological psychological means of realizing the divinity within our mind deeply and intuitively. Manta as a vibration has its inherent power, but the power only remains as an instrument without corresponding power of our mind of intention. The effect of mantra comes from the combined operation of the vibration of mantra, the meaning symbolized in mantra and the mental effort of the practitioner. The mantra-practice which has symbolic and vibrational function, can affect the practitioners physically and psychologically, and leads them to achieve the highest religious truth, namely, the Enlightenment.

During my research, I owed a great debt of gratitude to many persons. First of all, I would like to express my profound sense of gratitude to Jingak Buddhist Order who gave me not only the financial support but also spiritual encouragement. It is my pleasure to the thank late Prof. Kewal Krishan Mittal, my major advisor, under whose supervision my research had been carried out. My deepest regards go to Mr Hira Paul Gangnegi who helped me in familiarizing myself with Indian way of life from the time when I came to India. I would like to acknowledge all of those who discussed, challenged, assisted and encouraged me during the process of my study at the Department of Buddhist Studies. Here, I thank especially Ven. Dr S. K. Sun, Dr J. H. Chou, and Nareshman Bajracharya. They helped me very much during my study in India.

I am thankful to my family, especially, my wife, Ilhesim, who, during my absence, faithfully and efficiently managed my family affairs. Also I must share my words to express my grateful thanks to Samdong Rinpoche who examined my thesis as the chief examiner. Here I must appreciate Prof. S. K. Pathak as an examiner and V. Venkatachalam for his kind Foreword of this work and also an examiner of this book. Lastly, thanks go to Shri Ashok Jain, Managing Director of Munshiram Manoharlal Publishers, who accepted my thesis to publish.

I heartily wish that this small work will help those who are interested in the mantric practice and in the religious speculation.




  Foreword ix
  Preface xiii
  Abbreviations xvii
1 Introduction 1
1 The Problem and the Scope 1
2 The Definition of Mantra 6
2 Mantra in Brahmanic Tradition 19
1 Historical Speculations of Matra 19
2 Theories and Functions of Mantra 47
3 Some Important Mantras 63
3 Mantra in Buddhist Tradition 136
1 Mantra in Early Buddhist Samgha 136
2 Historical Development of Buddhist Mantra 147
3 The Mantra-dharani in Esoteric Buddhism 168
4 Mantric Practice and its Purpose 180
5 Some Important Mantras 188
4 The Doctrinal Position of Mantra in Esoteric Buddhism 281
1 The Basic Theory of the Mantric practice 281
2 The Outline of Esoteric Buddhism 307
3 The Role of Mantra in the Practical System of Esoteric Buddhism 347
5 Conclusion 412
  Bibliography 419
  Index 442

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