Some thoughts on Sanskritization or Tantrification?

Vidyasankar Sundaresan vidya at
Fri Jun 13 22:34:43 UTC 1997

> Is the sacredness of 'pancAkshara' and 'aSTAkshara' Vedic concept or tantric
> concept? That will help us to translate 'maRai' in this passage correctly.

Sorry about the piecemeal response. This question imposes an extremely
artificial distinction between "Vedic" and "tAntric". Whatever one's own
thoughts on these two terms may be, there is no doubt that the sacredness
of a mantra is very much a Vedic concept. I suspect that many scholarly
conceptions of what it means to be "vedic" stop with the Rgveda. There is
the yajurveda also, you know, which unlike the sAmaveda, does not share a
whole lot of material with the Rg. Both pancAkshara and ashTAkshara
mantras occur in the taittirIya SAkhA of the yajurveda. 

Indeed, a scholar of Indian religion will do well to steer clear of such 
vedic vs. tantric divisions, and call it a "mAntric" concept. Entire
portions of the prAtiSAkhya and brAhmaNa literature concentrate on the
meaning/enunciation of vedic mantras, and in the later schools of Vedic
exegesis, the mantra becomes central to the entire Vedic religion, so
much so that there is no vedic god independent of a mantra. 


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