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The Garland of Letters by John Woodroffe (Arthur Avalon)

This book is an attempt to explain to an English knowing reader an undoubtedly difficult subject. It is natural that, given the difficulty and the mystery which surrounds the subjects that strangers to India have failed to understand Mantra. They jumped to the conclusion that it is –meaningless superstition.” This is the familiar argument of the lower mind which says –what I cannot understand can have no sense at all.” Mantra is, it is true, meaningless to those who do not know its meaning. But there are others who do, and to them it is not –superstition.” The Mantra-Sastra is worthy of a close study which, when undertaken, will disclose elements of value to minds free from superstition, of metaphysical bent and subtle-seeing (Suksmadarsin). A profound doctrine, ingeniously though guardedly set forth, is contained in the Tantras of Mantra-Sastra or Agama. This book is, as the sub-title states, a Collection of Studies in, or Essays upon, particular subjects in the Mantra-Sastra, a term which is commonly applied to the Tantra-Sastra. It is practically composed of two parts. After Chapter 1, which deals with the –Word,” Chapters 2-9 treat of the Principles of the general doctrine of Sabda. Chapters 10-21 are elucidations of some subjects in the Tantra-Sastra which adopt the Mimamsa doctrine of Sabda with some modifications to meet its doctrine of Sakti. Chapters 12, 28 and 29 deal with the Mantras –Om” and the Gayatri.

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