Alumna Dr. Mani Rao's Book Release

Thursday, September 27, 2018
Mani Rao's "Living Mantra" book cover

Asian Religions alumna Mani Rao's new book Living Mantra was just released in the Palgrave Macmillan Contemporary Anthropology of Religion series.

  • "An intellectual journey through mantra practice at three Goddess-centered mantra communities in Andhra-Telangana, India
  • Combines narrative, autoethnography, andrecentscholarship to paint a full picture of mantra as lived experience
  • Reinterprets mantra in the light of fieldwork to bring a new understanding of mantra to anthropological and religious scholarship

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."

Our congratulations to Mani on this achievement.