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Mudrā, Mantra and Mandala

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Chapter Summary

Buddhist practice involving the use of mudrā, mantra and mandala are often regarded as the primary hallmarks of esoteric Buddhism. These practices originated in different stages and contexts in the history of Buddhism, but are nonetheless central to the formation of esoteric Buddhism as a historical phenomena. This chapter provides a brief overview of the role of mudrā, mantra, and mandala prior to their integration as a keystone of esoteric ritual and then discusses their use in that integrated system. Mantras are ubiquitous in the practice of traditional South Asian religion and they were in use long before the rise of Buddhism. Mudrās, mantras, and mandalas were potent devices, and these “devices” have come to permeate East Asian Buddhism and even East Asian religion more generally.

Keywords: esoteric Buddhism; mandala; mantra; mudrā



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