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William Quan Judge



This article first published in 1888 is

in the form of a dialogue between

a Sage and a Student




First published 1888

The Word Mantram has since

entered common usage as Mantra




STUDENT. - You spoke of mantrams by which we could control elementals on

guard over hidden treasure. What is a mantram?


SAGE. - A mantram is a collection of words which, when sounded in speech,

induce certain vibrations not only in the air, but also in the finer ether, thereby producing certain effects.


Student. - Are the words taken at haphazard?


Sage. - Only by those who, knowing nothing of mantrams, yet use them.


Student. - May they, then, be used according to rule and also irregularly?

Can it be possible that people who know absolutely nothing of their existence or field of operations should at the same time make use of them?


Or is it something like digestion, of which so many people know nothing whatever, while they in fact are dependent upon its proper use for their existence? I crave your indulgence because I know nothing of the subject.


Sage. - The "common people" in almost every country make use of them

continually, but even in that case the principle at the bottom is the same as in the other.


In a new country where folk-lore has not yet had time to spring up, the people do not have as many as in such a land as India or in long settled parts of Europe. The aborigines, however, in any country will be possessed of them.


Student. - You do not now infer that they are used by Europeans for the controlling of elementals.


Sage. - No. I refer to their effect in ordinary intercourse between human beings. And yet there are many men in Europe, as well as in Asia, who can thus control animals, but those are nearly always special cases.


There are men in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Ireland who can bring about extraordinary effects on horses, cattle, and the like, by peculiar sounds uttered in a certain way. In those instances the sound used is a mantram of only one member, and will act only on the particular animal that the user knows it can rule.


Student. - Do these men know the rules governing the matter? Are they able to convey it to another?


Sage. - Generally not. It is a gift self-found or inherited, and they only know that it can be done by them, just as a mesmerizer knows he can do a certain thing with a wave of his hand, but is totally ignorant of the principle. They are as ignorant of the base of this strange effect as your modern physiologists are of the function and cause of such a common thing as yawning.


Student. - Under what head should we put this unconscious exercise of power?


Sage. - Under the head of natural magic, that materialistic science can never crush out. It is a touch with nature and her laws always preserved by the masses, who, while they form the majority of the population, are yet ignored by the "cultured classes." And so it will be discovered by you that it is not in London or Paris or New York drawing-rooms that you will find mantrams, whether regular or irregular, used by the people. "Society," too cultured to be natural, has adopted methods of speech intended to conceal and to deceive, so that natural mantrams can not be studied within its borders.


Single, natural mantrams are such words as "wife." When it is spoken it brings up in the mind all that is implied by the word. And if in another language, the word would be that corresponding to the same basic idea. And so with expressions of greater length, such as many slang sentences; thus,

"I want to see the color of his money."


There are also sentences applicable to certain individuals, the use of which involves a knowledge of the character of those to whom we speak. When these are used, a peculiar and lasting vibration is set up in the mind of the person affected, leading to a realization in action of the idea involved, or to a total change of life due to the appositeness of the subjects brought up and to the peculiar mental antithesis induced in the hearer. As soon as the effect begins to appear the mantram may be forgotten, since the law of habit then has sway in the brain.


Again, bodies of men are acted on by expressions having the mantramic quality; this is observed in great social or other disturbances. The reason is the same as before. A dominant idea is aroused that touches upon a want of the people or on an abuse which oppresses them, and the change and interchange in their brains between the idea and the form of words go on until the result is accomplished.


To the occultist of powerful sight this is seen to be a "ringing" of the words coupled with the whole chain of feelings, interests, aspirations, and so forth, that grows faster and deeper as the time for the relief or change draws near.


And the greater number of persons affected by the idea involved, the larger, deeper, and wider the result. A mild illustration may be found in Lord Beaconsfield of England. He knew about mantrams, and continually invented phrases of that quality. "Peace with honor" was one; "a scientific frontier" was another; and his last, intended to have a wider reach, but which death prevented his supplementing, was "Empress of India." King Henry of England also tried it without himself knowing why, when he added to his titles, "Defender of the Faith." With these hints numerous illustrations will occur to you.


Student. - These mantrams have only to do with human beings as between each other. They do not affect elementals, as I judge from what you say.


And they are not dependent upon the sound so much as upon words bringing up ideas. Am I right in this; and is it the case that there is a field in which certain vocalizations produce effects in the Akasa by means of which men, animals, and elementals alike can be influenced, without regard to their knowledge of any known language?


Sage. - You are right. We have only spoken of natural, unconsciously-used mantrams. The scientific mantrams belong to the class you last referred to.


It is to be doubted whether they can be found in modern Western languages - especially among English speaking people who are continually changing and adding to their spoken words to such an extent that the English of today could hardly be understood by Chaucer's predecessors.


It is in the ancient Sanscrit and the language which preceded it that mantrams are hidden. The laws governing their use are also to be found in those languages, and not in any modern philological store.


Student. - Suppose, though, that one acquires a knowledge of ancient and

correct mantrams, could he affect a person speaking English, and by the

use of English words?


Sage. - He could; and all adepts have the power to translate a strictly regular mantram into any form of language, so that a single sentence thus uttered by them will have an immense effect on the person addressed, whether it be by letter or word of mouth.


Student. - Is there no way in which we might, as it were, imitate those

adepts in this?


Sage. - Yes, you should study simple forms of mantramic quality, for the purpose of thus reaching the hidden mind of all the people who need spiritual help. You will find now and then some expression that has resounded in the brain, at last producing such a result that he who heard it turns his mind to spiritual things.


Student. - I thank you for your instruction.


Sage. - May the Brahmamantram guide you to the everlasting truth - OM.







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