20 July 2011

Article on Mantra

3quarksdaily has published an article on mantra. (thanks Bodhipakṣa from Wildmind for the tip):

The Hallucinogenic Meaning of Mantras.
by Hartosh Singh Bal

The article is a bit light on conclusions, but gives nods to the research of Steve Farmer and Michael Witzel on the Indus Valley script. It also quotes Frits Staal who has written a lot about mantra, though I would not endorse most of it.

What conclusions there are, are based on the idea that Soma was a hallucinogen. Though I do not think there is any consensus on what Soma was (it has since been lost and replaced by another plant) it seems to me that the most likely candidate is ephedra which has ephedrine as an active ingredient. Ephedrine is a stimulant rather than a hallucinogen. In his documentary "India" Michael Wood seeks out and takes Ephedra tea in a market in Peshawar and describes the effects on camera: a feeling of energy, heightened senses, and talkativeness.

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