Magic: 4 definitions


Magic means something in Hinduism, Sanskrit. If you want to know the exact meaning, history, etymology or English translation of this term then check out the descriptions on this page. Add your comment or reference to a book if you want to contribute to this summary article.

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In Hinduism

Shaktism (Shakta philosophy)

Source: Google Books: Manthanabhairavatantram

Magic seems to be such an important characteristic of Tantric practice that some scholars believe that the original most primitive forms of it were all magical. This is hard to determine and may partly be true, although it is hard to maintain that is entirely the case as it would be difficult to account for the existence of other characteristics that in some form or another are always present to some degree. Moreover, although magic rites do invariably form a part of all Tantric systems, to very varying degrees, they are never the core concern.

Shaktism book cover
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Shakta (शाक्त, śākta) or Shaktism (śāktism) represents a tradition of Hinduism where the Goddess (Devi) is revered and worshipped. Shakta literature includes a range of scriptures, including various Agamas and Tantras, although its roots may be traced back to the Vedas.

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Shaivism (Shaiva philosophy)

Source: SOAS University of London: Protective Rites in the Netra Tantra

Magic can be defined according to higher and lower Mantric practice.—Mantras, especially within the Tantric tradition, can be used to different ends—ends that, though different, are not necessarily incompatible...liberation, supernatural powers, and even destructive magical abilities can not only be taught in the same text, but even be bestowed to an adept through the performance of one ritual only. [...] Tantric texts do make a distinction between higher and lower mantric practice. Such a definition of magic focuses on the form the rite takes rather than the results. Mantras then can provisionally be described as religious language that contains magical characteristics.

Source: ORA: Amanaska (king of all yogas): (Shaivism)

Magic is denoted by the Sanskrit term Indrajāla.—In his commentary to the Svacchandatantra (11.197), Kṣemarāja provides the following definition: “Kuhaka is that which causes astonishment and convinces those of limited understanding. It is chiefly magic (indrajāla)”. In his commentary on the Netratantra (18.89), Kṣemarāja glosses kuhakāni as: “Deceitful (things) such as amulets of control, witches, etc.”. These glosses affirm that kuhaka can be understood more specifically to mean an astonishing, magical feat rather than its general sense of something that causes astonishment, the latter definition being that of Dhātupāṭha 10.443.

Shaivism book cover
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Shaiva (शैव, śaiva) or Shaivism (śaivism) represents a tradition of Hinduism worshiping Shiva as the supreme being. Closely related to Shaktism, Shaiva literature includes a range of scriptures, including Tantras, while the root of this tradition may be traced back to the ancient Vedas.

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Purana and Itihasa (epic history)

Source: Shodhganga: Elements of Art and Architecture in the Trtiyakhanda of the Visnudharmottarapurana

Magic (and creating illusions) was traditionally practiced as part of the “sixty four kinds of Art”, according to the Kamasutra of Vatsyayana.—Cf. the Sanskrit Aindrajāla.—Indian tradition, basically includes sixty four Art forms are acknowledged. The history of Indian Art covers approximately five thousand years which presents a rich and almost continuous record. The references of sixty four kinds of Kala (कला, kalā) are found in the Bhagavatapurana, Shaiva-Tantras, Kamasutra of Vatsyayana etc.

Purana book cover
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The Purana (पुराण, purāṇas) refers to Sanskrit literature preserving ancient India’s vast cultural history, including historical legends, religious ceremonies, various arts and sciences. The eighteen mahapuranas total over 400,000 shlokas (metrical couplets) and date to at least several centuries BCE.

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