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Motion and Sounds as Symbols

As you text book points out, not all religious symbols are images.  Sounds and motion can also function as symbols.


  •  Mudras are a special type of religious image is found in Buddhism. Mudras can be defined as gestures made with hand and fingers which serve to make present various aspects of the Buddha spirit.


  •  Most religions believe in the sacred power of words. For example, in Islam the words of the Qur'an have a very special status since they are the words of the revelation given to Muhammad. The sound of the words as they are recited are thus the very sound that Muhammad heard as he received and transmitted these revelations.
  • Many religious traditions also use mantras as a kind of verbal symbol. Mantras are words or phrases that are chanted out loud or internally as objects of meditation. In Hinduism the single syllable AUM  (OM) is a basic mantra.  AUM is thought to be the the primordial sound of creation. In addition, each god or goddess has a mantra.  The mantra of a given deity is equivalent to the deity itself. To pronounce a mantra is to make the deity present.