Word, Chant, and Song

Spiritual Transformation in Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, and Sikhism

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Harold Coward
SUNY Series in Religious Studies
  • Albany: 
    State University of New York Press
    , September
     194 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


An accessible introduction to the centrality of word, chant, and song in the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and Sikh traditions.

In academic religious studies and musicology, little attention has been given to chanted word, hymns, and songs, yet these are often the key spiritual practices for lay devotees. To address this gap in knowledge, Harold Coward presents a thematic study of sacred sound as it functions in word, chant, and song for devotees in the Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, and Sikh traditions. Each chapter begins with a brief introduction of a particular tradition’s word/scripture, followed by case studies showcasing the diversity of understanding and the range of chant and song in devotee practice, and concludes with a brief illustration of new trends in music and chant within the tradition. Written in a style that will appeal to both scholars and lay readers, technical terms are clearly explained and case studies explicitly include devotees’ personal experiences of songs and chants in public and private religious ritual.

About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Harold Coward is Professor Emeritus of History and Founding Director of the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria in Canada. He is the author of numerous books, including Yoga and Psychology and The Perfectibility of Human Nature in Eastern and Western Thought, both also published by SUNY Press; The Philosophy of the Grammarians (volume five of The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, with K. Kunjunni Raja); Mantra (with David J. Goa); and Pluralism in the World Religions.


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