The use of mystical designs and magical diagrams, known as "yantras", is of great antiquity, not only in India but in all countries. Among the early archaeological finds are included specimens of such designs and diagrams, which were neither strictly utilitarian nor solely decorative in function. Even before religion became organized and institutionalized in the primitive society, visual representations of magical intentions and ideas were employed, along with charms and spells. They were meant to compel events in an occult manner, events individual in significance as well as collective in import. Intentions included warding off evil. overcoming danger, compelling rain, driving away pestilence, blocking hailstorm, increasing fertility of the soil, ensuring success in hunting or in expedition, restoring health, prolonging life, recovering lost property, defeating the enemy, confounding the opponent and securing objects of love.
Reason which helped the development of science and technology also brought into being magic and religion. It would be anthropologically unsound to describe scientific thinking as rational and religious thinking as irrational. The crudest of magical procedures were also based on the reasoning faculty. It was human reason that generated the ideas of God, of the spirit, and of the relation that one bore to the other as well as the ideas of matter and energy and the measurements thereof. Even as technology is based on the desire to control the physical world within and around us, magic is based on the desire to control the spiritual world within and around us.
It is unfortunate that the word ‘magic’ has acquired a connotation which few modem minds would relish. It is equally unfortunate that all that goes under the banner of science and technology passes as unquestionably and eminently worthwhile. It is owing to the western connotation of the word ‘magic’ that what has no ‘rational' explanation is dubbed as irrational. It is made to appear that magic is sustained on solid superstitions and illusions, while science rests on solid facts which are demonstrable and incontrovertible. However, the student of the history of science is very well aware that science rests not on facts but on assumptions, and that these assumptions with their implications and applications are by no means immutably lined or altogether incontrovertible.
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