I'm particularly interested in
- Chinese morning and evening service
- Tibetan sadhanas that a monk recites every day
- Theravada Pali suttas and chants
Are these read in modern times by and to an audience that understands the language? I obviously believe some one knows medieval Chinese and Pali or there wouldn't be translations. But is a lengthy period of language study part of becoming a monk, and if it isn't, doesn't that mean that the monks and more so the laity have no idea what is being said?
I have the luxury of reading all the sutras in English translation. It is only dawning on me that possibly for some or most of the time, sutras are akin to a very long dhāraṇī.
This question was prompted by this quote from a Nichiren/SGI book
Even though you may not understand what you are saying, your voice definitely reaches the Gohonzon, all Buddhists dieties, and all Buddhas and bodhisattvas over three existences and in the ten directions. In response, the entire universe bathes you in the light of good fortune.
The Heart of the Lotus Sutra, Ikeda.
To clarify, the question is not "Is mantrayana efficacious?", but if that is the question you want to answer, I already asked that a while back. The question is, as practiced, an in doctrine, do the various Buddhist institutions expect their monks and laity to understand what they chant?