Indian Dialogical Christologies (Recapitulating Advaita Vedanta & Indian Traditions of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi)
|Author:||P. T. Subrahmanyan|
|Publisher:||Christian World Imprints, Delhi|
|Other Details||9.50 X 6.50 inch|
This comparative study brings out the differences between the Christian dogma and the Indian experiences of Christ by Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi. Both Vivekananda and Gandhi encountered Christ in the context of British colonialism in India. The Christ of the doctrines as presented by the Christian missionaries in a western framework was unacceptable to them. Instead, they looked upon Christ and Christianity through the lenses of Advaita Vedanta and Indian Tradition. Their Christ-experience thus emphasised more on the metaphysical and ethical dimensions, than on any ritualistic and confessional practices of Christianity. Although, the Christian Church in India may not be able to accept the views of Vivekananda and Gandhi as it is, still the Church can learn many lessons from their experiences and enriched by it. This book also. provides clues for a dialogical relationship between Hinduism and Christianity in the present context of India, from the confrontational attitude of the colonial past.
Dr. P. T. Subrahmanyan obtained his B.D. and M.Th (Religion) from the Senate of Serampore. He completed his M.A. (Philosophy) with rank from the University of Kerala. He received his Ph.D (Philosophy) from Mahatma Gandhi University, Kottayam. Currently he is teaching religion and philosophy in India Bible College & Seminary, Kumbanad, Kerala. He also is a visiting faculty in many theological institutions. He has authored several articles in leading journals. He is married to Tessy and is blessed with a daughter, Darsa and a son, Derik.
Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi encountered Christ and Christianity in a colonial context, which seriously questioned the basic values of Indian tradition. The Westem civilization they encountered not only affirmed its superiority, but also denigrated the religion and culture of India. Vivekananda and Gandhi responded to this context by rejecting the Western form of Christianity as well as separating Christ from this Western colonial Christianity. They did not accept the customary/dogmatic beliefs of the West on Christ, which was based on the Aristotelian epistemology. On the other, they experienced Christ as an Oriental, and his spirituality as essentially Eastern. This re-definition of Christ-experience was based on Advaita epistemology of oneness and equality in Christ. Therefore, Vivekananda's and Gandhi's Christ- experience is metaphysical and ethical in nature in accordance with Indian tradition.
Christ-experience in Indian context is therefore different from the West. It is experiential and mystical in nature, transforming the 'experiencer' into Christ-likeness or into another Christ'. This experience cannot be defined into dogmas and doctrines by rationalization as in the Western Aristotelian framework. This understanding of Christ in the context of Advaita philosophy and Indian tradition brings a new dimension of Christ-experience. However, this research examines, whether this novel approach is wanting? This research also suggests ways of understanding and dialogical co-existence between Hindus and Christians in contemporary India, from a colonial, confrontational approach of the past.
There are seven chapters in the book. The first chapter is introduction. It deals with the research problem, its significance and the 19 century colonial background and related issues of the study. The second chapter deals with the formation of Vivekananda and Gandhi the influences that made their personality and philosophical views. The third chapter is about the supremacy of Indian tradition and Advaita Vedanta in the writings of Vivekananda and Gandhi. Fourth chapter sees how Vivekananda and Gandhi as Advaita Vedantins responded to the Christian tradition, plurality of religions and Christ. The fifth chapter analyses the Christ-experience of Vivekananda and Gandhi as metaphysical and ethical, which is quite different from the Western Aristotelian epistemological framework. The sixth chapter is a critical analysis of the Advaitic Christ-experience of Vivekananda and Gandhi, as it uses 'comparative method' in the philosophy of religions and the related issues. The sixth chapter also gives observations for the betterment of Hindu-Christian relations in today's post-colonial, secular democratic context of India from the colonial past and its confrontational attitudes. The seventh chapter is the last chapter, which gives the summary and conclusion of the research.
Appreciation for Dr. P. T. Subrahmanyan's book on 'Indian Dialogical Christologies: Recapitulating Advaita Vedanta & Indian Traditions of Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi'.
In Swami Vivekananda's view, there is very little difference between the pure religion of Christ and that of the Vedanda. Jesus was an Advaitin because to the masses who could not conceive of anything higher than a Personal God, he said, 'pray to your Father in heaven'; to others, who could grasp a higher idea, he said, 'I am the vine, ye are the branches', but to his disciples whom he revealed himself more fully, he proclaimed the higher truth, 'I and my Father are One'. We have to realise the kingdom of God which is within us, i.e., we have to realise our spiritual nature that we are immortal spirit, we have to attain perfection through renunciation. Krsna, Buddha, Jesus and Ramakrishna are just few among the many incarnations. Among the incarnated personalities like Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Krsna, Jesus, Mohammed, Luther, Ramakrishna, some are called Gods and some prophets. The difference between human person and Christ is a difference in manifestation; but as Absolute Being there is no difference between the two. When intelligence is perfect, we get the Incarnation the Christ. Jesus was a person who had felt and realised God intensely. Christs are Teachers of teachers; they can transform us into saints. But mere worship of Buddha or Christ will not save a person; God alone can give us freedom. Jesus and others like him are free spirits and hence they took human form, not by the compulsion of their past actions, but just to do good to humankind.
A Christian should retain the essentials of Christianity which according to Swami Vivekananda, are the teachings of Lord Jesus as exemplified in the Sermon on the Mount. Christ shows us the way to become perfect; he shows our true nature which is divine. Christianity considers human person as a sinner, a worm and that is why It could not understand the message of potential divinity implied in his saying, 'I and my father are one'. Human sacrifice was a Jewish idea and to fit the gentle and loving Jesus into Jewish beliefs, the idea of human sacrifice in the form of atonement or as a human scapegoat, by Christianity, was really unfortunate. The problem with Christianity is its idea that religion consists in doctrines. It has the peculiar doctrine of Fall and now there is no way of escape other than belief in Jesus Christ that he died to save us. For the Christians the problem is how to escape the wrath of God. Like the Indians they are unable to see that religion means realization which involves the regaining of the lost selfhood. In the view of Swami Vivekananda, the West has distorted the religion of renunciation and realization of Jesus into a 'shop- keeping religion' of luxury and intolerant superstitious doctrines.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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