[Advaita-l] Logical Basis of Apaureshyatva

Omkar Deshpande omkar_deshpande at yahoo.com
Wed Nov 9 16:41:23 CST 2011

From: Rajaram Venkataramani <rajaramvenk at gmail.com>

>Why do you think a Jesuit priest is learning Hinduism taking so much effort?

He recognizes that comparative religion/theology can deepen his insights about his own religion. There is a cliche in comparative religion - he who understands only one religion understands no religion.

See for instance:



In his commentary, Clooney achieves multiple goals—the book is a contribution to Christian spiritual theology, highlighting for today the beautiful insights into love by St. Francis de Sales (1567-1623), Doctor of the Church. At the same time it points out how even in our world of many religious paths, we can recover and deepen the ancient tradition of loving surrender into God's hands by opening ourselves to the wisdom of India and one of Hindu India's most famous traditions of loving God, explained to us by the south Indian Hindu theologian Sri Vedanta Desika (1268-1369). Clooney goes further, offering a comparative study of these classic works in which he self-consciously writes about the process of reading the two works and the impact this approach has on the reader. The good advice found through this deep engagement with these texts offers a deeper insight into how we can most fruitfully and spiritually think about religious pluralism in the 21st
 century, remaining open in heart and mind while loyal still to our own tradition. 

Not merely a book about loving surrender to God, Beyond Compare offers us the opportunity to advance along that path ourselves, learning from the wisdom of St. Francis de Sales and Sri Vedanta Desika, meditating on their two paths together, deepening our own love and willingness to surrender in love to God.

Also see http://groups.creighton.edu/sjdialogue/documents/articles/clooney_frontline.html

Quote - 

My other major project is on Vedanta Desika, the great Sri Vaisnava theologian of the 14th century. I am reading one of his greatest works, the Rahasyatrayasaram, which is one of his last works, written when he was over 90 years old and living in Srirangam in Tamil Nadu. In it he wrote a complete Sri Vaisnava theology stressing prapatti (perhaps, surrender to God). I am trying to study the text, and through it to understand what he meant by prapatti, how he interpreted the Tirumantram, the Dvaya Mantra, and the Carama Sloka, and what he saw the Sri Vaisnava theology and practice to be. 

As I develop the book, I intend to draw a parallel with one of the classics of Christian spirituality and study how a Christian theologian like St. Ignatius of Loyola [founder of the Society of Jesus] or St. Francis de Sales tried to inspire people to love God. Here too, the goal is how a Catholic can learn from Vedanta Desika. I want to ask, can Vedanta Desika inspire Catholics to love God more than they did previously?


Another reason for studying other religions is to understand other cultures in today's globalized world threatened by religious conflicts:

Quote -

But I think in today's world we have such fragmentation that it is worth the effort for people to cross over to the other religious tradition. Even if you do it imperfectly, you still are building bridges, even if they are not 100 per cent perfect bridges. But you are making connections, you are helping people talk to each other.

Ignorance is the great danger. People are caricaturing others, they are hating others without knowing them. So building up knowledge and making the connections is worth the effort even if it cannot be done perfectly. Again, that is my goal - to make the bridges, make the connections. And I hope that other people would do the same in other contexts. So if I am doing more Brahminical work, somebody could go and do something more at the popular level that I cannot do. If some Sri Vaisnava would like to read the Catholic tradition closely, that would be wonderful because that would be the reverse of what I am doing. So you need other people to do more, but I am doing only what one person can do.


These are all pretty well-known and well-appreciated reasons in academia for why someone may want to study another religion. There are even people arguing today in the US that a study of the major world religions should be a compulsory part of the undergraduate curriculum for all. 



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