Advaita and Christianity

Ramakrishnan Balasubramanian ramakris at EROLS.COM
Sun Apr 2 18:30:58 CDT 2000

There's been a great deal of discussion comparing religions. Jaldhar
has espoused a view, which he has called  the "fundamentalist"
view-point, which in my opinion is not the mainstream advaita view. As
per the doctrine of karma each person is born in a religion and
environment suitable for further advancement. That is why advaitins or
any other Hindu sub-sect for that matter will not preach intolerance
towards any other religion. That does not mean anyone who finds the
advaita doctrines reasonable cannot adopt them even if they were not
born in that sect.  This should be quite clear to anyone who reads
conversations of the Sringeri Sankaracaryas.

It is interesting to see what the sUta sa.nhitA has to say about this.
This text has a commentary by mAdhavamantrin (14th century) and is
considered very important in the advaita school. Vidyaranya quotes it
quite often. I don't have the time to type out all the relevant
verses. I'll just type out the translation by Sri A. Mahadeva Sastri:

"As the highest salvation is only of one kind, the knowledge which
leads to it must be of one kind and one kind only. The vedAnta treats
of Sankara as the non-dual Atman. No other path treats of him directly
as vedAnta does. Therefore knowledge produced by the veda alone is
wisdom . Knowledge obtained by other means is avidyA. The other paths
themselves cannot lead to moksha. They are serviceable only as leading
to it through the intervening steps...

A man allures an erratic cow by holding out grass, so does Maheshvara
hold out some pleasure and then gives supreme wisdom as the mind
becomes perfected.

Thus these paths, laid out as they are by Siva, are all of them true
and seviceable. How can Siva be a deceiver?"

The text is clear that moksha is by attaining advaita GYAna only.
However all other paths are also capable of producing *mental
purification* which will lead to the true gnosis finally. Vidyaranya
makes the same point in his jIvanmuktiviveka and points out all
religions emphasize restraint, purity, etc.

This is a far cry from claiming that all religions are exactly one and
the same. But it's also much different from the "fundamentalist"
viewpoint. That's a loaded term anyway and brings to mind unsavory
characters, best not to use it.

I also cannot agree with what John wrote:

<<<In that case, I might suggest one other:

Vempeny, Ishanand, S.J.  _Krsna and Christ._  Anand, India:  X. Diaz
        Rio, 1988.  Cloth, 498 pp.  ISBN: None shown.  $20.00.

Prof. Vempenny introduces his "Dialogical Method" which operates on
"conviction that no religion possesses the truth totally and
exclusively, that
every religion has enough wealth to enrich other religions, and that
religion is worthy of love and respect."  He states that his method is
love-centered than knowledge-centered" and that it "lays more emphasis
right attitude than right logic."  (Quotes are from the Prologue.)

I have not read the book, but this is the first thought which comes to
my mind. Since Prof. Vempeny has concluded that there is some good
from all religions that the others can learn, he is superior to every
teacher of every religion since he has sifted out the chaff from the
grain in all religions. So theoretically, the grain from all religions
could be combined to produce a super religion, which would be better
than all existing religions!


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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