Divergent Traditions, Converging Faiths: Troeltsch, Comparative Theology, and the Conversation with Hinduism

By Joseph Molleur | Go to book overview

Chapter 11

Conclusion of the Test Case

Because it would be unmanageable to attempt to tie in some aspect(s) of Song 8.7 of Shatakopan's Tiruvaymoli with the constructive proposals of all three of the Christian thinkers who have just been surveyed, this chapter will be limited to an exploration of the appraisal, or theological appreciation, that would result from placing one of those constructive proposals—Raimon Panikkar's model of multireligious experience—sideby-side with Song 8.7 of Shatakopan's Tiruvaymoli. As previously noted, Panikkar himself considers the example of a Christian-Vaisnava dialogue in some detail, although he does not deal specifically with Srivaisnavism. It is unnecessary at this juncture to repeat all the particulars of that example. Rather, the present task is to reflect on the specific issue of the role a text like Tiruvaymoli might play in a multireligious experience.

Christians who wish to undertake Panikkar's multireligious experience in dialogue with Srivaisnavas, with a particular focus on the Tiruvaymoli, begin by making a conscientious effort to understand the Tiruvaymoli the way Srivaisnavas understand it. This means reading the songs that comprise Tiruvaymoli with the eyes of a devotee, rather than with the eyes of a “disinterested” scholar, or worse, of a Christian theologian having ulterior apologetic or polemical motives. As the Christian dialogue participants read and study Tiruvaymoli, Panikkar instructs them to pray to Vishnu and Krishna, whose grace those songs constantly celebrate, with the same fervor and earnestness that they pray to Yahweh and Jesus. Further, he calls on them to join the Srivaisnava community, and to worship Vishnu alongside Srivaisnavas, as one of them. Such activities are part of what Panikkar refers to as an “existential incarnation” into the religious world of the other, without which, he maintains, no real understanding of the religious other is possible. A further instance of a successful existential incarnation is the assumption of the truth of the Srivaisnava

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