The Theology of Pierre Johanns S. J.
This book examines the theological writings of Pierre Johanns by situating him within his historical context, by discussing how Johanns interacted with Vedantic philosophy, and by assessing the success of his project.
Chapter Three Johanns on Ìakara Introduction The first Vednntic philosopher with whom Johanns chose to interact was Ìakara, the proponent of advaita non-dualism. Johanns faced several challenges when attempting this engagement. Ìakara’s philosophy is esoteric and is difficult to grasp. The expositor of ad- vaita must be skilled in communicating abstract concepts and in des- cribing a type of religious experience unfamiliar to most. In addition, the advaitic view of God and of the world does not immediately appear to be compatible with a Christian understanding of reality. How should a Christian theologian assess Ìakara’s notions of an unqualified Absolute who is completely unrelated to a world of mnyn? Yet, Johanns was convinced that Ìakara’s philosophy should be the cornerstone of a proper understanding of metaphysics. Ìakara is the great eighth-century Vednntic philosopher and exponent of non-dualism (advaita). According to tradition, Ìakara was born of Brahmin descent in Kaladi in Kerala in 788 and died in 820 A.D.1 Most scholars of the systems of Indian philosophy acknowledge that Ìakara is one of the key figures in the intellectual and spiritual history of Hinduism. Not much biographical infor- mation handed down by tradition regarding Ìakara’s life can be verified. After entering the stage of sanynsa, it is believed that Ìakara travels throughout India, debating in Benares and esta- blishing four prominent matha monasteries in each corner of the subcontinent. Despite the fact that over three hundred literary works are attributed...
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