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From Darkness to Light

The Concept of Salvation in the Perspectives of Thomas Aquinas and Śankara


Santosh Thomas Karingadayil

The question on salvation with its multifarious dimensions had always been a significant subject-matter of discussion from time immemorial. All the religious traditions attempt to formulate appropriate answers to the questions related to this, one of the most crucial issues in theological reflections. Still the concept remains wide open for further research. It is St. Paul who said that, «For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.» (1 Cor. 13:13) Salvation, as St. Paul conceives it, is a face to face vision of God in perfect knowledge merited through the person of Christ and through the gratuitous gift of grace. It is a passage from ignorance to truth, from darkness to light and from death to immortality (Br. Upa. I. iii. 27). From Darkness to Light aims at an enhanced understanding of the concept of salvation, comparing the theological and soteriological positions of Thomas Aquinas and Śankara. The author has made an admirable attempt in Comparative Theology, deciphering and clarifying all related concepts of salvation in both the thinkers.


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PART III: Life Liberated 195


195 PART III: LIFE LIBERATED The basic concern of every religion is the ultimate meaning of human life, a transition to a better state from the present condition, which is generally perceived to be unreal, bound up in ignorance and suffering. But it is understood in a variety of ways. In primitive religions salvation is seen as a return to the original innocence of nature through myth, magic, and ritual. 1 Although the Western and the Eastern theologies appear to be contradictory over the conceptions of human being’s final goal, their eschatological conceptions offer at the same time convergent indications, which point beyond our human experience in the same direction. While liberation religions of the East place the emphasis on the removal of human bondage of ignorance and suffering, a more philosophical view sees it as the achievement of the highest goal of the highest human faculty of reason either through the word, or the intellectual realization of one’s ontological identity with the really Real. On the other hand, the redemption religions like Judaism and Christianity place the focus in re-establishing the intimate personal relationship of human being with God. Most of the eschatological streams of thought would agree that liberated life is a state of life, whereby an individual soul is ultimately united to a divine soul. Western religious thought conceives the Ultimate Reality as a personal creator God and human being as a finite personal being made in the divine image for fellowship with his maker. This is...

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