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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 IV: A Bridge between or A Wall Separating, A Comparative Analysis 243


243 Part IV: A Bridge between or A Wall Separating? A Comparative Analysis Introduction Since many centuries, various attempts were made to explore the essence of every religion and thus to bring about a genuine synthesis. The fundamental base of every religion is the divine revelation of God to the pioneers of that reli- gion in the course of time. Vatican II in its declaration on the Revelation of the Church to non-Christian religions teaches, “All men form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to the people of the entire earth and also because all share in a common destiny, namely God.”1 The Church respects and admits the various religions of the world and recognizes their efforts towards the ultimate goal. The document Nostra Aetate, in clarifying its attitude to other religions, explains that men look to their differ- ent religions in order to find an answer to the unsolved riddles of human exis- tence. The problems that weigh heavily on the heart of men, according to this declaration, are the same today as in the ages past. What is the meaning and purpose of life? What is upright behaviour, and what is sinful? Where does suf- fering originate, and for what does it serve? How can genuine happiness be found? What happens at death? What reward follows death?2 These are the ba- sic questions dealt with in all religions. The Catholic Church rejects nothing of what is...

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