Menu Expand
Christian Ashrams, Hindu Caves and Sacred Rivers

Christian Ashrams, Hindu Caves and Sacred Rivers

Mario I. Aguilar



In late 20th-century India, Christian-Hindu dialogue was forever transformed following the opening of Shantivanam, the first Christian ashram in the country. Mario I. Aguilar brings together the histories of the five pioneers of Christian-Hindu dialogue and their involvement with the ashram, to explore what they learnt and taught about communion between the two religions, and the wide ranging consequences of their work.

The author expertly threads together the lives and friendships between these men, while uncovering the Hindu texts they used and were influenced by, and considers how far some of them became, in their personal practice, Hindu. Ultimately, this book demonstrates the impact of this history on contemporary dialogue between Christians and Hindus, and how both faiths can continue to learn and grow together.

Mario I. Aguilar's Christian Ashrams, Hindu Caves and Sacred Rivers is first of all a sensitive and well-informed reflection on the "golden age" of Christian ashrams, aptly mapping the contributions of the most famous figures, from Jules Monchanin and Francis Mahieu to Henri Le Saux and Raimon Panikkar. It is also a sensitive meditation on the underlying historical and theological significance of monastic asceticism, adaptation, and silence, as Christian spirituality is treasured, restored and renewed in Hinduism's holy space. Aguilar looks forward too, observing the changes gradually occurring in an independent modern and now too postmodern India, and thus inquires honestly into the purpose of Indian Christian monasticism for today and the future. Christian Ashrams, Hindu Caves and Sacred Rivers is a fine introduction for those unfamiliar with the history, but also a stimulating reflection to be welcomed by those who know the story well.
Francis X. Clooney, SJ, Director of the Center for the Study of World Religions, Harvard University
Mario subtly captures the struggle of multiple religious belonging in this unique work. The individual struggle (embedded in the spiritual journey of the "five pioneers") and the struggle of all humanity (embedded in the inter-religious dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity in the wake of Indian Independence). The ashram therein, becomes the nucleus of this struggle. A must read!
Kabir Babu, PhD research scholar in Hindu theology and history, The Centre for Religion and Politics, University of St Andrews
Mario I. Aguilar is Professor of Religion & Politics and Director of the Centre for the Study of Religion & Politics at the University of St Andrews. He is also a poet, an eremitic Camaldolese Benedictine Oblate, and has published widely in his interests in the theology of contemplation, the history of religion and issues of interfaith dialogue.
This is a fascinating journey into Christian-Hindu interfaith encounters. The story of Abhishiktananda, Bede Griffiths, and finally Raimondo Panikar is truly fascinating and Professor Aguilar has written a deeply engaging book that tells the story and develops the theological issues entailed. Many people have waited for this history to be told for some time and here it is: a must read for anyone interested in interfaith dialogue and the history of Christian encounters with other religions.
Professor Gavin Flood FBA, Senior Research Fellow, Campion Hall, Oxford University
This book paints the journey of five great Christian pioneers living their monastic dialogue with Hinduism. As someone who ministered in India for 20 years and who knew two of them personally, I find this account illuminating. In particular their struggle to weld utterly diverging world views and spiritual experiences into an integrated vision and harmonious encounter with our deepest Self. Indeed, in dialogue the language of shared silent action should reign supreme.
Dr John Wijngaards, founder of the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research

Table of Contents

Section Title Page Action Price
Christian Ashrams, Hindu Caves and Sacred Rivers 3
Acknowledgements 9
Introduction - Dialogues in History, Dialogues in Hinduism 11
Chapter 1 - Ashrams, Paramārūbyānanda and Shantivanam 27
Chapter 2 - Advaita and \nAbhishiktananda 43
Chapter 3 - Abhishiktananda, the Hindu Pilgrim 63
Chapter 4 - Dhayananda, Hospitality and Dialogue 83
Chapter 5 - Francis Mahieu and \nSyro-Malabar Monasticism 103
Chapter 6 - Raimon Panikkar and Multiple Belonging 128
Chapter 7 - Silence, the Pro-Logos and the Monk in Raimon Panikkar 143
Chapter 8 - The Postcolonial God and the Proto-Christ 159
Appendix 1 - An Indian Eucharistic Prayer 174
Appendix 2 - A Declaration for a Shared Humanity 182
Bibliography 185
Subject Index 191
Author Index 200
Blank Page