This book has been written as per the need of the hour of human society. The main aim of this book is to promote better understanding of code of Conduct, Meditation, and Insight in all the mentioned religious systems. Its aims to encourage people to Celebrate Multiple Identities of the world by making an attempt to set a common stage for dialogue.
The three aspects Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna in relation to different systems are abstracted from Buddhism as a minimalistic model for religious life. However, they can assume different interpretations and different manifestations in respective systems. Here, an attempt is made to understand the three concepts in the mentioned systems where there can be similar concepts and applications but the term in each system may differ and slightly even in meaning. For example, Sila in Buddhism is the code of conduct where as in other system the same term may not be used but once again the term which referred to as the code of conduct can be used and compared with Sila. For example, Yama and Niyama in Yoga used as code of conduct.
Dr. Chandrakant is a Diocesan priest of the Diocese of Varanasi. He did his study in philosophy and Graduation simultaneously from St. Charlesa Seminary (Affiliated to St. Aquinas University, Rome) and St. Francis De Sales College, Nagpur. He did his regency at Tinsukia, Assam and thereafter B. Ed from the University of Dibrugarh,. He did his Theological study at St. Charlesa Seminary, Nagpur. He did his post graduation from the university of Pune and thereafter Ph.D. from the same university. Since last twelve years he is also actively involved in education, Inter-Religious Dialogue, and peace building ministry. Presently he is the Director of Maitri Bhavan, Inter- Religious Dialogue Centre & Institute for the study of Religions.
"a no bhadra kratva yantu visvatah" -"Let noble thoughts come from all over."
At the very outset of my sketch, I congratulate Dr. Chandrakant for his laborious and ingenious work. It is a voluminous work consisting of seven chapters but the systematic organization of the book makes its reading and understanding very easy. I am really impressed by Dr. Chandrakant's ability to collect information and materials from the original sources and also his way of presenting the different points of view of Buddhism, Jainism, Yoga, Kevaladvaita of Shankar a, and of non-Kevaladvaita systems of Ramanujacarya (Visistadvaita), Nimbarkacarya (Bhedabhed), Vallabhacarya (Suddhadvaita), Madhvacarya (Unqualified Dualism) and Christianity on Code of conduct, Meditation and Intution or Insight or Wisdom or Knowledge.
Some titles of books, in a particular discipline may be so thought provoking that they may attract the attention of even those who may not belong to that discipline. Dr. Chandrakant Kumar's book titled 'Indian Religious Philosophy and Christianity: A comparative study of "Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna is one such. I have had the opportunity to go through the book and I am happy to know that the whole work is going to be published. This is a laudable step. Usually, dissertations lie in shelves of examination sections of the Universities and libraries. In the book form it will be accessible to a larger academic community.
Hinduism has always been the predominant religion of India, but apart from Hinduism there are millions of Muslims, Buddhists, Jainas, Sikhs, Parsis, Christians and Jews who have lived in India for centuries. Dr, Chandrakant, has very wisely chosen to study the Code of conduct, Meditation and Insight in atheistic schools like Buddhism, Jainism and secular system like Yoga as well as theistic sects incorporated in the system of Vedanta vis - a vis Christianity. Introducing the subject, he has displayed his sound learning and grasp of all philosophical intricacies of the subject. The following six chapters portray a masterly detailed study and analysis of the Code of conduct, meditation and Insight separately in all the religious systems mentioned above. These Chapters are ought to be useful guidelines, especially for the students of comparative religions.
The title of the book gives the impression that the three concepts (" Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna) are at the core of all the Indian religions and Christianity as well and this precisely is the contention of Dr. Chandrakant. He expresses in the General Introduction, 'a common pool of resources from which to share with each other the Code of conduct, Meditation and Insight.'
Each concept is given etymological, historical and critical philosophical treatment in detail. His exposition of themes (Ex: Implication of the Buddhist 'Ahimsa' to some issues of Bio-ethics and applied ethics, freedom of will etc.) is excellent. In Chapter two there is a detail discussion of the Code of conduct, Meditation and Insight in Jainism and he has taken the matter to present context and made very praise worthy contribution in many ways.
The author has discussed the Code of conduct, Meditation and Insight in Yoga system of Patanjali quite at length in third Chapter of the book. His contribution is marvelous and laudable in many ways. I liked the author's secular contribution of Isvarapranidhana in this system that Isvara is not to be understood as creator God but the ideal form of pure consciousness; that Isvara is pure pur usa- vise sa in this sense - purusa in the ideal form; that Isvara is sarvajna not in the literal sense, but in the sense that it is luminous and absolutely free from tamas; that Isvara is guru(not guru is Isvara) in the sense of pure consciousness being the source of inspiration.
The author has the right understanding of Kevaladvaita Vedanta of Shankara in chapter four in so far as he says that on the transcendental level Shankara negates all dualism. Knowledge proper is attained by aparoksanubhuti. The author calls it direct knowledge and then calls intuition. He is correct in stating that it is more than unquestioning faith, intellectual understanding or emotional thrill. Excellent is his remark that in Kevaladvaita we do not see life as a movement from imperfection to perfection but as an ascent from lower perfection to greater perfection. He says that here the soul is not in exile; it is rather in supreme freedom of choosing to be bound or not to be bound. Realization of Brahman in all can affect the social life of individual and society and bring peace and harmony at various level by overcoming Caste and class feelings etc.
In chapter five the author deals with the Code of conduct, Meditation and Insight in Ramanujacarya, Nimbarkacarya, Vallabhacarya and Madhvacarya of non- Kevaladvaita System. It is an excellent contribution to a pluralistic society like India at the same time to the world at large. According to Ramanujacarya, Brahman is apprehended by 'insight' and attained by endeavour. The Brahmanised state of the individual is his mukti and Visistadvaita guarantees this to all. This non kevaladvaita system gave a room for all through Jnana, Bhakti and Karma at different levels. It has given a very special emphasis on grace of God which is essential for the liberation of self.
Christianity is the topic of discussion in the sixth chapter. The author has given a very good exposition of Christian ethics both in Old and the New Testament. It is the ethics of the spirit centering on love and charity and is communitarian in its nature. The discussion is very much relevant to the present state of things. The author brings many themes like medical experimentation and euthanasia to bold relief. Meditation is what Christianity has in common with Indian religious systems, but contemplation is something which it distinctively has. He makes distinction between meditation and contemplation. He also states distinction between wisdom, spiritual apprehension and knowledge and it corresponds to the distinction among God, soul and ordinary being as we have in case of Indian religions.
Finally there is comparison and synthesis in Chapter seven. He finds main approach to the code of conduct as follows: (1) Austerity oriented approach adopted by Jainism and Yoga, (2) Compassion and love oriented approach of Buddhism and non- Kevaladvaita, (3) Detachment and passivity oriented approach of Kevaladvaita and again he talks about insight-oriented and insight and devotion oriented approaches. In his comparison he discusses the matter in crystal clear manner that can be understood even by ordinary people. In the seventh chapter, Dr. Chandrakant has presented the essence of his research contribution. The whole treatment of the subject has been presented with utmost impartiality and consideration. The core of Christian code of conduct' Love' has been well emphasized and explained. The above all love is a foundational human value and cementing force. It is the most profound quality of human soul.
He establishes a very good platform for an Inter-religious dialogue through his effort and that is what expected as an outcome of this work. Dr. Chandrakant states very clearly in general conclusion of this book that one should be open to see and assimilate the goodness without any prejudice based on culture, faith, language, religion, and civilization, which may help one to be better human person. Dr. Chandrakant has made a definite contribution to the commonwealth of knowledge by trying to drive home a new perspective on human code of conduct, Meditation and Insight in different religious systems.
Going through the chapter, incorporating 'comparision and synthesis and lastly the conclusion' , I am reminded of the Rg Veda dictum "Ekam Sat Vipra Bahudha Vadanti" - truth is one, the Wise call it by many names or differently. Dr. Chandrakant's book should appeal to all those who believe in the concept of the unity of mankind and the harmony of all religions.
Today world seems to be in pieces instead of being at peace. Many times misunderstanding and shallow perception of religion seems to be the cause of it but finally religion is blamed for it. In fact religion is binding force and not the cause of division and clash. Therefore, one needs to understand the various aspects of religion because mere external practices and ritualism are not religion. One needs to understand religion from practical as well as metaphysical points of view. It is only after having proper understanding that one can realize that the differences are found even within. Here an attempt is not made to solve all the problems of restless humanity but to understand the fundamental principles to establish a better peaceful and harmonious society and world.
It was during my post graduate studies in the department of Philosophy, University of Pune, that I got fascinated by different systems of Indian Philosophy and to be very specific with Buddhism, Jainism, Vedanta and Yoga. The credit for such fascination goes to my Guide and guru Prof. Pradeep Gokhale. Prior to this Rev. Paulson Deepak, O.P. had already created an appetite but Prof. Pradeep Gokhale generated a sort of craving (crave in positive sense) for it.
I reflected at various aspects of religions and their contribution to human society at practical level and found that rituals, dogmas, and metaphysical approaches may differ from each other due to various reasons but can we think of harmonizing them in spite of all differences. The answer to this came in a very practical manner in the form of "Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna which are at the core of all the Indian religious systems as well as Christianity. The prime goal of this book is to create a platform for dialogue among all so that in spite of all differences, different religious systems can see the beauty and uniqueness of each other and share and celebrate life as one family and make the principle of Vasudhaivakutumbkam true and concrete.
There are several people who deserve acknowledgement for their help in writing this book and I want to thank them for their generosity. I would like to express my inadequacy at thanking in the words of Shakespeare, 'Beggar that I am, I am even poor at words.' First and foremost nevertheless, I am grateful to God for His gracious guidance and inspiration to pursue this research work of mine. My own family of origin has always been an inspiration and a support in my life and values. I am deeply indebted to my parents and elder brother Anugrah for their contributions at various stages of my life. I express my deepest gratitude to Mr. Andrew Lionel Coutts, Mr. Joseph Victor Coutts, Mrs. Shiela Coutts, Mrs. Nancy Coutts (Uncle and Aunties), and whole Coutts family and to my brothers, sisters and relatives for their timely support and guidance.
I express my deepest appreciation and gratitude towards my guru and guide, Professor Pradeep Gokhale, who painstakingly read and joyfully advised at various stages, for each chapter as it developed to its fruition.
I am grateful to Prof. Beni Madhav Shukla, (Former Vice Chancellor, Gorakhpur University) who painstakingly read the whole book and wrote a beautiful forward for the book.
I am immensely thankful to Prof. Subhash Bhelke, Prof. Surjeet Chahal Kaur, Prof. Lata Chatre and Prof. Mangla Chinchore and Prof. Shradhanand More for their inspiration, encouragement, and support to me. I sincerely thank my fellow-students and friends. They too have been a catalyst in furthering my efforts.
I am deeply indebted to Rt. Rev. Dr. Patrick D'Souza (The first Bishop of the Diocese of Varanasi) for his blessing and encouragement. Profound, heartfelt thanks to Rt. Rev. Dr. Raphy Manjaly (Bishop of Allahabad), and Varanasi diocesan family. My sincere thanks to Fr. Anil Chakranarayan S.J. and Fr. Paulson Deepak O.P. who have been a great supported and source of inspiration for me.
Finally, I thank Indian Books Centre who helped in publication of this book and all those who have directly and indirectly contributed to the completion of this book.
From time immemorial human beings have developed psychologically, intellectually, emotionally, socially, and spiritually in different places, societies, cultures, civilizations, and geographical situations in the world. Every society and culture is similar to and different from others. In the same vein, every individual is considered to be unique yet there are certain things that all share in common which is nothing else but the final end and goodness in life. There are metaphysical, epistemological, and ontological differences among various philosophical systems. There is nonetheless, a common pool of resources from which to share with each other the code of conduct, meditation, and insight. This trio of religious life is found in some form or the other in atheistic sects like Jainism, Buddhism and in secular sect like Yoga as well as in theistic sects such as Kevaladvaita and Non-kevaladvaita systems of Vedanta.
The path prescribed for attainment of final goal by all the systems include the practice of the moral principles. However, these systems present the• above principles as the objects of recommendation rather than commands. But these principles could become obligatory when subjected to the faith, inclination or commitment of the agents themselves.
The final goal of life moksa or nibbana in Indian systems sounds similar but the process and meaning of final goal in each school differs. In Buddhism it can be interpreted as the absence of suffering and annihilation of passions. In Jainism moksa can be understood as freedom of soul from Karmic particles by subsidence of them through samvara and nirjara. In Yoga it could be understood as an establishment of pure soul (Purusa), free from Prakrtic modifications. In Kevaladvaita it can be seen in the form of complete union of soul with Brahman who is the same, free from maya or ignorance. In Non-kevaladvaita systems of Vedanta in general it can be understood as closeness with the divine being through faith and devotion. In Christianity, too it can be understood as closeness with divine through the right efforts, faith, and devotion to God.
By applying the threefold model of code of conduct, meditation, and insight, an attempt is made in this book to look forward to understand Christianity as a religion, which deals elaborately with morality (ethics), wisdom, meditation and contemplation. In Christianity, salvation or the Kingdom is the goal of life and to attain that goal morality, ethics, and purity at all levels is sought. Since, Christianity is God-centric religion, faith in God's grace, mercy, and forgiveness becomes essential to experience His love and the Kingdom. In Christianity like other religions, the code of conduct is present, but the concepts of love of God, love of neighbor, and even love towards one's enemies are at the core of the ethics or code of conduct. In Christian tradition, the whole code of conduct is summarized in the concept love and charity.
Buddhism is a system where there is no concept of metaphysical substance such as God and the soul, everything is momentary and world is full of suffering. It is different from other systems. Owing to confusion one might ask, what is there to experience in nibbana? Here, one may see the difference at the level of metaphysical reality but one needs to understand practical and psychological aspect of Buddhism through the code of conduct, meditation, and insight.
One may find the concept of soul in Jainism but neither God and nor His grace as they are presented in theistic systems. The code of conduct also is practiced in extreme form. Here, knowledge has instrumental value rather than intrinsic one.
In Yoga system there is concept of soul and God but God in Yoga is treated just as an object of meditation and not as the Supreme Being or creator. The whole combination of code of conduct, meditation, and insight is secular and psycho-spiritual.
In Kevaladvaita of Sankaracarya the concept of soul and Brahman is present but conventional world in which we live is map and absoluteness of Brahman is everything. Here, seeing the concept of absoluteness of Brahman, and knowledge of Brahman being the ultimate goal, one may ask as to the use of code of conduct and meditation. The Brahman who is absolute is a metaphysical reality and knowledge is intrinsic to it but at the practical level, one needs the above-mentioned concepts of code of conduct and meditation.
In Non-Kevaladvaita the faith aspect has been emphasized and God and His grace become important at all levels practically in all (Ramanujacarya, Nimbarkacarya, Vallabhacarya, and Madhvacarya). One might ask here, what is the place of code of conduct, meditation, and knowledge if everything depends on the will of God? Once again here too the process of liberation is not one sided as God's grace or human effort alone. Therefore human effort in different forms of code of conduct, meditation, and knowledge along with God's grace becomes essential.
The concept of meditation and contemplation is present in Christianity and they sound similar to Indian systems at practical levels, differ due to faith and principles. Largely, it is similar to Non- Kevaladvaita which is based on faith in God and His grace. The concept of knowledge or wisdom is present in Christianity not as an immediate effect of meditation but as a gift of the divine. Once again, the wisdom or knowledge is not direct cause of liberation. It is the grace of God, which is given according to the will of God and not as the result of human effort.
Some of these religious systems are intoxicated by faith whereas others by doctrine of karma and psychology and even when they come to the same platform in the name of faith, still there are differences because some have faith in Scriptures whereas others may believe in God and his grace. Some religious systems give importance to knowledge as a means of liberation, whereas others highlight bhakti and karma. Ordinarily, one may find many similarities. Thus, they seem to stand on the same platform. However, beauty is not found in similarities but in differences. Hence, an effort is made to see and observe them comparatively from different points of views and finally to understand and appreciate their uniqueness.
In the course of dealing with the above-mentioned three aspects Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna in relation to different systems one may ask a question as to why these three Buddhist concepts have been taken. They are abstracted from Buddhism as a minimalistic model for religious life. However, they can assume different interpretations and different manifestations in respective systems.
The main aim and objective of this book is to promote better understanding of Code of Conduct, Meditation, and Insight in all the above mentioned religious systems and set a common stage for dialogue through which people of different faiths may care, share, and celebrate life together in perfect peace and harmony. Here due to various limitations I restrict myself only to the above-mentioned religious systems. This is only to say that there is an ample scope of developing the topic in relation to other religious systems of the world.
Here, an attempt is being made to understand the three concepts in above-mentioned systems where there can be similar concepts and applications but the term in each system may differ and slightly even in meaning. For example, Sila in Buddhism is the code of conduct where as in other system the same term may not be used but once again the term which referred to as the code of conduct can be used and compared with Sila For example, Yamas and niyamas in Yoga used as code of conduct. Thus, it is being compared with Sila or code of conduct of other systems.
The book consists of seven chapters in which general introduction and conclusion are not taken as chapters. From chapter one to six, each chapter consists of three parts of Sila, Samadhi, and Prajna respectively, besides introduction and conclusion of each one. The seventh chapter would be a comparative explanation of all schools.
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