This volume of articles translated from the German is an attempt to introduce a leading indologist of the present generation Gerhard Oberhammer, to the students of Indian Philosophy and Religion, who may not have direct access to the German writings. The present book contains eight chapters. In Chapter One on "The Structure of Tradition and Revelation" he raises questions concerning the phenomenon of revelation and the structure of tradition that mediates it within the Hindu religious traditions. Chapter Two on "Manifestation of Salvation" shows the relation between salvation and personal tradition. Chapter Three is a reflection of "Man as the Place of Revelation". Chapter Four on "Transcendence as Salvation in the early Nyaya" analyses the experience of transcendence as offering salvation in the Nyaya school of Indian Philosophy. Chapter Five is on the "Experience of Transcendence in Hinduism. Chapter Six analyses "The Transcendental Structure of Human bondage according to Paksilasvamin": In this essay the Nyaya way to salvation is dealt with mainly on the strength of the statements of Paksilasvamin (500AD). In Chapter Seven "God experience in Yogic Meditation" Oberhammer want to raise questions about the faith-horizon in the classical Yoga. Chapter Eight is about "The Use of Mantra in Yogic Meditation". What is original about Oberhammer is the type of questions that he raises in his analysis. They are perceptive and provocatively challenging in the sense that they take readers to new dimensions that are not usually associated with the classical Hinduism. In the end the book contains a bibliography of Gerhard Oberhammer's works, Index of Sanskrit words, Index of Authors.
Professor Gerhard Robert Felix Oberhammer, born in Innsbruck, Austria in 1929, did his studies in Philosophy at the University of Innsbruck and Indology at the Sorbonne, in Paris. In 1982, he became member of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.
This volume of articles translated from the German is an attempt to introduce a leading Indologist of the present generation, Gerhard Oberhammer, professor at the Institute of Indology, Vienna, Austria, to the students of Indian Philosophy and Religion who may not have direct access to the German writings. Language remains a barrier and unless translations are made available, his insights and perceptions are not likely to reach a wider public. This volume is a modest attempt to fulfil this need.
G. Oberhammer's area of research is the history of Indian Philosophy and Religion. He has contributed numerous articles and written books on various aspects of the Hindu religious traditions. (A select bibliography of his writings is given at the end of this volume.) In particular he is interested in the investigation of religion as the central phenomenon of human existence to which he devotes his scholarship and the various forms of religious tradition in classical Hinduism become the focus of his attention.
The importance of Oberhammer's contribution is two-fold: Methodology and dialogical approach. He scrutinizes the language and presuppositions of his material and through an exegetical handling and structural analysis of the classical texts of Hinduism he open up a new perspective into the age-old questions of philosophy and theology. He tries to recover from the texts the fundamental structure of experience which makes possible and comprehensible the meditative experience of Hinduism, a sin yoga, recitation of mantra, worship of god with the help of an image murtih and so on. The other aspect of his contribution is the dialogical approach. In a concrete understanding of the phenomenon of religion which penetrates religion itself and still remains within the history of religion, Oberhammer attempts to mediate the Christian theology in dialogical encounter with the Hindu philosophy and theology. Oberhammer is thus a unique example among the present day Indologists in the sense that he tries to develop in a philosophico-theological method the religious and theological concerns of Hinduism vis-à-vis the philosophico-theological attempts of Christian existence, in order to bring the Christian theology in cordial dialogue with these tradition and thus mediate them in a fruitful encounter.
The philosophico-theological assumptions underlying his own structural analysis force us to look into the sources that influenced him in this venture. In his style of analysis and language one finds the influence of M. Heidegger and the Catholic theologian, Kari Rahner among others. He is influenced by the transcendental philosophy as it is interpreted in the theological direction. He begins with the phenomenology of religion as confronted with modern methods of sciences. He tries to find a basis acceptable to all, an analysis of the transcendence of the human being, without importing one religious world-view into the other. On the basis of the common structure of the human being, he tries to see how revelation is possible and how salvation is to be understood.
Oberhammer has articulated his philosophical presuppositions in his book Versuch Einer Transzendentalen Hermeneutik Religioeser Traditionen." (cf. Bibliography A. 12). The point of departure for a hermeneutic structure of religion in Oberhammer's thought is human transcendentality. Since human consciousness is 'being-present-to-oneself' (Beisichsein), transcendence implies the immediate awareness of the one 'present-to-oneself' of a movement of being open to one-self and being open to the other. In this way, human consciousness, first of all 'opens up' to the 'one present-to-oneself', its own opaque self-closedness, its self-identity and manifests the dynamism of 'transcendence' as a movement which goes out to the other and comes back to itself. To human consciousness, 'transcendence', therefore, is a priori, prior to any act of spiritual realization. In such a realization the 'transcendental subject' reaches out spontaneously to the other, the "non-subject", which breaks open its self-identity as the "subject" of the objectively present in the consciousness of the 'being-present-to-oneself' (Beisichsein). For Oberhammer 'transcendental subject' is "that condition of the possibility of the 'being-present-to-oneself' as categorical subject, which can be thought of only as the becoming-aware-of-itself in the reaching-out to the other and which is present in the categorical subject as spontaneity of intentional turning-towards as the "basis of freedom" of the reality of self-realisation" (p. 10) The transcendental nature of the 'subject' opens up the dynamics of the movement to reach out to the 'object', which becomes the "target" (Woraufhin). Transcendence implies a movement, a relationality of the 'being-present-to-oneself' as being always "in-relation-to" the "target". This "reaching-out" is a primordial and irrevocable need and is constitutive of the dynamic structure of the transcendental 'subject' in relation to the 'target'. The transcendental reaching-out can be attributed only to this need for the breaking-out of the self-identity of the being-present-to-oneself in the openness for itself and for the other. In this reaching-out the spontaneity of the subject becomes visible.
In what way must the 'other as the subject' be thought of, in which concept the 'target' of the transcendental reaching-out becomes comprehensible, in order that it may become the basis for possibility of this openness of the "being-present-to-oneself"? First of all it cannot in any case be thought of as a finite being, because then the transcendental subject would be stuck only to this particular being as its object and it could be open neither for itself nor for the other. In order that the openness of the transcendental subject may not be misplaced, the 'target' of the reaching-out may be thought of, not as an object of a knowing, subject but much more as a 'non-existent', which is, however, not a negation of every reality. It must be understood as a positive and, therefore, as a lasting and self-revealing openness in the reaching-out of the transcendental subject. Only so can it respond to every primordial need of the subject which opens itself in the reaching-out for itself and for the other, and such openness discloses in the relational being of the being-present-to-oneself. In this sense one can therefore designate the 'non-existent' as a reality of 'the hereafter of the existent", which discloses to the transcendental subject the horizon of the existent", which discloses to the transcendental subject the horizon of the 'being-present-to-oneself' without mistaking it for a particular being. This 'hereafter of the existent' would then always be a condition of the possibility of its "subjectivity" to the transcendental subject in the relationality of the consciousness. The "need" of the transcendental subject would therefore also look on in its turn not to a particular being but to the lasting and self-revealing openness of the "target" (Woraufhin). Then if the transcendental subject itself should deny the reaching-out, this "need" must be accepted as a condition of the possibility of the denial of the subject to the reaching-out and the spontaneity of the subject should remain comprehensible.
The concept of transcendental reaching-out becomes apparent before this irrevocable need through no relation to a finite being. Then a primordial 'laying-bare' must correspond to the need which is expressed in the reaching-out to the 'hereafter of the existent' in the out-reaching subject (and therefore also in the reaching-out itself). The relational existence of the 'being-present-to-oneself' as reality fulfils itself in the unreserved laying-bare of its 'need' in the transcendental reaching-out, while the transcendental subject meets itself in the subjectivity of an actual being-present-to-oneself always immediate to the 'target' of its stepping-out.
Secondly, if the "salvation" of the "being-present-to-oneself" which is testified ultimately by the religious traditions of mankind means freedom from guilt and the lasting fulfillment of the senses, then the target (Woraufhin) of one's own transcendental reaching-out can also be the final 'reality of salvation' of the "being-present-to-oneself". Then in relation to the structure of being of the 'being-present-to-oneself' of man, guilt means a refusal of the encounter not only with the individual being but also thereby with the "target" (Woraufhin) itself.
The unreserved and far-reaching encounter with the "being-present-to-oneself" and the meaning-providing reality of the target can only become possible if every refusal in the encounter with the encountering one has come to an end and also every act of denial in the past has been set right by a successful encounter. In this sense one can also say that the encounter with the "target" of one's own transcendental reaching-out must be understood as the experience of the ultimate and the unquestionable reality of the salvation of man, before which one can say that man is able to attain his salvation through it permanently. Therefore, this target of one's own reaching-out is also that reality, which can so tie up together as a single possible "revelation" in the transcendental primordial ground of its own 'being-present-to-oneself' (and therefore not in the categorical subjectivity of a particular individual), so that it is altogether possible a priori as a valid revelation for every individual.
In such an understanding of the target of the transcendental reaching-out as the self-revealing reality of the salvation of man, the question concerning religion necessarily arises. It is not a question of religion as an institution of the human society nor even primarily as a sociological phenomenon. But it is a question of religion as the existential character of the human being. Only in so far as man surrenders himself unreservedly before the root of his being to the self-revealing openness of 'the hereafter of the existent' as his existential obligation, can be open himself in full selflessness to the encountering-other.
Oberhammer takes the experience of the transcendence as the focal point of his reflection on the questions relating to religious phenomena. Revelation is the self-communication of transcendence and the tradition of revelation is the testimony of the successful realization of the experience of transcendence. Some of these principles, Oberhammer derives from his philosophical anthropology of transcendence and applies them to the analysis of the religious texts.
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