Ever since Sri Ramakrishna had the unique spiritual experience in which he and Christ embraced each other and Christ merged into him, several studies on the two have been published, including Swami Vivekananda's lecture, 'Christ the Messenger'. Though most of these studies represent the Hindu view of Christ, this has also prompted Christian scholars to study Sri Ramakrishna. The number of serious studies on him, however, is far from adequate.
About six decades ago, Romain Rolland did a study of Sri Ramakrishna as 'the younger brother of our Christ,' which was based on reliable materials collected from different sources. Hans Torwesten's practical and direct encounter with philosophy and religion in both India and Europe, combined with his honest endeavour to unravel the mystery of the 'Incarnation' as revealed in the lives of Christ and Ramakrishna, have in the present work earned him a unique place, not achieved by earlier scholars. His Ramakrishna and Christ, or the Paradox of the Incarnation, the English Translation of his German work, Ramakrishna and Christus oder das Paradox der Inkarnation, lucidly presents the author's perceptive revelation of 'Pleroma,' the absolute fullness of the divine joy in Sri Ramakrishna, and that in this message of joy he is united with Christ in Spirit.
We are grateful to the author and to the Ramakrishna Vedanta Centre, Bourne End, Buckinghamshire, U. L., for their permission to bring out the Indian edition of this book. We know that English-knowing Indians will greatly enjoy reading this work.
Back of the book
The doctrine of the incarnation, of the divine word becoming flesh, is the real core of Christian teaching. If it was abandoned, Christianity would hardly be distinguishable from the other 'Semitic' religions, from Judaism and Islam, and there would also be the danger that it would only be regarded as one of the many forms of present-day humanism.
It has however been clear for some time now that the Christian teaching on the incarnation is not so completely unique as it had long been thought to be. Unique is only the teaching of the only begotten Son of god, of the uniqueness of the incarnation of God in Jesus Christ. The threat to Christianity from this direction is not from the strongly monotheistic religions like Islam and Judaism, which deny the possibility of a divine incarnation or from the modern 'scientific' attitude, but from an almost too willing acceptance of the incarnation, this time from Hinduism. What is willingly accepted is thought to be 'natural', and natural things are seldom unique-they repeat themselves, just as everything in nature does. For this Hindus when they told them the story of the incarnation of God on earth, but were greeted instead with a happy nod of the head: 'Yes, we know about that, we have it too.' If the missionaries then took offence and declared that they did not want their Christ to be put on an equal footing with unhistorical avatars and elephant gods, they were often regarded as fanatics and Western imperialist. It seems that tow worlds collided which in spite of the many things they held in common came from quite different origins. This book deals with both of them: with the things that unite them and with the things that divide them.
'Ramakrishna and Christ or the Paradox of the Incarnation' is a comparative study and analysis of the incarnation as embodied in Jesus Christ and Ramakrishna. The author, Hans Torwesten, who has had practical experience of religious life in India and Europe, is in an excellent position to compare both these phenomena.
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