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Samarasya (Studies in Indian Arts, Philosophy and Interreligious Dialogue-in Honour of Bettina Baumer)

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Item Code: NAW084
Author: Sadananda Das & Ernst Furlinger
Publisher: D. K. Printworld Pvt. Ltd.
Language: English
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 9788124603383
Pages: 666 (12 Color & 12 B/W Illustrations)
Other Details 11.00 X 9.00 inch
Weight 2.10 kg
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About the Book

The present volume is a tribute to Dr. Bettina Baumer, an eminent scholar of Indology and Religious Studies in general and of Kashmir Saivism in particular, and one of the important exponents of interreligious dialogue. It contains 32 essays which are divided into three sections, representing the main fields of study of Bettina Baumer.

Section I - "Indian Philosophy and Spirituality" - is focussed on the non-dualistic Tantric Saivism of Kashmir. The range of topics reach from an analysis of the term "Visranti" / "repose" (A. Chakrabarti, Hawai'i), the first English translation of the Tantric hymn "Bahurupa-garbhastotra" (H.N. Chakravarty, Varanasi) to the Parvan rites described in Chapter 28 of Abhinavagupta's Tantraloka (A. Padoux, Paris) and a commentary on the opening verses of Abhinavagupta's Tantrasara (A. Sanderson, Oxford). This focus is complemented by other important contributions, for example on Gandhi's Ethical Thought G. Prabhu, Los Angeles) and an analysis of the interactions between Vedanta and Tantra, as shown in the Lalitatrisatibhasya (A. Wilke,Munster).

Section II - "Indian Arts and Aesthetics" - contains nine significant articles from outstanding scholars: Kapila Vatsyayan (on the representation of Mount Kailasa in myth, temple architecture and classical literature), Devangana Desai (on the relevance of textual sources in the study of temple art), R.N. Misra (the history of Saiva-Siddhanta in Central India), R. Nagaswamy (Cuhavasi and Devaraja in Cambodia) and others, along with illustrations.

The last section on "Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue" wants to stimulate the dialogue between the Indian and Western history of thought - especially with two articles: an examination of the concept of the "Self" and its knowledge in the Western mystical tradition, compared with the concept of "self- knowledge" in the Upanisads (A. M. Haas, Zurich); and a study of "Nothingness" as a key term in Johannes Tauler. This part also contains reflections on an overcoming of the social, economic and political crisis of our contemporary world: e.g. on the cross-cultural dimension of an "ethics of justice" (M. yon Bruck, Munich) and on the "interculturation" of religious life (F. X. D'Sa, Pune/Wurzburg). This section ends with the key article by R. Panikkar on essential questions in the dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity, presented through the metaphor of "The Drop of Water."

The volume will be useful not only to scholars of Indology, Indian Philosophy, Indian Arts, and Religion, but also to anybody interested in an open, critical exchange between India and the West - or in search of ways out of the fundamental crisis of our time.

Editors' Preface

SAMARASYA literally means 'that which is of or expresses the same, similar, equal (sama) flavour, juice, or essence (rasa)'. Why have we chosen this unusual word for the title of the Felicitation Volume of Dr. Bettina Baumer?

It is one of the key terms of the non-dualistic Saivism of Kashmir, a Hindu Tantric tradition which she has been associated with, as both an academic and as a practitioner, for almost thirty years. The ontological context describes the undifferentiated state of Siva and Sakti, the origin of all differentiation. In their mutual distinction within their non-difference, they serve as a definitive state of "the total absorption of two things or two states into one another, and if it is a question of two beings, both expressing the same desire to be united with the other" (L. Silburn). Samarasya denotes the highest spiritual state, where the essence (rasa) of the Divine is perceived as all-pervading, where Self and universe fuse into the One in perfect harmony.

This experience is similar to the highest aesthetic enjoyment (rasa), as Abhinavagupta, the great exponent of non-dualistic Saivism, states clearly: The experience of rasa is "a resting (visranti) in one's essential nature (samvit), which ... is pervaded by bliss (ananda) and light (prakasa), and is similar to the tasting (asvada) of the supreme Brahman." (Abhinava- bharati on Natyasastra 6.31)

This is the core of Tantric spirituality: the aesthetic, sensual experience can lead one to the highest state. To explore these connections of the aesthetic and mystical experience is one of the main concerns of Bettina Baumer's work. In her life, the aesthetic and the mystic merge more and more into a single current. It would also be tempting to apply the term samarasya to a description of the double religious affiliation of Bettina Baumer. Then one would use a formula of inter-spiritual enthusiasm like: 'In her, the two religious streams of Christianity and Hinduism merge into each other'. But it is not so easy. This enthusiasm would ignore the fundamental distinctions of the exoteric dimensions of both religions - of the beliefs, doctrines, rituals, practices in Christian and Hindu traditions, the different cultural horizon and background of India and the West which form the cognition and experience of reality and which we cannot leave so easily.

The horizons do not fuse. Rather - to use Gadamer's famous phrase of the 'fusion of horizons' in a different way - one has to attain the open, empty 'sky' (kha), where the horizon expands without any limit. One has to attain that state of mind where it 'moves in the open, unlimited sky (khecart, cf. Paratrisika- Tantra, sl. 1), where one attains the whole, undivided, integral state, the identity (samatva) with the Whole, the Divine: khecari- somata or samarasya. According to the Kashmirian svatantra5ivadvayavada, the 'doctrine of non-duality of the free (autonomous) Siva' (Ksemaraja: Spandasamdoha), this state is denoted as 'absolute freedom' (svatantrya), including the freedom from all limits of names, concepts, forms. It is only in this state that the borders of one's own cultural and religious horizon can be overcome - this is stated in the face of the denial of this possibility by the mainstream of postmodern philosophy. Of course, if one has entered this state - the dimension of timelessness, thoughtlessness - afterwards one will again return into the dimension of the duality, of the differences of religions. But one will view and experience this fact in a different way.

One systematic consequence of the Advaita experience for the Theology of Religions is, in our opinion, this: It has to overcome the struggle alternating between 'plurality' and 'unity', in order to be based on a more complex ontological model which is able to integrate the richness of the plurality of the world - including the manifold religious expressions - and the unity of reality. The Advaita 'experience', the state of this union itself, provides the structure of such an ontology, as we find with Abhinavagupta: the complete fusion (samarasya) of the manifoldness, plurality of reality (Sakti-dimension) with the fundamental unity of reality (Siva-dimension), and at the same time even the transcendence of this fusion.

Like Thomas Merton, Abhishiktananda, Raimon Panikkar, Hugo Enomyia-Lassalle and others before her, Bettina Baumer represents an interreligious dialogue which (in terms of Kashmir Saivism) has this state of samarasya, of diving and dissolving in the divine rasa - pure joy, the essence of all - as its starting point, and which leads to a different perception of the exoteric dimension of the religions, of reality as a whole.

The three chapters of this book represent the main fields of the work of Bettina Baumer: Indian Philosophy and Spirituality,

Indian Arts and Aesthetics,

Interreligious Dialogue.

Her important contributions to all these areas express on the one hand the original integral vision of the Indian traditions and culture and the broadness of her interests and work, on the other hand, her privileged position of being in two cultures and religious traditions and in two academic worlds which she brings together in an authentic dialogue.

This Felicitation Volume is an expression of recognition of the work of Bettina Baumer over the last forty years - as an eminent scholar, who entered deeply into Indian Culture and Spirituality, as one of the foremost expounders of non-dualistic Kashmir Saivism, and as an important figure in the field of interreligious dialogue. It is a tribute to her outstanding work and personality. But at the same time it is an expression of friendship - of our personal gratitude, respect and friendship to Bettina Baumer, but first of all of the friendship and manifold relations between her and the authors of this volume. In this way the book reflects one of the many charismata of Bettina Baumer, the charisma of friendship. It makes visible a fact which often escapes one's notice: that academic work and especially interreligious dialogue is based on friendship and personal relations. The broad range of contributors from four continents - Asia, Europe, Australia and North America - reflects her life and work in the last forty years: to build and to represent a bridge between India and the West, among the different intellectual, cultural and religious spheres.

So it is our hope that - like the work of her life - this book with its manifold voices from India and the West shall also contribute to the open exchange between the cultures, based on mutual respect and recognition, and to a 'Cultural Disarmament' (Raimon Panikkar), a 'disarmament' of the prevailing culture, the modern West. It should contribute to an overcoming of a destructive 'monoculturalism' (one single culture: the modern West and its values), 'mono-economism' (one single economic model: politically unleashed capitalism), 'monolingualism' (one single language: English), an absolute monism of power and other fundamentalisms of the 'single one' - in a non-fundamentalist way. It should contribute to the celebration of life in its manifoldness, of the whole, vibrating pluri-singular reality, essentially full of light, joy and beauty.

On this special occasion of Bettina Baumer's 65th birthday we wish her many more years full of the rasa of joy and inspiration!

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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