The contention of Shankara's Universal Philosophy of Religion, is that man of his very nature has to be concerned with what he considers to be his supreme reality. But the supreme reality is unknown and unknowable. Hence man is thrown into a predicamental situation of knowing the unknowable. This absurd situation has given rise to the doctrines of analogia entis (St. Thomas Aquinas), symbology (Paul Tillich) and picture theories of R.B. Braithwaite and Wittgenstein. But the conclusion of the present author is that even now Shankara is ahead of the stalwart epoch-making thinkers mentioned above.
About the Author:
Y. Masih (b.1916) obtained Ph.D. (Edinburgh), and D. Litt. (Patna) for his works on psychology and philosophy of religion. He was Professor of Philosophy in Magadh University and has an exceptionally long career of teaching in various universities. He has a long list of works to his credit which includes: Freudianism and Religion, A History of Western Philosophy, Introduction to Religious Philosophy, Christian Faith and Philosophy and may others. At present he is working on The Hindu Theology.
The book presents a new interpretation of Shankara's philosophy of religion and gives a defence of Advaitism in the current language of Western philosophy. The book has two parts. Part (I) deals with the framework of religious language and as such contains the theoretical structure of the subject. Part (II) contains the familiar exposition of Shankara's religious thoughts. Against Paul Deussen and Dasgupta the author contends that theism is an integral part of Shankara's religious philosophy. This contention also shows that Shankara was not a Buddhist in disguise but was an Upanishadic thinker. Against the objections of Ramanuja in the background, the author shows the real nature of the Mithyatva of Mahavakyas in the light of Paul TilIich and Wittgenstein, Samuel Alexander and Russell.
In the first place the author seeks to establish the doctrine of religion a priori in the light of parallel development of religious thought both in Christianity and Hinduism. In the opinion of the author the doctrine of religion a priori firmly stands supported by ontological and psychological considerations.
Secondly, in the light of Christian, Islamic and Upanishadic thoughts it has been maintained that the ultimate reality is unknown and unknowable. Hence, man impelled by his nature as contained in the doctrine of religion a priori, man is thrown into the predicamental situation of trying to know the unknowable. This absurd situation has given rise to the religious philosophies of analogia entis (St. Thomas Aquinas), Symbology (Paul Tillich), picture-theories of R.B. Braithwaite and of Wittgenstein.
Shankara, Paul Tillich and Wittgenstein, all contend that there is a transcendent reality which underlies all that exists and is talked about, which itself is beyond any empirical language whatsoever. Any attempt at talking about Brahman would trivialize. It and so would falsify It. Hence, one has to maintain silence. Of course Advaitic philosophers do talk about Brahman with a view to evoking B-jnana in the hearers. But in the end their talk is nothing but nonsense. But it is significant nonsense since it exhibits the secrets contained in the silence of Brahman. This silence bas the best prospect of ending all religious disputes and confusion.
The author shows that Shankara's religious philosophy includes all that is abiding in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, Paul TiIIich and Wittgenstein and in some respects it goes beyond all of them.
Finally, the book shows that the syntax of religious language has to do with the pictures and symbols of the supreme reality, and as such, it should not be assimilated to the language of science and ethics. Proper understanding of the evocative nature of Brahman or God-talk would remove many confusions which beset much of atheistic thinking and the criticism of religion.
Of Related Interest:
Life of Shankaracharya - The Adventures of a Poet Philosopher
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