literature · synopses
Anand Amaladass (ed.)
Indian Christian Thinkers.
Satya Nilayam Publications,
ix, 284 pages
Satya Nilayam Publications:
It is no exaggeration to say that Indian Christian theology contains in itself an amazing diversity of thought, chiefly owing to the blending of Christian faith with Indian philosophy and culture, which possess an endless variety.
Indian Christian Thinkers is a compendium of very insightful biographical sketches of 47 well-known Indian Christian thinkers of the 20th century. In a lucid foreword, Anand Amaladass, its editor, mentions three unique concerns of the Indian Christian thinkers: first, the process of inculturation, i.e., to articulate Christian faith in Indian symbols and in Indian philosophical and religious framework. Second, to enter into dialogue with the Hindu community. The third concern was to relate their faith to the social realities. These three concerns broadly form the thematic outline of the essays.
It is no exaggeration to say that Indian Christian theology contains in itself an amazing diversity of thought, chiefly owing to the blending of Christian faith with Indian philosophy and culture, which possess an endless variety. Whether it is the three mārgas – jñāna, bhakti, karma –, or mysticism, or the transcendental and immanental natures of god, or the notion of avatāra, or yoga or āśrama ideals – the Indian Christian thinkers have made use of these all and much more. Also significant is the fact that the social evils such as caste system, and rigid beliefs of karma and transmigration have spurred some of the best known liberation theologies on Indian soil.
It is practically not possible, nor even desirable, to evaluate the merits and demerits of each and every article, but some random comments need to be made. By and large, the authors have succeeded in giving a concise biographical details of the thinkers and their theological contributions. But almost all of them appear to offer a panegyric, holding them on a high pedestal, which no doubt they deserve. For instance, the author on Ariarajah says that
Sometimes, there could have been more investigations of the facts presented. For instance, Pandipeddi Chenchiah was said to be
These minor shortcomings notwithstanding, the volume has brought out the three major dimensions of the Indian Christian thinking – liberative, dialogical and intercultural – very well. Each article gives the readers a clear idea of the biographical details as well as their academic, theological contributions.
By arranging the thinkers alphabetically, and not chronologically, the readers task of locating them is made easy, but at the same time denied them the opportunity to trace the evolution and progress of Indian Christian thinking. Likewise, the best known works of the authors are given in each article, but works on them also could have been included. Also, an index could have certainly added to the quality of the work.
One notable omission from the list of thinkers is Anand Amaladass himself, who is the editor of the volume. Perhaps his humility and modesty could have come in the way of him being included. One hopes that this would be taken care of in the complementary volume proposed to be brought out. This volume should find its place in every theological seminary and their libraries, at least in India.