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Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments A Note on Sanskrit and Bengali Transliteration Abbreviations of Primary Texts Introduction PART ONE: THE INFINITUDE OF GOD Chapter 1 Sri Ramakrishna's Harmonizing Philosophy of Vijnana Vedanta Chapter 2 A Cross-Cultural Inquiry into Divine Infinitude: Sri Ramakrishna, Paraconsistency, and the Overcoming of Conceptual Idolatry PART TWO: RELIGIOUS PLURALISM Chapter 3 "All Faiths Are Paths": A Reconstruction and Defense of Sri Ramakrishna's Vijnana-Based Model of Religious Pluralism Chapter 4 John Hick's Vedantic Road Not Taken?: Hick's Evolving Views on Religious Pluralism in the Light of Sri Ramakrishna PART THREE: MYSTICAL EXPERIENCE Chapter 5 Beyond Perennialism and Constructivism: Sri Ramakrishna's Manifestationist Model of Mystical Experience Chapter 6 A Cross-Cultural Defense of the Epistemic Value of Mystical Experience: Sri Ramakrishna, Self-Authentication, and the Argument from Experience PART FOUR: THE PROBLEM OF EVIL Chapter 7 Sri Ramakrishna's Multidimensional Response to the Problem of Evil: Skeptical Theism, Saint-Making Theodicy, and the Panentheistic Standpoint of Vijnana Chapter 8 A Cross-Cultural Approach to the Problem of Evil: Sri Ramakrishna, the Rowe-Alston Debate, and Hick's Soul-Making Theodicy Methodological Postlude Bibliography Index

About the Author

Ayon Maharaj is Assistant Professor and Head of Philosophy at Ramakrishna Mission Vivekananda Educational and Research Institute in West Bengal, India. He is also an ordained Brahmacarin, with the name of Buddhacaitanya, in training to be a Sannyasin monk of the Ramakrishna Order. Holding a doctorate from the University of California at Berkeley, he has published over a dozen articles on Indian, German, and cross-cultural philosophy. He is the author of The Dialectics of Aesthetic Agency: Revaluating German Aesthetics from Kant to Adorno (2013) and the editor of the forthcoming Bloomsbury Research Handbook of Vedanta.


"We should be grateful for Maharaj's work to construct such a stable cross-cultural intellectual basis from which to reinterpret Sri Ramakrishna's contemporary relevance. Teachers and students of religious studies, comparative theology, interreligious dialogue, and contemporary analytic philosophy will be drawn to this text; and owing to what I consider Maharaj's devotion-as-scholarship, they will be enticed to encounter more deeply the matchless Sri Ramakrishna." -- Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies "Maharaj has given the world of religious literature a historically important work that situates Sri Ramakrishna as a philosopher in his own right. Maharaj's work brings home the urgency to actively engage with Indian thought that is often hidden in the precepts of saints and mystics. A pioneering and comprehensive scholarly work, Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality is highly readable and would serve as a great resource for scholars of religious studies, philosophy, hermeneutics, theology, Indian studies, and Sri Ramakrishna." -- Swami Narasimhananda, Reading Religion "Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality is a pathbreaking work. It is a philosophically astute, textually scrupulous, and imaginatively subtle reconstruction of Ramakrishna Paramhansa's teachings... Infinite Reality is a delight to read: clear, accessible, fair-minded and rigorous. Its philosophical charms are complemented by a musicality about experience." -- Pratap Bhanu Mehta, Vice Chancellor of Ashoka University in India, The Indian Express "Ayon Maharaj's Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality: Sri Ramakrishna and Cross-Cultural Philosophy of Religion is a ground-breaking study of the Bengali mystic Sri Ramakrishna. This volume will become a central work in our understanding of Sri Ramakrishna, who was a source of inspiration to numerous figures of Hindu modernities such as Swami Vivekananda, Rabindranath Tagore, and so on. Maharaj deftly combines exegetical work on the Bengali source-texts with debates in cross-cultural philosophy of religion, indicating lines of conversation between Ramakrishna and various contemporary western thinkers such as Benedikt Paul Goecke, John Hick, and others. The arguments are erudite, and display extensive, careful, and sensitive readings of the philosophers whose views are discussed."-- Ankur Barua, Lecturer in Hindu Studies, Faculty of Divinity, University of Cambridge "Infinite Paths to Infinite Reality is a fascinating and admirably lucid book. Ayon Maharaj's knowledge of both Western philosophy and Vedanta enables him to offer unique insights into Sri Ramakrishna's distinctive views and their relevance for cross-cultural philosophy of religion. It has my wholehearted recommendation."-- Paul Lodge, Professor of Philosophy, University of Oxford "With this most welcome book, Ayon Maharaj explicates and develops the philosophy of religion found in the teachings of Sri Ramakrishna. Not only is this philosophy an important one, urgently needed in our current era of runaway sectarianism, bigotry, and fanaticism, it is also one that has long been neglected by scholars, who have tended either to try to lock Sri Ramakrishna's thought into one or another sectarian box, or to deny that it involves a coherent philosophy at all. Maharaj, with admirable skill, philosophical acumen, and deep familiarity with the relevant textual sources, articulates Ramakrishna's philosophy with clarity and power. This should become the definitive book on Ramakrishna's thought." --Jeffery D. Long, Professor of Religion and Asian Studies, Elizabethtown College

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