Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Review of Falcao's Khristapurana

My review of Falcao's edition of the Khristapurana has just appeared under the title, “Review Article: A Significant Publication.” [Review of Phādara Thomasa Stīphanskṛta Khristapurāṇa, ed. and tr. Nelson Falcao (Bangalore: Kristu Jyoti Publications, 2009.] Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection 74/4 (April 2010) 307-314.

VJTR has a circulation of some 4000; that is very good publicity indeed!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Swami Amalananda, SJ (1919-2008)

A piece of information sent me by Mr Maurice M. D'Mello, which he accessed from an Indian Jesuit website:

Swami Amalananda was born Anthony Prabhu in Belmannu, in South Karnataka on February 2, 1919. During High School, in history, he read about Ignatius of Loyola and developed an admiration for him.

His main work has been his Khrista Purana, somewhat on the lines of Fr. Thomas Stephens’ book of the same name. Unfortunately, his poor health compelled him to leave this work incomplete. He passed away on August 29, 2008 the feast of St. John the Baptist.

So that makes one more Khrista Purana!

For more information, see


Bhakti Marg
Kaavya Gaanadi Divya Bali Vidhi
Gaana Katha - Bhakti Sudhaa (a prose life of St. John the Baptist).
Translation of all 150 psalms of Scripture (first draft).
Khrista Purana

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Richard V. De Smet: dissertation

Going through some correspondence of Richard De Smet that was recently discovered among the papers of Paul Kehres, SJ, I came across a letter from George McLean, speaking about the publication of De Smet's dissertation.

Fortunately there was an email, and I tried my luck. To my great surprise and pleasure Prof. McLean responded almost immediately to my queries. This is what he wrote (28 Feb 2010):

The project of the dissertation is something like this: .
a. I edited the work when in India in the mid 70s.
b. Brad reconstituted the work (ms was unclear) and sent it to Notre Dame Univ. Press.
c. The Press held up on publication for absence of agreement by Richard to publication of the edited version.
d. I found the from Richard (one of his last two letters the night before his final operation) telling me to go ahead with the publication, which I am ready to do.
e. I thought that Brad was getting a release from NDU press for this publlication, but have been distracted and have not followed up.
f. I will write to Brad about this and look forward to making this work available.

Brad Malkovsky had earlier written to me (19 August 2009):

As to the original De Smet thesis, I put a lot of time and effort into it many years ago, trying to get it ready for publication. I used a copy of the original manuscript, which was riddled with problems involving English, Sanskrit, organization, incomplete source citations and incomplete bibliographical entries. I tried tidying it up as best I could. Along with that manuscript I worked with another, one that was alleged to be an improved later version by De Smet. It turned out it wasn't. I had wanted to publish De Smet's work, synthesizing the two versions. When I learned the second version was spurious I gave up the project out of frustration.

In retrospect I no longer feel that De Smet's dissertation is worth publishing, though it was his desire to do so, even at the end of his life. Proving that Shankara was a theologian rather than a philosopher is already well established (though still not usually accepted by Hindu Advaitins) by other scholars, including Frank Clooney, SJ of Harvard. Also many of the sources De Smet thought were from Shankara are no longer counted as genuine today, e.g. the Vivekacudamani. So the work is very much out of date and no longer eye-opening in its insights. What is more important is to get De Smet's essays published, especially those from the last twenty years of his life. They are far superior to his dissertation in terms of precision and insight.

Richard V. De Smet: missing items

Daniel De Smet, nephew of Fr Richard De Smet, got in touch with me yesterday, thanking me for the copy of Brahman and Person that I had sent him, and asking me to send him, once again, a list of items he could look for. Going through one of his earlier mails to me, I found, to my great surprise, that he had listed the following items as being in his possession:
3. no date but written for St. Thomas Christian Encyclopedia of India
a survey of Four Centuries
40 pages +notes

4. a small pack from p 33 till 65 + notes
starting with
point 6. The Creative Assimilationists
7. The Apophatists
8. Christians in Dialogue with Advaitins

5. "Trajectory of My Dialogical Activity"

This is amazing! I think we have managed to trace at least part, if not the whole, of the missing MS about the Jesuit Contribution to Vedanta. Or perhaps the Christian Encounter with Vedanta! I am excited. I hope Daniel manages to send me copies.

See the following from De Smet, "Samkara Vedanta and Christian Theology," Review of Darshana 1 (1980) 33:
This survey of the attitudes adopted by Christian scholars towards Śāṅkara Vedānta in this century is summed up from a monograph (now in the press) in which I have studied the four centuries of encounters between Christians and Vedānta beginning with Robert de Nobili (1577-1656).

I recall distinctly De Smet telling me that he was working on the text while in Rome in 1990. He said he had the basic matter, but was enriching it with material found in the Jesuit Archives. He was staying that year first in the Jesuit Casa degli Scrittori near their Generalate, and then in the Civilta' Cattolica house near the Borghese Gardens. Perhaps it in that year that he left his manuscript with his nephew.