Anantanand Rambachan

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Anantanand Rambachan is a Trinidadian Hindu-American scholar with a specific focus on interreligous dialogue.


Professor Rambachan was born in Trinidad and completed his undergraduate studies at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine, Trinidad. He received his M.A. (Distinction) and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Leeds, in the United Kingdom. Professor Rambachan also studied for three years at Sandeepany Sadhanalaya, a Hindu seminary of the Chinmaya Mission in Mumbai, India.


Rambachan is a Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College, Minnesota, USA. He has been teaching at St. Olaf since 1985. Rambachan is a Hindu and was the first non-Christian chair of the Religion Department at this Lutheran college. He is a member of the Theological Education Steering Committee of the American Academy of Religion, the Advisory Council of the Centre for the Study of Religion and Society, University of Victoria, BC, Canada, an advisor to Harvard University's Pluralism Project and a member with Consultation on Population and Ethics, a non-governmental organization, affiliated with the United Nations.

Rambachan is very involved with interreligious dialogue and more specifically, Hindu-Christian dialogue. He continues to participate in interreligious activities, both nationally and internationally. He is an active member and participant in the dialogue program of the World Council of Churches and participated in the last four General Assemblies.

He has traveled and lectured in Norway, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, Mauritius, South Africa, Kenya, India, Trinidad, Brazil, The Vatican, Japan, Italy, Spain, Canada and the United Kingdom. A series of 25 lectures was broadcast internationally by the BBC. Rambachan also led the first White House celebration of the Hindu Festival of Diwali in 2003. He continues to return to Trinidad on a yearly basis and was awarded the Chaconia Gold Medal,[1] Trinidad and Tobago's second highest national honor for public service.


Rambachan has created a two-part video series on the Hindu Vision as well as a lecture - video on the Bhagavadgita entitled, Gitanidarsana: Similies of the Bhagavadgita. He has also co-produced an informative CD-ROM, Hinduism: Wisdom and Way.

Partial bibliography[edit]

  • Rambachan, Anantanand (1991). Accomplishing the accomplished: the Vedas as a source of valid knowledge in Śankara. [Honolulu]: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1358-8. 
  • Rambachan, Anantanand (2006). The Advaita worldview: God, world, and humanity. Albany, N.Y: State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-6852-6. 
  • Rambachan, Anantanand (1994). The limits of scripture: Vivekananda's reinterpretation of the Vedas. [Honolulu]: University of Hawaii Press. ISBN 0-8248-1542-4. 


See also: Anubhava

In several of his publications Rambachan analyses Vivekananda's understanding of Adi Shankara's Advaita Vedanta. Rambacharan shows how Vivekananda interprets anubhava as to mean "personal experience", akin to religious experience, whereas Shankara used the term to denote liberating understanding of the sruti.[2][3][4] Rambachan has been criticised for this conclusion by Rajiv Malhotra, who also interprets anubhava as to mean "direct experience", seeing Rambacharan's position as a threat to "Hinduism’s unity":[5]

Unfortunately, the importance of direct experience in Hinduism is vigorously contested by members of the neo-Hinduism camp. They claim that authentic tradition, especially Advaita Vedanta, considers only the sruti (Vedic text) as the path to moksha (enlightenment); therefore, anubhava, or direct experience, cannot lead to moksha. They cite Shankara’s works (of the eighth century CE) to support their position. Since Vivekananda emphasized anubhava, he is accused of having violated this core tenet of classical Hinduism.
The dangerous implication of this position is that it makes Vedanta and yoga appear mutually incompatible, thereby undermining Hinduism’s unity. This is the main philosophical attack denying the existence of Hinduism as a coherent, unified and continuous system.[5]



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