Our 2017 Annual Meeting Program

Boston, Massachusetts, November 17-18

Friday, November 17
7:00-9:00pm, Westin Copley Place-Essex Center (Third Level)

Theme: Reform and Reformers in Hindu-Christian Perspective

2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s (1483-1546) Theses and the genesis of the Protestant Reformation in Europe. In commemoration of this event, this panel will explore the categories of “Reform” and “Reformers” in the context of Hindu-Christian Studies by examining specific comparative cases in South Asia, from the 16th to the 20th centuries. The respondent will draw the case studies into conversation with one another and with key points of Luther’s theology.

Reid Locklin, University of Toronto, Presiding

Jon Keune, Michigan State University
Religious Reformers as Agents of Social Change? A Comparative Historical View of Eknath’s and Luther’s Interpreters

J. Barton Scott, University of Toronto
The Victorian Luther: How the British in India Reimagined the Reformation

Srilata Raman, University of Toronto
The Wandering Bottle Gourd Guru: Post-sectarian Reformations and Dalit Charisma in 19th-20th Century South India

Anant Rambachan, Saint Olaf College
B. R. Ambedkar and Hindu Reformations: Caste, Liberty, and Democracy

Responding: Kristin Johnston Largen, Gettysburg Seminary

Friday, November 17
8:00-10:00pm: Sheraton Boston-Liberty B (Second Level)

Co-sponsored with the AAR Film Series

Film and Panel: Dawn of the Abyss: The Spiritual Birth of Swamiji

The unique life of Henri Le Saux/Swami Abhishiktananda reveals the spiritual dynamism which lies in the encounter of Christianity with Hindu mysticism. Can this dynamism be brought into a film and speak to a public more than 40 years after the depicted events? What is the legacy of Abhishiktananda for our time of globalization and new policies of national and religious identity? What can be the role of mysticism, whether monastic or not monastic, today? Watch the trailer for the film at solarproductions.com.

Christian Hackbarth-Johnson, University of Salzburg, Presiding


Sudhakshina Rangaswami, Fort Washington, PA
Catherine Cornille, Boston College
Joseph Prabhu, California State University, Los Angeles
Nadya Pohran, University of Cambridge
Peter Kovach, Bethesda, MD

Responding: Fabrice Blée, Saint Paul University

Saturday, November 18
7:30-8:30am, Westin Copley Place-St. George A-B (Third Level)

Society for Hindu-Christian Studies Board Meeting

Michelle Voss Roberts, Wake Forest University, Presiding

Saturday, November 18
9:00-11:30am, Westin Copley Place-Staffordshire (Third Level)

Theme: Ashrams in Space: Multiplying Sites, Mobilizing Methods

Nadya Pohran, University of Cambridge
Indian Christian Ashrams as the “Kingdom of God”

Claire Robison, Denison University
Reflections of the Secular Cityscape in a Rural Religious Ashram: Urban Aspirations in a Vaisnava Ecovillage

Kerry San Chirico, Villanova University
One Catholic Ashram as “Abundant Space” and Index of Contemporary India

Srivastava Shivam, University of Salzburg
Bettina Bäumer’s Samvidālaya: Abhinavagupta Research Library in Varanasi as a Meeting Place of Scholars and Spiritual Seekers

Responding: Timothy Dobe, Grinnell College

Business Meeting
Michelle Voss Roberts, Wake Forest University, Presiding

Saturday, November 18
1:00-3:30pm, Hynes Convention Center-111 (Plaza Level)

Joint Session with the Comparative Theology Unit

Theme: Rāmānuja at 1000: The Heritage and Promise of the Study of Rāmānuja in a Christian-Hindu Comparative Theology

While the work of comparative theology is forward-looking and properly engaged in contemporary issues, it is also fittingly mindful of the history of the discipline. This panel takes the occasion of the 1000th birth anniversary of Rāmānuja (1017-1137), the great south Indian Srivaisnava Hindu theologian, to ponder how he has been drawn into Christian comparative theological study since at least the late 19th century. Rāmānuja has consistently attracted Christian theological attention for a variety of reasons: his strongly (mono)theistic reading of Vedanta; his rich understanding of God’s nature and qualities; his posing of a powerful alternative to nondualist Vedanta; his famed body-soul analogy; his rich theology of grace, toward a theology of surrender as “faith alone.” This panel explores his heritage in five different ways, in order to the notice the advantages and limitations of a focus on this one Hindu theologian.

John Carman, Harvard University, Presiding

Gopal Gupta, College of Idaho
Why Rāmānuja? Some Reflections on Christian-Vaisnava Comparative Theology

Hugh Nicholson, Loyola University, Chicago
Rudolf Otto’s Encounter with Rāmānuja as Model for Comparative Theology

Jon Paul Sydnor, Emmanuel College, Boston
What if Rāmānuja Was Right? On the Possibility of Divine Embodiment in the Christian Tradition

Ankur Barua, University of Cambridge
The God of Love and the Love of God: Thinking With Rāmānuja About Grace in Christianity

Robindra Martin Ganeri, O.P., Blackfriars Hall, University of Oxford
Thinking the Creator and Creature Together: How Rāmānuja’s Account of Scriptural Meaning Encourages a Retrieval of Unitive Language in Christian Discourse about God and the World

Rakesh Peter Dass, Hope College
Proper Acts: Rāmānuja and Luther on Works

Responding: Francis X. Clooney, Harvard University