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Document Details :
Title: Only for Those with Heart
Subtitle: The Symbiosis of the Theological and Spiritual in a Hindu Defense of the Goddess
Author(s): CLOONEY, Francis X.
Journal: Studies in Spirituality
Volume: 18 Date: 2008
Premodern theological authors rarely afford us ample insight into the spiritual concerns and interests underlying their writings; theologians in the classical Hindu traditions are particularly reticent in this regard. We can, however, detect their deeper and more personal spiritual concerns by noticing where they make their most original contributions and argue most vehemently for the importance of theological insights not hitherto universally accepted. By way of example, this essay explores the personal and intense piety of the south Indian Hindu theologian Vedanta Desika, noting his seemingly novel insistence that the Goddess Sri is in every way equal to the supreme deity, Narayana. Desika’s intense argument for her equality, his insistence that tradition is entirely on his side, and his heated critique of esteemed senior teachers, all suggest that his motivation is personal and spiritual, rooted in his own devotion to Sri. For the Christian theologian seeking to learn from Srivaisnava theology and piety, expectations are thus heightened, since intellectual arguments are only the preliminary part of a larger project which has deep roots in spirituality, a sense of tradition, and an underlying personal piety; these latter, more subjective factors demand the attention of the comparativist who seeks to understand adequately a theological argument from another tradition.