The Professor and the Paramahamsa: Martin Luther and Ramakrishna Compared

Narasingha P. Sil


The spiritual odyssey of the sixteenth-century German religious reformer Martin Luther and the nineteenth-century Hindu priest of Goddess Kali of colonial Calcutta Ramakrishna Paramahamsa reveals some intriguing contrasts and convergences. Both were radically different personalities in respect of their cultural background, social outlook, and theological consciousness, especially in their understanding of human-divine relationship. Luther’s Judeo-Christian conception of God as a transcendent and absolutely sovereign and yet a merciful deity was markedly different from Ramakrishna’s Vaisnavic image of God as a loving and playful companion of the devotee. Yet their spiritual experiences in their quest for the divine show a similar reliance on faith [fiducia] and devotion [bhakti]. This comparative exercise thus seeks to show an interesting convergence between Protestant faith and Hindu devotion.

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Asian Social Science   ISSN 1911-2017 (Print)   ISSN 1911-2025 (Online)

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