Wilhelm Halbfass's seminal study of the concept of experience in Indian religions illuminates the philosophical ambiguities of the term and its recent appropriations by some neo-Advaitins to serve apologetic ends. Anantanand Rambachand's own study of the process of liberation in Advaita Vedanta also critically reviews these apologetic strategies, arguing that in privileging anubhava, they undervalue or misrepresent the importance given to sruti in Sankara's Advaita. In this article, I hope to extend the work of these two scholars, this time reviewing the unusually strong appeal of a modern adept of Advaita, Ramana Maharsi, to Western scholars and spiritual figures. I shall argue that Ramana's own, deeply inward or internal epistemology of religious experience accounts for much of this appeal to Westerners, for it promises a kind of 'knowing beyond knowledge,' an internally accessed saving experience which transcends all cultural forms, including scripture. The goal and method of this inward quest proves eminently attractive to Western scholars and devotees operating with constructive agenda in inter-faith dialogue and cross cultural studies.
Forsthoefel, Thomas A.
"The Sage of Pure Experience: The Appeal of Ramana Maharsi in the West,"
Journal of Hindu-Christian Studies:
Vol. 14, Article 10.
Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.7825/2164-6279.1253