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Between Jerusalem and Benares

Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism

Hananya Goodman

Publication Year: 1994

This book stands at the crossroads between Jerusalem and Benares and opens a long awaited conversation between two ancient religious traditions. It represents the first serious attempt by a group of eminent scholars of Judaic and Indian studies to take seriously the cross-cultural resonances among the Judaic and Hindu traditions. The essays in the first part of the volume explore the historical connections and influences between the two traditions, including evidence of borrowed elements and the adaptation of Jewish Indian communities to Hindu culture. The essays in the second part focus primarily on resonances between particular conceptual complexes and practices in the two traditions, including comparative analyses of representations of Veda and Torah, legal formulations of dharma and halakhah, and conceptions of union with the Divine in Hindu Tantra and Kabbalah.

Published by: State University of New York Press

TItle Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. ix-x

I am grateful to my dear wife, Sharon, yedidat nafshi, for helping me apply Lamaze-like breathing techniques during the labor of this book, and for her spiritual nurturance and discipline of both author and...

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pp. xi

When we first went from Jerusalem to Benares, some twenty years ago, my wife and I met an old man on the Sarnath bus. Not knowing us, not knowing whence we had arrived, he began to speak to us in hushed tones, as if conveying a great secret. He loved Benares...

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1 Introduction: Judaism and Hinduism: Cultural Resonances

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pp. 1-14

Growing up, I had no idea that one day I would become so immersed in the comparative study of Judaism and Hinduism. It all began when, as a teenager, friends introduced me to the practice of silent mantra meditation, vegetarianism, and Indian philosophy. During the...

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2 The Love and Hate of Hinduism in the Work of Jewish Scholars

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pp. 15-22

Many great Jewish scholars of religion have been motivated not by love of religion but by hatred of religion, or at least by anger directed against religion, or fear or loathing of religion. Freud and Marx are the most outstanding examples of brilliant Jewish haters of religion but there are others. The strange Hass-Lieb relationship that has bound...

PART ONE Historical Encounters

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pp. 23

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3 Lexical Borrowings in Biblical Hebrew from Indian Languages as Carriers of Ideas and TechnicaI Concepts

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pp. 25-32

India is a long way from Palestine and culturally very different, and therefore, especially for early periods, contacts are not sufficiently probable to assume, without further evidence, that mere similarity of words for more or less similar concepts is due to linguistic borrowing...

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4 Abraham and the Upanishads

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pp. 33-40

Abraham, "the father of a multitude of nations" (Gen. 17.4), is seen by the three monotheistic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as their founder. This is not only because of the universalistic elements included in the faith of the Patriarch, but also because Abraham...

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5 Between Jews and Greeks: The Indian Model

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pp. 41-54

When the three sons of Noah divided the earth among themselves, the eastern sector of the inhabited world, stretching from the Euphrates to the Indian Ocean, was allotted to the descendants of Shem. Easternmost Asia was assigned to the thirteen sons of Yoqtan, a great-greatgrandson of Shem: "These, proceeding from the River Cophen...

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6 A Hindu Response to the Written Torah

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pp. 55-84

In January of 1854, in the midst of a busy life opposing Christian missions to the Hindus in northern Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Arumuga Navalar (1822-79) published a major refutation of Protestantism. He wrote it in Tamil prose and printed it on his own press. The booklet, The Abolition of the Abuse of Saivism, was reprinted in Madras...

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7 Yom Kippur: The Festival of Closing the Doors

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pp. 85-100

C. J. Fuller provides fresh insight into the relationship between the polytheistic pantheon and Indian social structure, arguing that the worship of deities at the lower levels of the pantheon legitimates the hierarchical nature of the caste system, whereas the worship of Sanskritic deities at the upper levels of the Hindu pantheon...

PART TWO Cultural Resonances

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pp. 101

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8 Veda and Torah: The Word Embodied in Scripture

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pp. 103-180

The differences between the Hindu and Jewish traditions have often been emphasized, so much so that these two traditions have generally been characterized as representing opposite ends of the spectrum of world religions. Indeed, "Hinduism" and "Judaism" have been...

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9 From Dharma to Law

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pp. 181-194

The few pages that follow seek merely to highlight what the comparatist may regard as the most significant aspects of Robert Lingat's theory] and draw attention to related discussion in other areas of legal history. Though the present writer is strongly disposed to favour Lingat's approach and its equivalents elsewhere, the...

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10 Union and Unity in Hindu Tantrism

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pp. 195-222

The fundamental preoccupation of Hinduism is to put an end to the infernal cycle of rebirths (samsara) and thus to attain deliverance (,em>moksa).1 The Hindu ideal aims at fusion with the totality (brahman), which abolishes all individuality (atman). In this regard, the different...

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11 Union and Unity in Kabbalah

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pp. 223-242

It would be difficult to find anything more conclusive than the oftrepeated Jewish declaration of faith, the proclamation of the divine unity: "Hear Israel, YHVH our God, YHVH is one" (Deuteronomy 6.4). The latter, according to the kabbalists, relates to the union of masculine...

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12 Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and Sri Aurobindo: Towards a Comparison

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pp. 243-266

There is a passage in Rabbi Kook's Lights of Holiness1which provides some encouragement for the exploration ventured in the following pages. Kook writes: "The doctrine of evolution that is presently gaining acceptance in the world has a greater affinity with the secret teachings...


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pp. 267-268


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pp. 269-338


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pp. 339-344

E-ISBN-13: 9781438404370
E-ISBN-10: 1438404379
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791417157
Print-ISBN-10: 0791417158

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 1994