[Prof. Dr. Kalarikkal Poulose Aleaz (or K. P. Aleaz) is Prof. of Religions at Bishop’s College, Calcutta, India. He is also a professor and Dean of Doctoral Program at the North India Institute of Post-Graduate Theological Studies (NIIPGTS; Jointly sponsored by Serampore College and Bishop’s College). He guides Doctoral candidates of South Asia Theological Research Institute, Bangalore as well.Author of 18 books and more than 200 articles as well as editor of 3 more books, he was William Patton Fellow of the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, in 1997, Visiting Professor at Hartford Seminary, USA, as well as University of South Africa, Pretoria, in 2002 and Teape Lecturer in the Universities of Cambridge, Birmingham, Bristol and Edinburgh, in 2005. E.Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Read my questions to Dr. Aleaz and his responses below…
Question: In my observation, you are one of the excellent Religions teachers (with specialization in Advaita Vedantic traditions) in India. As an Indian Christian theologian, how do you look at and interpret the Hindu scriptures and traditions?
Dr. Aleaz: Hindu Scriptures and traditions are sacred for me as they are sacred for my Hindu brothers and sisters. I have a duty to safeguard their sacredness from the attack of Christians who are mostly anti-socials and evil people. God is working through other faiths and their Scriptures and we are called to experience God’s grace through them. We Christians are not to distort their meaning and significance. We have a duty to safeguard the hermeneutical principles developed by Hindu brothers and sisters in interpreting their Scriptures and faith experience. These principles can help us in interpreting our Bible as well.
Question: As part of the Serampore family, I have noticed the way you influenced many young people through your life and academic commitment. May you share with us about one or two people who greatly influenced you in your academic pursuit?
Dr. Aleaz: Professor Yesu Das Tiwari was my Guruji at whose feet I studied Sanskrit and Indian Philosophy. He taught me how to relate to people of other faiths. Professor R. V. De Smet S. J. was my guide for doctoral studies and he gave me the very much needed orientation how to study Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta.
Question: I know that you are an ordained priest of the Syrian Orthodox Church, a prominent Indian Christian Theologian, and a Hinduism Professor. How do you connect between ‘Advaita Vedantic Philosophy’ and ‘New Testament message’? What is your basic methodology of interpreting the New Testament scripture(s)?
Dr. Aleaz: Advaita and NT message are integrally interconnected in terms of the person and work of Jesus. Jesus was an Advaitin. He through his life and ministry affirmed the pervasion, illumination and unification of Brahman/Atman at all the levels and layers of his personality and of the whole creation. That is the Gospel. NT has to be interpreted to bring out this Gospel, in terms of Advaitic experience. That is my method.
Question: May you share with us about the way we can witness Christ in the pluralistic context of India?
Dr. Aleaz: Our witness has to be in the company of people of other faiths and in line with some of the Hindu interpretations. Indian Christian interpretations in terms of Hindu religious experiences also can provide enrichments. Christ is not the exclusive property of Christians. He belongs to all.
Question: What is your aspirations about the upcoming Christian theologians, especially the New Testament preachers/teachers/interpreters in India?
Dr. Aleaz: I am hopeful that plurality of theological constructions and Biblical interpretations will emerge from India in total freedom and creativity. The emergence of the new. May that be our goal.
Some of the Writings of Dr. K. P. Aleaz
1. (Ed.), Dialogue in India. Multi-Religious Perspective and Practice, Calcutta: Bishop’s College, 1991.
2. The Role of Pramanas in Hindu-Christian Epistemology, Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1991.
3. Harmony of Religions. The Relevance of Swami Vivekananda, Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1993.
4. The Gospel of Indian Culture, Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1994.
5. Sermons for a New Vision, Delhi: ISPCK,1994.
6. Jesus in Neo-Vedanta. A Meeting of Hinduism and Christianity, Delhi: Kant Publications, 1995.
7. Dimensions of Indian Religion. Study, Experience and Interaction, Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1995.
8. The Relevance of Relation in Sankara’s Advaita Vedanta, Delhi: Kant Publications, 1996.
9. Christian Thought through Advaita Vedanta, Delhi: ISPCK, 1996.
10. An Indian Jesus from Sankara’s Thought, Calcutta: Punthi Pustak, 1997.
11. Theology of Religions. Birmingham Papers and Other Essays, Calcutta: Moumita, 1998.
12. (Comp. & Intro.), From Exclusivism to Inclusivism. The Theological Writings of Krishnamohan Banerjea (1813-1885), Delhi: ISPCK, 1999.
13. A Convergence of Advaita Vedanta and Eastern Christian Thought, Delhi: ISPCK, 2000.
14. Religions in Christian Theology, Kolkata: Punthi Puatak, 2001.
15. (Comp. & Intro.), A Christian Response to the Hindu Philosophical Systems by Nehemiah Nilakantha Sastri Goreh, Kolkata: Punthi Pustak, 2003.
16. Dialogical Theologies. Hartford Papers and Other Essays, Kolkata: Punthi Pustak, 2004.
17. The Quest for a Contextual Spirituality, Thiruvalla: CSS, 2004.
18. Christian Responses to Indian Philosophy, Kolkata: Punthi Pustak, 2005.
19. For a Christian Philosophy from India, Thiruvalla: CSS, 2006.
20. Some Indian Theological Reflections, Kolkata: Punthi Pustak, 2007.
21. Indian Biblical Reflections and Other Essays, Kolkata: Punthi Pustak, 2009.
Interviewed by Johnson Thomaskutty, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune, India