The present volume is a tribute to Dr. Bettina Baumer, an eminent scholar of Indology and Religious Studies in general and of Kashmir Shaivism in particular, and one of the important exponents of interreligious dialogue.
It contains 32 essays which are divided into three sections, representing the main fields of study of Bettina Baumer.
Section I - "Indian Philosophy and Spirituality" -- is focussed on the non-dualistic Tantric Shaivism of Kashmir. The range of topics reach from an analysis of the term "Vishranti"/ "repose" (A. Chakrabarti, Hawai'i), the first English translation of the Tantric hymn "Bahurupa-garbhastotra" (H.N. Chakravarty, Varanasi) to the Parvan rites described in Chapter 28 of Abhinavagupta's Tantraloka (A. Padoux, Paris) and a commentary on the opening verses of Abhinavagupta's Tantrasara (A. Sanderson, Oxford). This focus is complemented by other important contributions, for example on Gandhi's Ethical Thought (J. Prabhu, Los Angeles) and an analysis of the interactions between Vedanta and Tantra, as shown in the Lalitatrishatibhashya (A. Wilke, Munster).
Section II - "Indian Arts and Aesthetics" -- contains nine significant articles from outstanding scholars: Kapila Vatsyayan (on the representation of Mount Kailasa in myth, temple architecture and classical literature), Devangana Desai (on the relevance of textual sources in the study of temple art), R.N. Misra (the history of Shaiva-Siddhanta in Central India), R. Nagaswamy (Guhavasi and Devaraja in Cambodia) and others, along with illustrations.
The last section on "Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue" wants to stimulate the dialogue between the Indian and Western history of thought -- especially with two articles: an examination of the concept of the "Self" and its knowledge in the Western mystical tradition, compared with the concept of "self-knowledge" in the Upanishads (A.M. Haas, Zurich); and a study of "Nothingness" as a key term in Johannes Tauler. This part also contains reflections on an overcoming of the social, economic and political crisis of our contemporary world: e.g. on the cross-cultural dimension of an "ethics of justice" (M. von Bruck, Munich) and on the "interculturation" of religious life (F. X. D'Sa, Pune/Wurzburg). This section ends with the key article by R. Panikkar on essential questions in the dialogue between Hinduism and Christianity, presented through the metaphor of "The Drop of Water."
The volume will be useful not only to scholars of Indology, Indian Philosophy, Indian Arts, and Religion, but also to anybody interested in an open, critical exchange between India and the West -- or in search of ways out of the fundamental crisis of our time.