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Solidarity and incarnation in Sri Aurobindo and Dietrich Bonhoeffer



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This thesis considers the relation of similarity and difference in the comparative study of religion, by examining the doctrines of avatara and incarnation. These doctrines are first considered using a comparative approach, summarizing some of the research that has been done in the general area of avatara and incarnation. A more systematic approach follows, examining the understanding of incarnation in the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Sri Aurobindo. The focus is on the differences between these two thinkers, especially in terms of particularity and universality and in terms of the purpose of incarnation. Similarity arises, though, as both Aurobindo and Bonhoeffer move from the presence of God in humanity to a sense of solidarity with humanity. Aurobindo’s understanding and Bonhoeffer’s understanding result in the view that the Divine is present in the world. This breaking down of the duality between God and the world heightens the sense of solidarity in each thinker’s work, as each one speaks of the presence of Christ or the Divine in the community and in the neighbour. This study demonstrates the interplay between similarity and difference in the comparative study of religion. Beginning with the seemingly similar ideas of avatara and incarnation, it then focuses on the difference between these ideas, returning to similarity as the notion of solidarity is introduced. In the similarity and difference between avatara and incarnation, solidarity itself appears to have a mediating role. It allows for the claim that there is common ground to begin with, and when differences are discovered or brought together, solidarity with the other keeps difference from becoming division.



Bonhoeffer, Aurobindo, comparative religion, solidarity, Incarnation, Avatar



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Religious Studies and Anthropology


Religious Studies and Anthropology


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