This book builds on contemporary discussion of 'mysticism' and religious experience by examining the process and content of 'religious knowing' in classical and modern Advaita. Drawing from the work of William Alston and Alvin Plantinga. Thomas Forsthoefel examines key streams of Advaita with special reference to the conditions, contexts, and scope of epistemic merit in religious experience. Forsthoefel uniquely employs specific analytical categories of contemporary Westernepistemologies as heuristics to examine the cognitive dimension of religious experience in Indian Vedanta. Showing the developing nuances in the analysis of religious experience in the thought of Shankara and his immediate disciples (Suresvara and Padmapada) as well as in the teaching of Ramana Maharshi, an understudied but important South Indian saint of the 20th century, this book offers a substantial contribution to studies of Indian philosophy as well as to contemporary philosophy of religion. Using the tools of exegesis and comparative philosophy forsthoefel argues for a careful justification of claims following eligious experience, even if such claims involve, as they do in the Advaita, a paradoxical 'knowing beyond knowledge'.
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