This first volume in this series of Collected Works of Acharya Brajendranath Seal titled Philosophy and Religion contains five rare essays authored by Acharya B. N. Seal. The first essay is the Comparative Study of Vaishnavism and Christianity. "Seal's historico- comparative study Vaishnavism and Christianity is the most original work that goes far beyond the European science of religion, whether the schools of Spencer, Tylor and Lang or the German schools... Seal advocates a comparative historical study of the speculative conception of the God-head and the socio- ethical or practical attitude of religion blended together in the context of the world view of the culture and of the relation of man, society and cosmos. Comparative history of religion in the West more or less overlooks the practical socio- ethical aspect of religion which is organically, if not also logically, related to the speculative element", remarks Radhakumud Mukherjee. Seal's second Essay is on the Gita, third is on Swami Vivekananda, fourth is on Ramakrishna and the fifth is on Rammohun Roy. Seal has given a Synthetic interpretation of the Gita and it is considered as the novelist and one of the most original interpretations of the philosophy of Gita. Seal tries to focus on the early stages of mental development of Swami Vivekananda in the third essay in this collection. In the fourth essay Seal deals with Ramakrishna as a cosmic humanist and the crux of the matter of Cosmic Humanism has reached in Seal's fifth essay on Rammohun Roy's Humanism. This Collected Works of B. N. Seal will fulfil a long felt desideratum.
The editor of this volume, Dilipkumar Mohanta is a Professor of Philosophy in the Department of Philosophy, University of Calcutta, former (First) Vice Chancellor, the Sanskrit College and University, Kolkata. He is also a former Vice Chancellor of Kalyani University, West Bengal. In recognition of his academic contribution to Indian Philosophy and Religion Professor Mohanta is the recipient of Manjusree Samman (2022), Kamaladevi Jain Smriti Samman (2022), Professor B. M. Barua Samman (2016), Jens Jacobsen Prize (2016, ISUD, Warsaw, Poland), the William Paton Fellowship in Global Philosophy at the John Hick Centre for Global Philosophy of Religion (2015, University of Birmingham, UK), Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Lecturer (2011, University of Florida); U.S. State Scholar in the Institute of Religious Pluralism (2008, University of California, Santa Barbara); Associate (1999-2001, IUC) at Indian Institute of Advance Study, Shimla. Apart from 15 books authored and 4 books edited by him Professor Mohanta has published over 60 academic articles in academic journals of philosophy and anthologies in India and abroad.
The Collected Works of Acharya Brajendranath Seal as the title indicates contains the articles, poems, notes, letters, forewords for other authors' books, addresses and speeches delivered on different occasions, etc. came out in different times from the pen of Acharya Seal. Most of his writings are lost. Some are once published in different journals and anthologies are not extent to us. Considering the importance of Seal's work in 2003 I undertook a self-financed project for compiling Seal's works. The proposed compilation is divided into three volumes the first volume contains Seal's writings on Philosophy and Religion, the second on Science and Mathematics, and the third one on Literature and others and the first volume is ready for publication. I have been working hard to complete the other volumes soon. This first volume of The Collected Works of Acharya Brajendranath Seal contains five important Essays written by Acharya Seal in different times on different themes apart from an informative introduction. The Introduction of this volume contains details of Seal's works and their publications and short preface for each major works apart from some historical information. This compilation of Seal's works on religion and philosophy contains immense primary resources for further research and investigations.
Acharya Brajendranath Seal (03.09.1864 03.12.1938) was compared by Michael Sadler with Aristotle of Greece, Nagarjuna of India and Thomas Aquinas of Medieval Europe. Seal was a votary of free thinking, and as a philosopher, used to believe in the right to dissent, criticize and think afresh. Acharya Brajendranath Seal's Comparative Studies in Vaishnavism and Christianity (short title) was composed as a working monograph for presentation in Orientalist Congress held in Rome (1899) and published from Hare's press of Calcutta without modification or revision in the same year. It contains an extraordinary treatment of historicocomparative method and a novel conception of Philosophy of History probably for the first time in India. Seal on the basis of 'comparison and analogy under necessary correction' justifies the thesis that "Vaishnavism and Christianity are to be seen to have originated and developed in practical independence of each other and along different lines, they must be acknowledged to be different manifestations in different race-histories, of the same Religious Ideas or type the same stadium in the development of.. the history of Universal culture". Seal's methodological approach is important for modern research in comparative studies, religion, sociology, philosophy in particular and Humanities and Social Sciences in general. "Comparative Studies in Vaishnavism and Christianity" is the first essay in this Collected Volume. The second is "The Gita: A Synthetic Interpretation"; the third is "Sri Ramakrishna Above Time, Above Space; the fourth is "An Early Stage of Vivekananda's Mental Development" and the fifth is on Rammohun Roy. In fact, two essays on Rammohun, because of internal complementary thought connectivity, have been included in this volume's fifth Essay "Rammohun Roy The Universal Man" and "Rammohun's Universal Humanism" But one important and common feature of all these essays is that these essays emphasis on a new kind of Humanism.
The nineteenth century Bengal is by all consideration curves out a specially recognizable time frame in the production of a large number of eminent visionaries. They were equally acclaimed for their concomitant academic contributions and stimulating intellectual excellence in the cultivation of knowledge in their respective specialized fields. For example, to name only a few in chronological order, Akshay Kumar Dutta (1820-1894), Shibnath Shastri (1847-1919), Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose (1858-1937), Acharya Prafulla Chandra Ray (1861-1944), Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Dwijendralal Roy (1863-1913), Upendrakishore Raychowdhury (1863-1915), Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902), Ramendra Sundar Trivedi (1864- 1919), Asutosh Mookerjee (1864-1924) and Suniti Kumar Chatterji (1890-1977) etc. could form a long list. Acharya Brajendra Nath Seal (3.11.1864-3.12.1938) was not only one among the equals but sometimes surpassed some of them by his wide range of attainments in various academic fields including some seminal publications. This signal emerged on the surface from his very early boyhood days. He established his scholarship in the fields of Philosophy, Science (including Mathematics), History, Religion, Literature and even Sociology and Anthropology. That is why he was popularly known as 'Sarvavidya Bisarad' (omnipotent). Personally he subscribed the idea of 'syncretism' so far acquiring knowledge was concerned from both the west and the east, but he was firm in projecting that the good lessons received from exogenous sources should be naturalized along our own cultural tradition.
This short introductory essay is primarily informative. Though it is desired to serve as an Introduction to Seal's first Essay titled "Comparative Studies in Vaishnavism and Christianity with an Examination of the Mahabharata Legend about Narada's Pilgrimage to Svetadvipa and an Introduction on the Historico-Comparative Method", I have not limited myself only to that essay; rather I have tried to present a comprehensive summary of other essays by Seal on Philosophy and Religion. One common feature of these essays is that they emphasis on a new kind of Humanism and that content-wise they all fall under the broad field of Philosophy and Religion. However, in this Introductory Essay I am not going to give any critical evaluation of any philosophical issue dealt in Seal's philosophical works. Here my business is limited to enlist the works that were done by Seal and subsequently published in different Journals / Anthologies with the details of their publication. I am aware that a large portion of Seal's writings in the form of manuscripts was not published, and was subsequently lost. Still whatever I could gather I am trying to enlist here in the 'Collected Works' with the sole hope that the future researchers on Seal may get a ready list for initiating their investigations on this area. I propose to record a short biographic sketch containing birth, education and professional assignments in the first place and in the second place the tentative list of these publications in English and Bengali, and in addition to this, a very short informative account of the contents of some of his distinguishing works on Philosophy and Religion. Here apart from pointing to the importance of Seal's work for further research I am not adding anything as my own comments on Seal's work. I also hope that this short introduction, instead of a so-called 'Editorial', will prepare an informative ground for reading Seal's essays on Religion and Philosophy in general and his comparative studies in Vaishnavism and Christianity in particular. The common feature underlying these philosophical essays seems to be Seal's rational belief in Universal Humanism. Seal was compared by Michael Sadler with Aristotle of Greece, Nagarjuna of India and Thomas Aquinas of Medieval Europe. Seal was a votary of free thinking, and as a philosopher, used to believe in the right to dissent, criticize and think afresh. The 150th birth anniversary celebration of Swami Vivekananda (January 12, 1863 - July 4, 1902) has been over now and the 150th birth anniversary of Acharya Brajendranath Seal (September 3, 1864 December 3, 1938) will be celebrated soon. It is also pertinent and befitting to reprint Seal's articles on Ramakrishna, Swami Vivekananda and Rammohun. There are Five Essays by Acharya Brajendranath Seal primarily devoted to the subject matter of Religion and Philosophy. The second of them is "The Gita: A Synthetic Interpretation" was first published in the Modern Review, Calcutta (July 1930). The third Essay titled "Sri Ramakrishna: Above Time, Above Space" was delivered as the Presidential address at the first session of the International Parliament of Religions on March 1, 1937 held on the occasion of the first birth centenary of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa.
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