An Observer’s Reflections on a Constructive Ûrîvaishnava Response to Pluralism

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Francis X. Clooney, SJ. (2022). An Observer’s Reflections on a Constructive Ûrîvaishnava Response to Pluralism: Journal of Vaishnava Studies. Journal of Vaishnava Studies, 19(1), 73–83. Retrieved from


The Srîvaishnava Hindu community of south India is admirable in its orthodoxy, its commitment to tradition and right ritual practice,
and its justified pride in its lineage of teachers. Hinduism has changes in so many ways in the 21st century but, one can say with confidence, the Srîvaishnava Sampradaya, rooted firmly in its traditions, remains a deeply authentic community of devotion to the divine couple, Nåråya∫a with Ûrî. Exceptions aside, the community looks inward rather than outward, to its rich tradition rather than current events or the future of our pluralist planet. Ûrîvaishnavas generally do not give the impression that anything much
is to be learned from non-Ûrîvaishnavas; the flourishing of other religions near and far seems not to provoke introspection among Srîvaishnavas. This is a community that does not show great interest in outsiders, either the near outsiders of other Hindu communities, or those farther afield, such as Muslims and Christians in India. As far as I know, no Ûrîvaishnava in modern times has developed a theology of religious pluralism, so as to explain why God allows other religions to flourish, and what that flourishing means. To my knowledge, little writing has been done by Srîvaishnavas even on the effect of America’s religious diversity on Srîvaishnava understandings of community and religious identity.

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