When John S. Hawley, affectionately known to his friends as “Jack,” showed me his short but eloquent article on Christ and Krishna, back in the late 1990s, I knew I had to do an issue of JVS focusing on comparative religion. At the time, he had told me that his interreligious gem (my description, not his) was committed for publication elsewhere, and so I went on with other themes, other subjects that would
be of interest to students of Vaishnavism.
Recently, however, I had the good fortune to get back in touch with Jack on other matters, and when the Christ/Krishna article came up in casual conversation, he mentioned that it was not yet published, nor is it likely to be. Well, not one to be sluggish when it comes to JVS, I suggested an issue on Vaishnavism and other religions, with his article as the lead. He responded favorably and the issue is now in your hands.
Truth be told, comparative religion and interreligious dialogue are subjects that have always held special fascination for me. More, the unifying threads that hold together diverse mystical revelations or overarching spiritual truths, regardless of sectarian affiliation or the external tapestry that marks particular religious traditions, are the phenomena that led me to my initial interest in Vaishnavism. I approached the tradition as Sanåtana Dharma, the “Eternal Religion,” or, more coloquially, “The Essential Religion of the Soul”—I was interested in this aspect, so common among believing Vaishnavas, that theirs was a tradition of essential truth, that it was not one among many but rather the core of all spirituality.