Hindu Mission, Christian Mission

Soundings in Comparative Theology

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Table of contents

List of Illustrations

Introduction: Beyond the Conversion Controversy

Part I: Constructing Missionary Advaita

1. Toward a Comparative Theology of Mission

2. A History of Missionary Advaita in Late Modernity

3. Paradigms and Styles of Advaita Mission

Part II: Fruits of Encounter

4. A Gospel of Inner Experience? Transcending Limits of Language and Culture

5. Conquest of the Quarters? Crossing Borders and Charting New Geographies

6. All Selves, and Whole Selves? Striving for Social and Political Liberation

7. From Lower to Higher Truth? Rethinking Conversion

Conclusion: The Still More Common Task

Works Cited

Offers a new, interreligious approach to questions of mission and conversion, grounded in a close study of the Chinmaya Mission, Ramakrishna Mission and other movements associated with the Hindu tradition of Advaita Vedānta.


For some four hundred years, Hindus and Christians have been engaged in a public controversy about conversion and missionary proselytization, especially in India and the Hindu diaspora. Hindu Mission, Christian Mission reframes this controversy by shifting attention from "conversion" to a wider, interreligious study of "mission" as a category of thought and practice. Comparative theologian Reid B. Locklin traces the emergence of the nondualist Hindu teaching of Advaita Vedānta as a missionary tradition, from the eighth century to the present day, and draws this tradition into dialogue with contemporary proposals in Christian missiology. As a descriptive study of the Chinmaya Mission, the Ramakrishna Mission, and other leading Advaita mission movements, Hindu Mission, Christian Mission contributes to a growing body of scholarship on transnational Hinduism. As a speculative work of Christian comparative theology, it develops key themes from this engagement for a new, interreligious theology of mission and conversion for the twenty-first century and beyond.

Reid B. Locklin is Associate Professor of Christianity and Culture at the University of Toronto. He has written, edited, and coedited several books, including Vernacular Catholicism, Vernacular Saints: Selva J. Raj on "Being Catholic the Tamil Way", also published by SUNY Press.


"This book takes on a deeply contentious topic between Hindus and Christians—the phenomena of missionary activity and conversion—and addresses it with profound sensitivity and impressive scholarship. Locklin clearly shows that the conversion debate involves far more complexity and nuance than is typically manifested in its popular iterations (both Hindu and Christian), and both religious communities will be better off if they engage with the work that he has done here." — Jeffery D. Long, Elizabethtown College

"For people seeking to understand comparative Hindu and Christian missionary theology, I wholeheartedly recommend this book. I can see it being particularly useful for courses in comparative religion, comparative theology, and world religions." — Varun Khanna, Swarthmore College