IV. In Rome and in India for the first time (1953-1958)
1. First Sojourn in Rome
Panikkar left for Rome in the beginning of autumn 1953. To the question “why?” there is no simple response. As is often the case in this man’s life, each “because” automatically generates many more. Moreover, it is difficult to discover the truth in these hypotheses where judgment mixes with prejudice, fact with interpretation, reality with gossip. The factor of “time”, which turns many things into oblivion, also plays a role in all this. I think that in each “because” there is a grain of truth, therefore we listen possibly to all of them.
Especially with critical persons in the confrontations with Opus Dei, such as Alberto Moncada or Miguel Siguan, but no less thanks also to several remarks Panikkar himself left here and there, we might find the possible causes that can be defined as institutional and that seem to suggest the existence of a growing tension between the charismatic priest and Opus Dei, between Panikkar and Escrivá de Balaguer. Anyway, it is reported that Opus Dei, ascertaining that the relative isolation of Salamanca did not achieve its purpose, given that the gifted numerary continued to influence various persons beyond the prospects and expectation of the institution, decided to send him abroad, where he wouldn’t be able to operate in the same way as he did in Spain.
Moncada also trots out Jean Guitton’s book, Maria. Surely Escrivá de Balaguer did not want any conflict with the hierarchy and would not have permitted his young organization to be involved in any conflict with the Church. Editorship of the collection was immediately taken away from Panikkar, and the founder of Opus Dei, in order to demonstrate his intention to remain in harmony with the church hierarchy, decided to send the “guilty one” to study and master true theology in Rome. It must be remembered that actually Raimundo’s theological education was rather rudimentary: he had attended the theology courses required for his ordination to the priesthood and only had a simple bachelor’s degree in theology. Sending him to Rome was like saying: this son of mine has perhaps exaggerated, perhaps he isn’t all that competent in theology, but now we’ll have him study at the source. Thus the founder defended his Opus and demonstrated to the hierarchy that not only did he take their criticism seriously, but also that he was taking care of the members of his organization.
So as not to make Panikkar a passive object or even a victim, which I don’t think he was, causes need to be emphasized that could be defined as personal, or those of a person that is taking his destiny in his own hands. I maintain that in Salamanca he felt isolated, lacking a stimulating context and especially the opportunity for serious study. His brother ironically remembers that it was painful to see Raimundo, a prominent intellectual and such a lively mind replacing “the university classroom with the confessional”. In this situation of perhaps interior disquietude Panikkar intensified the search for his identity which little by little pushed him beyond the narrow confines proposed by Opus Dei, by Spain and by the Church establishment. Father José Luis Ilianes, the Opus Dei historian, reports: “He was restless, was looking for his place.”
In any case, as a middle road between the tension with the institution which was progressing, and with which Panikkar no longer felt at ease, and his research or personal crisis, the study sojourn in Rome seemed to be a temporary alternative solution. In such a situation the trip to Rome can be read as punishment or privilege, as loss or conquest, as an order or a caprice. Each person can choose the one he wants. I think the truth lies in the middle, except for a margin of mystery that can’t be explained and that marks the destiny of every existence. One could also maintain that sending someone to study in Rome is an “eternal and frequent” practice in the institutions of the Catholic Church: if superiors don’t know what to do with someone rather unique and intelligent, they send him to Rome. Studies are a good cover and an excuse. During this adventure some change, some rebel and are even lost while others cultivate acquaintances and make their carriers in the Vatican. The Roman Curia with all its annexes is full of such people, as it has been for centuries. Perhaps Escrivá de Balaguer thought that Panikkar, with his talents, could be more useful to him and to Opus Dei in Rome, especially if he intended to expand his activity in that city’s university and intellectual circles. Perhaps even Raimundo himself nourished some “Roman dream” in his heart.
When he arrived in Rome Panikkar went to live in viale Bruno Buozzi 73, in the distinguished Parioli neighborhood where Collegio Romano della Santa Croce, the Opus Dei formation center for its members, was located. Let’s put aside the possible impressions that Raimundo had while visiting the Roman basilicas or the catacombs, while entering St Peter’s or passing by the Coliseum, and instead focus on the major purpose of his sojourn, namely the studies he undertook at the Pontifical Lateran University. On 20 October 1953, the day the Lateran began the academic year, “Raymundus Pániker filius Roymundi et Mariae”, as the document records, enrolled in the Faculty of Theology for the curriculum, paying for the enrollment, obviously obtained from the pockets of Opus Dei, the sum of 5,000 lire. From the examinations he took at the end of the academic year, i.e. in May 1954, we know that he attended courses on History of the Church and on Asceticism and Mysticism, where Paolo Dezza spoke of the knowledge of Christ according to the interpretation typical of that epoch. He attended the lectures of Martin Jugie on “Eastern Questions”, which have no connection with the Far East but deal with the theologies of Eastern Christians, i.e. the so called Orthodox and Eastern Churches, and which, in that situation of monochromatic block in the Catholic theology, constituted a notable innovation. It is impossible to know what Panikkar thought about the course on History of Religions taught by Ugo Lattanzi, a cultured polyglot from Marche, who a decade later would become a fervid opponent of the 2nd Vatican Council and adversary of the so called Nouvelle Théologie, at that time not yet in force – at least in the pontifical universities – because it was condemned by Pius XII in the encyclical Humani Generis (1950), thus impeding theologians like Henri de Lubac, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Hans Urs von Balthasar, Yves Congar, Karl Rahner, Hans Küng, Edward Schillebeeckx, Marie-Dominique Chenu, Jean Daniélou and others from teaching and publishing books. In this epoch at the Lateran all the courses were conducted in Latin as well as the examinations, which Panikkar passed rather well (except the one on History of the Church for which he received the mark of 24/30). On 6 June 1954 the student passed the written exam of (licenza) with the mark “bene probatus”, and about three weeks later on 25 June, the one for “De universae S. Theologia” receiving the License in Theology with the mark of “summa cum laude” (50/50)1, for which he needed to pay the university cashier 6,900 lire.
It’s difficult to say how demanding these studies were but surely they left the student space for pastoral activity. It seems that in this period in Rome Panikkar worked as university chaplain in the half-Christian milieu – something he knew how to do very well. If this function on one hand eased his task of attracting new candidates to Opus Dei – which surely made him worthy of approval from his superiors – on the other hand it was able to serve him as an outlet, an opportunity to relax, a distraction and a break.
During the entire Roman period, which would seem smooth and harmonious except for some eventual interior tensions that would concern his search for identity and institutional tensions with Opus Dei, nevertheless a conflict did appear. At the beginning of the second semester, on 12 February 1954, at 11:30 AM Ramuni Pániker died. Raimundo rejoined his family for the funeral and left soon after it for Rome. Without getting lost in too many speculations of the existential or psychological type, we need to linger over this circumstance. His father had been ill for about eight years and the relations between him and Raimundo, and more generally with all the family after his ordination, were rather tense, if not worse. Now his father had passed without their being really reconciled, without their having exchanged that last, silent look of comprehension and mutual acceptance. For Raimundo’s spirituality, grief perhaps increased that feeling of guilt, which he more and more transformed into sacrifice and self-mutilation. In my opinion his father’s death was a turning point for him: his father was no longer there and the only way to find him again, and to find himself, was to look for him in his native land, in the culture from which he came. Research that perhaps Raimundo had neglected too long. The fact is that, once he finished his brief studies for the license, spent the summer completing the necessary prerequisites with regard to Opus Dei and the trip, in the autumn of 1954 Panikkar departs for India.
3. First Sojourn in India
Panikkar reached India at the end of 1954 and remained there for about three and a half years. From the very beginning he knew that this would be only a parenthesis in his process but foresaw that it would enrich his life or even transform it. It was a strange sojourn, rather agitated and not lacking in surprises. Retracing it however, one needs to renounce the idea of a Raimundo “making himself Indian” or going deeper into the ancient wisdom of his father’s country by closing himself up in some ashram or following some guru. It would also be exaggeration to call it a grand achievement. The more exact word would perhaps be research or exploration. A photo symbolically well expresses the situation: it shows a smiling Panikkar in the white cassock of a Catholic priest seated on a motorcycle whose brand name I don’t recognize, and ready to take off.
Even if geographical distance has relative importance, there is no doubt that going to India in those times meant going far away. And keeping in mind the circumstances of his departure, one can affirm that this “going to India” was existentially for him a rift. He was leaving, but interiorly he remained bound with invisible and very strong threads to the Church, to the university world and to his family. These three threads were for him like a seat belt that offered him protection and the feeling of “being on a mission”, which in an unknown land could be a help and orientation but on the other hand limited his steps and perception of reality. Let’s say right away that as a “cover” for this sojourn, Panikkar was supposed to collect material for a doctorate, the reason for the scholarship given to him by CSIC. Moreover he was a Catholic priest and consequently remained principally either within university structures or in Catholic environments, such as seminaries, houses for clergy and convents. He presented himself and was considered a “professor” and “Father”.
In 1955 we find him at first in Karnataka, resident in the “House for clergy” in Bangalore, a city often defined as “India’s Vatican” because of its numerous Catholic communities, where he is learning Sanskrit with the help of an elderly Carmelite nun. Already six months after his arrival in May 1955, however, he moves to Madras to the Central Leather Research Institute, a respectable institution for industrial and academic research on leather production founded in 1948, which had just proudly opened its new buildings enhanced by the presence of government representatives. What was Panikkar doing there? Was he trying to secure favorable contacts for his family’s factory in Barcelona? Was he observing as a representative of the Spanish government? At that time, thanks to his industrial and chemical experience and to his membership in Opus Dei, he was still a member of CSIC. And perhaps even India, which had just emerged from British colonialist oppression and was occupied with setting up its own industry, saw opportunities in this visitor. Anyway, in Madras, Professor Panikkar was practicing his profession of chemical and leather industry engineer. Let’s not forget that half a century earlier his father had studied chemistry here at the university of Madras. It was precisely from here that Panikkar wrote – in his ‘idiom’, which he dared not call ‘Italian’ – to the Roman philosopher Enrico Castelli the words that well summarize his first impressions and express his state of mind:
“This India is so unknown! Europe is not England like they think here. But India isn’t what we think it is either. I find myself discovering India. And is not an easy thing. I think it will be possible for me to do something. It’s also truly urgent for me to re-discover the true Europe here. In order to do that I also have confidence in your collaboration . Here one can see much sin – and I would also say Christian sin, or a certain imposed ‘thing’ such as Christianity. I cannot say what to do because I still haven’t begun work in depth. At first here it has been an experience – a certain patheīn – and now I hope to settle somewhere for study and maturation. The situation is very complicated and doesn’t permit a normal ecumenical ‘synthesis’. The demon exists here as well, but it isn’t the same as the apostate in Europe. It makes me think about St. Paul’s reflection on law and grace”.4
Panikkar could probably have developed this ‘work of study and maturation’ first at Mysore where he first settled in 1956, at Maharaja’s College, one of the oldest and most prestigious colleges in India, and then, the following year at the College of Indology of Banaras Hindu University. In both places he probably attended some courses on culture and Indian philosophy, certainly taking advantage of their libraries, seeking to establish collaborative relationships with professors and giving some lectures, more than true and proper lessons, for the students. His scope was threefold. He was personally deepening his acquaintance with Indian philosophy and collecting material for his doctorate. And this is mentioned in some of his articles on Indian philosophy published during this period, on the confrontation between Hinduism and Christianity, on the relationship between philosophy and religion in India5. As numerary, in a discrete manner, he was looking for (and perhaps dreaming of) an opportunity for his activity and that of Opus Dei in Indian university circles. Ultimately he was looking for professors with whom he could collaborate together with Enrico Castelli after his return to Italy, or create the possibility for European educators (including himself) to teach in Indian universities. In addition he was trying to make known and to sell to Indian university libraries the collection ‘Philosophy Archive’ (Archivio di filosofia), published and promoted by his Roman friend and philosopher.
In order to travel around more easily in the subcontinent he had acquired, thanks to a gift from his mother, a motorcycle – exactly as his father had done when he arrived in Spain forty years earlier. I can imagine Panikkar on his motorcycle, in white cassock, moving about the traffic of urban streets between rickshaws, bicycles, cows and pedestrians, and accelerating when he goes into fields, hills and mountains abounding in amazingly luxuriant vegetation. It is related that during one of his trips to the northeast, heading toward the border with Burma, he fell gravely ill with pneumonia. Forced to stop he became acquainted with another aspect of life in India.
In December 1956 he participated in a week of Catholic studies on ‘Indian culture and the Fullness of Christ’ held in Madras and in December 1957 took part in the first Christian-Hindu seminar held at Shantivanam (Tamil Nadu). These occasions involved him in the theological problems connected with the encounter between Christianity and Hinduism, which for some time already had been occupying some of the most enlightened minds of Christian theology.
Before completing this unfortunately incomplete review of Panikkar’s first sojourn in India, it is necessary to recall an event tied not to ‘Opus Dei-Church’, or to the ‘academic world’, but to his ‘family’. By coming to India Panikkar wanted to become acquainted with his father’s land and to discover his roots. He left Europe soon after the death of that parent with whom he was never totally reconciled. Therefore the pilgrimage to discover his roots was marked with grief, with complicated emotional bonds, and doubtlessly had to be a slow and painful procedure.
In 1948, his sister Mercedes had already made a trip to India. It was the wedding gift her father had given to her. Mercedes traveled around the country with her husband visiting some of the most famous places. It was their honeymoon, practically a tourist trip with many impressions, but without the great surprises that would be reserved for her older brother. This occurred in the spring of 1958 in Kerala, in the city of Kochi (Palakkad district), where his father was born about seventy-three years earlier. Panikkar is delivering a lecture. After the discussion ended a man approaches him and reveals that his brother, or rather half-brother, i.e. his father’s son, lives in this city. The news must have been quite a shock for Raimundo. He was looking for his Indian roots and here he discovers that he has an elder Indian brother. No mention had ever been made in their family of that fact, which was unknown even by Mercedes during her honeymoon almost ten years early (at least that’s what she told me a few months before her demise). Now the two sons of Menakath Allampadath Ramuni Pániker meet. His father’s first wife, the generous Kalyni, is already dead and the son Madhava Menon, over sixty years old and worn out by life, looks at the younger Raimundo with a certain rancor which is completely understandable: he has never known his father and grew up in rather precarious conditions, while in far away Spain his second family was prospering. And now here arrives a ‘Spanish’ brother, on top of all that wearing the vestments of a Catholic priest. I don’t think Raimundo, in this situation, spoke about his relationship with his father, which had become complicated in the last decades. I won’t delve into the feelings and thoughts that were born on this occasion in Panikkar’s and his brother’s hearts. Later Raimundo, and especially his sister Mercedes, tried to heal the wound existing in the Indian part of their family and to strengthen the bonds with it by helping even economically, but that’s another story.
A post-script. We know that in May of 1958 Panikkar returned to Europe at the end of his sojourn in India. But from certain testimony it turns out that he surely was in New Delhi again in August 1959, at a dinner in the house of the Swiss ambassador’s doctor, during which he aroused the interest of the guests with a discussion on the mysticism of John of the Cross. It is reported also that in this same year, in Sarnath near Varanasi, he met the Dalai Lama who had just fled from the Chinese invasion into Tibet. But these are details from his life that I leave to his future biographers to examine.
4. Three Musketeers
On 6 March 1957, while he is in Varanasi, Panikkar writes in a letter to Jules Monchanin, who is more than a thousand kilometers away in the south of India: “Dom Bede wrote to me about an informal reunion and I agree with him […] But I would like also Le Saux to be present at our meeting. Concerning me, there is nothing new. For the moment I will not be going South”6. This is perhaps the first of Panikkar’s texts that reunites the “Great Trio” of Shantivanam: Jules Monchanin, i.e. Swami Parama Arūbi Ānanda (1895-1957), Henri Le Saux or Swami Abhishiktānanda (1910-1973) and Bede Griffiths or Swami Dayānanda (1906-1993). About forty years later, when all three are already dead, Raimon would affirm: “Monchanin is, with Le Saux, founder of Shantivanam. Still today Shantivanam lives off the tradition of Trinity bequeathed by its two founders and by the last Guru of the ashram, Father Bede Griffiths”, and adds:
“Monchanin was a Christian intellectual who yearned for holiness, was madly in love with India; he even ‘collided’ with it. He had a true passion interest in intellectual activity. Abhishktānanda was a Christian monk who yearned for the Absolute. He buried himself in India, even in Hinduism. It fascinated him. Griffiths was a Christian gentleman who yearned for perfection. He was a lover of India all the while idealizong it. His passion was harmony.”7
These three people, together with Panikkar, wrote one of the most beautiful and fascinated pages of 20th century history which includes the encounter between Christianity and Hinduism, the East and the West, existential and intellectual research, friendship and conflicts, spirituality and scripture. It is a history that is still waiting to be presented in a worthy, profound and exhaustive manner. Today one person (Paolo Trianni) tends to speak even of the ‘theological school of Shantivanam’. Surely, without Monchanin, Le Saux and Griffiths, Panikkar would not only be incomprehensible, but perhaps nothing of what he became and what he did would have been possible. Also, ‘the Great Trio of Shantivanam’ would not only be different, but above all would be seen differently without Panikkar. Like in the novel of Alexander Dumas, in which the musketeers are not truly three in reality, but four. This said, let’s observe above all Panikkar’s links with this fascinating and unique ‘fraternity’ that converged during his first sojourn in India.
Bede Griffiths was the first of the ‘three musketeers’ that Panikkar met in Bangalore in the middle of 1955. However, to truly understand this meeting, it must be observed in perspective, keeping several dates in mind. Alan Griffiths was an Englishman born in 1906 and therefore older than Panikkar by a good twelve years. During his study of literature at Oxford he had developed a strong poetic and romantic sensibility, which was then transformed into an intense spiritual search. Having grown up in a rather indifferent religious atmosphere he was first converted to Anglican Christianity and then, to the despair of his family, to Catholicism. At the age of twenty-seven (1933) he became a Benedictine taking the name of Bede and seven years later (1940), more or less when Panikkar took his first steps as numerary of Opus Dei, Griffiths was ordained a priest. Spiritual research, reading, meetings with various people and conflicts within the Benedictine order gave birth to Griffiths’ desire to go to India to look for, as he himself affirmed, “the other side of his soul”. A little before his departure he had published The Golden String (1954), a biography destined to become one of the most famous ‘spiritual’ books of the 20th century, but I don’t think Panikkar was familiar with it when they met.
Bede Griffiths arrived a few months after Panikkar. They both resided in the ‘House for Clergy’ in Bangalore, Karnataka. All the residents there were Indian priests who, as Roman Catholics, had no interest in the ancient philosophical and religious tradition of India. On the contrary, they were, as it usually happens there, extremely westernized, Romanized, Catholicized. Whereas Griffiths and Panikkar, coming from the Catholic West, above all wanted to become acquainted with India. In that clerical milieu which welcomed them generously, they were a little like fish out of water, but on closer look, that strangeness functioned as a catalyst for their friendship. They spent time together, met with an elderly Carmelite nun who was teaching them Sanskrit, took bicycle and train trips to discover the country, visited the southern temples at Mysore, Belur, Halebid or Somnathpur. They discussed and shared their knowledge and reflections on philosophy, mysticism, Christianity and Hinduism. During one of those discussions, when Panikkar showed him the draft of his doctorate in Theology he was working on which dealt with the “connection between Christianity and Hinduism”, Griffiths suggested a title that could be adopted for the book: The Unknown Christ of Hinduism. And that became its title.
However it must be recorded that when they met, Panikkar was rather far away from his future visions, reflections and writings on the vedic experience or on cosmotheandrism, nor had Griffiths imagined that one day he would write Christ in India (1966), Vedanta and Christian Faith (1973) Return to the Center (1976), Marriage of East and West (1982), Cosmic Revelation (1983), River of Compassion. A Christian Commentary on the Bhagavad Gītā (1987) or A New Vision of Reality (1990). Their existential adventure and their discovery of India were only beginning, therefore their future literary creations were for the moment undergoing a process of incubation. Everything was ‘in potency’, hidden under their garb of Catholic priests, in which they were perhaps clothed with some reservation. Consequently Griffiths and Panikkar would maintain an attitude of reciprocal esteem, but would communicate only from a distance while undertaking quite diverse paths. The former was a monk and a mystical poet, the later a priest and a speculative philosopher. Griffiths, much later, would become a real ‘international guru’, Panikkar a quite unique intellectual of world fame. I think a beneficial in-depth analysis and contrast of their existential paths and work would demonstrate with greater clarity their similarities and would put the unique characteristics of each one in perspective.
Jules Monchanin (1895-1957) is the second of the ‘three musketeers’ that Panikkar met. At a distance of four decades in a conversation with Gwendoline Jarczyk, Raimon related that he met him in the years 1954-1955, but the curator of Monchanin’s archive as well as author of his biography, Françoise Jacquin, asserts that the two met only in December 1956 in Madras, during the week of Catholic studies. Knowing Panikkar’s negligence of historic chronology, I put more faith in Jacquin and other documents that are available today. In any case, even if the two met, their acquaintance, however important, was very brief: they saw each other briefly only a few times. We will, however, recall a few events.
Jules Monchanin belonged to the generation of Panikkar’s mother. His formation took place in French seminaries and he became a Catholic priest in 1922. His intelligence, erudition and mental refinement were well known and recognized. In 1932, during a crisis because of pneumonia, which brought him a step away from death, Monchanin made a vow to live in India. For this mission he prepared diligently by studying Sanskrit, Indian philosophy and culture even while he was still in France. More or less about the same period when Panikkar passed through Monchanin’s country on bicycle headed for Barcelona (summer of 1939), this priest from Lyons had already been in India for a short time. Settled in the diocese of Tiruchirappalli in Tamil Nadu, in 1950 Monchanin, together with Henri Le Saux, founded the ashram of Shantivanam. The ideas that guided the two Frenchmen were revolutionary and avant-garde for that epoch. Both were convinced that in order to make Christ present in India – and as good Christians they could not do less – it was necessary to embrace the Indian style of life, renounce the propagation of Western culture and demonstrate to Hindus the contemplative side of Christianity which was totally unknown in India. At Shantivanam they therefore adopted an Indian style of life with respect to the day’s rhythm, clothing, food etc. and expressed their ideas in the book An Indian Benedictine Ashram subsequently published in French as Eremites du Saccidānanda8. The entire project however, was not understood or well accepted by the Indian Catholic clergy.
Panikkar was impressed by Monchanin from the very first and records it thus: “[…] his face was both welcoming and penetrating at the same time; […] he gave you importance by lending you his own importance; […] he used to treat everyone not only with love but with seriousness”. He remained fascinated by his ‘Indian spirit’, by his ‘supple, transparent, elusive’ body and in another phrase, by his ‘typically French, even Cartesian soul’9. Monchanin on the other hand admired Panikkar’s largesse and intellectual refinement. The two were united by a spontaneous fondness perhaps reinforced by similar theological and speculative interests. Years later Panikkar still recalled “having spent almost the entire night with Monchanin discussing the Trinity. Marvelous. We had forgotten space and time. […] From that moment we became twin spirits.”10. It must be said that in the beginning of this nocturnal exchange Henri Le Saux was also present. But the later quickly tired of the loquacity of the two philosophers and quietly went off to sleep.
Nevertheless, a little after this pleasant encounter followed by others that filled them with enthusiasm and hope, there relationship was tragically interrupted. In August of 1957, Monchanin was diagnosed with a tumor and he returned for treatment to France, where he died on 10 October. The encounter with Monchanin and the testimony of his life surely accentuated Panikkar’s attention to mysticism and the Christian-Hindu dialog for which a serious commitment needed to be accompanied by existential research, even if he didn’t feel called to the monastic life stricto sensu. In a letter to Monchanin he writes: “I have neither hermitage nor ashram – non habemus hic manentem civitatem – but I hope my strength here…is His Presence”11.
Henri Le Saux was eight years older than Panikkar and had already been in India since 1948. A Breton, in 1930 he became a Benedictine in the Monastery of Ste. Anne de Kergonan and in India became profoundly impressed when he met the great Indian mystic, Sri Ramana Maharshi (1879-1959). During his first sojourn in India, Panikkar met with Le Saux several times. We know for example that in the beginning of May 1957 they were together in the seminary at Pune where Panikkar engaged in several philosophy courses and Le Saux was teaching seminarians…Gregorian chant! Three months later, in mid-August, the French monk visited Varanasi, where Panikkar was residing at that time. During Christmastime in 1957 they participated together in a small theological meeting at Shantivanam, still programmed with Monchanin, and there together with other Christian monks (including Bede Griffiths) they discussed advaita and Christian mysticism. But in the spring of 1958 Panikkar had already left India and had returned to Europe; their relationship is interrupted for more than five years and their today proverbial friendship was a question left to the future.
At the beginning of this chapter I permitted myself to speak of three, or four, musketeers, but as in the novel of Dumas, there were many more of them. Thus, during Panikkar’s first sojourn in India, there were diverse other persons of great value who would put their mark on the history of Christian-Hindu encounter. There was a Belgian Trappist, Francis Mahieu, founder of the community of Kurisumala; there was the Belgian Dominique Van Rollenghen, much later lived as a hermit and was also admired by Hindus; there were the two Belgian Jesuits, Pierre Fallon and Robert Antoine, founders in Calcutta of the Shanti Bhavan center for Christian-Hindu dialog; there was the Jesuit Guy Albert Deleury, who settled in Pune and dedicated himself to the study of the poet Tukaram; there was the Anglican missionary couple Mary and Murray Rogers, founders of the Jyotiniketan community, etc. Finally, there were numerous unique and profound persons and events that Panikkar in those years could not have known. All of this influenced him while generating reflections in him that he would quickly bring to fruition. The seed had fallen on fertile land. It must be said, however that this first sojourn in India was only a parenthesis of enrichment for the path and career that he intended to continue in Europe and in Rome. He still did not know that India would call him back five years later in quite unique circumstances.
Panikkar. The Man and His Thought
(fragments in english)