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Abhishiktananda: A Memoir of Dom Henri Le Saux
Author: Murray Rogers
Author: David Barton
Murray Rogers (1917-2006), a life-long disciple of Ghandi and pioneer of interfaith encounter, was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1940. He went to India in 1945, where he founded the Jyotiniketan Ashram in Uttar Pradesh. In 1971 he responded to a call to move to Jerusalem and open an interfaith centre. He moved to an interfaith centre in Hong Kong in 1980, and on to Canada in 1989. He returned to England in 1998, making his home in Oxford.
David Barton, born in 1938, was ordained priest in 1966. He has had wide experience in parochial ministry and in education. He was Head Teacher of Soho Parish School and later Head of Advisory Services for the Oxford Diocesan Schools Department. He is Assistant Priest in the Parish of Iffley in Oxford and was Warden of the Community of the Sisters of the Love of God, Oxford, 2001-9.
Abhishiktananda (Henri Le Saux) was born in Brittany, Northern France, in 1910, into a devout Catholic family and entered a French Benedictine Abbey in 1929. In the summer of 1948, he left for India with the hope of setting up an ashram there, and he was soon overwhelmed by the richness of the Indian culture, including aspects of Hinduism. He founded the Christian ashram and religious community, Shantivanam, in 1950, becoming ‘Swami Abhishiktananda’. He was himself increasingly drawn to the life of a Hindu ‘sannyasi’ (wandering mendicant and ascetic), spending time in solitude in the hermit caves at Arunachala. He never returned to France, but his Christian faith endured, and he continued to celebrate Mass until shortly before his death in a nursing home in Indore in 1973.
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Dom Henri Le Saux (1910-73), the Benedictine monk who became known as Abhishiktananda, was a pioneer in inter-faith relations, a French Roman Catholic entirely at home in Hindu India. He believed that mutual recognition and understanding were best furthered at the deeper levels of contemplative prayer, where people of different traditions and beliefs can find common ground from which to enter into dialogue. David Barton’s biographical introduction leads into a conversation with Murray Rogers, whose personal memories of Abhishiktananda bring to life a man of exceptional dedication and vitality. The book also contains edited extracts from Abhishiktananda’s written work.