Introduction to Indian soteriology and Vaiśeṣika studies
Any research on soteriology, cannot begin without a theological inquiry into the term. This chapter aims to settle from the very beginning what soteriology means in the field of early Christian Theology, classical Greek and Hellenistic philosophy, and by comparison, to what extent we can talk about ‘soteriology’ in Vaiśeṣika, and Indian philosophy. A survey of these shows that the Gnostic and Orphic types of soteriology resemble the dualism that characterises some of the Indian classical systems. The emphasis on knowledge, as well as on the divine ontological nature of the soul (homology) which some Gnostic sources propound, proves that a comparison between Western and Indian classical soteriology can be conceptualised most effectively via Hellenistic philosophy. Besides a discussion on Vaiśeṣika scholarship, Chapter 1 puts forward the argument that the system had, from its inception, a doctrine of soteriology, which does to contradict the overall scientific method of the system. I also stress that my methodology is not philological, but philosophical comparative, inspired by the project started by Wilhelm Halbfass.