Raimon Pannikar was born as the son of a Spanish Roman Catholic mother and a Hindu Indian father in Barcelona. His mother was well-educated and from the Catalan bourgeoisie. His father belonged to an upper caste Malabar Nair family from South India. Panikkar’s father was a freedom fighter during British colonial rule in India and escaped from Britain and married into a Catalan family. Panikkar’s father studied in England and was the representative of a German chemical company in Barcelona.
Educated at a Jesuit school, Panikkar studied chemistry and philosophy at the universities of Barcelona, Bonn and Madrid, and Catholic Theology in Madrid and Rome. He earned a doctorate in philosophy at the University of Madrid in 1946 and a doctorate in chemistry in 1958. He earned a third doctorate in theology at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome in 1961. He compared St. Thomas Aquinas’s Philosophy with the eighth-century Hindu philosopher Ādi Śańkara’s Interpretation of the Brahma Sutras.
“I started as a Christian, I discovered I was a Hindu and returned as a Buddhist without having ceased to be a Christian”
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