About the Author:
Fr. Robert Antoine, SJ, was born on August 11, 1914, in Dolhain, Belgium, joined the Society of Jesus in 1932, came to India in 1939 and became and Indian citizen in 1950. In 1951 he joined St. Xavier’s Collegiate School as a full-time Sanskrit teacher. In 1956, he joined the newly started department of Comparative Literature of Jadavpur University and remained connected with this Department (of which he became a reader) till his death on October 17, 1981.
Inspired by the De Nobili-Britto-Beschi example, and also by the example of Abbe Godin and the French Worker-priests, Fr. Antoine founded Shanti Bhavan, the apostolic centre of spiritual and cultural life and dialogue in 1951 in Hindu locality of South Calcutta. There, he lived in full Bengali fashion and devoted himself to the competent pursuit of his chief interests: Sanskrit, Indian classical and religious music, vernacular Christian liturgy and inter-religious and inter-cultural dialogue.
His scholarly achievements were considerable to say the least. Besides several articles and monographs, he had published a number of books. During the 42 years he spent in India, most of the time in Calcutta, he contributed a lot to the development of Bengali culture, to the enrichment of the Bengali and Sanskrit languages, and to the growth of the Church in West Bengal. His untimely death, caused by cancer of the liver, shocked and deeply grieved the countless friends he had in West Bengal. Antoine was an eminent priest, a scholar, an accomplished teacher, a gifted musician, singer and a dear friend.