Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram

Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK) is a Pontifical Athenaeum for higher learning and formation, established by the Congregation for Catholic Education, Vatican, as an independent institute, empowered to grant degrees, including Licentiate and Doctorate in Philosophy and Theology, Licentiate in Oriental Canon Law, Licentiate and Master’s in Formative Spirituality and Counselling.
Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram is a Registered Society under the Karnataka Societies of Registration Act 1960 (Karnataka Act No.17 of 1960) as S. No.13/84-85 of Bangalore City Corporation.

Historical Beginning

Dharmaram is the realization of the dreams of many visionaries. From its very inception, giving leadership in intellectual, spiritual, and contextual formation to the priestly and religious candidates has been one of the perceptible charisms of the CMI congregation. The founding Fathers of the Congregation, namely, Thomas Palackal, Thomas Porookara, and Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara were seminary professors and rectors. Once the religious house at Mannanam was established (1831), a seminary was started, in 1833, attached to the monastery, to impart priestly education both to the religious and the diocesan candidates. In the course of time, there were other seminaries attached to other monasteries like Elthuruth, Mutholy, Koonammavu, and Chethipuzha. The aim was to improve the quality of the priests through systematic formation, efficient teaching, and effective spiritual guidance. According to the first biographer of Chavara, Leopold Beccaro, an Italian Carmelite Missionary, Bl. Chavara, even as a young cleric, realized that “an uneducated priest was not only inefficient to do anything worthwhile in his pastoral work, but may be even detrimental to the salvation of ‘souls’.” These seminaries inaugurated a new era in theological education and priestly formation of St. Thomas Christians. The Mannanam Seminary continued to exist and served the Church till 1894, and later it was re-founded in 1918 at Chethipuzha. Listening to the universal call of the Church and understanding the need of the times, Very Rev. Fr. Maurus Valiyaparampil CMI, the then Prior General and Rev. Fr. Jonas Thaliath CMI, who later became the first bishop of Rajkot, took leadership to transplant the Sacred Heart Seminary at Chethipuzha to Bangalore. It was the patronage and personal care of late Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, the then Prefect of the Congregation for Oriental Churches, that contributed the most for this providential transfer. It was a response from the part of the CMI congregation to the divine benediction of institutional growth and to the equally divine call to assume wider apostolic responsibilities. To deepen the roots of the Indian cultural, spiritual, and philosophical heritage the visionaries re-named the seminary as Dharmaram College. Composed of two Sanskrit words, Dharma (righteousness, duty, virtue) and Arama (garden), “Dharmaram” signifies the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the SanatanaSadguru (Eternal Master) of this Gurukulam (House of the Master). The foundation stone of Dharmaram College was blessed by Eugene Cardinal Tisserant, on 8 December 1953 and was laid by Archbishop Thomas Pothacamury of Bangalore. Dharmaram College was formally inaugurated on 23 July 1957 by the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Knox. Dharmaram, true to her name, was from its inception giving special attention to Indian orientation in the academic, spiritual, liturgical, and cultural endeavours and promoted inculturation, dialogue, and ecumenism in the Church and in the country.

Pontifical Athenaeum: Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK)

The stages of the growth of Dharmaram College very clearly reveal that attention was paid simultaneously to its material, spiritual, and academic aspects. Already in 1965 the College was affiliated to the Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome, and 11 years later, in 1976, the Congregation for Catholic Education by its Decree, “Nobilissimae Indiarum Gentes,” erected in it the Faculty of Theology as an independent Institute with rights to confer the Bachelor’s and Licentiate degrees in Theology and the Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. Early in 1971, Dharmaram College had instituted a Centre for the Study of World Religions (CSWR) in order to implement and establish the directives of Vatican II concerning inter-religious dialogue in the context of India’s religious pluralism. In furtherance of this objective, the same Centre, in 1975, started the publication of Journal of Dharma (Dharmaram Journal of Religions and Philosophies), in order to foster and enhance researches in the fields of dialogue and ecumenism and to contribute to the formulation and development of indigeneous Christian philosophy and theology. In recognition of the merits and the significant progress Dharmaram Pontifical Institute made in seven years, the same Congregation by its decree “Antiquissima Indorum Philosophica,” on 8 December 1983 constituted also a Faculty of Philosophy, empowering it to award Licentiate and doctoral degrees in Philosophy. In the year 1983, Darsana Institute of Philosophy at Wardha was started as the CMI Mission Philosophate with three basic orientations: Missionary, Indian, and Rural. It works as an extension centre of Dharmaram imparting academic training leading to the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy (BPh). In the Statutes approved by the Congregation for the Catholic Education on 7 November 1986, the Athenaeum was re-christened as Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram (DVK) meaning the Temple of Wisdom in the Garden of Dharma. Samanvaya Theological College was started in 1994 as an extension centre of Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, offering courses leading to the Bachelor of Theology (BTh) degree. Samanvaya (literally meaning ‘Integration’) envisions a theological training programme focusing on the Church’s evangelizing mission in the northern parts of India. The signs of the times challenge us to delineate a new vision and approach in the formation of today’s missionaries. Four philosophical and theological institutes are affiliated to DVK.

Institute of Oriental Canon Law

In the context of the ever-increasing importance of specialization and research in Oriental Canon Law and taking into account the facilities of DVK in creatively contributing to the overall progress of the Church in India, especially the Oriental Churches, a new Institute was erected at Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram by the Congregation for Catholic Education on 29 March 1999. This Institute is aggregated to the Pontifical Oriental Institute (PIO), Rome, and is named Institute of Oriental Canon Law. This institute was inaugurated on 14 July 1999 by Major Archbishop Mar Varkey Cardinal Vithayathil CSsR, then Chancellor of DVK.

The New Campus

Growing as a premier institution of theological and philosophical education, DVK gradually developed a separate and independent campus for itself, exhibiting its grandeur and intellectual ambience. Thanks to the generous help of our well-wishers and benefactors such as MISSIO, the Archdiocese of Cologne, and others, the Administrative Block, Theology Block, Philosophy Block, Postgraduate Hostel, Adhyayana Hostel, and a well-equipped Central Library were constructed in due course. The construction work of Dharmaram Research and Pastoral Centre is progressing. Contact with other Centres of Learning Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram maintains close relationship with St. Peter’s Pontifical Institute, Bangalore, and organises mutually beneficial academic programmes. To foster ecumenical relations and co-operation in theological and related studies DVK has entered into a contract with the United Theological College (UTC), Bangalore. It has also very cooperative academic relations with the Ecumenical Christian Centre (ECC), Whitefield, Bangalore. DVK is a member of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) and of the Conference of Catholic Theological Institutions (COCTI). A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Dean, Hoger Instituut voor Wijsbegeerte (HIW), K.U. Leuven, Belgium, and Dean, Faculty of Philosophy, Dharmaram Vidya Kshetram, Bangalore, India, on 23 May 2007, which was subsequently renewed in 2011. This MoU envisages legitimate exchange of staff and students between the consenting faculties, based on the mutual recognition of the degrees.