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 St. 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, St. 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. MaurusValiyaparampil 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 Secretary 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 December 08, 1953 and was laid by Archbishop Thomas Pothacamury of Bangalore. Dharmaram College was formally inaugurated on February 23,1958 by Most Rev. John Robert Knox, the Papal Internuncio to India, although started functioning on June 01, 1957 itself. Dharmaram, true to her name, was from its inception giving special attention to an Indian orientation in the academic, spiritual, liturgical, and cultural endeavours and promoted inculturation, dialogue, and ecumenism in the Church and in the country.