History and purpose

Starting in 1973, several international symposia were organized within the scope of the activities of the association. From 1988 onwards, they were followed by further symposia related to them in terms of their subject matters and methodology. These symposia were arranged by the Research Unit on the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences in cooperation with the Department of Indology of the University of Vienna and the association, and later on by the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.

In a letter of January 13, 1981 to Karl Rahner, the purpose of these symposia was formulated by their founder, Gerhard Oberhammer, as follows: “I would say that the aim of all these symposia is to lend a voice to the history of religion and theology, as part of intellectual history, in such a way that one can gain insight into the nature of man as a being that is existentially directed towards transcendence, an insight that will facilitate the achievement of a new, more ‘human’(i.e., suitable for modern man, no matter to which tradition he/she belongs, Hindu or Christian) horizon of understanding for one’s own relation to this transcendence.”

These symposia took place in Vienna. Furthermore, in February 1976 a symposium on the topic of “Salvation and World View” was organized in Pune. Next to F.X. D’Sa and Gerhard Oberhammer, numerous Indian theologians participated in it. Unfortunately, there is no published documentation of this symposium.