Obituary George Chemparathy

by Karin Preisendanz

George Chemparathy, OH, passed away peacefully in his sleep on November 24, 2021, in the care of his fellow Brothers of St. John of God at Kattappana, Kerala, at the age of 93. Even though he was not a member of the De Nobili Research Library, he was closely connected with it and with the Department of South Asian, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies of the University of Vienna from the 1960s onwards when he was a PhD student studying with Erich Frauwallner at the then Department of Indology. After he had obtained his degree in 1963 with a thesis on “Aufkommen und Entwicklung der Lehre von einem höchsten Wesen in Nyāya und Vaiśeṣika”, he moved to the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands where he took up the position of lecturer at the Department of Oriental Studies and in 1973 obtained the degree of D.Litt. under the supervision of Jan Gonda. His D.Litt. thesis on the Nyāyakusumāñjali of Udayana, the founding father of Navya Nyāya, was published in 1972 as the first volume of the series Publications of the De Nobili Research Library under the title of “An Indian Rational Theology. Introduction to Udayana's Nyāyakusumāñjali”. This book, devoted to a precise and careful presentation and analysis of Udayana’s sophisticated arguments towards the proof of God in this work, also in relation to Udayana’s concept of God as seen in his other works, has remained a valuable contribution to the knowledge of this central issue in the history of classical and medieval philosophy in South Asia, as can be seen from the fact that it became the first volume of the series that was sold out and therefore reprinted in 2018 as the first volume of an Indian reprint series of the Publications of the De Nobili Research Library with Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi.

Chemparathy devoted most of his subsequent life as a scholar, theologian and philosopher, from 1980 onwards until his retirement in 1990 as Professor of Indian Philosophy at Utrecht University, to the in-depth research on the various aspects of the notion of God in South Asian philosophical traditions, supplemented by studies of the related concept of the Veda in Nyāya–Vaiśeṣika. Next to numerous scholarly articles on these crucial topics, some of which appeared in publications connected with the De Nobili Research Library and Austrian Indology in general, he published the monograph “L’autorité du Veda selon les Nyāya-Vaiśeṣikas” in 1983.  His thesis written towards the degree of S.T.D. (Sacrae Theologiae Doctor) obtained in 1978 from the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, “La Bible et le Veda comme parole de Dieu. Un essai en théologie comparé”, was published out of series under the auspices of the De Nobili Research Library in 2010.

For all his academic life, Chemparathy remained closely attached to his colleagues in Vienna. After his retirement, he served twice as visiting professor at the University of Vienna, in 1990–1991 and 1995, and stayed in touch with them even after his move back to Kerala, the country of his birth, in 2012. The association will remember him with much appreciation and affection.

A list of Chemparathy’s publications can be consulted at

For the announcement of Chemparathy's funeral by the Brothers of St. John of God please click here; his family also kindly shared the "memory card" which was distributed at Chemparathy's memorial service with the Association.