Main Research Areas
In the field of South Asian Studies, the three main research areas are the history of South Asian philosophies and religions, the history of languages and literatures of the South Asian cultural area, and the culture and society of modern South Asia. The current special research interest at the ISTB comprises investigations into the history and conceptual world of the Brahminical philosophical traditions (Nyāya, Vaiśeṣika, Sāṃkhya, Yoga and Vedānta) and the study of the South Indian Vaiṣṇava-Tantra tradition of the Pāñcarātra. Owing to its relevance for the history of religion and philosophy, the literature of classical Āyurveda constitutes a further field of research on the cultural history of South Asia. At the centre of the research focus on the history of South Asian languages and literatures are linguistic studies of the verbal roots of Old Indo-Aryan, and philological explorations of Kālidāsa's poetry and of Sanskrit erotic literature. In the area of culture and society of modern South Asia, research is undertaken on religion and ritual, ethnic minorities and their history, the documentation and interpretation of oral traditions, language in modern South Asia (especially Hindi and Nepali as well as languages of the Eastern Himalaya region) and modern history.
In the field of Tibetan and Buddhist Studies, there is one main research area: the history of Buddhist philosophy and religion in South Asia and Tibet, which includes the history of its sources transmitted in Sanskrit and Tibetan. Successful research projects have also been conducted in the areas of the social and cultural anthropology of Tibet. Among the current special research interests in the area of the history of Buddhist philosophy based on mahāmūdra practice, especially the philosophy of gzhan-stong, considering its South Asian background, further the study of the epistemological tradition of Buddhist philosophy and of Madhyamaka in South Asia and Tibet deserve particular mention. The foundational exploration of the epigraphical sources as well as of the manuscript tradition of the Western Himalayas stand out as special research activities and contributions to the cultural history of Buddhism.
In addition, the ISTB maintains and fosters close research-related contacts with the Department of Art History, the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology, and with the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences (Institut für Kultur- und Geistesgeschichte Asiens).