Main Research Areas

In the field of South Asian Studies, our 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. Furthermore, research on the merged histories of Yoga, Āyurveda und Alchemy in South Asia are another focus.

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 focuses 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. In the field of Cultural and Social Anthropology of Tibet, research projects cover a broad range of subjects. Areas of specialization in the history of philosophy include the exploration of the Tibetan philosophical teachings based on mahāmūdra practices, in particular the gzhan-stong philosophy and its South Asian background, the development of the epistemological-logical school of Buddhism in its entirety and from textual, literary, philosophical and cultural-historical points of view, and works on the Yogācāra and Madhyamaka in South Asia and Tibet. 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 and the Department of Cultural and Social Anthropology of the University of Vienna, and with the Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia of the Austrian Academy of Sciences and the Institute for Socail Anthropology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences.