Vidyajyoti College of Theology
Vidyajyoti College of Theology (literally, ‘Light of Knowledge’),
Delhi, India, is a premier institute of theologyrun by the Jesuits of South Asia. It was established in 1879in Asansol, West Bengal, as Saint Joseph’s Seminary. From 1889 to 1971 it developed in the mountains of Kurseong, near Darjeeling, where it was called Saint Mary’s College. From 1972 onwards it has flourished in the neighbourhood of the University of Delhi.
Vidyajyoti is universally acclaimed for its efforts to develop a contextual method of doing theology. As integral part of its curriculum, each student is assigned to a concrete social context and initiated into socio-cultural analysis of the Indian situation. This enables the student to get a more competent and comprehensive grasp of the issues that affect the lives of ordinary Indians. Theological reflection is thus closely related to the questions emerging from the context, thereby equipping each student to understand the Christian faith from within the Indian context and in dialogue with India’s many religions.
Vidyajyoti College of Theology is one of the oldest and most venerable institutions of learning run by the Jesuits in India. It started in
Asansol, West Bengal, India, in 1881, as a house for training in philosophy and theology for expatriate young European missionaries that at that time volunteered for service in India (among whom the apostle of Chotanagpur, Constant Lievens) and came to the country without having yet done the years of study required for the priesthood. In 1889 the Seminary, as it was then called, was transferred to the foothills of the Himalayas, in Kurseong, Darjeeling District, about 1800 metres above sea level, where for 82 years grew into an important centre of research and teaching of Indian religions and Christian theology, open to Indian and foreign Jesuits working in South Asia. In 1932the Holy See recognized it as a Faculty of Theology directly under its Congregation for Education, authorized to offer degrees of Licentiate and Doctorate in theology recognized in the Catholic Church.In 1972 the St Mary's College, as it was then called, was transferred to Delhi where it took the name of Vidyajyoti College. It also opened its doors to any duly qualified students interested in the subjects it offers. As a result of a restructuring of its academic programme from 1978 the College opened extension centres in various parts of the country aimed at greater integration with the various cultures of India and at eventually teaching and studying theology in our rich local languages. At present the faculty has five such extension centres in Chennai, Patna, Ranchi, Shanti Niketan and Varanasi. Students do part of their courses in these centres and complete them in the national centre in Delhi.
Vidyajyoti is more than an academic institution. It is a way of life designed to form men and women dedicated to the service of others by letting the inner Divine Light shine through them. Many, though not all, of its students prepare for the priesthood. The personal growth in enlightened religious attitudes of bhakti and jñāna are central to the aims of the institution. The main prerequisite is therefore a deep religious faith and a desire for contact with the Divine. But faith needs to be enlightened by objective and valid knowledge. Yet, neither true bhakti nor jñāna will be authentic if they do not emerge from a life of commitment to the good of others, without karma.
In concrete the Faculty aims at: personal religious and human growth of its members research and publication in the areas of religion, religious history, theology, Indian traditions, sociology of religion, and allied subjects teaching courses of theology at the levels of B.Th. and M.Th. and at doctoral research fostering and participating in ecumenical discourse and interreligious dialogue being involved in movements of the people aiming at their liberation from the clutches of poverty, oppression and marginalization.
Bengal Regional Theologate
Madurai Regional Theologate
Arul Kadal,98, Santhome High Road,Chennai 600028,Tamil Nadu.
Patna Regional Theologate
Gyanoday,St. Stephen’s Church,Danapur Cantt,Patna 801503,Bihar.
Ranchi Regional Theologate
Tarunoday,Arsande, P.O. Boreya,Ranchi 835240,Jharkhand.
Varanasi Regional Theologate (IMS)
Jnana Bharati,Christnagar P O,Varanasi 221003,U.P.
Vidyajyoti College has a residential faculty comprising largely of Jesuits belonging to all the provinces of the South Asian Assistancy and from diverse cultural backgrounds. This diversity is enriched with the presence and support of many well-known and competent ‘visiting lecturers’.
The Faculty is governed in its normal life by the Academic Council convoked and presided over by the Principal. The Academic Council consists of: (a) All Professors, Readers, Lecturers and Tutors who are permanent members of the Staff; (b) The Rector of Vidyajyoti; (c) The Registrar; (d) Associate and Visiting teachers during their stay at the centre; (e) Three representatives of the B.Th. students as well as one representative of the postgraduate students for matters especially concerning the order of studies and other matters affecting the academic life and interests of the students. If there is no woman representative among those elected, the Principal in consultation with Executive Council will nominate one. The students of each Regional Centre elect one representative. The Treasurer, Administrator and Librarian, unless they are otherwise members of the Council, may be called whenever found opportune.
Some people are puzzled by the word theology although it is quite a traditional word. Literally it means the study or understanding of God. It is true that by its transcendence the Divine is beyond the scope of human rational study. There are other roads to contact the Mystery at the root of all existence. Religions have somehow given testimony to it. The study of religions and of other ways in which the concept and the reality of the Divine has impacted in human history forms the specific field of the study of theology. It includes the study of the great Scriptures, and the way in which the respective communities have understood their message. For Christians the Bible is primary but not exclude other Scriptures. There is also the study of religious history of humanity and of our own community and of the many expressions for the Divine found in history.
Theology is necessary if religion wants to avoid the pitfalls of irrationality and narrow fundamentalism. It is important to study our own faiths by using the gifts of reason and understanding, and the sense of the higher values, which nature, or rather God, has given us. Theology is not a rationalization of religion or of faith. Rather it helps faith be truly human, flourish and be fruitful within the complexities of life.
The aim of Vidyajyoti is to do contextual theology. This means that the understanding of God and of the knowledge of God which our faith has given us takes into account the rich historical culture in which we find ourselves and is articulated in ways that make sense within this context. This has been in the past and continues to be the specific theological focus of Vidyajyoti, so much so that already in 1905 it started in Kurseong an ‘Indian Academy’ to facilitate the study of Indian religions at a time when colonialism was still the dominant culture.
Vidyajyoti currently has 305 students on its rolls studying at its college in Delhi and its RTCs (regional theology centres). The students are university graduates or postgraduates belonging to some 70 religious congregations, dioceses, secular institutes and lay associations from every part of India and abroad. Although most of the students belong to the Indian subcontinent, there are a few from abroad, as well. The diversity of the student body is fascinating. While the lingua franca and medium of education is English, Hindi is mostly used for fieldwork.
Vidyajyoti seeks to nourish in its students a vibrant spirituality to sustain its theology and praxis. The spiritual life of students who reside at Vidyajyoti College is nurtured through regular religious practices and sacramental life (daily Eucharist, weekly adoration, monthly recollection, yearly retreat, special preparations for diaconate and so on). The daily Eucharist is celebrated for those residing outside, too. A qualified and competent Jesuit counselor — ably assisted by some staff-members with training in psycho-spirituality — provides spiritual guidance. The staff and students also organize and actively participate in various other spiritual, pastoral and ecumenical programmes in and around Delhi.
The diversity among Vidyajyoti’s students is representative of the dazzling diversity in India itself. The students speak some twenty languages and bring their cultural treasures to expression during the yearly festivals that are celebrated. Besides the national festivals of India that are celebrated with appropriate liturgy, three major cultural festivals are celebrated. These are (a) Karam, which is a tribal festival celebrated by the Chotanagpur adivasis (aboriginals), (b) Onam a harvest festival celebrated by the people of Kerala in south India, and (c) Pongal the harvest festival of Tamil Nadu, south India. At these occasions, through creative use of the media, dance, drama, music and other means, the students highlight the meaning of these feasts, their theological relevance and their impact in the lives or ordinary people. Other cultural activities include an annual cultural programme held in the college and in Tihar Jail where the students work, as well as occasional skits and debates on themes of theological interest.
Besides the extracurricular activities of the college, Vidyajyoti’s students offer Extension Services to other academic institutions in Delhi and elsewhere. Groups of students offer their services for conducting self-awareness, personality development, faith formation and social awareness seminars and weekends for students of other colleges and schools. Seminars are also conducted for teachers in various schools and colleges so as to improve teacher-student relationships. The Vidyajyoti students also network with socially committed groups in organizing interfaith initiatives, highlighting social problems and dialoguing on religio-social concerns that affect life in India.
Fieldwork is an integral part of the Vidyajyoti curriculum. Every student is required to opt for and be committed to some form of fieldwork since the faculty considers guided socio-pastoral involvement as an essential dimension of doing contextual theology. Each student is put into direct contact with a specific community, especially the marginalized ones to gain direct experience of the negativities of life and the suffering of the poor. This context then becomes a locus theologicus — a site for a deepening reflection on the Christian faith and other faiths, as well.
Apart from these regular ministries, orientation programs and spiritual guidance in various schools and parishes are also conducted in and around Delhi for teachers, students and youth. Students are also involved in SAMAG (Social and Media Action Group) that creates awareness among the students of Vidyajyoti on issues of injustice, violation of human rights, exploitation of women, decisions that affect the Dalits, tribals and children. SAMAG also takes initiative to organize and collaborate with other NGOs and agencies fighting for the rights of the oppressed and marginalized in the form of dharna and protests.
Regular pastoral reflection sessions in the College are intended to integrate theology with the experience of the students in their fieldwork and vice-versa. In this way, the students are trained to cultivate a deeply human and Christian perspective of life that calls for committed responds to the signs of the times.
10 students regularly visit the inmates of Tihar Jail, which is the largest prison in India. The students conduct counseling sessions and contact the members of the inmates’ families to brief to them about the condition of their loved ones in jail. The group also organizes an annual Christmas programme to convey a message of peace and love; thereby seeking to instill hope in the lives of these dejected and abandoned — often falsely accused — people.
9 students are involved in this ministry, which demands that they visit the sick and suffering in the hospitals and ‘homes’ run by the Missionaries of Charity in Delhi. Besides listening to their stories of suffering and pain, the students celebrate different cultural, religious festivals like Independence day, Deepawali, Christmas and Easter with them and thus make a difference in their lives.
Nearly 37 students of Vidyajyoti are working with the slum children at three slum-colonies: Mori Gate, Jahangir Puri, and Janatha Colony. Besides their regular visits to these slums, they also take regular coaching classes for the slum kids, organize various programmess for their holistic growth and welfare. An annual picnic, Bal Mela (children’s’ fete), health awareness camps and orientation programmes for the parents are some of the annual undertakings by this group.
Commitment towards the people of VJ neighbourhood is one of the priorities of the Institute. 12 students are involved in this apostolate, which consists of regular tuitions, visiting the children’s families, organizing orientation evenings for the parents and the annual picnic. Nearly 60 children benefit from this endeavour.
29 tribal students are involved in 13 different tribal welfare centres and associations helping out tribal domestic working girls in the city of Delhi. They organize seminars, workshops coaching classes and training programmes for personal involvement, conduct prayer services and orientation sessions, fight for their rights when they suffer injustice or exploitation.
22 deacons are involved in fourteen different parishes in the Archdiocese of Delhi on weekends. Youth animation, conducting the choir, organizing and animating the liturgy, teaching catechism to the children and visiting the families in the parish, especially the poor ones, keep the students involved in the faith-life of the laity in Delhi.
Railway Platform Ministry
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays 12 students in groups of four go to New Delhi Railway Station to spend time with the children who live on the platforms. Nursing the wounded children, counseling the drug-addicts, listening with empathy to their stories, finding shelter for the homeless, admitting them into rehabilitation centres, organizing the annual outing, collecting and distributing clothes, and taking care of the abandoned ones on the platform with the help of the Missionaries of Charity sisters are some of the activities undertaken by this group.
Small Christian Community
8 students are involved in facilitating the SCC in six parishes operating along the guidelines provided by the Archdiocese of Delhi, namely: meet for prayer, build up a community in the neighbourhood, engage in some sort of service in the neighbourhood, and link up with other communities. The students also teach catechism, conduct the choir, preach homilies, organize the parish youth and make pastoral visits and help people in regularizing marriages.
All India Catholic University Federation
Though small, a dynamic group of 6 students work with the
AICUFmembers of the State Unit. While some of them are involved with University students, others visit AICUF members in some of the parishes of the Archdiocese of Delhi. Organizing and animating exposure programmes, prayer sessions, group dynamics, leadership workshops and seminars, regular group meetings on the social issues that affect the country, are ways in which an impressive vitality is brought into the lives of these young, energetic students.
Asha Ki Kiran
6 students are involved in this relatively new ministry among the Rickshaw Pullers in the vicinity. Projects like self-help saving schemes, night shelter, issuing loans, medical help, etc., are some of the ways and means undertaken to address the plight of the rickshaw pullers. Regular visits to their families, motivating new members, conducting orientation sessions on personality development, health care, etc., are regularly conducted to instill a sense of vision for themselves and their families.
North East Catholics of Delhi
7 students are involved in taking care of the Catholic students from North East India studying in different colleges in Delhi. They have their regular Eucharistic celebrations and prayer sessions at Vidyajyoti. As and when the need arises, visiting and counseling students in their hostels, organizing recollections, renewal programmes and retreats, teaching music and theology, etc., are some of the highlights of the group.
Vidyajyoti College of Theology is a Faculty of Theology run by the Society of Jesus. It confers the Degrees of Bachelor of Theology, Master of Theology and Doctor of Theology. It also admits students for certificate courses for one or two years and diploma courses for three years. The Vidyajyoti Faculty is open to all students.
Admissions are granted by the Principal at the recommendation of the Admissions Board, having examined the application, the required evidence of character and academic qualifications of the applicant. Students seeking admission for BTh must have done two years of philosophy. This requirement of a two-year philosophy can be fulfilled by a bachelor’s degree with a second class from a recognised university and a special course in philosophy covering all the major subjects of that discipline.
Students who have passed the BTh with at least a high second class may be admitted to the MTh.
Students who have passed the MTh with at least a second class may de admitted to the doctorate programme. The student may have to do a pre-doctoral programme before beginning the doctoral programme.
Fill up the Application Form and mail it to the Registrar (address below) along with the following requirements:
1. A letter of recommendation from the respective superior (for all)
2. Attested true copy of mark list (for all)
3. A passport size photo (for all)
4. Attested true copy of certificate of BTh Degree (for MTh students)
5. Attested true copy of certificate of BTh and Mth Degree (for doctoral students)
Mail the Application Form to:
Vidyajyoti College of Theology
4-A, Raj Niwas Marg
Scholarships from the Missio are available for students studying for the BTh, MTh and Doctorate programmes. The College helps the students apply for these scholarships.
Accommodation for Jesuit students is available at:
Vidyajyoti Jesuit Residence
23, Raj Niwas Marg
Seminarians belonging to the Delhi Archdiocese as well as seminarians and brother belonging to other dioceses or congregations reside at:
8, Vishwa Apartments
3, Shankaracharya Marg
One of the richest resources for those working in Vidyajyoti is its rich library, within its specific scope one of the richest, in Delhi and even in the country. At present it holds nearly 130,000 volumes and has more than 300 reviews. Most of the library has been computerized and the students have access to three points of entry into the computer and to the stacks of the library. The richest areas are those dealing with Biblical studies, systematic and pastoral theology, spirituality, Hinduism and Indian culture and Islamics. The library is multilingual.
The library has a few hundreds of ancient publications, some of them from the 16th to the 19th century. Its oldest book was printed in 1514, a Latin commentary on the Book of Sentences of Peter Lombard, which was almost a kind of text book of theology in the 16th century university of Paris. The library has also a precious manuscript of a Tamil-French dictionary composed in the 18th century, one of the earliest monuments of Tamil lexicography.
The library is open to and utilised not only by the Vidyajyoti staff and students, but also by some students, research scholars and staff of Jawaharlal Nehru University, the University of Delhi, Jamia Millia and other scholars from India and abroad.
From 2005 we have started the process of digitalising some rare and ancient books and manuscripts in Vidyajyoti Library as a collaborative venture with the EurIndia Project of Preservation of Rare Books to make these rich resources available to scholars through internet facilities. The Hosten Collections are also in the process of being digitalised.
Theological research being one of the aims of the Vidyajyoti faculty, it endeavours to publish the results of the research of its teachers and students.
Some of Vidyajyoti’s noteworthy publications include:
Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Research
Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Research
One of the best known organs of research at Vidyajyoti is its Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Research (VJTR). This monthly publication reaches nearly 4000 subscribers all over the world, including most theological colleges of English-speaking countries. It covers areas of Christian theology and service, inter-religious dialogue, Indian theology, social concerns, and trends significant for religion in the modern times. The Journal was started in 1938 with the title The Clergy Monthly. In 1975 it assumed the present title. It opens its pages to scholars from all over India that want to publish in the areas of concern for the journal.
Ave is a monthly publication of the Vidyajyoti students that is very popular among Christian religious circles in India. Ave contains daily reflections based on the liturgical cycle in English. The publication reaches to over 6000 subscribers.
Vachan Sudha is a monthly publication of the Vidyajyoti students that is popular among the Hindi-speaking Christians. It contains daily reflections on the liturgical cycle.
Tattvaviveka is the annual theological journal published by the students. Formerly called Sandhya, it now usually brings together researched theological articles by the students revolving around a theme of current interest.
The Vidyajyoti College is situated on 4-A, Raj Niwas Marg, and sandwiched between the Jesuit-run, St. Xavier’s High School, on one side, and the Delhi Lt. Governor’s Office on the other. The whole area is known as ‘Civil Lines’.
To reach Vidyajyoti College from the New Delhi airport, you can hire a ‘pre-paid taxi’ and ask for ‘Gujarati Samaj’ (a very popular guest lodge) that is two blocks away from the Vidyajyoti academic building. There are also direct buses running between the domestic and international airports that terminate at ISBT (Inter-State Bus Terminus, more popularly called ‘Bus Adda’). From ISBT, one can reach Vidyajyoti on foot within 15-20 minutes or take a cycle-rickshaw.
From New Delhi station, you can take the METRO (Central Secretariat to Vishwa-Vidyalaya line) and alight at ‘Civil Lines’ Metro station. From Civil Lines metro station, one can reach Vidyajyoti by foot within 10-15 minutes or take a cycle-rickshaw.
Vidyajyoti College of Theology
4-A, Raj Niwas Marg
Telephone: +91-11-23943556, 23947609
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