JNANA-DEEPA VIDYAPEETH (JDV) is the name given to the Pontifical Athenaeum in Pune in its Revised Statutes of 1972. The Pontifical Athenaeum has a history going back to 1893 when Pope Leo XIII founded the Papal Seminary in Kandy, Sri Lanka, and entrusted its direction and administration to the Society of Jesus.
The charter of 27 July 1926, issued by the Holy See, elevated the Papal Seminary to the status of a Pontifical College with the rights and privilege of conferring the Baccalaureate, Licentiate and Doctorate in both Philosophy and Theology.
In the Statutes of 1940, approved by the Congregation for Catholic Education, the Pontifical Athenaeum, comprising the Faculties of Philosophy and Theology, was given an autonomous status with its own academic and administrative setup.
In 1955 the Papal Seminary—and, with it, the Papal Athenaeum—was transferred from Sri Lanka to Pune, in close proximity to De Nobili College, the Jesuit “formation house”, which was already in existence in Ramwadi. The then Jesuit Superior of Pune supervised the transfer and relocation to Pune. Thereafter, the Pontifical Athenaeum, which until then catered almost exclusively to the seminarians of the Papal Seminary, became more broadly open to the students of the Society of Jesus as well as of other Religious Congregations. In 1972 the Pontifical Athenaeum adopted the Indian name of “Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth” (JDV). It is now open to all students, irrespective of creed or gender, who fulfill its admission requirements. The Faculties of Philosophy and Theology grant the Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees.
Due to the gradual development of JDV, the relationship between JDV and the Papal Seminary was clarified by the then Jesuit Provincial of India, through a Document dated 7 February 1994. Besides stressing that the two Institutions were related yet distinct, the Document also emphasized that JDV enjoys the character of a “University”, whereas the Papal Seminary functions as a “Formation House” for the training of Diocesan priests.
The historical bond that exists between the Papal Seminary and JDV finds expression in the phrase: “JDV is attached to the Seminary.” According to the Document of 7 February 1994, this phrase is to be understood in the following sense:
1) In its academic programme and timetable JDV has a special obligation to provide for the academic and pastoral formation of the diocesan students of the Papal Seminary. This means that sometimes the interests of JDV will have to be sacrificed for the sake of those of the Seminary, i.e., no course may be dropped that is ordinarily required for priestly formation, and no course may be introduced that goes counter to it.
2) In order to ensure this special relationship, the Rector of the Papal Seminary will be an ex-officio member of the Senate of JDV, in which he also has voting rights; furthermore, he will ex-officio represent the Papal Seminary, without voting rights, in the Philosophy, Theology and Joint Faculty Councils of JDV.
In keeping with its distinct and autonomous status, Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth was registered as a separate Trust in 1973, under the Societies Registration Act XXI of 1860 (No. M.A.H. 833, Pune), and under the Bombay Trust Act of 1950 (No. F 651, Pune). JDV continues to be administered and managed by the Society of Jesus. The Jesuit Provincial of South Asia is ex-officio Vice-Chancellor of JDV and the Chairperson of its Trust. As such, he is the highest executive authority of JDV and manages its affairs through the President/Principal and other officials of JDV.
JDV offers a curriculum of studies that is relevant to our times, our country, and our Church. The programme of studies provides a wide range of courses in Philosophy, Religion and the Social Sciences, with. Emphasis placed on Indian philosophical and religious traditions.
In 1975 JDV became a Member of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU), Paris. Since 1996 JDV has become an “Institutional Friend” of “All India Association for Christian Higher Education” (AIACHE) and has been admitted to the “Conference of Catholic Theological Institutions” (COCTI). JDV is also a Founding Member of the World Conference of Catholic University Institutions of Philosophy (COMIUCAP).
JDV is closely linked to the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) in all matters pertaining to priestly and apostolic formation, giving full cooperation to its Commission for Clergy and Religious. It also has close relations to some other Christian Faculties and Academic Institutions, in India and abroad. It also seeks to collaborate in every possible way with secular Universities and scientific organizations in India.