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An ordained Catholic priest, Klostermaier was a missionary and theology teacher for nine years in India in the 1960s. His study of Hindu texts and scholarship, while living with practicing Vaishnava Hindus there, resulted in his Der Hinduismus published in 1965. The expertise he gained then, led to him being appointed advisor to the Papal office, in the Vatican, on non-Christian religions.
He joined the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba (Canada) in 1970. He received a Rh-Institute Award for "Excellence in the Humanities", of a Templeton Course Award in Science and Religion and an Award for Excellence in Graduate teaching from the University of Manitoba. He was the University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Manitoba in Canada. He served as the Head of its Center for Religion and Culture from 1986 to 1995.
In 1998, for his scholarship on Hinduism, he was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, and was Head of the Department of Religion at the University of Manitoba (Canada) from 1986 to 1997, and director of an "Asian Studies Center", 1990-1995.
Many of his books have been peer reviewed in journals, some as textbooks on Hinduism.
George M. Williams described Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism as an "Excellent resource by top scholar featuring concise entries."Harold Coward describes the 2nd edition of A Survey of Hinduism as "This book offers the most comprehensive, balanced, accessible and yet deeply scholarly presentation of Hinduism in English," and that, "Thomas Hopkins's, The Hindu Religious Tradition, the standard work when it was published some twenty-five years ago, looks rather primitive when compared with Klaus Klostermaier's A Survey of Hinduism, already in second edition by 1994".
Klostermaier's Survey of Hinduism is said to favour "Hindu voices" in its presentation and thereby offer views that have little currency in scholarship. For example, it states that the Indus Valley Civilization is Vedic, which pushes back the Vedic period by several thousand years beyond the accepted chronology. Similar criticism have also been voiced about the Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism.
Michael Witzel has called him a "recent convert to a Frawleyan view of the world which pictures India as the unique cradle of civilization at 10,000 BCE.":126
^ abcKarel Werner (1986), Review: Mythologies and Philosophies of Salvation, Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain & Ireland (New Series), Volume 118, Issue 01, pages 132-134
^ abOneworld Publishers, Klaus Klostermair, Description of Klaus K Klostermair biography (2014)
^ abcHarold Coward (2014), Fifty Years of Religious Studies in Canada: A Personal Retrospective, Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, ISBN978-1771121163, pages 98-100
^The Royal Society of Canada, The Academies of Arts, Humanities and Sciences of Canada
^Bocken, Iñigo Kristien Marcel, Wilhelm Dupré, and Paul van der Velde. The Persistent Challenge: Religion, Truth, and Scholarship : Essays in Honor of Klaus Klostermaier. Maastricht: Uitgeverij Shaker Publishing, 2004. ISBN978-90-423-0250-1