Nature of Indian psychology

Indian Psychology is based on Indian philosophy. It stands on the foundation of deep and everlasting fundamental truths regarding the nature of reality. No aspects of human life and the universe had been left unidentified or unexamined by Indian philosophers. This leads to the totality of philosophical and psychological fields.

Cornelissen, Misra, and Varma ( 2014) defined “Indian Psychology as an approach to psychology that is based on the ideas and practices that developed over thousands of years within the Indian Sub-continent.

Indian Psychology refers to a system/school of psychology derived from classical Indian thought and rooted in psychologically relevant practices such as Yoga prevalent in the Indian sub-continent for centuries.

In Order to understand what Indian psychology is, it will be helpful to know first what it is not. Paradoxical as it may seem, Indian psychology is not what most psychologists in India teach or practice today. The two centuries of British rule not only had adverse effects on India’s political-economic conditions but also disturbed the educational scenario in significant ways. This has had a lasting impact on the Indian psyche, unlike anything in the past. Psychology in India as an academic discipline is not a recent phenomenon. It has a long history not too far behind the west.

N.N Sengupta who headed the first department of psychology at the University of Calcutta received his training under Hugo Munsterberg at Harward university. He is generally recognized as the founder of modern psychology in India along with Indian Scientist Gunamudian David Boaz.

Who Used the term Indian Psychology first? – Jadunath Sinha

Indian Psychology is not a Psychology specifically or exclusively suitable for people living in the Indian sub-continent or of Indian Origin. Indian tradition made valuable contributions to the psychological understanding of all human beings, irrespective of their culture and background. For example, We take the word Yoga in the widest sense, in which it indicates all systematic efforts to become consciously one with the divine, not only in its passive, transcendent aspect but also in its manifest, dynamic presence.

Indian consciousness-based approaches to Psychology are urgently needed contributions to global civilization.

Indian psychology is a system of psychology that is rooted in classical Indian thought and is implied in numerous techniques prevalent in the subcontinent for psychospiritual development such as the various forms of yoga.

The insight of Indian Philosophers from the time of the Upanishads remains supreme and marvelous. With the help of Intuition, Indian Philosophers looked at the cosmos as a whole and arrived at a number of generalizations such as the following.

  • The existence of supreme consciousness as the source of all that constitutes the universe, designated by the word “Brahman or Iswara or Purushotama”
  • Existence of soul. Atman (or Purusa of Samkhya philosophy) is the essence of human personality.
  • The direct relations between the individual soul Atman and the Cosmic soul (Brahman)
  • The evolution of the universe from Brahman ( Supreme Consciousness) and the nature of the universe as a combination of matter on the one hand and various degrees of consciousness on the other resulting in Conglomeration ( made of several things) of matter and spirit, with its diverse forms of lives.
  • The embodiment of the soul ( with different explanations given by different philosophical systems.)
  • The Law of Karma and transmigration of the Soul
  • The ethical basis of human life
  • The doctrine of the release of Moksa is the ultimate goal of human life.

Indian psychology involves the study of a person. The person is a composite of mind, body, and consciousness.

  • Body → nervous system, the senses, and associated structures connected with the brain.
  • The mind is → hypothetical cognitive instrument related to the body at one end and consciousness at the other.
  • Consciousness → conceived to be irreducibly distinct from body and mind, it constitutes the non-physical aspect of the person.

The body and mind, unlike consciousness, are physical; and they can interact with each other and are influenced by each other.

A mind cannot be reduced into its physical constituents and a body cannot be transformed into a mind even though they influence each other within a person.

As a composite of body, mind, and consciousness, the person functions at three different levels.

  • First level – level of observation
  • The second level – level of understanding
  • The third level – Trans-cognitive realization of truth

In the Indian tradition, even when reality is equated with awareness, awareness is not limited to representational perception.

It is believed that by following specified procedures and cultivating certain habits of mind, it is possible to attain a state of awareness that is reality itself.

  • Understanding underscores much of Hindu and Buddhist thought.
  • Jainism places a more specific emphasis on extrasensory sources of awareness.
  • Yoga is considered almost universally by all Indian thinkers to be a useful technique for emancipating the mind from its existing condition of sensory bondage so that it can access consciousness as – such for the realization of the absolute truth.

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