Putting Indian Psychology into Practice: Understanding and utilizing its principles in everyday life

Counseling and therapy

  • The Indian approach to counseling focuses on the person as a whole and not on the parts of the mind or body only that are affected
  • Focus on holistic development of individual
  • Western or scientific psychology was introduced in India at Calcutta university (1905)
  • Training of counselors has received more attention only in the last 2 decades although they were many established departments of academic psychology in the country
  • The need for counseling and guidance leads to the initiation of courses in psychology
  • According to Ayurveda, wellness is a delicate balance between mind, body, and spirit


  • Yoga leads to the regulation of body, breath, and mind leading to stillness
  • God’s experience

Counseling and therapy in the Indian Context

  • Counseling is not new to India
  • Our sages have tried to understand the mental process of the ways to control it
  • Psychology= philosophical + religious texts
  • Ancient Indian text provides detailed and well-explained constructs like mind, cognition, personality, and emotions.
  • Research shows lots of resemblance between the western and eastern forms of counseling
  • Ancient Indian texts and scriptures are rich with useful insights for counseling practices
  • Each culture is characterized by its own features and practices

Venkatesan (2010) has mentioned certain unique features of Indian families

  • Emphasis on interdependence
  • Extended family structure
  • Supremacy of parent-child relationship
  • Hierarchy
  • Expression of emotions through actions than words
  • More focus on spirituality
  • Value-based living
  • Family is the focal point in the Indian social-cultural context which prescribes and shapes the value system of individuals
  • In our culture, it is also said “Mata, Pita, Guru, Deivam”- development of character, personality, and values
  • Counseling is involved as part of their influence and guidance to growing children and developing person
  • Hence counseling is more directive in nature given the collectivistic context of India
  • Recently, there has been a growing realization that traditional Indian philosophical thoughts should also be incorporated into therapeutic practices.
  • It is important to know the social-cultural background of a person before thinking of therapeutic intervention

Vipassana and Mindfulness


  • Type of insight meditation that is thought to have been first taught by Buddha
  • One of the earliest forms of meditation
  • Involves observing one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment, and focusing on the present moment
  • Realize suffering and internalize the truth of impermanence
  • The primary tradition of meditation is SriLanka as well as South East, Asia


  • Mindfulness is the action of paying attention to whatever is happening while it is happening
  • In original Buddhist texts, mindfulness is called “Sati” and it is associated with remembering
  • Mindfulness is a state of mind that needs to be experienced and recognized by each individual and has many levels of depth into it.

Hatha Yoga based therapy

  • Hatha Yoga is an umbrella term to describe many of the most common forms of yoga taught in the west today
  • With this type of yoga, one can move their body slowly and deliberately into different possess that challenge your strength and flexibility
  • It also focuses on relaxation and mindfulness

Methods of Hatha Yoga

  1. Asana- Yoga postures
  2. Pranayama- breathing technique
  3. Mantra- chanting or reciting
  4. Mudra- hand gestures
  5. Shat Kriyas and shatkarmas- cleansing techniques
  6. Type of Visualization- Imagery

Psychological Change

It gives not only physical changes but mental and emotional too

They can enhance feelings of happiness and well-being, help release sadness and grieving, and encourage relaxation and dynamism


  • Stress reduction
  • Reduced depression symptoms
  • Muscle and joint flexibility
  • Core strength (muscle)


Hatha yoga traces its origins, especially to Gorakhnath, founder of Kanphata yogis – the physical and spiritual discipline of Hatha yoga.

Gita as Guide

  • Bhagavad Gita is a part of the epic Mahabharata
  • Consists of 18 chapters and 701 verses
  • Serves as a spiritual guide to many people 
  • One of the most proclaimed citations of the counseling process
  • Lord Krishna assists the battlefield in Kurukshetra
  • Arjuna got depressed when he had to fight with his own relatives
  • It was a verbal communication process took place as counseling between Krishna and Arjuna to overcome stress and Anxiety took place in Arjuna
  • Krishna counsels Arjuna to attain Mental Equilibrium
  • The context of Lord Krishna and Arjuna is often equated with various psychotherapeutic approaches of Western- Behavioral therapy, Client-centered therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy
  • It offers an explanation of effective counseling and the characteristics of a good counselor
  • It offers explanations to effective and characteristics of a good counselor
  • Bhagavad Gita provides insight into the therapeutic solution to many distressing problems
  • Jnana. Karma, and Bhakti- are considered important approaches to understanding and leading a fruitful life
  • Jnana- Cognitive appraisal (this helps to reduce the impacts of negative life events)
  • Karma- refers to one’s action
  • Bhakti- faith in god ( Stresses the importance of identification of the soul of an individual with supreme soul through dedication and surrender)
  • All three approaches to life can help one deal with various problems and sufferings of life and help one to focus on supreme knowledge and power

Education- Gandhi’s Nai Talim

  • The phrase Nai Talim is a combination of two words- Nai means ‘New’ and Talim-Urdu- Education
  • Introduced by Gandhiji
  • Year: 1937
  • Aim: To achieve the liberation of villages

Gandhiji’s dream

  • To make all villages independent and self-reliant
  • Approach to total personality development of body, mind, and spirit and based on 4 principles
  1. Work should be linked with the most useful vocational needs of the locality
    • Education or learning in the mother tongue along with handicraft work
    • Learning should be linked with vocational work
    • Work should be socially valuable and productive needed for living
  • Gandhiji’s first experiments in education began at Tolstoy farm Ashram in South Africa
  • It was much later, while living in sevagram(Wardha) and in eating of the independence struggle, that Gandhi whole his influential article in Harijan about education
  1. Lifelong character and education
  2. Social character
  3. A holistic process
  • Thus, Gandhi’s education is “The Moral development of the person, a process that is by definition “lifelong”
  • He believed in the importance of the role of the teacher in the learning process

Satyagraha-  Psychospiritual tool for conflict resolution

  • Satyagraha is the most important contribution of Gandhi to social philosophy and movement
  • It emerged as a weapon of conflict resolution
  • The concept of Satyagraha could be understood in the broader context of Gandhian socio-political thought that developed out of actions- Experiments with truth
  • Gandhi gave a revolutionary turn to social movements
  • He applied Satyagraha in the non-violent struggle against injustice, exploitation, and dictatorship
  • Gandhi’s worldview is rooted in the concept of peace, which was comprehensive 
  • He linked peace with truth achieved through non-violence
  • Transformation of the individual was an essential element of satyagraha

Satya, Ahimsa, and Moral State


  • Gandhi’s fundamental belief is in Satya, truth which he also called God
  • Satya- the ruling principle of the universe
  • Satya manifests itself in all living beings, especially in humans as self-conscious or soul or spirit
  • Ahimsa
  • The achievement of political or moral ends through Ahimsa is what Gandhi called satyagraha, ‘truth force’ or ‘non-violence action
  • Morality
  • Civilization is that mode of conduct that points out to man the path of duty
  • Performance of duty and observance of morality are convertible terms
  • To observe morality is to attain mastery over our minds and our passions.

Satyagraha as a weapon of conflict resolution

  • On various occasions, Gandhi clarified the difference between passive resistance and satyagraha
  • “Satyagraha is more dynamic force than passive resistance because it contemplates prolonged mass action in resistance to injustice”
  • “Satyagraha can be practiced at all levels-domestic, national, and international while passive resistance is contemplated at the political level only”             
  • Satyagraha offers continuous purification of the mind
  • It has no place for hatred while passive resistance may be compatible with internal violence toward the enemy
  • Satyagraha includes Agraha or Moral pressure for the sake of truth
  • Fasting can be one extreme form of Satyagraha
  • Gandhi held that fasting and prayer give the required discipline, the spirit of self-sacrifice, humility, and resoluteness of will
  • Gandhi’s experiments with truth taught him revealing lessons about Satyagraha
  • Gandhi’s satyagraha was an act of moral creativity
  • The philosophy of satyagraha holds that every human being is capable of doing well and thinking well.
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