Indian psychology is a fairly new discipline of psychology that involves the retrieval of psychological concepts rooted in native religious and spiritual Indian traditions and beliefs. It expresses these ideologies and presents these ideas in psychological terminology, thereby, making room for future researchers and psychologists to further explore and apply these concepts in their analysis. Thus, in this aspect, Indian Psychology is not ‘the psychology of Indian people’ or ‘the psychology that is administered in Indian institutions.’ Indian Psychology is much more complex than that, it is a consciousness-based study that explores the Indian ethos, delving into the collective spirit of Indians. By exploring these domains, Indian Psychology aims to give future researchers and scholars a broader scope to examine these topics.
The philosophical roots of Indian Psychology
In the Upanishads, the self and personality are explained through a concept called Kosha, which means, cover. The different Koshas are Annamaya Kosha, Pranmaya Kosha, Manomaya Kosha, Vidnyanmaya Kosha and Anandmaya Kosha. These texts also speak about the role of these koshas in determining human behaviour.
In Ayurveda, a concept called Dosha is explained. The three types of these Doshas (Kapha, Vata and Pitta) are said to dictate the traits of human beings:
When an individual’s dominant Dosha is Kapha, their major personality traits are composure, flexibility, patience and compassion. Another personality trait of this Dosha includes good memory. They often take their time to understand new concepts, however once they do, they can retain their memory for long periods of time.
Those who have a dominant Vata are often erratic in nature, with frequent mood swings. It is commonly seen that their anger sometimes gets the better of them. They are also known to be art enthusiasts.
Lastly, those who exhibit a dominant Pitta are sharp-witted. However, they also exhibit signs of aggression.
Then comes the three Gunas that describe human temperament - Sattva, Rajas and Tamas Guna.
Sattva Guna - Those who fall under this category, exhibit signs of laziness and are often lethargic in everything they do.
Rajas Guna - This Guna is used to describe those who belong to the elite. They are usually considered to be short-tempered and authoritative.
Tamas Guna - Those who have the Tamas Guna are usually calm and collected. They are hard-working and do their work diligently.
One of the first mentions of Psychology in the Indian subcontinent was by Patanjali, who elucidated deep thought in Yoga Sutra. He analysed the different levels of consciousness and also suggested ways in which spirituality could be evolved.
Q1. How did this new domain of Psychology come to be?
Narendra Nath Sen Gupta played a monumental role in bringing about Indian Psychology. He was the founder of the Journal of Indian Psychology. He’s also known as the father of Indian Psychology.
Q2. What sets apart Indian Psychology from Western Psychology?
Philosophical concepts involving birth and death cycles, the afterlife, rebirth and reincarnation do not appear in Western Psychology and their culture as much as it appears in ours. This is what sets Indian Psychology apart from the Western approach.
Q3. Is Indian Psychology a native school of thought?
Indian Psychology is a distinctive psychological approach that derives its meaning from Indian ideologies, however it’s a domain that is much broader than indigenous psychology as its functionality and importance goes beyond the Indian borders and its cultural settings. It is also completely separate from psychology in India.
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