oriental psycology through sanskrit treatises


Oriental psychology through Sanskrit treatises

-Chandarajanand Singhadat Netnimit.

There is a belief that psychology has its origin in the western world.

But if we were to term psychology as the science of mental activity and its effect on behaviour mental discipline, mental hygiene emotional adjustment and mental experience for the purpose of realized living with oneself and world ,”psychology” then has its roots in the eastern world. It has been enfolded by Indian civization about 3000. Oriental psychology gradually evolved into a more advanced form through social conditions and the way of thoughts which expressed in a lot of indian literature.

Indian pscyology is emebedded in indian philosophy and therefore its stands on the strong foundations of the deep and fundamental trhuths regardsing the nature of reality,the ultimate goal of human endeavour and such problems that have been baffling human mind. In ancient indaina thought, psychology was an independent discipline. But each school of philosopjy, medicine, aesthetics, tetc. Developed its own theory of mind. The ancient indian thinkers were greatly interested in psychological problems. Psychological issues were discussed in the course of their discussions of metaphysical,ethical logical aesthetic and other problems.

The subject matter of pre Upanisadic works has been pure theology, liturgy, religious rites, sacrifices and incantations. Indian psychology analysis started with the reflection th the self of man in the Upanisads. This interest is summed up in the expression. Aatamanam viddhi—ie know the self. It is in the interest in the analysis of the self and the nature of experience that led them on to a detailed study of perception and illusion on one hand and of desires on the other.

Conscious in Indian psychology leads to metaphysics and cannot be divorced from it. The intuitional or introspectional method is the most suitable method for psychology. One who completely experience meditation knows the toatal mind and obtain the non-mediate (aparoksa ) knowledge.

According to Vedanta in the atmabodha of Sankara mind has been explained as one of the internal organs.—the antakaruna. It also emphasizes up on transformation and modification of mind. This is done through Yoga. When mind is controlled and attains a sense of full consciousness it is called as aatman.

Consciousness in Indian psychology leds to metaphysics and cannot be divrosed from it. The ituitional or introspectional method is the most suitable method for psychology. One who completely experiences the meditation knows the total mind and obtains the non mediate or the aparoksha knowledge.

According to Vedanta in the atmabodha of Sanakara, mind has been explained as one of the internal organs –the antahkarana—it also emphasizes upon transformation and modification of mind. This is done through yoga. When mind is controlled and attains a sense of full consciousness it is called atman.

In the samkhya karika of Isvara krsna, samkhya system repeats the same account of various states of consciousness given in the Upanishads. The states are awakening contribution of samkhya to psychology,, samkhya explains in detail intelligent principle the Mahat acting in the universe. It explains a psycho- physical phenomena at the cosmic level and at the individual level. The theory of interaction – sangatha – is a profound discovery. The theory of mutual reflection of purusa and intellect Buddhi is a further contribution in this field.

It is true that ancient indian thinkers looked upon mental health mental balance and integration of the various levels of the mind as a prerequisite for liberation. So long as the mind is disturbed by conflicting emotions and is subject ot various kinds of desires and aversions there cannot be peace of mind. As the Bhagavad-Gita puts it or the uncontrolled there is no intelligence, nor for the uncontrolled is there power of concentration and for him without power of concentration there is no peace and for the unpeacefull how can there be happiness?II66 there cannot be any realisation of the ultimate truth as long as the mind is restless and unsteady.

Emphasis on mental discipline is the characteristic feature of Indian psychology. The yoga sutra of patanjali  describes yoga  as the restriction of the fluctuations of the mind – citta vrtti nirodha. It is further that the fluctuations of the mind can be restricted by means of practice and non attachment or passionless. (I.12) it is through constant effort and through repetition that the fluctuations of mind can be controlled. Another requirement is vairahya, getting rid of the thirst for objects. One can gain mastery over one’s mind through non-attachment, by getting rid of the desire for all kinds of objects and experience which are not relevant to the purpose on hand, namely attachment of mental development and equanimity. This concept nearly corresponds to the basic concept of Buddhism.

In the western psycho-analysis, the person approaches the analyist as a patient. But a student of Yoga approaches the question from the active and not the passive stand-point. He is a student not a patient, and practise psycho-analysis form insight by himself. This stand-point corresponds to the Buddhist systems and other indian systems of psychology.

The main feature of the four schools of Sanskrit Buddhism is the concept of no concept non-self (anatman) it is the particular doctrine of Buddhism which is derived from the early Buddhism.

The vaibhasika and the sautrantika hold that the varieties of forms of consciousness lead to the conclusion that external object exist.

The mulamadhyamakakarika of Nagarjuna expresses that the sensible world is void of all substances and nature (svabhava). It is nihsvabhava. Hence its reaction upon our senses is equally void.

The yogacaras are vijnananvadins, the greatest contribution of yogacara is its emphasis on superconsciouness and yoga. Through yogi exercises mind becomes clear of all illusion and impurities and so it reflects the truth and nirvana is attained.

Jainism systems holds that if the mental activity is controlled, the inflow of new karmic matter can be restrained. This will result in emancipation the means of control of mental virtue, contemplation, conquest of affliction auspicious conduct and austerity.

Finally the goal of all effort is to attain mental health and mental balance. All the various schools of Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism emphasised the necessity to attain mental balance as it looked upon as a precondition to attain liberation – moksha vimukti.

Liberation is freedom from various automatics that render a person a slave to his impulses and emotions. A man can become psychologically free if he can succeed in disentgaling himself entirely from desires and aversions so that his actions are never actuated by compulsions and in being self conscious and aware such that all his actions are guided by knowledge and deliberations.

When a man attains liberation he is free from fixed emotional and mental habits and he can be objective in his outlook towards himself,people and circumstances and incidents of life.


Notes courtesy Chandarajjanand Singhadat Netnimit in the International conference on Sanskrit at Mahidol Bangkok.


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