Indian Psychology -It’s Definition, Nature, History & Scope

Yoga is nothing but practical psychology“- Sri Aurobindo

To understand What is Indian Psychology? we need to know the what is the meaning of Indian? Indian means relating to India or its people, customs, or languages. What is psychology ? The study of human behaviour and mental processes. If we combine both meanings, Indian Psychology will be Scientific study of Human Behavior related to India or its people, customs or language. But it is more than that. and definitely not ‘the psychology of the Indian people’.

Definition of Indian Psychology 

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

Rao K. R (2014)  “Indian psychology refers to a system/school of psychology derived from classical Indian thought and rooted in the psychologically relevant practices such as yoga prevalent in the Indian subcontinent for centuries.



Nature of Indian Psychology

Upanishadas explain the self and personality structure with the help of concept called Kosha (cover). These are Annamaya kosha, Pranmayakosha, Manomayakosha, Vidnyanmaya kosha and Anandmaya kosha. They also talked about factors that affected these
koshas and also how these koshas determine human behaviour.

According to Ayurveda, there are three types of doshas, which are Kapha, Vata and Pitta and these doshas determine Prakruti (characteristics) of human beings.

  • Individuals who have kapha as a dominant doshas are calm, flexible, patient, and caring. They have strong memory. It is said, that they take longer to grasp a subject but once they understand it they are able to retain it for a longer time.
  • Individuals who have Vata as a dominant dosha are unpredictable. Their moods and thoughts fluctuate. They get angry very quickly but they also calm down very fast. They are art lovers.
  • Individuals who have Pitta as a dominant dosha are believed to be very sharp. They are known to be short tempered.

Guna – concept to explain human temperament .Human body is made up of Rajas, Tamas and Sattva Guna.

  1. Sattva Guna,- Idle& sluggish. They do not work hard. They seem to be depressed.
  2. Rajas Guna,- Aristocratic & aggressive. Strong self esteem. They think that everything should happen according to their own wish. .
  3. Tamas Guna-  Calm & understanding. They do their work carefully and promptly. They are aware of reality therefore they behave calmly.

Patanjali explained deep thought about Psychology in Yogsutra. He studied levels of human consciousness and also proposed ways to evolve spiritually. His theory of ashtangyoga is useful today also. Eight aspects of ashtangyoga are yama, niyama, aasana, pranayam, pratyahar, dharana, dhyan and Samadhi.

Many Indian saints and philosophers have made many comments about mind or human behaviour. Jain Tirthankar, Tathagat Buddha, Saint Kabir, Swami Vivekanand etc. highlighted various aspects of human mind and behaviour.

History of Indian Psychology 

Manifesto on Indian Psychology (2002)  By more than 150 psychologists gathered in PondicherryIndia, led by K. Ramakrishna RaoGirishwar Misra, and others as a milestone for  the Indian Psychology Movement.

Narendra Nath Sen Gupta, the founder of the Journal of Indian Psychology is the father of Indian Psychology. He had a significant role in founding the Indian Psychological Association in 1924.



Scope of Indian Psychology

It included conceptions or processes relevant to

  • Values,
  • Personality,
  • Perception,
  • Cognition,
  • Emotion,
  • Creativity,
  • Education,
  • Spirituality
  • As well as applications such as meditationyoga, and ayurveda,

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