Indian Philosophy and Psychology

Psychology of The Vedanta

The Vedanta Philosophy is one of the most popularly known philosophies of the Ancient Indian philosophies. The word Vedanta literally means “end of the Vedas“. The Vedanta philosophy began with the concept of Dvaita (dualism) and ended with the concept of Advaita (non-dualism). The different schools of thought that exist in the Vedanta are the:

  • Advaita
  • Vishishtadvaita
  • Dvaita
  • Bhedabheda
  • Suddhadvaita

These schools of thought primarily emerged from three sources, the Prasthanatrayi, which includes the Upanishads, the Brahma Sutras, and the Bhagavad Gita.

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The discourse between Arjuna and Krishna, that was compiled in the Bhagavad Gita.

 

 

A lot of modern science, including psychology, has already been found in a rudimentary, or sometimes even a more advanced form, in the ancient Indian texts. Since philosophy is known as the mother of psychology, hence, we can find many concepts of modern Western psychology that had already been discussed in the Indian Philosophies.

Let us take the concept of the Brahman and the Atman, which is the root concept which divides the Vedantic Philosophy into the different schools of thought. The Brahman is God, or the ultimate metaphysical reality, while Atman refers to the self or the soul. The Dvaita school of thought regards that the Brahman and the Atman are separate entities, and it is the purpose of the Atman to strive and surrender itself to the Brahman. This philosophy is similar to Plato’s mind-body dualism, Aristotle’s view, dualism by Rene Descartes, and the modern concept of duality.

The Advaita school of thought considers the Brahman and the Atman to be a single entity, which is a constant, and everything that is changing in this world is known as Maya. The purpose, here, is to realize that the Atman of every individual is the same, which is equivalent to the Brahman. This is somewhat similar to the Humanistic perspective propounded by Rogers and Maslow. The individual has the capability to attain its most perfect form, and it solely rests on their hands.

According to modern psychology, the emotions that we experience is the result of our perceptions, along with the activity of neurochemicals. Our imperfect understanding of the world is what causes emotions like joy, sadness, anger, excitement, etc. As we gradually start understanding the real meaning of this world, our tendency to experience different emotions starts to fade away. This perfection is rarely seen among normal, average human beings. If we ever come across such an individual, we may regard them as someone who is not human, something more than that. This is what the Vedanta philosophy speaks about. When we achieve the perfect balance between the Brahman and the Atman, regardless of the school of thought, we start to become fully-functioning individuals who are composed of knowledge and are not affected by mundane matters.

The concept of Viveka is also a part of psychology that we study nowadays. It is similar to the rational part of the cognitive mind, which forms a perception of the surroundings based on logic and imagination. Viveka is what helps us in discerning the facts of the world and form a conclusion, which forms our perception.

Thus, we see that a number of theories and concepts of modern psychology has emerged from the philosophies of the Vedanta. More can be known about psychology through the Indian texts when one reads and understands it in a detailed manner.

References:

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