Historical and Cultural Background of Spiritual Counselling

The earliest trace of what could be construed as counseling in its contemporary sense could be found in the Vedas and the Upanishads. Though attempting to answer the larger questions of life, such as meaning and purpose, these texts present their content in a poeticized and symbolic manner. Their insights are only attainable if one analyses them deeper and experiments with their postulates in their own lives. The following text will attempt to cover what counseling means in classical Indian tradition and how it has integrated with modern psychotherapy.

Spiritual Counselling

It includes

The Counselling of Bhagwadgita

Perhaps the earliest documented 'therapy session,' the Bhagvadvita captures the dialogues between Lord Krishna and Arjuna. Looking at the battlefield, Arjuna is struck with anguish. The odds are all against him; the gurus and relatives are with the opposition, Stress builds in Arjuna, and he panics. Krishna uses a few simple constructs to enable Arjuna to get a hold of himself, to overcome anxiety. By the end of the text, Arjuna archives a level of mental lucidity that makes him available for swift action and decision-making on the battlefield. Analyzing it from a modern counseling perspective, one can see a technique similar to the one part of cognitive behavioral therapy: conscious of one's locus of control and tracing their flow of consciousness through introspection.

Concept of Mind in Ayurveda

Ayurveda, literally meaning the science of life, is situated as the fifth alongside the four primary Vedic scriptures. According to Ayurvedic principles, the mind differs from matter and is part of the body. The attributes of the mind are that it is unitary and atomic. Based on its function, the mind is divided into ego, will, and Intellect. For good physical and mental health, there should exist a balance between the three. Ayurveda has attempted not only to encompass the physical and mental but the spiritual aspect of health. Its focus is on connecting with the environment and the life around them in harmonious coexistence.


Yoga is a way of life that attempts to understand oneself on all levels. It seeks to pull open the backdrop of the ego and try to become conscious of Ultimate reality. Yoga maintains that all suffering emerges from ignorance of this ultimate reality and obsession with the material one. Pratyahara is a form of the yogic way of living in which one draws their senses inward and becomes hyper-aware of the moment-to-moment activity to derive pleasure from them. Yoga provides help in the better management of emotions, and it helps to develop positive thinking and overcome feelings of inferiority.

Astrology and Counselling

: Counselling has benefited greatly from astrology, which has strong adherents in India. Astrology, regarded as a life science in India, has proven beneficial in therapeutic and counseling situations. Dr. B.V. Raman says that depending on the positions of influencing planets and stars at the time of birth, an individual's physical and mental characteristics are determined. A person's personality type and mental and physical vulnerabilities can be determined by looking at his or her natal chart. In India, the Vedic Astrologer still serves as a consultant, a counselor, and a spiritual mentor. The well-known Swiss psychiatrist Jung had a strong interest in astrology. According to him, "astrology is the culmination of all psychological knowledge from antiquity. Transpersonal thought, which emphasizes the value of examining problems "beyond the persona" or personality, was pioneered by Dr. Jung.

The Science of Meditation

From India, other parts of south Asia, and eventually the entire world, adopted the original form of yoga as it was practiced in India. Through meditation, the mind is changed from an uneasy, disorganized, and discordant state to one of equilibrium and joy. Meditating takes the mind to a place of peace and joy. In every situation, the turbulence of the mind is caused by different kinds of desires; the moment a desire arises, one feels dissatisfied and is cut off from the source of satisfaction. Meditation practices have even received attention from modern psychotherapy. They have been formalized with principles of cognitive behavioral therapy in the form of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy.

The Karma Theory

Ancient Indian literature stresses the significance of Karma (deeds) in a person's life. Karma refers to the right course of action. The Karma theory's foundation is that every occurrence in a person's life has a cause-and-effect connection. Its foundation is the maxim, "as you sow, so shall you reap." According to the notion that everyone must pay for their previous deeds, known as the law of karma, mental diseases are seen as the results of past transgressions. This does not, however, imply a deterministic or fatalistic strategy. Instead, it emphasizes individual responsibility by asserting that via good karma, and a person may alter their destiny and, consequently, the course of their life. Such ideas could encourage someone in a therapeutic setting.

When it comes to coping, adjusting, and adapting processes, the concept of karma is important in the Indian setting. It offers a value-driven justification of a person's circumstances. Based on their karmas, people in the Indian setting actively build the meaning and cause of their difficulties, which affects how people approach their difficulties.

Evolution of Modern Counselling in India

The evolution of modern counseling in India can be traced back to the early 20th century when Western-style psychotherapy and counseling techniques were introduced. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Indian government began recognizing the importance of mental health and established mental health clinics and hospitals across the country. In the 1970s and 1980s, there was a growing interest in indigenous forms of healing and therapy, such as Ayurveda and Yoga, which began to be incorporated into counseling and psychotherapy practices. In recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the need for culturally sensitive and appropriate counseling services in India, with an increasing number of trained counselors and therapists from diverse backgrounds. Therapists have leveraged the strong embedding of religion to assist in the therapeutic process by helping patients answer the questions of meaning, community, and love. Additionally, with the advent of technology, online counseling has also been gaining popularity in India, providing people access to mental health professionals in a convenient and accessible way.

Indian Thought of Self-Knowledge

The crux of Indian thought is that we are not bodies (matter), but we are divine spirits (souls). The Vedas repeatedly emphasize this conceptual understanding of the connection between the earth, the atmosphere, and human existence. According to the Bhagwad Gita, only the body composed of *matter perishes; hence, one should not grieve for the deceased. Panchtmtra: Children's stories instill good moral principles. Its motto is "Vaszadhaiva tttzambakam," meaning "the world is one family." Our ancient writings, including the Upanishads, Ramayana, Mahabharata, and Buddhist, Jain, Sufi, and Sikh volumes of wisdom, contain encyclopedic spiritual knowledge. In Indian philosophy, the significance of the soul as a doer (programmer) is stressed, and the soul directs cognition and moves the body to action.

Spiritual Integration

A complete, open, loving, and giving life is referred to as having a spiritual integration. It is an openness that redefines our understanding of what it is to be alive and human, not clinging to dogmas. As an alternative to the rigidities, greed, hatred, and prejudices destroying our planet, it enables an expanding feeling of unity with life and one another. A deeper knowledge and love are combined with the purposeful growth of good and life-giving thoughts and behaviors that go beyond our habits and actions to form spiritual unity. Thus, solitude and meditation aid in creating internal harmony by assisting the human spirit's fusion with the Universal Spirit. The inner and exterior selves are in harmony thanks to the integrated human psyche.


Spiritual counseling in India is an ancient form of healing that incorporates spiritual and religious beliefs and practices into the therapeutic process. It is an integral part of many traditional Indian healing systems and can help individuals to connect with their inner selves and find inner peace and balance.

Updated on: 03-Feb-2023


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