Scope and Research in Indian Psychology

Indian psychology refers to the extensive body of knowledge about consciousness, mind, and behavior we have received from our ancestors. It is ingrained in the three main religious traditions of Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism. Since most of the knowledge on the origins of consciousness, the self, and mental processes began and evolved as a part of spiritual and religious practices and teachings in various traditions, it is often considered religious or philosophical. These subjects are frequently discussed in religious discourses and philosophical discussions in India, but neither the general public nor academics and professionals are aware of their psychological relevance or importance.

Indian Psychology

Nationalistic ideals were the foundation for the writings on Indian psychology by Swami Vivekananda, Sri Aurobindo, Jadunath Sinha, and others. They aimed to draw attention to the distinctiveness of Indian customs and culture. In light of contemporary scientific advancements and a materialistic worldview, they wished to stress the indigenous viewpoints and draw attention to the significance of India's spiritual worldview. They concentrated on how Western psychology differs from how our ancient thinkers interpreted the nature of consciousness, the mind, the self, and other related themes. As a result, efforts to create Indian psychology from a spiritual perspective persisted for a while, borrowing guidance and concepts from our texts. These early academic psychologists, who were schooled in the Western scientific paradigm, opposed such initiatives by labeling them as a backward step towards superstition.

Nature of Indian Psychology

It is crucial to remember that most Indians who identify with Vedic, Jaina, or Buddhist traditions still adhere to the values, beliefs, practices, and habits that have been ingrained in them over many generations. As a result, the second and fifth statements above that discuss Indian psychology are closely connected. These traditions have affected many other religious systems that eventually developed in our nation, as well as those that missionaries and conquerors brought to India. The word "Indian" merely draws attention to the special and different views on consciousness and the nature of the mind that are covered and detailed in our prehistoric books and treatises. Additionally, it alludes to the Indian viewpoint on behavior and other facets of human life. However, they are all globally relevant, and it is a continuation of the current scientific psychology.

Indigenization of Psychology

In contrast to indigenous psychology, indigenization of psychology entails adapting contemporary psychology's fundamental ideas, models, and measurements to a specific sociocultural setting. It is recognized to construct global rules and principles. While "culture is the source" of ideas when producing indigenous psychology, "culture is the aim" when indigenizing psychology. Indigenization proponents steadfastly cling to scientific psychology, which seeks to establish universal rules and principles. For instance, Kamala Chaudhuri modified the images in the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) to fit the social setting of India.

Another instance of objects being modified from the original to fit the Indian context is the Binet-Kamat test of intellect. The fundamental principles of projective psychology and IQ testing are not altered in either of these modifications. Similarly, J. B. P. Sinha created the phrase "nurturant task leadership" to describe a new leadership style suited to the Indian work culture. Numerous psychologists have thus far tried to "indigenize" psychology rather than create indigenous psychology, starting in India.


Indian psychology is not just about religion and spirituality. Nobody of our thinkers overlooked any behavioral factors. They have concentrated on a variety of facets of behavior in people. We discover knowledge on social psychology (in Dharmashastra and Neetishastra), aberrant behavior (in Ayurveda), sexuality and sexual behavior (in Kmastra), economic and political activity (in Arthashastra & Chanakya Neeti), developmental aspects (defined as shodasha samskara), and so forth. Similar to this, the Jaina and Bauddha daranas, as well as the six schools of Indian philosophy, include a wealth of knowledge on cognitive psychology. Indian philosophers studied the spiritual side and the bio-psycho-social aspects of behavior discussed in contemporary psychology. Indian psychology, therefore, covers everything from sexuality to spirituality.

Research and Application of Indian Psychology

Numerous researchers have noted that Asian civilizations continue to hold onto the "spiritual" perspective. Therefore, the main contention is that contemporary psychology, which was established within the context of a material worldview and adopted the current scientific methodology, does not adequately account for the behavior of individuals who still have a spiritual worldview and behave per it. The divide between Western and non-Western psychology, including Asian psychology, stems from the challenge that contemporary psychology is a universal science.

However, psychologists discovered numerous noteworthy disparities across Western civilizations as the study developed. Some academics have observed that American society's ideals, rather than those of all Western civilizations, are reflected in much of modern psychology. From a methodological perspective, many psychologists believe that the quantitative and experimental techniques used in psychology must fully capture psychological phenomena because they frequently get to the rule of averages rather than comprehend individual uniqueness. As Gordon Allport phrased it, they are "nomothetic" rather than "idiographic." Thus, the requirement for creating more qualitative methods.

Therefore, "rethinking of psychology" and "rethinking of methodologies in psychology" have become necessary as psychologists become more aware of the limitations of contemporary psychology about its generalizations across populations in the Western world and outside of it. These changes eventually culminated in the "indigenous psychology movement," as it is now known. It piqued the curiosity of psychologists from all over the world to advance the psychological viewpoints and insights prevalent in their societies. Such initiatives aim to create a "really universal psychology" by drawing from shared knowledge and understandings found in indigenous psychologies that are distinctive to certain cultures.

A few researchers in these domains have started publicly admitting that the materialistic worldview, which asserted that the cosmos is made up exclusively of matter, cannot be justified. According to this theory, materiality is secondary to awareness of the universe. They have also developed a strong interest in studying the spiritual works of the Vedic heritage, including the four Vedas, Upanishads, writings on Kashmiri Shaivism and Vedanta systems, Yoga Sutras, Nyaya and Navya-Nyaya, the four schools of Buddhism, Zen Buddhism, and Taoism. Because these scientists have yet to give Jaina scriptures their full attention, they are not researched. Medical scientists are perplexed by the issue of mind-body relationships and the relationship between the brain and consciousness, while physical and natural scientists are evaluating how their knowledge aligns with these traditional writings about the nature of reality and the cosmos.

Neuropsychologists work hard to investigate the connections between the brain and nervous system, while transpersonal psychologists are busy trying to establish the phenomenology, models, and theories of states of consciousness. They have been tested by the phenomenon of so-called Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs) and Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) since all of the theories of cognition that are now in existence and based on our sensory awareness fall short in this area. The reported OBE and NDE experiences that are not mediated by the five sense organs do not follow the norms of typical waking awareness experiences. Particularly in NDEs, the individual who describes such experiences typically looks either in a coma or thought dead by attending surgeons, physicians, and other medical professionals after returning to the ordinary state.


The spiritual perspective dominates Indian psychology. It declares that awareness, not substance, is fundamental. Consciousness is distinguished from the mind. It is believed that all people can be divine and that realizing one's divinity is the purpose of existence. All other life objectives and drives are regarded as incidental and secondary. Intuitive processes are part of mental processes. Beyond the world of the senses, various experiences are available. However, not all of these encounters are thought to be the pinnacle. The most significant and ideal aspect of human life is realizing a condition beyond all of them, known as "pure awareness." This paradigm helps to explain human behavior.

Updated on: 06-Feb-2023


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