Year : 2011  |  Volume : 53  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 373--374

Indianizing psychiatry

Ramesh Bijlani 
 The Mother's Integral Health Centre, Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Delhi Branch, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Ramesh Bijlani
The Mother«SQ»s Integral Health Centre, Sri Aurobindo Ashram - Delhi Branch, New Delhi

How to cite this article:
Bijlani R. Indianizing psychiatry.Indian J Psychiatry 2011;53:373-374

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Bijlani R. Indianizing psychiatry. Indian J Psychiatry [serial online] 2011 [cited 2020 Feb 29 ];53:373-374
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Reading the article on Indianizing psychiatry by Dr. Ajit Avasthi was both inspiring and educative for me. [1] While Dr. Avasthi has made several relevant points regarding the unique features of Indians that should receive consideration while diagnosing and treating them when they present with mental health issues, I would like to elaborate a little on another closely related aspect. There is a wealth of ancient Indian wisdom relevant to mental health, to which Dr. Avasthi has made a few references, which can enrich the theory and practice of psychiatry anywhere in the world. Psychology should be based on the totality of a person, which besides the body includes the emotional and intellectual parts of the being as well as his deepest self, usually called the soul. Psychology (psyche, soul; logia, study of) literally means study of the soul, but modern psychology paradoxically denies the soul. This has happened because in order to qualify as a science, modern psychology tried to fit into the framework of science. In that process, it voluntarily got rid of the soul and became the science of behavior. It is because of the incomplete nature of modern psychology that it fails to answer several pertinent questions, as Dr. Indra Sen discovered in the 1940s. He finally found answers to his questions in Sri Aurobindo's works, specially The Life Divine. [2],[3] Acknowledging the spiritual dimension of man enriches counseling, specially cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy demands finding positive features in the conditions and circumstances surrounding the client. There are some situations in which, no matter how hard one may try, nothing positive can be found from the logical point of view. But from the spiritual point of view, there is no such limitation. Depending on the client's level of spiritual development, the spiritual worldview allows three approaches in every adverse situation. First, the situation is seen as an expression of the divine will, and therefore has to be accepted. Second, the situation is an expression of not only the divine will but also divine wisdom, and therefore there must be something good about it, which may not be seen because of the limitations of the human intellect. Third, the situation is an expression of not only the divine will but also divine wisdom, and therefore there must be something good about it, and at least one positive feature can always be seen in it - the situation can serve as an opportunity for spiritual growth. If adequate time is spent with the client, most clients can also be made to progress from the first to the second, and from the second to the third level. Spiritual growth of the client and the inevitable accompanying spiritual growth of the therapist have been considered appropriate goals to strive for in psychiatric practice. [4] Hence, acknowledging the spiritual dimension of man gives an infallible framework for cognitive restructuring. The spiritual dimension does not exclude the use of logic because the intellect is a part of the totality of man. The enhanced power of cognitive therapy based on the spiritual dimension has relevance to populations all over the world because it cuts across geographic, cultural, and religious barriers. Thus, spiritual wisdom, which is not the monopoly of India but does have a uniquely Indian stamp, can Indianize psychiatry much to the benefit of mankind. In fact, the transpersonal psychology movement has already been doing it for some time. [5]


1Avasthi A. Indianizing psychiatry: Is there a case enough? Indian J Psychiatry 2011;53:111-20.
2Sen I. Integral Psychology. The Psychological System of Sri Aurobindo. 2 nd ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education; 1998.
3Aurobindo Sri. The Life Divine. 5 th ed. Pondicherry: Sri Aurobindo Ashram; 1970.
4Peck MS. The road less travelled: A new psychology of love, traditional values and spiritual growth. London: Arrow Books Ltd; 1990.
5Wilber K. Integral Psychology. Consciousness, Spirit, Psychology, Therapy. Boston: Shambhala; 2000.