We the delegates numbering 160, who participated in the National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology held in Pondicherry from September 29 through October 1, 2002, issue the following declaration and agree on the manifesto given below for strengthening psychological study, research and practice in India.
We believe that the state of psychology in India is none too flattering. In fact, we find psychology in India unable to play its necessary role in our national development. It is widely believed that this unfortunate state of affairs is largely due to the fact that psychology in India is essentially a Western transplant, unable to connect with the Indian ethos and concurrent community conditions. Therefore, it has been said repeatedly that psychological studies in India are by and large imitative and replicative of Western studies, lacking in originality and unable to cover or break any new ground.
This situation is in a significant sense surprising because classical Indian thought is rich in psychological content. Our culture has given rise to a variety of practices that have relevance all the way from stress-reduction to self-realization. Rich in content, sophisticated in its methods and valuable in its applied aspects, Indian psychology is pregnant with possibilities for the birth of new models in psychology that would have relevance not only to India but also to psychology in general. What we have in India now is a psychology of sorts, but not Indian psychology. By Indian psychology we mean a distinct psychological tradition that is rooted in Indian ethos and thought, including the variety of psychological practices that exist in the country. We believe that introduction of Indian psychology as a course of study and as a basis for fundamental and applied research could awaken psychology in India from its present state of slumber to an active and enlightened pursuit for understanding human nature and for promoting our wellness and potential.
We believe also that the Indian models of psychology would have enormous implications for health psychology, education, organizational management and human and social development. Emphasis on Indian psychology would provide a comprehensive foundation and a refreshing new and indigenous orientation to all other branches of psychology.
Judicious introduction of Indian psychology at various levels in our universities and colleges would help (a) to promote indigenous psychology in India and (b) to develop new psychological models, which may have pan-human relevance. We therefore, make the following recommendations as necessary steps for responsibly promoting psychology in India. We urge all those interested in advancing psychological thought and practices in India to please keep them in focus, while determining their priorities of assistance.
1. Indian universities and colleges may be encouraged to offer courses in Indian psychology at various levels.
2. Priority support may be provided for research topics based on Indian psychological principles.
3. Special assistance may be given for preparing resource material to teach Indian psychology such as writing and publishing appropriate textbooks.
4. Special fellowships may be offered to students pursuing doctoral studies in Indian psychology.
5. Academic staff colleges in universities may be encouraged to offer refresher courses in Indian psychology.
6. A series of seminars may be conducted to discuss in depth methodological and conceptual issues and psychological models derived from classical Indian thought, including their more recent developments in the writings of such thinkers as Sri Aurobindo.
7. It is suggested that a website for Indian psychology may be created and the members who participated in the Conference and others who are interested in Indian psychology may use the site for exchanging information and views.
8. A committee consisting of Professor K. Ramakrishna Rao (chairman), Professor Janak Pandey, Dr. Matthijs Cornelissen, and Professor Girishwar Misra (convenor) be constituted to look into the logistics of introducing Indian psychology in Indian universities and colleges and to contact national organizations such as the ICSSR, the ICPR and the UGC, for supporting Indian psychology. The committee may take up follow-up action to ensure the implementation of the above recommendations and to arrange for convening annual conferences to review the progress of work in Indian psychology. The committee is authorized to co-opt a fifth member.
For more information on the National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology held in Pondicherry from September 29 through October 1, 2002, please click here.