This paper was presented at
Psychology: The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research
at the Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education
Pondicherry, India, 10-13 December 2004

(click to enlarge)

The Indian Approach to Personality Development-- A Solution to Psycho-Social Aberrations of the Present Day

Smt. T.D.Vimala,
Lecturer in Psychology,
Govt. Degree College for Women,
Guntur-522 001. A.P.

Personality is a complex, dynamic organisation within an individual, shaped by biological, psychological and social factors. The cultural factors and individual development are mutually related spheres of society. The culture of the society depends upon the individuals comprising of it and the relationships they have among themselves. Hence great attention has been paid by our culture for the growth and nurturing of the basic values in an individual. Human being is a conglomeration of several parts apparently different from one another, but acting cohesively for a common purpose. A balanced development and a harmonious combination of all the limbs and faculties that conduces not only to the health of the body but also to the wellbeing of the personality as a whole.According to Indian system training as envisaged by holistic attitude towards the development of human personality.

  1. Meticulously observing the rules of health and sanitation, physical culture including yogasanas. b) Cultivating the faculty of speech through the study of languages and grammar of those languages. Practising the art of speaking the truth at the right time and place including the knack of presenting even unpleasant truths in a manner that is gracefully accepted.
  2. Training the mind in developing discretion and discrimination so that the right decision can be taken at the right time within the limitations imposed by the circumstances. Exercising the intellect by the study of science, philosophy and logic. Fostering a sense of justice.
  3. Trying to develop a taste or interest in some of the arts such as classical music and dance, good and elevating literature, drawing and painting, drama and other theatrical arts that can arouse our finer sentiments.
  4. Faith in God and a regular habit of prayer.

Coming to the social aspect of training for culture, one should start with greater and more intimate association with one's own family members. It has become very necessary to bring about a sense of togetherness and cohesion within a family. The secret of good human relations with others is unselfish love and genuine consideration for the needs and feelings of others. This includes a sense of responsibility and duty towards others. The highest ideal of our tradition is Vasudhaika Kutumbakam (the whole world is one family).

The second important area for integrated development of human personality is the Ashrama scheme of life designed to sublimate the basic instincts of a human being. The life of an individual is divided into four ashramas or stages based on this physical condition and social role requirement. This system helped for the peaceful, full fledged growth of the individual and harmonious development of the society. As only one type of responsibility is fixed at one point of life period, the individual is commited and puts all his effort on it.

The Brahmacharya ashrama, the age of learning falls between 7-18 years of age. It is mainly devoted to study and discipline. Student was required to stay in the gurukula and learn science and arts. Teachers in ancient India lived in hermitages not far from the towns. The children under their care lived under the same roof with- out any distinction of wealth and status, all leading a hard austere life. Serving the teacher and actively participating in the household duties were as much part of their life as learning the Vedas and mastering the secular sciences.

By the above process of learning child acquires required concepts of life regarding work, values, discipline and social responsibilities. By serving the teacher he learns the value towards the elders, by participating in the household duties he learns the importance of the family, by learning vedas and secular sciences, he learns dharmas and scientific knowledge. By doing all the activities regularly for nearly ten formative years he learns the mental discipline and discretion.

Now, the process of education has become complicated due to western influence, confused goals, materialistic and commercial procedures. The system started focussing on the areas according to the social needs and fancies. The integrated development of the individual to face the challenges of his life as well as the social challenges is being neglected in the present scenario of education. The aim of education at present is acquiring knowledge, which is required for earning. The jobs which earn more money are given high status. The value of work deteriorates. Hence, unhealthy competition prevailed in the society and the stress on the student is tremendously increased. Parental pressures, institutional goals, mass media influences and distractions material attractions and lastly the individual capacities interests and motivations are keeping the student in a confused and stressful state which ultimately resulting suicides, mental aberrations in student community, disturbing social harmony. Certain spiritual organisation like Sri Satya Saibaba Educationa Turst, Rama Krishna Mission are trying to bring back our traditional integrated development procedures with high focus on valule system.

The next ashram stage is Gruhast. He is expected to earn by righteous means and live a happy and decent life which had to be socially useful. They have to follow the duties assigned to them. All the remaining ashrams depend on gruhastashram so he is responsible to the family as well as to society. The function of the individual depends upon the values he learns in the early stage and becomes the core in the society. The individual has to follow purshartha- dharma,artha, kama,moksha in acquiring the riches.

At the onset of old age the house holder hands over the responsibilities of the family to his children. Thus Vanaprasta helped to reduce conflicts caused due to generation gap, in-laws problems. Even in the present times the vanaprasta stage helps for the enhancement of better family relations. Many studies conducted on elderly confirmed the same.

Hence there is a great need for the integrated development of the individual. The following procedures are suggested for integrated development of the personality.

The childhood is considered as an important development state. The experiences, impressions, learning make a mark in one's personality. Hence, the child has to be nurtured even from the womb stage. The ancient approach to life intends rest, happiness, low anxiety and good health to a pregnant woman. So, the present women should be aware and understand the importance of the stage and behave appropriately to have a better child.

The child rearing practices are important for the integrated development of the child. So, the mother as well as the teacher play a major role during this stage. The cautious practices of the both help the child to develop an integrated personality. The child should not be given excess stress on education since it is the age of play. Through playing major social values of life are to be taught by the teacher as well as the mother.

The attitude of the people at present is not integrative. Hence they stress on only one area of life at one period of time--education during certain period, exclusive love or exclusive earnings in the particular time of life, neglecting others. Either eating excessively or starving completely, either studying more or nil spending all the time on yoga, exercises and meditation or practicing nil. The society started learning things whenever there was a need. For example, learning meditation when they are affected with disease, learning memory techniques before the examinations, maintaining diet only they are sick.

This type of segregated focus does not help for the integrated development of individual personality or for the harmonious development of the society. So, it is suggested that the mother and the teacher have to focus on the integrated development of the child.

Mother plays an immense role on the development of the personality. But, many changes prevailing in the society especially, women employment in the organised sector, women education etc., are hindering her to do justice to her parental role perfectly. Instead, sometimes the emotional feelings of mother providing either over protection or over discipline hinders integral development. The development of nuclear family system hampers the proper motherhood training.

Physical health is the other important area where our ancestral ways of food habits are to be considered. The eating habits are designed according to the age, type of work, condition of the body etc., regularity of eating habits were given high priority. High calorie foods like sweets were eaten occasionally that is during festivals, however rich the people are. Changes in the food items and timing are prescribed according to the seasons. Food was treated as the main source of life and they believe that disciplining the eating habits was a remedy for many physical ailments. Different types of foods are prescribed for the different types of disorders.

LET US LIVE HUNDRED YEARS is the slogan of that day.

Disciplining oneself in physical, psychological and social behaviour with human values is the solution for many mental aberrations of present day. Even though it is difficult for an average person of today to follow the above said principles due to the disturbing attractions of the society and physical comforts at an achievable state, it is advised for better physical, mental and social health of the society. Unless there is a determined effort on the part of the people it cannot be achieved. This is the time where the whole world is aiming at peace health and knowledge. Our goal is to go back to traditional integrated development of personality to protect ourselves from psycho-social aberrations.

References

1.Swami Harshananda," An introduction to Hindu Culture"

2.Swami Vivekananda,"My India, The India Eternal"

3.Swami Lokeswarananda,"Practical Spirituality".

4.Swami Vivekananda,"Centenary Memorial Volume"

5."Complete works of Vivekananda".

6.Hurlock,"Deveopmental Psychology".