The Indian Contribution
National Conference on
Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness
To explore and develop what the Indian tradition can contribute to modern psychology in terms of theoretical models, specific insights, reliable methods, practical applications, and avenues for future research
There is a growing concern amongst psychologists
that the basic philosophy and methodology under which psychology presently
operates are not in harmony with the demands that the society legitimately
makes on the subject. There is also a growing awareness that the Indian
tradition may be able to provide what the Western tradition has missed:
an effective integration of science and spirituality. In India, several
different systems of yoga have developed rigorous and reliable methods
of enquiry in the domain of consciousness that may help us to find answers
to our deepest questions regarding values, love, beauty, and meaning.
They can offer modern science not only a wealth of philosophical and psychological
theories, but also a rich store of practical techniques to raise our individual
and collective level of consciousness.
During the National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology, which was held in Pondicherry in September 2002, a clear consensus evolved that the time has come for the comprehensive development of a new approach to psychology based on Indian philosophy, yoga and spirituality. It was felt that such an approach to psychology not only would be more in harmony with the Indian ethos, but that it also could make a crucial contribution to the evolving global culture.
Conference themes and structure
Almost 150 proposals were received, of which 121 made it into the programme. Of these, 112 papers were actually presented during the three and a half day academic programme, which had 8 plenary and 30 concurrent sessions, divided over 6 major subject streams.
The opening session offered besides the keynote address by Prof. Ramakrishna Rao, three special presentations: one on methodological issues by Prof. Girishwar Misra from Delhi University, one on the confluence of Indian spirituality and science by Prof. Aster Patel from Auroville, and one on the gradual evolution of spirituality in India by Devdip Ganguli, a student. During the second half of the first afternoon the chairpersons of the six subject streams explained the major issues in their respective areas.
The following 3 days were spent in a rhythm of alternating plenary and concurrent sessions. Each of the plenary sessions was devoted to one of the six major subject streams: three theoretical (Self and Personality; Cognition and Methodology; Emotion and Motivation), and three applied (Health and Healing, Education, Social Development). The concurrent sessions were devoted to these same six major subject areas, with one lecture room permanently assigned to each one of them. Concurrent sessions were typically used for the presentation of 3 to 5 papers dealing with one common topic, but some were devoted to a forum or a workshop. The Sunday afternoon session was used to brainstorm on future research projects and applications. During the concluding plenary session, the chairpersons and rapporteurs of the six subject streams reported on the proceedings within their respective streams.
The feedback we received has been extremely positive. Many participants commented on the harmonious atmosphere and the excellent organisation. Very rewarding for the organisers was the high quality of the papers, the field seems to be establishing itself. During the conference several serious discussions were held, about content related issues as well as about future research, teaching programmes and the possible publication of textbooks in this area.
The abstracts of the 121 papers on the programme are available through the alphabetical List of Abstracts.
We intend to put up some of the full papers over the coming weeks.
The National Conference on Indian Psychology, Yoga and Consciousness was organised by the Indian Council of Philosophical Research in collaboration with the National Academy of Psychology and the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology. The Sri Aurobindo International Centre of Education provided the venue.
K. Ramakrishna Rao
Sri Aurobindo Ashram
Pondicherry - 605002, INDIA