This paper was presented at the
National Seminar on
Indian Psychology: Theories and Models

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007


The individual in Indian thought system: implications for Indian psychology and education

Arbind Kumar Jha — RBS College of Education, Rewari  


The Ancient Indian Thought System has been extraordinary in the sense that it has treated an Individual as a subject, emphasizing self-consciousness, free will and self-determination as his or her exclusive endowment. The Individual has been conceived as the meeting ground of the divinity and humanity, the avyakta and the vyakta. Advaita reaches the startling conclusion that finite has no reality in an ultimate reference and the Individual could not be ascribed to a being in which all finite personalities merged without retaining a vestige of their distinctive experiences. Nyaya-Vaisesika and Purva-Mimamasa postulate plurality of souls, whereas Samkhya reduces all psychological principles to duality of prakriti and purusa only. Almost every school of thought which is more of an interpretation rather than a construction of reality, has not only conceptualized the pivotal position of Individuality, but has followed it up with the delineation of a schemata for the development of the Individual in close accordance with the reality postulated. This mapping of a course of development, in the form of a discipline (anubandha and anusasna), is a unique feature, which, sustained by a system of education, presents a formidable way of thought and action evidenced in Indian Philosophy.

According to Indian Thought System, the process of development of the Individual has to take cognizance of its realistic ontology and rationalistic epistemology, the former defining the ‘end’ and latter the ‘means’. This leaves us with a formidable task of identifying the postulates that characterize the Individual and his or her development in more familiar idioms and usages and charting a process of accomplishment and practical discipline, geared to culminate in the final liberation of human spirit from its entanglement with the world that binds man to the chariot wheels of phenomenal existence.

This paper is an attempt to visualize that the Individual is a complex construct, which can truly be understood by the instrumentalities of self, and consciousness as figured in the Indian Thought System. Modern psychology is trying to understand the concept of well-being on the basis of corporal and social entities overlooking entirely the metaphysical entities which can truly reveal the content, intent, nature and structure of the Individuality. The paper also suggests some practical measures regarding the development of the Individual, which can be pragmatically practiced in the field of Indian Psychology and Education.

Email the author, Dr. Arbind Kumar Jha, at