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

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007



Manas in Yajur Veda, Bhagavad-Gita, and contemporary culture: beyond the etic-emic research paradigm

Dharm P. S. Bhawuk — University of Hawaii, Honolulu


In this paper, the concept of manas as presented in various Indian texts as well as the contemporary Indian culture is examined to show the value of studying indigenous cultural constructs and the insight provided by them in understanding human psychology. Since the study of Vedas would require many life time, to get a glimpse of the Vedic concept of manas some verses from the Yajur Veda are examined. Since these verses constitute a part of the Rudra Ashtadhyayi, which is chanted daily in many parts of India and Nepal, it was considered particularly important as it has relevance for people in their lives even today. Similarly, the concept of manas is examined in the Bhagavad-Gita. The Bhagavad-Gita is a part of the Mahabharata, and therefore is a later document compared to the Vedas. But it is also considered a summary of all the Indian scriptures. Therefore, comparing the concept of manas in these two texts leads to interesting findings about the philosophical roots of this concept. Following this analysis, the use of manas in various Indian vernacular languages and popular film songs is examined. This allows further examination of manas not only as a philosophical but also as a psychological construct. Building on these analyses, the value of studying manas as a psychological construct is discussed. The paper ends with a discussion of the etic-emic research paradigm of cross-cultural psychology and how there is a need to move away from it to enrich global psychology with indigenous constructs and insights that can further our understanding of human psychology.

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