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

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007


Indigenous views on epistemology, self and consciousness

G.N. Prakash Srivastava — Regional Institute of Education, (NCERT), Bhopal


The indigenous concepts have their roots in traditional and philosophical systems of Indian thought. The views on Indigenous Psychology is that body of psychological knowledge which is derived from thought native to India. It contains a treasure of rich analyses of psychological processes of mind-body interaction, and methodology of controlling mind and self-realization. The Vedantic tradition provides integrated and comprehensive psycho-spiritual world-view through cosmic collectivism, hierarchical order and spiritual orientation. The indigenous epistemology has critical reference to Knowledge, Knowing and Knower as Gyanam, Gaiya, Parigyata; and Apara and Para Vidya. Apara Vidya is the knowledge to understand phenomenal world, Para Vidya is the knowledge which seeks to know the truth of existence from within, in its source of reality. Avidya is the knowledge of multiplicity and Vidya is the knowledge of unity and oneness. The Indian thinkers emphasize the universal concepts and the contemplation of reality. The various Indian schools of thought have the tendency to perceive order in the experiential world and suggest the acceptance of some higher order of reality. Indian thought on learning, thinking and memory is more general in nature and mostly intuitive. Self-learning and teaching have been emphasized; repetition of mantras has a great significance. ‘Mind’ (manas) is considered as a substance and an instrument of knowledge; and it cannot be equated with self (atman). While knowledge is a quality of the self it is manifested by the mind through its contact with the objects. Mind is that part of nature which has to do with cognition and intelligence. The ‘Self’ is the Reality, the Eternal, Ever Blessed, Ever Pure and Ever Perfect. It is the Atman the Soul. The Atman or ‘Self’ is to be reached by dissolving one’s ego in the Universal Being by the practice of ‘Yoga’ and ‘Meditation’. Consciousness is seen as an eternal field of pure Being or pure existence underlying all the changing modes of phenomenal existence. Consciousness has been conceived as some power so subtle that it can concentrate itself on a single point, a pin-point or it can expand itself to the whole of the cosmos, anoraniyan mahato mahiyan.

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