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

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007


 Experiencing our true and transcendental self: what recent developments in qualitative research has to offer to researchers and participants

Kumar Ravi Priya — Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur


Participatory Inquiry Paradigm has brought back to social scientists’ attention the issue of ethical commitment in human inquiry. Before conducting any human inquiry, this paradigm asks questions about whether the process of research would provide people an insight about their true and transcendental nature and about how they relate to nature, and cosmos. In summary, this paradigm has re-emphasized the role of reflexivity in understanding human relationship that facilitates the understanding of our true and transcendental nature. In this paper, I attempt to highlight this promise of qualitative research, using my own research experiences of a qualitative research, conducted to study the experiences of suffering and healing among the survivors of an earthquake that occurred in India in 2001, describing how reflexivity about my belief in existentialism paved the way for an authentic human relationship with the research participants. It helped me provide authentic experiential space to participants to gradually share and have a sense of continuity of self and moral status. I could learn from the participants how crisis and loss can be understood as a pathway to realize the transcendental nature of our selves that can provide a new humane meaning to our lives. Their experience of shanti (peace of mind or equanimity) through carrying out their karma (internalized duty towards self, family, community and nature) inspired me to expand my boundary of ‘I’ to feel ‘oneness’ with all forms of nature or existence.

Email the author, Dr. Kumar Ravi Priya, at