Personality as discussed in the Bhagwad Gita

Usha Ram
University of Pune

The present paper attempts to look at personality from an Indian perspective as presented in the Bhagwadgita. The Bhagwadgita puts forth a type as well as trait theory of personality, the traits being determined by the type. In the description of the Trigunas: satva, rajas, tamas, we find an astoundingly detailed account of the characteristic thought patterns, sleep habits, choice of food and many other behaviours for each of the trigunas. It thus goes far beyond the body types (e.g. Kretschmer, Sheldon) and far deeper than any of the trait theories. The Bhagwadgita also describes the healthy personality: sthitaprajnya. Such a person is not just devoid of conflict, mental turbulence, not just "integrated" but over and above that, he is blissful, perfectly at peace with himself and looks at the world with equanimity and is concerned about the welfare of his fellow beings. This non-selfish aspect of the ideal personality, depicted in the Gita, has not been addressed by western psychology but is very consequential for modern man's achievement of peace in this troubled world of ours.

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This paper was presented at the
National Conference on
Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

Pondicherry, India, September 29 - October 1, 2002