Yoga, Psychology and the Indian Genius

In order to instill a proper and well-rounded pride on the Indian mind, it is once more important to restore the truth about Indian history, especially about Indian society’s glorious achievements…. In abstract sciences like linguistics, logic, mathematics, Indian Culture has been the chief pioneer. In Psychology it is still unsurpassed though it is not yet fully recognised in the West.

Koenard Elst
Belgian scholar and historian

August 15 is India’s Independence Day and the August issue of FDI is always reserved for contemplating on the unique spirit and genius of India.

India is well known as the land of religion and philosophy. The spiritual masters of modern India like Sri Aurobindo and Swami Vivekananda have repeatedly emphasised that spirituality is the essence of Indian genius. But this word “spirituality” is used – or rather abused – indiscriminately to denote anything and everything which is beyond or even below the ordinary or average mentality from the highest mysticism, moralism and religiosity to dubious forms of psychism of all kinds. So for a better understanding of the Indian genius, we need a clear and precise perception of the meaning of spirituality.

It is undoubtedly true that spirituality is the essence of Indian genius. But what is the living core of Indian spirituality? It is Yoga. But what is Yoga? The standard definition of Yoga is union with the Divine or to use the vedantic terminology, union with our own highest universal Self. But this is rather the aim of Yoga. What is the process by which this aim of Yoga is realised? If we can answer this question with a scientific exactness we may possibly arrive at a more precise and clear perception of the Indian genius than the one conveyed by a rather vague and much misunderstood word like “spirituality”.

Here comes the importance of Sri Aurobindo’s unique contribution to the understanding of the science of Yoga. “Yoga” says Sri Aurobindo “is nothing but practical psychology”. But practical for what? For the psychological and spiritual evolution of the individual. Yoga is the scientific and systematic psychological process or discipline by which the psychological and spiritual evolution of the individual can be accelerated. According to Sri Aurobindo, entire life is yoga of Nature. There is a slow evolutionary process of Nature, which works in the mass of humanity through the normal experiences of life, mental education, thought, culture and other methods. Yoga speeds up this ordinary process of Nature in the individual through an intensive concentration of her psychological energies. This is the process of Yoga and the discovery of this psychological process of yoga is the essence of the Indian spiritual genius. In other words we may say applied spiritual psychology is the scientific and pragmatic core of Indian Genius.

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