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Developing Emotional Intelligence

Following Indian Scriptures

Abhiruchi Singh
Vipra Kapoor

The current paper presents the concept of emotional intelligence, its usefulness and reference in
ancient Indian literature. The paper also attempts to highlight the various methodologies for
strengthening emotional intelligence. It also explains how the teachings of Bhagwad Geeta and Yoga
practices can be effective in developing emotional intelligence.
Keywords : Emotional Intelligence, Yoga, Bhagwad Geeta

Most Indian scriptures viz. Vedas, Mahabharata,

Bhagwad Geeta and Upanishads are highly
inspirational and philosophical as they teach a way of
life from the spiritualistic aspects rather than the
materialistic aspects. The teaching of these scriptures
provides us with a piece of mind resulting in the
contentment and betterment of the quality of life.
Although happiness and piece of mind can not be
achieved without any control over our senses, the five
senses viz. sight, smell, hearing, taste and touch helps
us to perceive the outside world. What all we do and
see is due to these senses.
When our senses are let to control us the ability to
judge situation is lost and we fail to manage resulting
in the loss of vision and the empowerment of senses
These senses become our enemies when they start
controlling our lives. Everyday we hear about the
heinous crimes committed by people. The story of a
brother killing his own brother and son killing parents
are not new to us. The increasing statistics of child


sexual abuse, adult and organizational cruelty,

domestic violence, rape, torture, drug abuse,
alcoholism, and other abuse of humans by monstrous
humans' etc. is an indicator of impending human
emotional catastrophe, the mental sufferings and
emotional hurt is slowly becoming common and bit by
bit freezing our conscious.
Many of these crimes are committed in a fit of rage or
anger. The culprit complains later loosing sense of
control. Thus control of senses is essential to lead a
quality life.
The examination of the internal psychological states
and processes i.e. "Chitta Vritti" is considered as one of
the central themes in Indian wisdom literature
predominantly practiced to control our senses though
Yoga. Yoga is a Sanskrit word meaning to join or to
unite. However, unlike the western psychology, this
enquiry is not merely a scientific investigation into the
general nature of human emotions and behavior as
they are, or as they can be observed. The Indian
thought seeks to understand and analyze natural
inclinations, desires, passions etc. so as to consciously
control them .The object of this control is to uplift and
refine human personality by overcoming and
eliminating negative emotions and disvalues like
trishna ,raga, dwesh, and by replacing them with
positive emotions and values like love and compassion.

BVIMR Management Edge, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2012) PP 42-45

It is a process of Chitta-Shuddhi i.e. psychological

purification of the self.
Indian thought is all about controlling emotions (i.e.
mind) as Patanjali clearly states in Yoga-sutra, Yogash
chitta vritti nirodhah Yoga is the control of the
modifications of the mind.
Daniel Goleman (1995) in a book entitled Emotional
Intelligence says that it is the lack of application of
intelligence to emotions that makes one lonely,
depressed, angry, unruly, prone to worry, impulsive
and aggressive, he called this ability as Emotional
intelligence. The term Emotional Intelligence was
coined by Salovey & Mayer in 1990.
Denial Goleman describes EI as "abilities such as being
able to motivate oneself and persist in the face of
frustrations; to control impulse and delay
gratification; to regulate one's moods and keep distress
from swamping the ability to think; to empathize and
to hope." Therefore EI is an ability to examine ones
thought and soul.
Looking into the ancient past, we find that the Indian
society is predominantly a Hindu society which has
thrived on ancient literature and a religion which has
taught us ways and means to live, sustain and develop.
The Hinduism advocates that A man should first
seek spiritual wisdom and thereafter pursue material
ambitions. He/she will then never lose his/her peace
of mind. For example, when the sea of one's mind is
agitated by the waves of emotions, it cannot reflect
calmness. One needs to have perfect emotional selfcontrol or emotional self-mastery to attain self
realization. Emotional self-control implies both
control of the body and control of the mind. We need
to keep all the senses generating emotions under our
control. This means one must lead an emotionally
intelligent life.

Enhancing Emotional Intelligence with Yoga

Back in the 4th century BC, the physician turned sage,
Patanjali, had given short sentences or sutras,
explaining the working of the mind and the ways to
tame and train it, widely known as Yoga- Sutra. The
human mind is full of emotions and thoughts; they
could be negative or positive ones. It offers freedom
from negative thoughts surrounding the human mind.
Yoga helps the human mind to concentrate at one
point so that one can get rid of the variety of negative
thoughts blocking the human mind as stated yogah
samadhih means yoga is concentration.

A thorough exposition of soul is contained in YogaSutra. According to Patanjali the chitta i.e. the mind, is
made-up of three components Manas, Buddhi,
Manas receive sensations and impressions gathered by
sense organs from the out-side world .it recognize
them and convert them into understandable patterns
Buddhi is the discriminating faculty, which classifies
these impressions. It also associates meaning and
values with these perceptions and then reacts to them
in the light of past experiences.
Ahamkara is the ego-sense, which claims the
knowledge for itself. If the thought-wave is pleasant
the ego-sense feels I am happy otherwise it is unhappy.
However this ego based I is not the true self. The true I
is the soul or the Atman. According to Indian
scriptures our senses are like wild horses, the body its
chariot and the mind its reins. Intellect is the driver.
The Atman is the Lord of the chariot. If the senses are
not kept under proper control, they will throw this
chariot into a deep abyss. The one who keeps the reins
firm and drives this chariot intelligently by controlling
the horses (senses) will reach the destination (Moksha
or the Abode of Eternal Bliss) safely. The cause of all
our pains and miseries is the false identification of the
ego-sense with the real self Atman (Kathoupnishada).
Take the case of Lord Krishna of Mahabharata, despite
being a king he very humbly took the role of a
messenger to advocate the message of the peace to
Kauravas. He was labelled as a magician, a flirt, a cow
herd and what not but he went out and spoke his
mind, he was ridiculed by Kauravas but he did not
loose his temper, displaying an immense sense of
control on his emotions.
On the other hand Duryodhana was not able to
understand the message of Lord Krishna because of the
Ahamkara resulting in the destruction of his evil
mighty forces. The same was the case with Ravana of
Ramayana when due to his false ego (Ahamkara) he
not only rejected the pleas of Vibhishan to make peace
with Lord Ram but also expelled him from his home
and became the reason of destruction of his entire
family, relatives and lost everything he was proud of. In
modern time Mahatma Gandhi is an excellent
example of how our thoughts and emotions need to be
stable and positive to achieve success. He was one of
those leaders who used his emotional intelligence to
influence millions of people. In fact his principle of
three monkeys is an alternative to violence, hate, and
conflict by controlling emotions, creating hope and
positive change.

BVIMR Management Edge, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2012) PP 42-45


Therefore the prime purpose of the yoga philosophy

and its practice is to break up this false identification of
ego. In his book Yoga-Sutra Patanjali distinguishes
between painful and non-painful waves of
consciousness (Yoga Sutra I, 5) painful waves are
thoughts and emotions that increase ignorance
confusion or attachment .they do not always seems
unpleasant (as in pride ,for example). Non-painful
waves are emotions which lead to greater freedom and
knowledge. The greatest obstacles to peace of mind are
painful waves of consciousness such as anger, desire
and fear (i. e. negative emotions). These can be
countered by non-painful waves such as love
generosity and courage (i.e. positive emotions). These
non-painful waves can be cultivated though the
practice of Yoga.
Hence Patanjali declares right at the beginning Yoga
is to control of thought-waves in the mind.
Patanjali (Yoga -Sutra I, 2)
The goal of yoga practice is self-realization, which will
occur when consciousness is turned within and united
with the soul, self. The word Yoga is derived from the
Sanskrit word yuj meaning to yoke, join, or union. So
yoga means union of the individual consciousness
with universal consciousness.
As yoga is the process of Self-realization. Goleman
(1998) identified the five elements as the components
of emotional intelligence: Self-awareness, Selfregulation, Motivation, Empathy, and Social Skills, to
them he called as Emotional competencies. These five
are essential components of emotional intelligence
and the competencies based on these abilities are
crucial for success in personal, social and work life.
Goleman identifies self-awareness as the most
important aspect of EI because it allows self-control
and it is the first step to be emotionally intelligence. If
these competencies are plotted in the form of a
pyramid the self awareness would be at the base of
The order of emotional
competencies from
lowest to highest (in
terms of complexity)





Fig 1 : Emotional Competencies, Goleman (1998)


When one is self-aware he can control his emotions

and can act accordingly it automatically leads to
genuine empathy means seeing the Self in others.
In fact yoga talks about the existence of three nadis or
energy channels in the subtle body of the human
being. The right channel (solar, yang energy) contains
the qualities which would commonly be identified, in
the West, with reasoning or intelligence or adaptation
to the external world. The left channel (lunar, yin
energy) contains the emotional half of our being and is
concerned with internal things. The central channel
has the quality of spiritual evolution. Therefore in
terms of the three channels (nadis) and the three
qualities that go with them (gunas), the word
emotional intelligence appears to be a combination
or balance of left and right channels, which is the
purpose of all the techniques of yoga. Yoga/
meditation, then, could be seen as a practice which
aims to develop Emotional Intelligence. As Patanjali
prescribes the practice for getting rid if turmoil
thoughts and gaining undisturbed calmness of mind
though Prayanam i. e. control of breath (Yoga- Sutra, I,
33 & 34).
It is not only Yoga practice which talks about EI other
Indian holy literature viz. Bhagwad Geeta, Vedas;
Upanishdas also preaching the same.

Emotional Intelligence some Insights from

Bhagwad Geeta
The concept of emotional intelligence and its role in
success has been beautifully explained by Bhagwad
There are three gates leading to this hell-lust, anger
and greed. every sane person should give these up, for
they lead to the degradation of the soul.
(Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 16, Verse-21)
Preaching of Bhagwad Gita is, emotions that lead to
depression, uncontrolled anger, jealousy, wrong path
etc. need to be controlled. In contrast, the emotions
which lead to harmony, self esteem etc. need to be
encouraged. Emotional competency to learn is selfrealization. It further means emotional maturity,
which constitutes evaluating emotions of oneself,
identify and express feelings and balancing state of
heart and mind. This is a state where an individual
recognizes his inner self and responds accordingly. As
stated in Bhagwad Gita, meditation is the tool to
achieve self-realization. In a secluded place establish a
posture with a straight back. Concentrate between the
eyebrows or on the tip of the nose. Fix the mind on the

BVIMR Management Edge, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2012) PP 42-45

Self (Atman). Develop one pointed concentration

called 'Dhyana' and achieve Self-realization (or Union
with God) in the state called 'Samadhi'. Observing
moderation in everything; with strict celibacy; one
overcomes the lower self in order to gain the higher

with others, finally lead to a quality life i. e.

emotionally intelligent life.


Be Emotionally Intelligent: Follow Bhagvad

Gita found online at

Shutting out all external sense objects, keeping the

eyes and visions concentrated between two eyebrows,
suspending the inward and outward breaths within
the nostrils, and thus controlling the mind, sense and
intelligence, the transcendentalist aiming at
liberation becomes free from desire, fear and anger.
One who always in this state is certainly librated.
(Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 5, Verse-27 & 28)


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Emotional Intelligence Meets Standards


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There are numerous other teachsings Bhagwad Gita

has given which ranges from being emotionally mature
to being emotionally sensitive. The Bhagwad Gita
epitomizes the mental conflicts and dilemmas of a
man of action - the great warrior King Arjuna - and
their resolutions with the aid of his Divine Teacher Lord Krishna - in the midst of the battlefield of
Kurukshetra leading to affirmative action.
Metaphorically, the Bhagwad Gita is a dialogue
between Arjuna (the ego) and the Krishna (the
self ).Bhagwad Gita stresses the paths of knowledge,
action, devotion and meditation while discouraging
the path of emotions. This may not be interpreted as
emotions being given low priority or being ignored in
Bhagwad Gita. The correct interpretation would be
that emotions, many a times are so forceful and blind
that they take over human cognition and noncognition.
For him who has controlled the mind, the mind is
the best of friend, but for one who has failed to do so,
his mind will remain the greatest enemy.
(Bhagwad Gita, Chapter 6, Verse-6)
The mantra of Bhagwad Geeta is to control mind to
achieve high quality of life blessed with happiness and
not pleasure. Happiness has an intimate connectivity
to piece of mind. To attain happiness, one has to know
oneself (know thyself ) and practice those virtues of life
which bring stability.
Thus all Indian scriptures teach the individual to
regulate emotions in an appropriate way and measure,
Bhagwad Geeta and Yoga are just two examples from
the ocean of Indian wisdom literature. This may be
referred to as emotional sensitivity, which helps a
person to maintain harmony, rapport and comfort


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BVIMR Management Edge, Vol. 5, No. 1 (2012) PP 42-45


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