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Indian J. Psychial.

(1980), 22 19—31

D. L. Murti Rao Oration :—

A. V E N K O B A RAO 2 , M . D . , Ph.D., D . S c , D.P.M., F.A.M.S.,
F.R.C.P. Psych., F.A.P.A., M R A N Z C P .

India is an ancient and a great cultural, Health and the Indian Psychiatric Society.
spiritual and an anthropological labora- That amongst his students are the Directors
tory. She has been the nursery of saints of the Institutes, Superintendents of Mental
and sages, scientists and founders of world's Hospitals, Professors in the Medical Colleges
major religions and promulgators of pro- and the Universities, who have contributed
found philosophy. Nevertheless, to be satis- to the advancement of research, teaching
fied with the glory of the past is to turn into and organising services in psychiatry in the
a fossil ; but to interpret the old from a country is a great tribute to the art and
new point of view is to revitalise the past science of his teaching, as well as to his
and bring in a current of fresh air into the character.
monotonous present. I have chosen to
speak on "Gita and the Mental Sciences"
this day as my humble offering and tribute Rabindranath Tagore once said, " I love
to the memory of my late teacher, Dr. D. India not because I have cultivated an
L. N. Murti Rao. To Dr. Murti Rao formal idolatry for geography, not because I have
religion and academic spirituality meant been born in its soil but it has saved through
little However, he was a great yaganik the ravages of time the words of its illumined
in search of truth in the true spirit of Gita. conscious ones". Vyasa as a Colossus and
The wards in the hospital, the lecture halls, Gita as his mighty creation stand out pre-
and various academic meetings with the eminently in India's sculptural history.
students were the Tagnyasalas for him and he Together with Upanishads and Brahmasutra,
practised the "Vtdyadhan"—propagation and Gita forms the "prasthana trayi" (scriptural
transmission of knowledge, generously and trinity).
freely. He used to call himself, at times Warren Hastings, the first Governor-
a Cromwell although this was only his General of British India in his preface to the
exterior. Cromwellian indeed he was in first English translation of Gita by Charles
inculcating discipline but within this ex- Wilkins (1785) two hundred years ago
terior was a man who was considerate, prophetically remarked : "The writers of
kind, understanding affable and easy of Indian philosophies will survive when the
access to all. Combining in himself the British Dominion in India shall long have
passion of a scientist and compassion of a ceased to exist and when the sources which
saint, he wore his learning lightly. As it yielded of wealth and power are lost to
though to prove the saying that those remembrance". Called 'The song celestial'
whom the Gods love die young, Murti by Sir Edwin Arnold, this Vyasa's 'quin-
Rao died too prematurely to deny himself tessence of scripture' has interested and
the vision of the blossoming forth of the influenced men and women down the
two institutions that he fondly nurtured, centuries. To name a few : Emerson and
namely, the All-India Institute of Mental Walt Whitman, Carlyle and Thoreu, Max
Dr. D . L. N. Murti Rao oration for 1980 delivered during the 32nd Annual Conference of the Indian Psy-
c i h t r i c Society, Bangalore, 9th December, 1979.
' Professor and Head, Institute of Psychiatry, M a d u r a i Medical College and Govt. Rajaji Hospital, M a d u r a i

Muller a n d Aldous Huxley, Tilak and one strives for perfection, a n d of those w h o
Gandhi, Vivekahanda and Aurobindo, strive a n d succeed, scarcely one knows M e
Tagore a n d R a d h a k r i s h n a n and several in t r u t h . "
others high and low. T h e great Acharyas T h e p a t h of realisation of the Absolute
—Sankara, R a m a n u j a and M a d h v a , Nim- has been described in Upanishads as t h a t of
barka, Vallabha saw in Gita an echo of walking on t h e razor's edge.
their own philosophical thoughts, namely, Taking these verses of ha as the m a i n
Advaita, Vishishtadvaita, D v a i t a , Dviat- strands, G i t a weaves t h e m into an ela-
advaita, S u d d h a d v a i t a and incorporated the b o r a t e a n d a beautiful web of a masterly
Gita concepts into their philosophical frame work. Borrowings are also seen from
work. I n this respect Gita is like a K a t h o p a n i s h a d , and the philosophical sys-
Rorschach inkblot. T o Aldous Huxley tems of K a p i l a ' s Sankhya a n d Yoga.
the Gita "is one of the clearest a n d most T h e eighteen chapters with their seven
comprehensive summaries of the perennial h u n d r e d a n d odd verses form a n inset in
philosophy ever to have been m a d e . Hence, t h e Bhishma parva of Mahabharata. Its com-
its e n d u r i n g value, not only for the Indians position has been speculated by some to be
but for all m a n k i n d " . Among o a r Psy- in the fourteenth century and by others
chiatric fraternity, the names of Govinda- a r o u n d fifth century before the Christian
swamy, Vidyasagar, Satyanand a n d Surya e r a . T h e consensus appears to be t h a t
stand o u t as the ones considerably in- Gita's d a t e is interpolated between the
fluenced by Gita. e n d of the U p a n i s h a d i c period a n d the ela-
Theistic in n a t u r e , psychological in boration of Saddharshanas—-(the six systems
import, simple in its teaching, universal in of Indian philosophy—Sankhya and Yoga,
its message, practical though difficult in N y a y a a n d Vaiseshika, M i m a m s a and
application, spiritual in its content a n d V e d a n t a ) i.e., a r o u n d the 3rd a n d 4th
temperament and philosophical in its infra century B.C.
a n d suprastructural levels, Gita upholds W h e t h e r Gita is a historical work or
the thesis on the ethics of desireless a n d merely an impressive allegory has b e e n
incessant action. Gila's theism a n d the labouring the minds of m a n y a serious
call for action are expressed in t h e opening student. Sri Aurobindo advocates t h a t the
verses of one of the earliest of Upanishads, work should b e considered as a real h u m a n
Isavasyopanishad : eventful d r a m a , Gandhiji, on the other
"Isavasyam idamsarvam Tatkinchajagatyamjagat h a n d discarding its historicity upholds " t h a t
Tyene tyaktena bunjitha ma gridhaha kasya- u n d e r the guise of physical warfare, it de-
svid/ianam" scribed the duel t h a t perpetually went on
Kurvanneveha karmani jijivisat satam samah in the h e a r t s of mankind, a n d the physical
Evam twai : na anyathatoshti na karma lipyata warfare was b r o u g h t in merely to make
nare the description of the internal duel more
"By A b a n d o n m e n t thou shalt enjoy". alluring". Sankaracharya speculates t h a t
"Performing verily work in this world one Lord K r i s h n a must have given a few words
should desire to live a full h u n d r e d years. of advice a n d encouragement to Arjuna on
T h e r e is no other w a y . " the eve of the battle, b u t later Vyasa ela-
T h a t the perfect state of m i n d recom- borated t h e m into w h a t has come d o w n to
mended in Gita is difficult to achieve a n d us as " G i t a " . However, w h a t should m a t t e r
has been brought out in the verse : most is not the mythology b u t the message
manusyanam sahasresu kascid yatati siddhaye a n d the spirit of G i t a r a t h e r t h a n its his-
yatatam api siddhanam kascin mam vetti tattvatah toricity. Like m a n y g r e a t philosophical
" A m o n g thousands of m e n scarcely works, G i t a is in t h e form of a dialogue

between the faltering a n d faint-hearted escalator of life a n d pause—for a n internal

and despondent warrior Arjuna a n d his dialogue with himself to explore t h e inner
charioteer Krishna, calm, collected a n d space to recover his unique h u m a n n e s s .
serene. At its fundamental level Gita high- Gita comes as an a d m i r a b l e a i d in this
lights the V e d a n t i c concepts of the N a t u r e context.
and Destiny of m a n ; the real n a t u r e of
man is divine, his destiny lies in not only GITA AND SCIENCE
knowing a n d realising this divinity b u t the Sayings of scriptures, beliefs of religions
identity of his self a n d the universal Self, a n d resonings of science cease to be a t
which implies a state of moksha or liberation cross a t their deepest depths. I t is an ill-
from the bondage from the material world. conceived notion of the misinformed to
Gita indicates the ways to realise this summum n a r r o w t h e m down as antonyms a n d m u -
bonum. tually exclusive. Each one gets t h e glimpse
Gita is an ancient document on the of T r u t h from different views. " E k a m sat.
affairs of the minds of m e n , their tempera- V i p r a b a h u d h a v a d a i i t i " " T r u t h is one.
ments, modes a n d behaviour, frailties a n d T h e wise call it by different n a m e s " (Rig
strengths, their agonies a n d ecstasies, con- V e d a ) . Sigmund F r e u d though a n atheist
flicts a n d resolutions a n d enunciates the recognised the need for a n d the usefulness
supreme a r t of counselling to anabolise of religion in the resolution of t h e con-
what William J a m e s called a "divided flicts in his patients a n d a t t r i b u t e d the
self" a n d to restructure the 'Soul's Schism' modern m a n ' s widespread m e n t a l anguish
in the words of Arnold T o y n b e e into a to his increasing inability to believe in
synthetic whole. Gita as a work on basic God. Freud expressed t h a t religion could
h u m a n dynamic psychology is par excellence assuage guilt feelings, especially of aggres-
a n d a masterpiece of psychotherapy. It is sive type a n d helps one to come to terms
a recipe for a better a n d a higher life. I t with the problem of inevitable dissolution—
delineates the psychobiography of h u m a n death. W a l t e r Alvarez, Carl J u n g , t h e
nature. I n essence it unfolds the religion doctor sage of L a m b e r e n e Albert Schwitzer
of the mind. T h o u g h a book of antiquity, —all men of Science felt the need for r e -
its contents remain fresh a n d evergreen ligion a n d faith in the spirit. Albert
in import as are the ruins of Athens a n d Einstein once said " M y religion consists
its message is no less relevant today as it of a h u m b l e a d m i r a t i o n of the illimitable
was during the bygone days of M a h a b h a r a t a . superior spirit w h o reveals himself in the
Its relevance is all the more in today's slight details we are able to perceive with
world when the n e w born is treated as a n our frail a n d feeble m i n d s . . . " a n d " G o d
unwanted excess baggage, the doting a n d is subtle b u t H e is not malicious". Ambroise
the aged looked down as untouchables a n d Pare, the Surgeon of Rennaissance, whose
"useless mouths to be fed", sexual experi- figure stands a t the threshold of m o d e r n
m e n t a t i o n has come to usurp a loving surgery used to say in humility t h a t h e
h u m a n relationship, medicated meditation merely dressed the wounds b u t G o d healed
is deluding peolpe into a state of illusory t h e m ("J« la pensai, Dieu le guarist") In
Nirvana a n d when " w e a r e " in the oft Sir William Osier " t h e waters of Science
quoted phrase of M a r garet M e a d " i m m i - and the oil of F a i t h " mingled freely as they
grants to the new w o r l d " a n d in our post did in his life long mentor Sir T h o m a s
industrial society, w h e n t h e game is between Browne. " T o keep his m i n d sweet",
m a n a n d m a n , when we are witnesses to the Osier said, " t h e m o d e m scientist should be
acts of m a n ' s i n h u m a n i t y against m a n , saturated w i t h the Bible a n d P l a t o , with
m a n needs time to sand p a r t from the Shakespeare a n d M i l t o n " ,

MIND AND ITS FUNCTIONS sammohat smrtivibhramah

Perhaps for the first time in the history smrti bhramsad buddhinaso
of Indian Philosophy, different rivulets a n d buddhinasat pranasyati
streams of thought converged into a con- F r o m anger proceeds delusion ; from
fluence in Gita—Vedic ritualism, U p a - delusion, confused memory ; from con-
nishadic introspection, Sankhyan speculation fused memory t h e ruin of reason ; due to
a n d yogic meditation. the r u i n of reason he perishes.
"Yogah karmesu kausalam" (Perfection in action These lines a p p e a r as t h o u g h taken
is Toga) out from any modern text book of n e u r o -
"Samathvam yogara uchyathi" (evenness of mind psychiatry.
is Toga) Interestingly, Sankaracharya describes
T o these Gita adds a n d accords a the converse, namely, the construction of
supreme place to that master of senti- personality in his "Viveka G h u d a m a n i " .
ments, namely, devotion—Bhakti.
This triple approach, namely, action,
knowledge, a n d feeling, merging into one, T h e i n a u g u r a l interrogative verse of
which is a t r i u m p h of G i t a over the earlier Gita which incidentally is the only one
philosophical attempts, is the forerunner from D h r i t a r a s h t r a :
of the modern concept of tripartite m e n t a l dharmaksetre kuruksetre
functions, namely, cognition (jnana), conna- samaveta yuyutsavah
tion (karma) and affect ("ichha" or emo- mamakah pandavas cai'va
tionally tinged desires or bakthi). This kim akurvata samjaya
was the classification of major m e n t a l Gathered together at K u r u k s h e t r a , t h e
faculties offered to modern psychology by field of religious activities, w h a t , O Sanjaya,
the German Philosopher I m m a n u e l K a n t . did my war-inclined sons a n d those of
H o m e r had earlier d r a w n attention to Pandu do ?
these aspects of personality as "twos", is a fine and a n elegant similie t h a t epito-
"thymos" a n d "psyche". A harmonious blend- mizes the n a t u r a l state of the affairs of t h e
ing a n d a concerted action of this trinity h u m a n mind a n d the disturbing forces
of functions is a requisite for the healthy within it. T h e whole of G i t a is in reply
m i n d . Any breach between them or within to this question. T h e mind of m a n c a n
them can lead to a pathological split in the be likened to a veritable b a t t l e field :
mind. Arjuna's mind clearly indicated such " M a n a h k s h e t r a " . There is a n endless w a r
a dissociation : of forces within the mind between the
"asocyan anvasocas tvam prajnavadams ca bhasase good a n d evil, divine and d e m o n , high a n d
gatasun agatasums ca na'nusocanti panditah" low, sreyas a n d prey as, m a n a n d beast,
You grieve for those who should not between light and darkness, virtue a n d
be grieved for ; yet you spell words of vice as represented in the M a h a b h a r a t a
wisdom. T h e wise grieve neither for the war by the cousins—Pandavas and K a u -
living nor for the dead. ravas. I t symbolises w h a t Shakespeare's
Hysteria a n d schizophrenia in the Brutus calls a state of " i n s u r r e c t i o n " in
modern parlance represent the split between m i n d . T h e b a t t l e between the lower a n d
and within the mental faculties. the higher is the theme t h a t G i t a elaborates.
Gita brings out beautifully the process I t is for these types of b a t t l e , minor as well
of deterioration of personality—a dement- as major, t h a t psychotherapy is offered.
ing phenomenon in a few verses. This is This constant tussle within the mind was
the ladder of doom : called " p s y c h o m a c h i a " by the ancient
krodhad bhavati samtnohah Greeks.

Sigmund F r e u d described the mind as good a n d it is the society t h a t c o r r u p t s h i m .

comprising triple terrains of the conscious, T h e unconscious need not always be the
subconscious a n d unconscious. His dis- storehouse of evils a n d the unacceptables.
covery of the "unconscious" (hidden p a r t ) It houses the sparks of goodness as well as
has been hailed as a milestone in the history divinity. T o o often we are u n a w a r e of
of medical sciences a n d as i m p o r t a n t in its them. D i d not the poet T h o m a s G r a y
significance as t h a t of the discovery of the rhyme in his " E l e g y " :
circulation of blood by the English Physi- "Full m a n y a gem of purest ray serene
cian, William Harvey. Vast unfathomed depths of oceans bear ;
T h e 20th c e n t u r y view on the n a t u r e Full m a n y a flower is born to blush unseen
of m a n canill-afford to i g n o i e the role of And waste its sweetness in the desert a i r "
the "unconscious", n o t w i t h s t a n d i n g the n o n G i t a pursuades us to recover the gems
Freudians. I t is t h a t p a r t of the m i n d and flowers which are within us. The
which encages the animalistic a n d instinct- sublimating mechanism in F r e u d ' s system
ive qualities t h a t press for e n t r y into con- remains unconscious.
scious and acts as a springboard for motiva-
tion of behaviour. This topographical
model of mind by Freud represents t h e I t is difficult to say whether t h e t e r m
battlefield with clash of forces within t h e m . " m i n d " used in G i t a is applicable in the
" T h e discovery t h a t memories, thoughts way it is used today. Probably "mind
a n d feelings exist outside the primary con- and b h u d d h i " complex of Gita to some
sciousness is the most i m p o r t a n t step for- extent a p p r o x i m a t e the modern usage of
ward t h a t has occurred in psychology since the word. Gita treats the mind as a " t h i n g "
I have been a s t u d e n t of t h a t Science" says or an e n t i t y in the same way as C h a r a k a
William James. " W i t h i n it are held those treats it in his S a m h i t h a . T o the mind
things that lie in the fringe of the stream has been assigned the role of the sense organ
of consciousness chiefly at its lower and the in G i t a a n d it belongs to the lower order
non-communicable level". W e all c a r r y along w i t h the senses, b h u d d h i a n d t h e
the burden of the past—the b u r d e n s of the body w h i c h have their origin in t h e E a r t h ,
anatomical past, behavioural past and the Water, F i r e , Air a n d Ether.
cultural past: "Indriyanam manas ca asmi"
T h e neuro-anatomists tell us that i n (Of t h e senses I a m the m i n d )
our h u m a n brain t h e r u d i m e n t s of a n i m a l I n the hierarchy of the derivatives from
b r a i n persist. C a r l J u n g talks about t h e the lower Prakriti, m i n d occupies a place
racial unconscious indicating thereby t h a t higher t h a n the senses but lower t h a n the
we carry over the precipitate of memories intellect or b h u d d h i . T h e personality in
of our entire past within our m e n t a l realm. Gita as in the Buddhistic writings is com-
T h e instinctual urges a n d suppressed pared to a chariot d r a w n by horses. While
desires rise u p w a r d s towards the conscious the horses represent the sense organs, a n d
to be opposed by t h e d o w n w a r d forces t h a t b h u d d h i the charioteer, the reins denote
are influenced by cultural, social, environ- the m i n d . This concept has its source in
mental and personal leanings. T h e u n - "Katkopanishad'\ T h a t mind is constantly
conscious is a necessary c o m p o n e n t since blasted by the sensual desires is highlighted
everything c a n n o t b e held in t h e conscious. in Gita. Freud was not far from this view
Contrary to the V e d a n t i c a n d Gita view, of Gita. T h e t u r b u l e n t senses carry away
Freud saw h u m a n n a t u r e as basically evil the m i n d violently.
a n d the ultimate destiny lay in sublimating "Indriyani pramatnini haranti prasabham
it. Rousseu held t h a t m a n b y n a t u r e is manah".

" L i k e a b o a t tossed a b o u t on the high varteta tmai ve satruvat

seas by a gale, m i n d can be u n c o n t r o l l a b l e " . T o h i m w h o has conquered his (base)
T h e difficulty of the control of the m i n d self by t h e (divine), self, his own self is a
is brought out in the line. friend, b u t to him w h o has not subdued the
"Chanchalam hi manah krishna self, Ids o w n self acts as the foe.
pramathi balavad dfiridam" O n e ' s own m i n d has a preventive
" T h e mind is restless, turbulent, strong and a curative function. H e a l t h y habits of
a n d stubborn. I t is as difficult to control attitude, thoughts disposition and feelings
as w i n d " . can offer equilibrium. I t brings out the
G i t a advocates the a t t a i n m e n t of a fact of enormous resources t h a t a r c avail-
state of evenness of mind—("samathvam"), able w i t h i n for healing. This is the aspect
its steadiness (" sthithapragna") and peace that one is not aware of. Some of us
("shanti") comparable to the "steadiness have called this "Anjeneya c o m p l e x " which
of a l a m p that flickereth not in a windless is b r o u g h t out in psychotherapy. These
p l a c e " . ('YatUadipo nivathas tho naingte") however d o not exclude environmental in-
An unruffled state of mind is compared to fluences. Sublimiating m e n t a l mechanism,
a tortoise with its limbs d r a w n in. ("kurmo which F r e u d spoke come for within. All
angani samUarale") A steady state of m i n d , types of defence mechanisms originate from
a sustenance of its peace h a v e been the mind. M a n y of these a r e d e t r i m e n t a l a n d
quest of the philosophies of all the lands. pathogenic while some are sublimating.
Greeks called this " a t a r a x y " . G i t a terms it
"Shanti" and "Samalvam". Osier revived
it in his "Aequanimitas" At the time when Gita was composed,
the S a n k h i a n philosophy was known b u t
not yet fully developed. This school of
Troubles for the mind are mainly from philosophy was p r o m u l g a t e d by the sage
within and hence their combating also Kapila of whom the lord speaks in G i t a as
should come within. Sankara remarked t h a t a perfect sage : "Siddhanam Kapilo Munihi".
there are no devils other t h a n those in the T h e Sankhians considered the h u m a n per-
minds of man. Did not M i l t o n R h y m e : sonality as a field (kshetra) within which
T h e mind is in its own place the t h r e e forces interact a n d called it a
I t can make a heaven of hell or hell of web of gunas—"Gunajala". These triple
heaven forces are—Sattvik, Rajasik and Tamasik.
T h e United Nations preamble states The gunas, literally meaning the " t h r e a d s "
that the wars start in the minds of m a n or " s t r a n d s " comprise the basic constituent
a n d the seeds of peace should be sown in the stuff of everything : m e n , m a t t e r a n d things.
same place. These concepts a r e elegantly They represent the m o d e or quality or
brought out in Gita : character of each item of things. T h e h u m a n
uddhared atmana tmanam na personalities in various forms result from
tmanam avasadayet permutations and combinations of these
atmaiva hy atmano bandhur gunas in infinite ways. Sattvik represents
atmaiva ripur atmanah the subtle, Rajasik represents the d y n a m i c ,
L e t a m a n raise himself by his own Tamasik represents inertia. T h e Sankhian
self ; let him not debase himself. For h e writers compared the gunas to an oil lamp
is himself his friend, himself his foe. where t h e flame represents the Sattvik,
bandhur atma tmanas tasya oil the Rajasik a n d the wick the Tamasik—•
yena tmaiva tmana jitah one can divine t h a t they correspond to the
anatmanas tu satruevt Psychology, Physiology a n d Anatomy. Gita

describes different types of activity, food, uniqueness is its view of the origin of m i n d
behaviour, t e m p e r a m e n t and knowledge as form a physical basis. It is as i m p o r t a n t
belonging to the three types of gunas. T h e as the discovery that the brain is t h e seat of
mental types are thus classified into Sattvik, mind, a Hippocratic a n d Bhcla's observa-
i Rajasik and Tamasik. I n keeping with tion. Gita gives a theistic colour to the
i the Sankhian theory mind is classified as Sankhian doctrine. Besides, it combines
i belonging to the lower n a t u r e , namely, the speculative theories of Sankhya with
' derived from material prinicple, namely, practical aspects of yoga analogous to the
earth, water, fire, ether and air. O n e need synthesis of vedas a n d upanishads as men-
not enter into the philosophical aspects tioned earlier.
! of Kapila's contribution. T h e theory of T h e quest for m a n ' s mental equipoise
I gunas has enriched the understanding of a n d his physical and social well-being has
the types of h u m a n personalities, the tem- been the endeavour of the philosophies of
perament a n d behaviour. At the mental all lands—from the spiritually oriented
level, sattvik represents purity a n d clarity, Vedas and U p a n i s h a d s to the materialistic
Rajas represents agitation a n d misery a n d schools of E u r o p e a n Epicureanism a n d
Tamasik torpidity. Ethically, they represent I n d i a n Carvaca. Ataraxy, S h a n t i and
pure, alloyed and m i p u r e state respectively. Sthithaprajna, although terms from different
Gita states that those with sattvik rise u p - schools of Philosophy, have a c o m m o n
ward, Rajas stay at the earthly level and meaning indicating tranquility. Vedic
Tamasik go downward. T h e ultimate Saints, p e r h a p s the most ancient a m o n g
goal of m a n is to overcome involvement t h e class of thinkers, perceived a n order
with the gunas and to become free for pur- in N a t u r e which they called R i t a . Wor-
pose of release from bondage. T h e gunas shippers of n a t u r e , they named a m u l t i t u d e
lend their colour to the senses, to the mind, of divinities w h o presided over every aspect
to the intellect and determine their ultimate of the Universe. V a r u n a is t h e i r deity
nature. T o a t t a i n the state of " a t a r a x y " , w h o controlled the cosmic order. ' H e was
the individual has to overcome the gunas. the custodian a n d chief executor of this
Gita adds to a n d embellishes the Sankhian's eternal Law. R i t a : this was at first the
concept of gunas, accepting its theory of L a w t h a t established a n d m a i n t a i n e d starts
evolution a n d placing a theistic superior in their course ; gradually it b e c a m e also
power to control over the earlier godless the L a w of right, the cosmic a n d moral
Sankhian view of Prakriti and Purusha. r h y t h m , which everyman must follow if h e
T h e Sankhian system, propounded by Kapila would not go astray a n d get destroyed
is pre-buddhistic a n d conceived two basic ( R a d h a k r i s h n a n , 1927). I t will be a myopic
primordial principles, prakriti a homogenous vision of history if we were to c o n t e n t our-
physical m a t t e r and the p u r u s h a . A state selves with the names of Claude B e r n a r d ,
of equilibrium exists in Prakriti as long as Sigmund Freud a n d W a l t e r Gannon, while
there is a h a r m o n y of gunas. By the action discussing any aspect of homeostasis.
of Purusha a state of disequilibrium sets T h e d i a r y of m a n k i n d is not w i t h o u t
in and with it evolution starts on two p a r a - entries of w h a t the Russian writer Sorokin
llel lines—macro cosmic a n d micro cosmic. preferred to call the "Columbus c o m p l e x "
Prakriti gives place to m a h a t of macrocosm namely t h a t each new discovery is in fact a
and buddhi of microcosm which individual- rediscovery. A m e n t a l attitude t h a t a
ises into self. Later m i n d , five senses of law of constancy or order ruled t h e ani-
perception and five organs of action emerge m a t e a n d i n a n i m a t e world has come down
with five subtle, a n d gross elements. to us from the beginning of h u m a n cogni-
Sankhian philosophy is the earliest a n d its tion. Vedic seers saw a parallel between

t h e universe and man. T h e y found in man a n d Sargeant. If Socrates indulged in

a corresponding order or a condition of philosophical discussions in the m a r k e t
equilibrium t h a t they saw in N a t u r e . T o place and in t h e street corners, if I m m a n u e l
them man was a m i n i a t u r e universe while K a n t never moved out beyond 10 miles
universe was m a n writ large. T h e y found of the quite of his town, if t h e Vedic a n d
elements of dynamism and statism in both U p a n i s h a d i c seers sought t h e forest resort
N a t u r e a n d m a n . R u p a and N a m a in man for their creativity, Gita's message was
correspond to sthitham a n d yat in N a t u r e . delivered on t h e battle field, a better context
These are akin to m o p r h a e and eidon of t h a n which would not be a p p r o p r i a t e for
Plato. While the Vedic men were analysers the message of action. R u d y a r d K i p l i n g
and admirers of N a t u r e and divined gods said there are only two classes of m a n k i n d
all over, those of the Upanishads were —doctors a n d patients. K r i s h n a and Arjuna
philosophers who turned their searching are these d u a l representatives. Symbol-
eyes inwards to understand m a n ' s inner ically Krishna represents a master healer
breezes' and to w h a t Alexis Carrel called of the minds of humanity. His n a m e itself
'man the unknown'. This Upanishadic literally means a " p l o u g h e r " engaged in
doctrine was re-echosed by Alexander Pope t h e process of ploughing the minds of m e n
who expressed it as 'the proper study of a n d Arjuna symbolising t h e p a t i e n t in
mankind is m a n ' " D e h a s t h y a Sarva Vidya'. the state of anguish—"Soka Samvigna Mana-
T h e Gita brings out in the following sah". They exemplify a typical Guruchela
lines the concept on Homeostasis a t the or a doctor-patient relationship. T h e effec-
Micro cosmic a n d the Dharmic level. tive essence of therapy is b r o u g h t out in t h e
yada-yada hi dharmasya very first two verses addressed to Arjuna
glanir bhavati bharata a n d stimulating him for action.
abhyutthanam adharmasya kutas tva kasmalam idam
tada tmanam srjamy aham visame samupasthitam
Whenever there is a decline of righteous- anarya justam asvargyam
ness and rise of Unrighteousness, O Bharata akirtikaram arjuna
(Arjuna), then I send forth (create incarnate) Whence has this u n m a n l y , heaven-
Myself. barring and shameful dejection come u p o n
paritranaya sadhunam you, a t this j u n c t u r e , O Arjuna
vinasaya ca duskrtam klaibyam ma sma gamah partha
dharmasamsthapanarthaya nai tat tvayy upapadyate
sambhavami yuge-yuge. ksudram hrdaya daurbalyam
For the protection of the good, for the tyaktvo ttistha paramtapa
destruction of the wicked and for the es- Yield n o t , O P a r t h a , to feebleness.
tablishment of righteousness, I come into I t does not befit you. Cast off this petty
being from age to age. faint-heartedness. Wake u p . O vanquisher
T h e parallel between the macrocosm of foes !
and microcosm has been brought out also T h e significant word in the t h e r a p y is
in Sankhyan philosophy. " A r i s e " ("uthishta"). This arousal is from
three areas of inactivity—from ignorance
to knowledge, from a p a t h y to a positive
Instances are not wanting in history of feeling, from inertia to purposeful activity.
medicine where wars have contributed for Krishna urges Arjuna in several other ways
its advances. Mention may be m a d e of to fight, e.g., "Tasmad Yudhasya Bharata".
advances in psychiatric therapy by the in- Gita brings out the ingredients of the
troduction of ether a abreaction by Shorovon relationship so well, t h a t K r i s h n a considers

his p u p i l as a friend capable of intelligent O A c h y u t a . I a m firm ; I a m free from

interrogation a n d exercising the power of d o u b t . I shall act according to your word.
discrimination. T h e r e is on the p a r t of This transformation of a splintered
Arjuna a total sense of surrender and readi- personality into a synthetic a n d wholesome
ness to be instructed and to be told w h a t is one represents t h e essence of success of
to be done. T h i s is exemplified in t h e t h e r a p e u t i c alliance. It should not be
verse forgotten t h a t the M a s t e r did n o t force the
karpanyadosopahatasvabhavak ideas on to the p u p i l but suggested to h i m
prcchami tmm dharmasammudhacetah t h a t h e has taught h i m certain things b u t
yac chreyah syan niscitam bruhi tan me it was u p to the latter to act as he likes
sisyas teham sadhi mam tvam prapannam ("Yetha ichathi tatha kuru"). F r e u d said t h a t
M y nature is weighed d o w n with t h e in Psychotherapy the p a t i e n t should b e
t a i n t of feeble-mindedness; m y understand- made to become "his real n a t u r e a n d n o t
ing is confused as to duty. I entreat you, ourselves." It m a y b e seen t h a t the final
say definitely w h a t is good for me. I a m decision to act is taken by Arjuna while
your disciple. D o instruct m e who h a v e K r i s h n a only cleared his d o u b t s . This is
taken refuge in you. reminiscent of B u d d h a ' s famous address to
T h e Lord wears a t r a n q u i l countenance the K a l a m a s :
with a disarming smile while Arjuna is " T h i s I have said to you O K a l a m a s ,
dejected and torn between intellectual but you m a y accept it, not because it is a
doubts, ethical dilemma a n d filial b o n d a g e . report, n o t because it is a tradition, n o t
T h e Greeks spoke of "filial", that is, a because it is so said in the past, n o t because
loving friendship between t h e doctor a n d it is given from t h e scripture, n o t for the
the patient. G i t a brings out the d u a l sake of discussion, not for the sake of a
aspects of the concept of surrender, namely, p a r t i c u l a r method, not for t h e sake of
the qualities of t h e surrendering individual careful consideration, not for t h e sake of
a n d the d e m a n d s of the one to whom one forbearing with w r o n g views, n o t because
surrenders. T h e Lord after teaching m a n y it a p p e a r s to be suitable, not because your
ways ultimately urges Arjuna to come to preceptor is a recluse, b u t if you yourself
h i m abandoning everything and t h a t H e u n d e r s t a n d that this is so meritorious a n d
would lead h i m ("Sarvadkarma parityagya blameless, and w h e n accepted, is for benefit
mamekam saranam vraja"). T h e above verse and happiness, t h e n you m a y accept i t " .
(2, 7) indicates the state of the surrender- M o d e r n students of family dynamics
ing individual. T h e master a n d the p u p i l cannot fail to discern an element of d o u b l e
in Gita display this w h i c h is extremely bind p h e n o m e n o n of Bateson in Lord
necessary for a wholesome r a p p o r t . The K r i s h n a ' s advice. Arjuna p e r h a p s is left
counselling on the battle field represents with n o alternative than to fight.
a crisis intervention a n d a good single T h e immense potentiality in resources
shot therapy. T h e t h e r a p y has the effect of h u m a n mind is brought a b o u t in t h e
of converting a w i t h d r a w i n g warrior saying discourse. Considered from all these points
"jVa Tothsya" i n t o a hero cleared of d o u b t s of view Gita is a masterpiece of psycho-
declaring "Thine will be done", t h e r a p y touching u p o n everyaspect of m e n t a l
nasto mohah smrtir labdha activity.
tvatprasadan maya cyuta
sthito smi gatasamdehah
karisye vacanam tava T h e Gita lays a great emphasis upon
M y delusion is destroyed. I h a v e re- work for the sake of work alone, but n o t
gained my m e m o r y t h r o u g h Your g r a c e , with a desire for the fruits of action.

Gandhiji in his Gujarathi writings on G i t a Laying hold u p o n it H i p p o c r a t e s m a d e

called this 'Nishkamya K a r m a ' as 'Anasakti observation and Science the wasp a n d woof
yoga'. " W o r k is Yoga". of our a r t . Galen so r e a d its m e a n i n g
karmany eva dhikaras te that fifteen centuries stopped thinking and
me phalesu kadacana slept u n t i l awakened by the 'De F a b r i c a '
ma karma phala hetur bhur of Vesalius which is the very incarnation
ma te sangostv akarmani of the master word. W i t h its inspiration
Seek to perform your d u t y ; but lay Harvey gave an impulse to a larger circula-
not claim to its fruits. Be you not the p r o - tion t h a n he wont of, an impulse which we
ducer of the fruits of k a r m a ; neither shall feel today. H u n t e r sounded all its heights
you lean towards inaction. and depths and stands out in our history
Action for action's sake is the q u i n t e - as one of the great exemplars of its virtues.
ssence of the teaching of the Gita. Gita W i t h it Virchow smote the rocks and
advocates work on the basis t h a t action is the waters of progress gushed out ; in the
superoir to inaction and by one's action hands of Louis Pasteur it proved a very
example may be set for others to follow. talisman to open for us a new heaven in
Gita supports the work for " w o r l d medicine a n d a new e a r t h in s u r g e r y . . . .
solidarity' {loka Sangraha) a n d glory of god This M a s t e r Word is Work ; though a little
(kristnaya) and world's good {jagai hitqya). one it is fraught with momentous conse-
one can perform one's d u t y placed as he is quences if you can b u t write it on the tables
in his own position. of your h e a r t a n d b i n d it upon our fore-
sreyan svadharmo vigunah h e a d " . N o wonder K a r m a Yoga has been
paradharmat svanusthitat exalted in Gita. "Yoga Karmesu Kausalam",
svadharme nidhanam sreyah "Yoga is perfection in work".
paradharmo bhayavahah
One's own d h a r m a , t h o u g h imperfect, TRUCE WITH DEATH
is better than the d h a r m a of another well D e a t h in I n d i a n philosophy does not
discharged. Better d e a t h in one's own indicate a n end in itself. Life is conceived
d h a r m a ; the d h a r m a of another is full of as a series a n d d e a t h is but a n e n t r a n c e to
fear. the n e x t one in the series. T h e body is
These verses carry a deep psychosocial mortal while the soul is immortal. Life
significance and propagate the principles of and d e a t h are c o m p a r a b l e to waking and
prophylaxis of anomy which is the malaise sleeping a n d in d e a t h the m a n while sleep-
of the modern society. ing in his body wakes u p in a n o t h e r body.
I n modern times no medical m a n has This c h a n g e in the body is c o m p a r e d to the
stressed as m u c h the value of work as changing the old g a r m e n t s for the new :
William Osier. H e calls this a "master vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
w o r d " in Medicine. " T h o u g h a little one, navani grhnati naro parani
the master word looms large in m e a n i n g . . . tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
I t is the open sesame to every portal, the anyani samyati navani dehi
great equalizer in the world, the t r u e As a m a n casting off worn-out garments
philosopher's stone which transmutes all puts on new ones, so the embodied, casting
the base metals of humanity into gold. . . off worn-out bodies enters into others t h a t
T h e miracles of life are with it : T o the are new.
youth it brings hope, the middle age con- I n its long j o u r n e y towards the universal
fidence and to the aged r e p o s e . . . It is spirit, t h e time offered by one life is not
directly responsible for all the advances in adequate a n d several lives are needed a n d
medicine during the last twenty-five y e a r s . . . hence acquisition of successive physical

bodies. That passing on to another body proktavan aham avyayam

is but a phase like childhood, youth and vivasvan manave praha
old age, is indicated by the verse. manur iksvakave bravit
dehino sminyatha dehe This imperishable yoga, I declared to
i kaumaratn yauvanam jara Vivasvat ; Vivasvat taught it to Manu,
tatha dehantarapraptir Manu told it to Ikshvaku.
f dhiras tatra na muhyati evam parampara praptam
As the indweller in the body experiences imam raja rsayo viduh
childhood, youth and old age in the body, yogo nastah paramtapa
he also passes on to another body. The Thus transmitted in regular succession
I serene one is not affected thereby. the royal-sages knew it. This yoga, by
The attitudes to death vary : death long efflux of time decayed in this world,
defying, death denial and death accept- O scorcher of foes.
i ance. Considering the inevitability of death The thoughts at the moment of death
for everyone who is born and birth to all determine the type of the birth to follow.
the dead, Gita prescribes a detached involve- These types of extra sensory phenomena,
ment with life and a cheerful acceptance of though debated for long, have begun to
death. The succession of life and death is find some support in the researches of
like the succession of night and day. A physical sciences. The contribution of J.
fostering of the death acceptance view B. Rhine and Ian Stevenson need not hold
enables one to come to an active truce us up here. Though genetics do not support
with it. It can be employed to counsel the theory of transmigration and the role
the cardiac neurotics and in the areas of of the sixth Sense in communication pheno-
suicidology, intractably and terminally ill menon, the contributions from neuro-
patients. Existential philosophical views on physiology and physics have tended to
the dread of man, namely, the transience render parapsychological theories less absurd.
of one's existence, the fragility of one's A proposition has been made that a mys-
being and the immensity of the fear of dis- terious atomic particle called positron is
appearance into nothingness can find a an electron that gains a positive electrical
ready answer and relief in these Gita ideas. charge by moving backwards in time. This
has an appeal for parapsychological re-
SIXTH SENSE AND FRONTIERS OF COMMU- searchers. A putting together of the ideas
of Sir John Eccles, the Nobel Laureate
Gita carries observations of certain neurophysiologist and Adrian Dobbs has
extrasensory phenomena. Sanjaya was the offered further support. The insubstantial
first war reporter the world has known. particles called positrons have their exist-
For example, he was empowered specially ence in a universe with five dimensions
to narrate the happenings on the field of three of space and two of time. In one of
Kurukshetra to the blind king Dhrita- these temporal modes a multiplicity of
rashtra. The faculties of telepathy, tele- potential events, each a product of numerous
vision, and clairvoyance were conferred on subatomic possibilities explore a variet of
him. The theory of incarnation is involved routes of actualization. Creating of 'posi-
when Krishna tells Arjuna that the teaching tronic' wave fronts, they are perceptible
in Gita is nothing new and He had imparted to the sensitive neurons conveying the in-
the same to several others earlier at different formation of the probable disposition of
points of time. future events. Eccles has demonstrated
imam vivasvate yogam that a single neuron is sensitive to respond

to the field of influence and to transmit Dying, Tavistock Publications.

HARVEY CUSHING (1940). T h e Life of Sir William
it to several thousands of neurons. With
Osier, Vol. I a n d I I , Oxford University Press.
these recent observations research on tele- H E N R Y THOMAS AND DANA L E E THOMAS (1976).
pathy seems to have acquired a newer Living Biographies of Great Scientists, Bhara-
direction. tiya Vidya Bhavan, Bombay.
HENRY E. SIGERIST (1971. T h e Great Doctors—A
CONCLUSIONS Biographical History of Medicine, Dover Pub-
lications, Inc., New York.
It has not been my task to deal ex- HIRIYANNA, M. (1949). T h e essentials of Indian
haustively on Gita in relation to Mental Philosophy. Allan and Unwin, London.
Sciences. What little I have been able to HOWARD W. HAGGARD (1929). Devils, Drugs and
Doctors, William Heinemann (Medical Books)
understand as a student of Psychological
Ltd., London.
medicine has been brought out in a way HUXLEY, ALDOUS (1944). I n Introduction to T h e
which may reveal more of immaturity and Song of God: T h e Bhagavad Gita translated by
imperfection. As I said at the outset, Swami Prabhavananda a n d Christopher Isher-
Gita is open to interpretation in ways more wood, p. 13 a n d 22, Mentor Books reprinted
than one. There is no finality about it.
HUXLEY, JULIAN (1970). Memories, George Allen &
This talk on Murti Rao will be incomplete, Unwin Ltd.,
if I fail to mention, his attitude toward JAWAHARLAL NEHRU (1960). T h e Discovery of India,
learning, knowledge and research. These Meridian Books Ltd., London.
are ongoing phenomena and may not have JOHN C. ECCLES (1970). Facing Reality—Philoso-
phical Adventures by a Brain Scientists, Sprin-
an end. They go on as the old saying goes
"until the sun begins to grow cold, the KESWANI, N. H. (1974). (ed.) T h e Science of Medi-
stars begin to grow old and the leaves of cine and Physiological Concepts in Ancient a n d
the Book of judgement begin to fold". Medieval India, All-India Institute of Medical
Sciences, New Delhi.
KUMAR KISHORE MOHANTY (1977). Sermon Supern
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