Psychology: Nurturing the Whole Being: An Indian Perspective

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Wholistic Personality: An Indian View

The term personality generally refers to the kind of person an individual is. It comes from the Latin word ‘persona’ a mask worn in Greek and Roman theaters by actors to enable each actor to play several roles. It also means that the external appearance of a person comprising the characteristics that are accessible to other persons. The Indian thinkers visualized human existence in terms of an integrated structure having spiritual as well as material aspects. In Upanishads the self, the atman or the consciousness is considered as the real core of personality. Consciousness is the eternal and immutable aspect of existence. Thus, personality cannot be taken as physical appearance (body) only. It extends to the different levels of existence incorporating the physical, social and spiritual levels. Bhagvat Gita provides comprehensive models of highly developed human potential. It emphasizes Tri Guna view whereas Upanishads laid down Panch kosha theory.

Theory of Trigunas

This theory proposes that entire existence in nature is made up of combination of three Gunas namely Sattwa, Rajas and Tamas. Sattwa represents light, Rajas represents dynamism and Tamas represents lethargy or inertia.

Theory of Trigunas

Theory of Trigunas

  • Sattwik: This kind of person functions moderately in eating, sleeping and performing various activities. He or she meditates regularly and does all his or her work as worship of the Lord.

  • Rajasik: This type of person is very active, dynamic and addicted to work. If he or she does not have work to do, he or she will feel restless. This kind of a person likes to eat spicy food. He or she is fond of entertainment, sitting at one place and observing silence is difficult for him or her. Such persons are often found in the business world.

  • Tamasik: This type of person does not like to work. He or she gets up late in the morning. They are failures in their lives. Nobody likes them because they are dirty, idle and lethargic. People usually keep themselves away from such persons. Human beings too are mixtures or combinations of these three qualities. Geeta describes how different people under the influence of different Gunas behave in diverse ways.

Theory of Panch Koshas

Taittiriya Upanishad gives the concept of Panch Koshas and their development. It says that starting from Annamaya Kosha and reaching the Anandamaya Kosh, our existence has 5 layers or sheaths called Koshas. The gross body that we see is Annamaya Kosha. The subtler body made of pranic energy is called as Pranayama Kosha or vital sheath. The third kosha is Manomaya Kosha or mental sheath comprised of one’s feelings and emotions. The fourth one is Vijnanamaya Kosha. It is comprised of imagination, memory, knowledge, insight and understanding. The fifth is Anandamaya Kosha or sheath of bliss. Its characteristics are creativity, joy and bliss.

Development of Koshas

Personality development moves from annamaya kosha to the pure consciousness gradually removing all the five covers that mask it. Regular eating habits, right kind of food, all types of exercises and games, jogging, running, walking and Asanas facilitate the development of Annamaya Kosha. Pranayam and breathing exercises improve the quality of Pranamaya Kosha. For the development of Manomaya Kosha study of good literature including poems, novels, essays and articles is useful. All the activities that challenge one’s intellect develop Vijnanamaya Kosha. These activities include debates, problem-solving, study-techniques, small research projects, evaluation and appreciation of books and interviewing eminent persons. All these activities make you go beyond your tiny self and give you an opportunity to identity with your fellow beings-your community members, your country and the whole world. This facilitates the development of Anandamaya Kosha.

Sri Aurobindo on Levels of Consciousness

Sri Aurobindo says that two systems are simultaneously active in the organization of the being and its parts: a concentric system and a vertical system.

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