Sponsored By: Infinity Foundation

National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology

National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology
Pondicherry 29 September – 1 October 2002


Academic Psychology in India is based almost exclusively on the European tradition. The reductionist and physicalist foundation of modem, as yet largely Western science, is, however, not adequate to deal with the complexity and multidimensional nature of the human psyche. It stresses the most outward and mechanical parts of human nature and neglects our higher faculties, our more subtle and intimate experiences, the meaning and in a way the very essence of human existence. There are post-modern approaches to psychology that are more open in this respect, but they don’t offer as yet a comprehensive framework for the whole of psychology.

The Indian tradition, on the other hand, with its emphasis on integrality and on consciousness as the primary reality, can provide a coherent and appropriate foundation for a truly integral psychology. Its wealth of inner disciplines offers, moreover, not only invaluable tools for psychotherapy education, management and social work, but also opens the possibility of developing rigorous methods to arrive at valid, detailed and reliable knowledge of subjective reality.

We hope that this conference will become turning point in the development of a new approach to psychology, which will carry in itself the very best of what modern psychology and the Indian tradition have to offer. It seems the right time for a breakthrough, for the world is in desperate need of a more integral, more spiritually focussed psychology and it is India that can provide the lead in its development.

Objectives of the conference

  • Exposition of existing approaches to Indian psychology
  • Exploring important areas and issues that can make Indian psychology a living force for the future
  • Development of practical applications of Yoga and Indian approaches to psychology
  • Developing research methodologies for Yoga and Indian approaches to Psychology
  • Identifying support structures that will enable a successful introduction of Indian approaches to psychology at Indian universities and colleges.

The structure of the conference

To achieve the objectives described above, there will be plenary, concurrent and, in case of sufficient interest, poster sessions. Each of these sessions will be devoted to one of the main objectives, The plenary sessions will have invited speakers only. The concurrent and poster sessions will work out the different issues in further detail. The highlights of the concurrent and poster sessions will be reported to all the participants during the last plenary session, after which there will be occasion to discuss concrete plans and projects for the follow-up of the conference.

Topics of the concurrent sessions

  • Schools of Indian psychology that are relevant today
  • Present applications and practice of Indian psychology
  • Indian concepts of personality and higher levels of mind
  • Yoga and Indian approaches to psychology as a means to effect change and transformation
  • Research in Indian psychology, development of new methodologies
  • The syllabus of Indian psychology, not as a relic of the past but as a force for the future
  • Appropriate methods for teaching Indian psychology Proposals for additional topics are welcome.

Submission of papers

Participants are requested to submit papers on any of the listed topics. To ensure consistent high quality of all the presentations, participants will be requested to submit either the full text or a detailed outline of their proposed paper well in advance and not later than August 1. The outlines and papers will be screened on their quality and relevance to the theme of the conference. The speakers thus selected will be notified before September 1. At the same time their write-ups will be made available on a website so as to enable all the participants of the conference to inform themselves beforehand about the issues of their interest.

Depending on the availability of funds, authors of selected papers may get refund of TA/DA as per Government rules.

Organisational support

This conference is organised by the Pondicherry Psychology Association in collaboration with the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology National Academy of Psychology Consciousness Research Group, Sri Aurobindo Ashram.

Advisory Committee

Prof. K. Ramakrishna Rao
Prof. Anand Paranjpe
Prof. K.V. Kaliappan
Prof. G.P. Thakur
Prof. George V. Mathew
Prof. Janak Pandey
Prof. Girishwar Misra
Prof. P. V. Krishna Rao
Dr. Aster Patel

Organising Committee

Dr. Matthijs Cornelissen (Chairman) Email: matthijs@vsnl.com
Prof. B. Mukhopadhyay (Vice-Chairman)
Dr. Panch. Ramalingam (Organising Secretary)
V. Kishore Kumar (Joint Secretary)
Dr. S. Ganapathy (Treasurer)

Address for correspondence

Dr. Panch. Ramalingam
Pondicherry Psychology Association
No. 17, 14th Street,
Krishna Nagar
Pondicherry 605 008
Phone: 0413 252476 (R)
Email: panchramalingam@hotmail.com


Pondicherry is the place where for forty years Sri Aurobindo did his tapasya. In one of his own observations about this period he says, “I am concerned with the earth, not with worlds beyond for their own sake; it is a terrestrial realisation that I seek and not a flight to distant summits.”

The ashram where Sri Aurobindo and his spiritual companion, the Mother, lived and worked for the transformation of our collective consciousnesness, still carries a strong spiritual atmosphere. Sri Aurobindo called Yoga, “nothing but practical psychology” and it cannot be by chance that Pondicherry was chosen as the place for this conference. May we all draw inspiration from the special surrounding in which the National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology is held.

Pondicherry is situated on the Coromandal Coast about 160 kms from Chennai. Every hour there are buses from Chennai to Pondicherry; the trip takes 3-4 hours. The venue for the conference is the Conference Hall of the Pondicherry State Co-operative Union, 62 Suffren Street, Pondicherry 605001.

The Ashram Guest house in which rooms for the delegates have been reserved is situated just opposite this building. Smoking and drinking are not allowed in this guesthouse. The rooms will have single, double and triple occupancy. You can also make your own arrangement in one of the many hotels in Pondicherry, eg: Surguru, tel (413) 339022 or Jayaram, tel (413) 227191. (Please indicate on the registration form whether you want to make use of the Ashram guesthouse or not.)


A special website will be opened for this conference with additional information and programme updates on http://www.saccs.org.in/. Selected abstracts and full papers will be made available on this site from September 1 onwards.

General Information

Conference: September 29, 30 and October 1, 2002
Last date for submission of papers: August 1.
Last date for registration: September 1.

Pondicherry will be mild at this time of the year, but it may rain. So please bring an umbrella!

Field Trip:
A field trip has been planned for October 2 to Mahaballipuram (Mamallapuram) and from there on to Chennai Central Railway Station. Mamallapuram was from the 6th to the 8th century the sea port of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. The rock carvings, raths and temples, among which is a well preserved shore temple, have a wealth of beautiful sculptures. The bus will leave Pondicherry in the morning and reach Chennai around 2 pm so that you can conveniently board your train. (Cost Rs.100)

Depending on the availability of funds we shall try to reimburse your TA /DA on a priority basis.

Pondicherry Manifesto of Indian Psychology

We the delegates numbering 160, who participated in the National Conference on Yoga and Indian Approaches to Psychology held in Pondicherry from September 29 through October 1, 2002, issue the following declaration and agree on the manifesto given below for strengthening psychological study, research and practice in India.

We believe that the state of psychology in India is none too flattering. In fact, we find psychology in India unable to play its necessary role in our national development. It is widely believed that this unfortunate state of affairs is largely due to the fact that psychology in India is essentially a Western transplant, unable to connect with the Indian ethos and concurrent community conditions. Therefore, it has been said repeatedly that psychological studies in India are by and large imitative and replicative of Western studies, lacking in originality and unable to cover or break any new ground.

This situation is in a significant sense surprising because classical Indian thought is rich in psychological content. Our culture has given rise to a variety of practices that have relevance all the way from stress-reduction to self-realization. Rich in content, sophisticated in its methods and valuable in its applied aspects, Indian psychology is pregnant with possibilities for the birth of new models in psychology that would have relevance not only to India but also to psychology in general. What we have in India now is a psychology of sorts, but not Indian psychology. By Indian psychology we mean a distinct psychological tradition that is rooted in Indian ethos and thought, including the variety of psychological practices that exist in the country. We believe that introduction of Indian psychology as a course of study and as a basis for fundamental and applied research could awaken psychology in India from its present state of slumber to an active and enlightened pursuit for understanding human nature and for promoting our wellness and potential.

We believe also that the Indian models of psychology would have enormous implications for health psychology, education, organizational management and human and social development. Emphasis on Indian psychology would provide a comprehensive foundation and a refreshing new and indigenous orientation to all other branches of psychology.

Judicious introduction of Indian psychology at various levels in our universities and colleges would help (a) to promote indigenous psychology in India and (b) to develop new psychological models, which may have pan-human relevance. We therefore, make the following recommendations as necessary steps for responsibly promoting psychology in India. We urge all those interested in advancing psychological thought and practices in India to please keep them in focus, while determining their priorities of assistance.

1. Indian universities and colleges may be encouraged to offer courses in Indian psychology at various levels.

2. Priority support may be provided for research topics based on Indian psychological principles.

3. Special assistance may be given for preparing resource material to teach Indian psychology such as writing and publishing appropriate textbooks.

4. Special fellowships may be offered to students pursuing doctoral studies in Indian psychology.

5. Academic staff colleges in universities may be encouraged to offer refresher courses in Indian psychology.

6. A series of seminars may be conducted to discuss in depth methodological and conceptual issues and psychological models derived from classical Indian thought, including their more recent developments in the writings of such thinkers as Sri Aurobindo.

7. It is suggested that a website for Indian psychology may be created and the members who participated in the Conference and others who are interested in Indian psychology may use the site for exchanging information and views.

8. A committee consisting of Professor K. Ramakrishna Rao (chairman), Professor Janak Pandey, Dr. Matthijs Cornelissen, and Professor Girishwar Misra (convenor) be constituted to look into the logistics of introducing Indian psychology in Indian universities and colleges and to contact national organizations such as the ICSSR, the ICPR and the UGC, for supporting Indian psychology. The committee may take up follow-up action to ensure the implementation of the above recommendations and to arrange for convening annual conferences to review the progress of work in Indian psychology. The committee is authorized to co-opt a fifth member.