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Could psychoanalysis have been Indian?
'If a man of rear caste makes love with a virgin of the highest caste, he should be given corporal or capital punishment; if he makes love with a virgin of the same caste as his own, he should pay the bride-price, if her father wishes it But if a man in his arrogance overpowers a virgin and does it to her, two of his finger should immediately be cut off and he should pay a fine of six hundred (pennies)' - The Manusmrti (Translated by Wendy Doniger), Chapter 8, 366-367

'If a virgin does it to another virgin, she should be fined two hundred (pennies), be made to pay double (the girl's) bride-price, and receive ten whips. But if a (mature) woman does it to a virgin, her head should be shaved immediately or two of her fingers should be cut off, and she should be made to ride on a donkey.' - The Manusmrti, Chapter 8 (Translated by Wendy Doniger), 369-370

The Laws of Manu is full of such references where there are too many selection rules with all kinds of punishments, limiting sex mostly to within caste groupings of their own. In the world of Manu, Brahmins have the maximum freedom and least punishments with rear castes and outcastes virtually having little or no freedom.

Nobody should believe that since lesbianism is discussed by Manu in his law book that means it was pervasive or even present during his time or before and after that. Manu in his book has considered many cerebral situations with either no probability or very low probabilities of existing in real time.

But then noted Indian psychoanalyst, Sudhir Kakar, in his recent interview given to the Times of India believes that psychoanalysis could have been Indian and Freud a tantrik guru. I don?t understand how a system which was so conservative until modern times about divisions of functionalities in society based on birth and on insisting that a man?s destiny is permanently determined by his birth could have developed psychoanalysis as a field of science when rather liberal and far more rational society, like Europe, has produced Freud in nineteenth century.

I am sure that Kakar is talking about modern times; about nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but I do not think that people suppressed for centuries and at that time living with rather decayed forms of Hinduism, later rejuvenated by Europeans, had any capacity to put forward any theory of evolution, least that about evolution of brain and personality development.

From my point of view the very ability to develop any theory of psychology anytime in Indian history; written or conjectured, rested with Brahmins of ancient times as they were free, dominant, fair and creative people. And as they did not, nobody else could in India.

Readers are cautioned to remember this point while going through this article. I know that this is totally wrong to think about Brahmins developing theories of psychology in ancient times as European did it only in nineteenth century but then there was no question of modern Indians developing it at the time of Freud or around it.

But then Kakar proposes so and he cannot be fully wrong and we will discuss a bit about it. Before that let?s have one more quote:

?Sattva, Rajas, Tamas ? light, fire, and darkness ? are the three constituents of nature. They appear to limit in finite bodies the liberty of their infinite spirit.? - The Bhagavad Gita (Translated by Juan Mascaro), Chapter 14:5

Except for very vocal enthusiastic Hindus, very few as exception would call this statement as free from the shackles of birth. The fact is that the explanation goes on and one does not need a mentor for that as Krishna himself almost literally explains later that Brahmins are endowed with light guna, Kshatriyas with fire and Vishs and fourth castes with darkness. Sure, as per the preaching of Gita there can be exception to this rule though very rarely. Moreover, if one does not have proper attributes in present then one?s future lives shall be in perish as well. A person cannot achieve proper salvation without proper attributes.

Now let?s come back to hypothesis proposed by Kakar. India in the ancient had and in very modern times has the ability to produce bright individuals in academics, many times of global standards though not too many in medieval times and this is most certainly true about Northerners. And therefore, it could have produced trace of psychology as a field of science by one of its brightest brains sometime in its written history.

But do liberals like Kakar understand that in India before the arrival of British it was the Brahmins among Hindus who had have almost monopoly in preaching, writing and teaching? There are few exceptions to this rule, but indeed very few. Moreover, an invention of what could have been loosely related with psychoanalysis would have been rejected by Brahmins as a group of any time.

Now a Brahmin as an individual is completely different from Brahmins as a caste group. Could Brahmins have ever developed psychoanalysis in ancient and in modern times though the latter time is very difficult to be productive regarding this field? But then why it is such a hot question?

For that one needs to understand the minds of Brahmins. Kakar talks about Paul Courtright?s depiction of Ganesha and about Indian sensitivity to it. Sure, what Courtright talks about Ganesha cannot be written in a popular website like this but I can still counter his argument without quoting him. Hence my arguments may appear somewhat weak.

First of all, Courtright would consider Ganesha to be historic only for quoting purpose and obviously not otherwise. The fact is that Ganesha as believed by Hindus is an ideal son of Shiva and Parvati. He was following his mother?s instructions when he stopped Shiva, who anyway knew that Ganesha was his son and whether Ganesha knew that Shiva was his father or not can be left to speculation, from entering the palace where his mother was taking bath.

The reason why he has elephant?s face and human body is because Brahmins wanted to theorize Hinduism by formalizing Shiva?s family and for that they needed Shiva?s son. Whether Skanda is before or after him is purely an afterthought.

The fact is that the son of Shiva had to be acceptable to maximum number of people in India without having any regional angle. Now, Shiva and Parvati are the most beautiful couple in Hinduism with ethereal beauty and are mostly considered Northerners though many can argue for Parvati having more universal origin. Therefore, Ganesha; their beloved and ideal son, should not have had a human face. That?s why Brahmins depicted him having elephant?s head with rather balancing, though having some Southern, features.

For that ?original? ?Ganesha?s? head was to be chopped off and Brahmins made a story about a fight between Shiva and his son. No other person could have made to chop off Ganesha?s head as he was to be a dominant auspicious Ishvara. It is as simple as this. Both trunk and laddu are auspicious from Hindus? perspectives and cannot be interpreted as having weird properties as claimed by Courtright.

Now hermeneutics cannot be so easily applied on a hybrid body, believing the body to be having all other aspects of human. I know I appear a bit shady but again I cannot quote Courtright. Ishvara is to be judged in his contexts and in this sense Brahmins appear somewhat casual, innocent and even cute. They created a beauty laced with idealism from their perspectives but then the much later developed field of psychoanalysis depicts it in a rather bad light. I think Hindus need to be more argumentative about their dharma and its originators. Let me clarify that I am not contradicting myself as I consider Ganesha to be a neurological reality for Hindu brains. From Hindu perspective Ganesha is an adi-deva.

Therefore, Brahmins were not that expert in depicting their Ishvara psychologically correctly, whenever such was required and they tried. The ancient ones never cared for others and believed that all following religions would be offshoots of the Sanatana Dharma.

Brahmins when they were powerful in the region never thought about others as it is evident in Gita and Manu?s sacred code. But contradictorily at the same time Hindus should have been the first people to believe that alternate and competing religions could be developed without they having any accurate knowledge about them.

Sure, but then according to them the truth was one and all theories would converge to the single opinion; the dharma as practiced in the dominant parts of India at the time.

Now as far as the argument that sex was universal and rather freer in ancient India is concerned this is completely incorrect. There was no time in either recorded history or pre-historic era that can be objectively conjectured that can make anyone to assert rather that easily that Hinduism was an ideology that was open for sex and promiscuity.

In many Indian texts sex is for only procreation purpose. Both Gita and Manusmrti preach asceticism and renunciation. Kakar quoting old texts to assert that Brahma had developed desire for his own daughter, Saraswati, is of no value and this just cannot be a point to psychologically analyze Brahmins and Hindus of the time.

As far as controversy over Doniger?s book is concerned the fact is that its cover-page is very provocative and suggestive. The fact is as Kakar tells in his interview that it was up to the publishers to decide on the front page. In my opinion, the cover-page depicts promiscuity of modern Indians believing them to be influenced by the doctrines of Khajuraho temples.

I tell you that the society that Khajuraho depicts about never existed in real time anywhere in India. Hindus? bodily features would not have permitted ancient among them to be that sexily crazy and promiscuous. Hindus have never been infidel anytime in their history.

Sure, what about modern Indians? They can be like the Westerners, if modern Indians do not offer any viable alternative to Anglicization and Westernization. I tell you frankly that even modern Indians? bodies are not that perfect to dream about sexual postures as depicted in Khajuraho or in other erotic texts.

Sure, if the trends continue modern Indians would reduce their lag on sexuality vis-?-vis Westerners but that would be so because they would have imported medicines, therapies, behavior, hormonal treatments and various surgeries. This would have nothing to do with presumed openness in ancient society over sexual matters: Hindu-dominated India in modern times would just permit that.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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