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Psychiatry. 2008 Fall;71(3):197-209. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2008.71.3.197.

Comparison of the conceptualization of wisdom in ancient Indian literature with modern views: focus on the Bhagavad Gita.

Author information

  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Rose and Sam Stein Institute for Research on Aging, University of California San Diego, La Jolla San Diego, CA 92161, USA. djeste@ucsd.edu

Abstract

The study of wisdom has recently become a subject of growing scientific interest, although the concept of wisdom is ancient. This article focuses on conceptualization of wisdom in the Bhagavad Gita, arguably the most influential of all ancient Hindu philosophical/religious texts. Our review, using mixed qualitative/quantitative methodology with the help of Textalyser and NVivo software, found the following components to be associated with the concept of wisdom in the Gita: Knowledge of life, Emotional Regulation, Control over Desires, Decisiveness, Love of God, Duty and Work, Self-Contentedness, Compassion/Sacrifice, Insight/Humility, and Yoga (Integration of Personality). A comparison of the conceptualization of wisdom in the Gita with that in modern scientific literature shows several similarities, such as rich knowledge about life, emotional regulation, insight, and a focus on common good (compassion). Apparent differences include an emphasis on control over desires and renunciation of materialistic pleasures. Importantly, the Gita suggests that at least certain components of wisdom can be taught and learned. We believe that the concepts of wisdom in the Gita are relevant to modern psychiatry in helping develop psychotherapeutic interventions that could be more individualistic and more holistic than those commonly practiced today, and they aim at improving personal well-being rather than just psychiatric symptoms.

PMID:
18834271
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2603047
Free PMC Article
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