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Indian J Psychiatry. 2013 Jan;55(Suppl 2):S153-6. doi: 10.4103/0019-5545.105514.

Emotions: An Indian perspective.

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1
Richmond Fellowship College for Psychosocial Rehabilitation, 'Chetana', Bangalore, India.

Abstract

The present paper is an attempt to understand emotions and the affect from Indian traditional point of view. In the Indian philosophical texts' detailed descriptions of emotions are not available nor are dealt with as a separate concept. This view of emotions lays emphasis on desires as the root cause of emotional upheavals. They are seen as modification of desire and attachment. The desires are seen as arising from the contact and attachment of the ego or ahamkara with the external world and are caused by a sense of imperfection, incompleteness or non-fulfillment. Ego or ahamkara is differentiated from the true Self or atman. Emotions are viewed as springs of action and are bipolar in nature. According to Patanjali's Yoga Shastra, suffering is due to ignorance about one's true "self" (avidya). Hence, suffering or dukha arises from within and not from the outside world. Bhagvadgita traces all emotional experiences to the gunas, i.e., sattva, rajas, and tamas. Works of Bharathmuni have contributed to the understanding of emotional experiences. Concept of rasa or aesthetic relish is central to this approach to understanding affective experiences as dealt with in the Natyashastra of Bharathamuni. These views underline the recommended path for self-transformation. Regulating emotions, both emotional experience and emotional expression, is an integral part of the recommended "principles of living."

KEYWORDS:

Ego; ahamkara; atman; emotion; gunas

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