21 October, 2020

Id, Ego... & Lingam

Psychoanalysis and Hinduism make strange couch partners

Id, Ego... & Lingam
FAMOUSLY, Freud called India a jungle with an alien soil and reduced the mystical affects of Hindu meditation to infantile regression; equally famously premodern Hindu India has no psychology, indeed no theory of mind whatsoever (although it does have theories of persons and selves, and several systematic and reductive grids, like astrology, through which to understand behaviour). What, then, are we to expect from a venture that commits itself to an engagement between two such unpromising partners?

Plenty, if T.G. Vaidyanathan's introduction to Vishnu on Freud's Desk: A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism is to be believed. And if one heeds Sudhir Kakar's wise prefatory suggestion that Hinduism and Freudianism are to converge between these covers in an encounter with all the sense of embattlement and enrichment that that term suggests rather than as mutually hostile assailants attempting to abduct each other's territories. To the extent then that this book's aim is modest, it's a success.

The first section of the book introduces us to G. Bose...



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