Just before the Great War in the Mahabharata, Arjuna developed anxiety, fear of failure and other psychological problems. That is why many scholars suggest Sri Krishna was counselling Arjuna to over the psychological problems. The present age is filled with Arjunas and modern psychiatry is now developing Bhagavad Gita as a clinical tool to overcome psychological problems.
The Bhagvad Gita is fast emerging as a clinical tool to treat certain psychological problems, particularly those related to anxiety, examination and interview fears, depression and a negative attitude towards life and career goals.
Sustained counselling by applying different psychological methods, as Krishna did to Arjuna, has been quite helpful in clinical practice.
Doctors also point out that the Gita, as a psychotherapeutic tool, best suits Indian conditions as the current Western models of psychological counselling have failed to deliver in the country.
Dr M.S. Reddy, head of psychiatry, Asha Hospital, who conducted a research on ‘Psychotherapy — Insights from Bhagvad Gita’, says, “As is the case with any successful model of therapeutic intervention, which needs to be individualised for maximum benefit, the psychotherapeutic approach practiced in Bhagvad Gita also has its place in the repertoire of psychotherapeutic models.”
The Gita is a useful tool in the hands of an experienced therapist when applied judiciously for specific problems of distress, says Dr Reddy. His research work appeared in the latest issue of the Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine.
He says that for a student of psychology, the Gita offers a valuable case study. It helps in resolution of conflict and successful resumption of action from a state of acute anxiety and guilt-laden depression.
Describing the therapy process in Bhagvad Gita in which Lord Krishna helped a grief-stricken Arjun through dialogue, Dr Reddy says, “What is more important and relevant is not what it is but what transpired in the 18 chapters of Bhagvad Gita.”
Also important is the process and content of this dialogue, its very usefulness as a model of counselling and possible contemporary application to current day psychological therapies, especially, but not limited to, in the Indian context.
The clinical use of the Gita gains significance as the applicability and usefulness of Western models in the Indian context is often taken with a pinch of salt due to varying cultural, attitudes.
“The Gita has laid equal emphasis on logic, action, renunciation, power of self, knowledge, wisdom, trust, universality and immortality of human spirit. This appears to me a ‘person-centered therapy’,” Dr Reddy said.