Kiran Kumar K. Salagame
Track: Mystical Spirituality as a Link between World Religions
Bhakti traditions (devotional mysticism) of India
ITA Prague Indigenous Panel: “Indigenous traditions: explorations and applications”
In this panel, presenters will explore the impact of indigenous traditions, including cases from Africa, South America, Tibet, China and India. The panelists are experts on the respective traditions, and will present on the teachings and practices, with a major emphasis on the impact these have had beyond the respective local regions. The panel will allow time for discussion not only of the traditions themselves, but also of the ways in which these indigenous ways have been contributing to developments and research in Transpersonal Psychology.
Bhakti traditions (devotional mysticism) of India
The idea of Divinity or God is universal, but how that is conceptualized and expressed has differed across cultures. Over thousands of years in different countries and cultures such varied conceptualizations and expressions have led to different forms of relating to Divinity or God resulting in different religio-spiritual or mystical traditions. In contemporary times studies in comparative religion, in the psychology of religion and more recently in transpersonal psychology it is found that beneath the apparent differences in the beliefs and practices there is a core of commonality among these traditions. In addition, it is also found that a variety of experiences termed as religious, ecstatic, mystical and spiritual reported and recorded in them employ similar linguistic expressions and metaphors, with a common underlying structure. Such findings have enabled researchers to trace the course of transpersonal development and identify the milestones, stages, and the individual differences in them. In this task transpersonal theorists and researchers have found the Vedic, Upanishadic and Yogic literature as immensely valuable in addition to those of Buddhism, which are indigenous traditions of India. We find more frequent references to them in contemporary transpersonal literature.
However, besides these, there are four other major traditions within India which are also indigenous viz., Jaina, Shaiva, Vaishnava, and Shākta. The Vedic, Upanishadic, Yogic, Shaiva, Vaishnava and Shakta beliefs, practices, and associated literature together constitute what is broadly termed as Hinduism. They are distinguished from Jainism and Buddhism. These three- Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism have constituted the major indigenous religio-mystical-spiritual traditions of India. The beliefs, practices, and the experiences of the followers of these three major traditions over past several centuries constitute a vast body of transpersonal knowledge system. They have led over the years to the formulation of four different pathways to connecting with the Divinity or God viz., jňāna (path of inquiry/discernment/knowledge), bhakti (path of devotion), karma (path of detached action) and raja (path of psycho-physical and ethico-religious discipline). This classification in itself provides a template for unifying diverse traditions of the world.
Among the above mentioned four it is bhakti, the path of devotion, which has an appeal for a vast majority of people in India. The functional aspect of devotion is affect and a vast majority find it simple and easy to adopt than the path of inquiry, detachment or self-discipline. It is also found to be present most commonly among the followers of other traditions of the world, thus having a great potential for unifying the diverse traditions. Hence, the bhakti path with its variations as found in India is presented in an overview here.
Kiran retired as Professor of Psychology from the University of Mysore, India. He has a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and his doctoral work was on altered states of consciousness. As a Fulbright Post-Doctoral Fellow at Saybrook Graduate School, USA, he studied cross-cultural aspects of meditation and published a monograph titled “Psychology of Meditation: A contextual approach”.
Integrating Indian psychological concepts to mainstream psychology has been the primary focus of his academic career as well as his therapeutic practice. He has delivered lectures, presented and published papers and conducted workshops in India and abroad on - health and well-being, meditation & Yoga, positive psychology, self and identity, states of consciousness. As a Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Professor at the University of Central Arkansas, USA he taught a course on Positive Psychology from Indian and Western perspectives. He was honoured with Psycho-Award by Indian Association of Clinical Psychologists.
Kiran is on the Board of International Transpersonal Association and is an Honorary Professor and Member Scientific Board, of the International Academy for Yoga Teacher Training and Society for Interdisciplinary Yoga Research, Belgrade, Serbia. He was a Senior Research Fellow of the Indian Council of Social Sciences Research. He has been on the Editorial Boards of many national and international journals.
Website - https://drkirankumar.academia.edu/