National President of the Indian Medical Association, Mr K K Aggarwal, a Padma Shri award recipient, believes that Lord Krishna, who advised Arjuna during the historical Kurukestra battle described in the Mahabharata, was the first ever counselor for dealing with psychiatric issues. He said the history of psychiatry in India begins with Lord Krishna’s successful counselling of Arjuna.
“I have always believed that what we call cognitive behavioural therapy in allopathy came from Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna, who gets an acute panic reaction in the battlefield, goes to Krishna, who holds 18 counselling sessions with him…,” Dr Aggarwal said.
Dr Aggarwal believes that Arjuna’s revealing his confusion to Lord Krishna and Krishna’s counseling him and ultimately empowering him to spectacularly win a great battle is nothing but modern-day talk therapy.
Referring to the Bhagavad Gita, he added, “Krishna, in the true sense, was the first and perhaps the most celebrated counsellor, whose sessions with his patient, Arjuna, not only led to his spectacular recovery but also constituted one of the most revered ancient texts…”.
“Dr Aggarwal has also contributed to the current issue of The Equator Line magazine where, in a piece titled Psychotherapy in the time of the Vedas, he says long before the term psychotherapy was even coined, a brilliant warrior got over his dilemma about vanquishing his clan members.” (Source)
There are opinions for and against Dr Aggarwal’s version of modern-day psychotherapy as some believe there are critical differences between the two as the western model of psychotherapy is mostly influenced by Sigmund Freud. Some argue that the form of crisis presented by Arjuna and solutions provided by Lord Krishna are different from what they call psychiatric issues and psychotherapy today.
While appreciating the fact that reputed people like Dr Aggarwal are publicly talking about Bhagavad Gita, a book mistakenly considered a mere Hindu text, and connecting it to complex medical science, it needs to be pointed out that the core purpose of Bhagavad Gita gets defeated when they consider it a mundane book spoken by a mortal being like us.
The other thing Dr Aggarwal said is the Vedic approach to mental health focuses on controlling the mind, intellect and ego. He gave example of Lord Shiva consuming poison.
“Lord Shiva presents a very Vedic way of anger management. Whenever you are filled with resentment, store the negative thoughts in your throat. After some time, think about the issue at hand with a cool mind,” he writes. (Source)
Again, while Vedic approach does advise to focus on controlling the mind, intelligence and false ego, the truly heroic and amazing feat of Lord Shiva, that is, consumption of poison and holding it in his throat, is not just symbolic. He indeed did it and that is why he became known as Nilakantha, or the person with bluish neck. One should not consider it a myth. It is historical.
Bhagavad Gita, which is a part of the Mahabharata, is not just a talk therapy nor is Lord Krishna a mere human being among us. He is the Supreme Personality of Godhead, creator, maintainer and destroyer of innumerable universes. Through His talks with Arjuna, who is His pure devotee, Lord Krishna is teaching us the most impenetrable science of life showing us the path to permanent relief from the bondage of material world.
Mahabharata, Bhagavad Gita and Lord Krishna require no endorsement or certificate from us to be what they are. Vedic scripture and the Supreme Lord are infallible. We can only learn from them. Interpreting them according to our meager realization can make one sound ridiculous. It is to our benefit if we recognize their importance in our lives. The science taught in Vedic scriptures is way more advance than modern science, which is still in its infancy.
If you are interested to know how and why modern science is in its infancy and how it can immensely benefit from the Vedas and Vedic wisdom, you may read this, this, this and many other articles such as this one. Our intention behind writing such articles is to help the world achieve higher goals easily, by increasing awareness of Vedic science. We as human beings do not need to strenuously engage in different research work. Every minute detail of science and other requirements of human beings is thoroughly explained in the Vedas. This is because Vedic science is descending knowledge coming down from the creator of this cosmic manifestation which makes it infallible.