Critical Evaluation of Ramakrishna's Behaviour - A Psychoanalytic Perspective
Authors: Dr. Dyuti J. Yajnik
Number of views: 358
Ramakrishna is a mystic in its real sense of the term. Any mystic is considered by psychoanalysts, as having a certain
kind of mental disorder. Therefore, here it is attempted to do some analysis of the psychology of religion and mystic with the
help of the great thinker and American psychologist William James and a distinguished psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar.
Ramakrishna can be said to be a “mystic” in its true sense of the term. The mystical consciousness or mystical behaviour is so
much away and above the normal state of consciousness that the psychologists in general and psychoanalysts in particular,
tend to consider mystical behaviour to be “abnormal” behaviour. Thus, because the mystical behaviour does not constitute the
behaviour of the 68% of the population, it is normally considered to be ‘abnormal’ behaviour in the empirical science of
psychology. However, with the advent of humanistic psychology of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers, the above-normal
behaviour is being recognized as the ‘self-actualization’ state of personality development. Abraham Maslow has described the
characteristics of self-actualized people which are not considered as the pathological behaviour of ‘below-normal’ category.
And Ramakrishna’s behaviour is the behaviour of a self-realized person, which is still above than even the behaviour of selfactualized
persons. However, especially, Ramakrishna’s behaviour being of a unique mystical pattern, a number of
psychoanalysts, unaware of the psychology of religion in general and of Eastern religion in particular, have been tempted to
interpret his behaviour as pathological or schizophrenic. This being so, an attempt is made here to analyze Ramakrishna’s
mystical behaviour in the light of the three eminent psychologists, namely, William James, Sudhir Kakar and Jeffery Kripal.
For, William James said that, “it is not only the sexual life, but the entire higher mental life which awakens during
adolescence. One might then as well set up the thesis that the interest in mechanics, physics, chemistry, logic, philosophy, and
sociology, which springs up during adolescent years along with that in poetry and religion, is also a perversion of the sexual
instinct:- but that would be too absurd. Thus the reinterpretation of psychoanalysis is needed in this light.
Ramakrishna put it on logical ground that logically how it is possible that one becomes unconscious by constantly thinking of
the Consciousness. “Mad! That is the thing! Shivnath once said that ‘one loses one’s head’ by thinking too much of God.
What said I, ‘Can anyone ever become unconscious by thinking of consciousness? God is of the nature of Eternity, Purity and
Consciousness. Through his consciousness one becomes conscious of everything; through his intelligence the whole world
appears intelligent. (Gospel, 615) Knowing fully well and aware of the so-called pathological signs of the mystic, Ramakrishna
himself had described these signs and clearly and logically argued how they are not really pathological. As he says, “It is said
in the Bh¡gavatama that a man who has seen God behaves sometimes like a child, sometimes like a ghoul, sometimes like an
inert thing and sometimes like a madman. For he maintains the same attitude toward things holy and unholy. Therefore he
seems to be a lunatic.” (Gospel: 451-452,493,791) Thus, the most important criterion or proof of the above-normal aspect of
the mystic is that he becomes free from the shackles of the passions like lust, anger etc. In this way, Ramakrishna has defined
logically and experientially the so-called insanity of the realized religious geniuses. Further, in present research we gave
justification of Ramakrishna’s behaviour given by Sudhir Kakar against wrongly conceived notions of Jeffery Kripal. It is put
in the paper the Difference between the concept of self-actualization of Maslow and the concept of self-realization in
Ramakrishna Narrating Maslow’s last thinking, Boereen says that toward the end of his life, he inaugurated what he called
the fourth force in psychology: Freudian and other ‘depth’ psychologies constituted the first force; Behaviorism was the
second force; His own humanism, including the European existentialists, were the third force. The fourth force was the
“transpersonal psychologies” which, taking their cue from Eastern philosophies, investigated such things as meditation,
higher levels of consciousness, and even parapsychological phenomena. It is important to note that as it is seen earlier that
Ramakrishna do not believe in any occult powers which are considered sometimes as parapsychological phenomena. Then, we
can say that Ramakrishna’s mysticism is even beyond the “forth force” mentioned by Maslow.