Indian psychotherapeutic practices originated thousands of years ago by the Rishis and are unique in its approach. The Atharva veda is the most ancient document of Indian psychotherapeutic science. It deals with cures of all types of ailments, attempts to solve all problems of humanity and prescribes methods to control events in the physical world with psychological practices. The Charak samhita, the Susruta samhita and Yoga comprise of the Indian science of psychic sublimation and achievement.
The Vedic psychotherapy approach is psychogenic in nature and its challenge is to control the physical world through the psyche. It shows the psyche to be all energetic in solving all problems and achieving all ends in life. Human personality, according to the Atharva-veda, at any stage, on both physical and mental planes, is a matter of the degree of Vata, Pitta, Kapha and Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas, as a combination and an organization that gives the individual his individuality.
The Atharva-veda has described mental behaviour in detail based on theoretical foundations. Its practice ranges from abnormality to normality to supernormality. It is an inter-individual and cosmic psychosynthesis. A battery of therapists who perform specialized duties may work simultaneously on the patient as a multiple therapy. Noteworthy battery of therapists conducted therapies are Gayan Nrtya, Hilana therapy of sayana, and therapy of Balaji. Indian psychotherapy is a technical and skilled job as a multi-practice therapy, as in sayanas, with therapies of music, dance and convulsive shocks. Some cures are symptomatic while some go deep into the dynamism of the personality make-up.
Mantras: The Atharva-vedic ‘Mantras’ are based on a psychic aspect. They were replaced by the psychophysical aspect in the Tantric Mantras in which oneness with Brahma is not essential. It has been established that some sort of ultrasonic waves are produced in the organism by the japa of Mantra and that sound has therapeutic value.
Sankalp: According to the Atharva-veda, Manas and Vani, i.e. consciousness and suggestion generate Sankalp. In Sankalp, the psyche heals its own self.
Sadesh: is a directive therapy in which the therapist gives suggestions and assurances which are used to cure different personality defects. Sadesh is energetic wherein the therapist is in a position to exert an unusual influence on the attitudes of the patient. It is based on the practical knowledge of acquiring energy from Brahma & using it with therapeutic effects on the patient. It is generally used for graha, krodha, irsha and shrapa.
Samavashikarana is a form of intense effective suggestions in which the therapist’s personality and psychic energy are the dominating forces. It is induced by the therapist whose mind becomes the charioteer of the hypnotee’s mind who surrenders his ego to the will of the hypnotizer. It has been used in Vedic period to acquire bravery and release from passive hysteria. It has also been used for promoting integration, harmony, and long life.
Ritualistic therapy– Drama & Demonstration: Rituals when performed with mantras become more effective. In ritualistic therapy, somatic phenomenon is added to psychic phenomenon which makes the approach psycho-somatic. It makes use of some material things which have scientific value and produce physical effects on the body of the patient. It is based on psychological principles of symbolism, which is the soul of Atharvan practices. It uses the mechanisms of personification, identification, projection, transference and the laws of similarity and contrast of association of ideas, performed via mantras and havana.
Brahma Kavach– Psychological Defensive Beliefs: The theoretical bases of Brahma Kavach are both subjective and environmental. Anyone who needs defence loses self-confidence and fears of the environment. This subjective feeling is recovered by creating the belief of perfect defence in oneself. Thus his reactions to the external environment become normal and energetic. Brahma Kavach is a device of a psychological defensive atmosphere created around the personality of the individual. It does not have an equivalent in modern psychotherapy.
Utarna– Transference: According to Atharva-veda, the therapist can command and transfer psycho symptoms to other persons and objects by his own psychic energy. The technique of transference as a supplementary tool has been prescribed for a variety of diseases such as evil dreams, love and grahi pap.
Ashvasan and Upchar Chikitsa– Persuasion and Desensitization: are directive therapies in which the will and the ego of the patient are strengthened. Ashvasna uses certain mantras to create hope, confidence and satisfaction in the patient. Upachar is used to control the environment and to redirect and reeducate the behaviour of the patient.
Daiviya and Havan Chikitsa– Spiritual Healing: The trend of making offerings and praying to deities in order to achieve something or to cure diseases started from Rig-veda and has been maintained by Atharva-veda. Havan therapy is the originality of the Atharva-veda which claimed that not only known but also unknown diseases and consumption can be cured.
Prayaschittani: Whatever sublimates or catherizes pap is prayaschitta. Prayaschitani hymns make up one of the major practices of the Atharva-veda. There are three aspects of prayaschitta: tapa- self-mortification or penance; done after voluntary decision; to purify the ego and get rid of pap bhavna. This penalization brings equilibrium again to establish sattva guna.
Charak Samhita: According to Charak, personality works as a whole but for therapeutic purposes it is divided into soma (body) and psyche (mind). The disease may start either from the body or the mind but in the long run the other part also gets affected and diseased.
Susrut Samhita: is famous as a treatise on surgery. It is an old scientific documentation of Indian medicine – Ayurveda. According to Susrut, psychotherapy is the therapy of mental disorders through psychogenic methods, such as Mantravidya, Japa, Ritualistic bath, Religious practices, Desensitization, Recreation, Virodhi bhavana, Gaman, Samadhi and Prayaschitta.
Yoga Therapy: Yogic practices if continuously practised train the body and mind for spiritual prefection. Bhagavad Gita says, “That in which the mind finds rest, quieted by the practices of yoga, that in which he seeing the self by the self in the self is satisfied: that in which he findeth the supreme delight beyond the senses wherein established he moveth not from Reality, which having obtained, he thinketh there is not greater gain beyond, that should be known by the name of yoga and wherein being settled he can move even by the greatest sorrow.”