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Desai, P. Collins, A. (2007). The Gita Dialogue Between Guru and Disciple: A Paradigm of Transformation of the Self. Ann. Psychoanal., 35:257-271.

(2007). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 35:257-271

The Gita Dialogue Between Guru and Disciple: A Paradigm of Transformation of the Self

Prakash Desai, M.D. and Alfred Collins, Ph.D.

They reckon ill who leave me out;

When me they fly, I am the wings;

I am the doubter and the doubt….

But thou, meek lover of the good!

Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

—“Brahma,” Ralph Waldo Emerson

With these words the American transcendentalist echoed the message of India's holiest text, the Bhagavad Gita: There is a reality at the heart of all experience, a higher selfhood attainable by human beings through an intimate, loving relationship with a spiritual teacher or guru who embodies it. Although the Gita's “I–thou” (and ultimately “I–I”) mysticism may appear at first sight to lie well beyond the bounds of psychoanalysis, we will attempt to interpret it in psychoanalytic terms; conversely, we hope to show that Western depth psychology can be enriched by the insights of this ancient text.

The Gita belongs to an Indian tradition of insight and devotion that aims to transcend the earlier sacrificial religion of the Vedas. The fundamental work in this tradition, and the most celebrated story of a teacher and disciple in India, the Gita recounts the dialogue between Prince Arjuna and his divine charioteer, Krishna. An episode from the vast epic the Mahabharata, the Gita has maintained its central place in Hinduism for two thousand years. Even today the Gita is intimately familiar to almost all Hindus and is far more popular than the earlier Vedas and Upanishads.


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