Sudhir Kakar

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Sudhir Kakar (born Monday, 25 July 1938[1]) is India's most celebrated psychoanalyst and author in the fields of cultural psychology and the psychology of religion.

Education and personal life[edit]

Kakar spent his early childhood near Sargodha, now in Pakistan.[2] and also in Rohtak, Haryana state; his father was an additional district magistrate during the British Raj and during the partition of India, and the family moved quite a bit from city to city.[2][3] At age eight he was enrolled as a boarder in Modern School, New Delhi;[2] he would later write about homosexual encounters in the school dormitories.[2] He next attended St Edward's School, Simla; in his writing there are mentions of sadistic beatings at that school handed out by the Irish Christian Brothers.[2] He began his Intermediate Studies at Maharaja's College, Jaipur in 1953 after which his family sent him to Ahmedabad, Gujarat, where Kakar lived with his aunt, Kamla Chowdhury, and attended engineering college.[2] After college, he attended Mannheim, Frankfurt am Main and Vienna. Kakar received a Bachelor in Mechanical Engineering, a Master's degree (Diplom-Kaufmann) in business economics and became Doctor of Economics.[4] He began his training in psychoanalysis at the Sigmund-Freud Institute in Frankfurt, Germany in 1971.

In 1975, Sudhir Kakar moved to Delhi with his aunt, Kamla.[2] Kakar now resides in Goa and is married to Katharina, a writer and a scholar of comparative religions and artist. He has two children, a son Rahul who is in financial services, and a daughter Shveta, a lawyer, both in New York.


After returning to India in 1975 , Sudhir Kakar set up a practice as a psychoanalyst in Delhi where he was also the Head of Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at Indian Institute of Technology. He has been 40th Anniversary Senior Fellow at the Centre for Study of World Religions at Harvard (2001-02), a visiting professor at the universities of Chicago (1989-93), McGill (1976-77), Melbourne (1981), Hawaii (1998) and Vienna (1974-75), INSEAD, France (1994-2013). He has been a Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, Wissenschaftskolleg (Institute of Advanced Study), Berlin, Centre for Advanced Study of Humanities, University of Cologne and is Honorary Professor, GITAM University, Visakhapatnam.

Kakar was in private psychoanalytic practice in New Delhi for 25 years before moving to his current place of residence in Goa, India.

Psychoanalysis and mysticism[edit]

A portion of Sudhir Kakar's work involves the relationship between psychoanalysis and mysticism. His analyses of personages include that of Swami Vivekananda in The Inner World (1978), Mohandas Gandhi in Intimate Relations (1989), and Ramakrishna in The Analyst and the Mystic (1991).[5][6]

Kakar’s fiction novel, Ecstasy (2003) deals with the "making of a mystic" and with "two characters who are very different. One is steeped in traditional religiosity. The other is a modern, rational sceptic but who is not closed to tradition. It deals with their encounters. And how one is influenced by the other" and the characters were based on Ramakrishna and Vivekananda. The story is set in Rajasthan of 1940s or 1960s[7]

Psychoanalyst Alan Roland (2009) writes that when Kakar applies his psychoanalytic understanding to these "three spiritual figures [Swami Vivekananda, Gandhi, Ramakrishna]", his analyses are as "fully reductionistic as those of Jeffrey Masson". Roland also disputes the Kakar's theoretical understanding of mysticism from a psychoanalytic standpoint, and writes that it is "highly questionable whether spiritual aspirations, practices, and experiences essentially involve regression."[5]

At a personal level, Kakar feels that spirituality for him consists of moments of profound connection with a person, nature, art, music, and for those who believe in God, with the Divine. His spiritual beliefs have been influenced by a combination of a rationalistic, agonistic father and a religious, ritualistic mother.

Awards And honors[edit]

A leading figure in the fields of cultural psychology and the psychology of religion, as well as a novelist, Sudhir Kakar’s person and work have been profiled in The New York Times, Le Monde, Frankfurter Allgemeine, Neue Zuricher Zeitung, Die Zeit and Le Nouvel Observateur.

Kakar's honours include the Kardiner Lecturership at the Institute of Psychoanalytic Medicine, Columbia University,[citation needed] Boyer Prize for Psychological Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association,[citation needed] Germany's Goethe Medal,[citation needed] Rockefeller Residency,[citation needed] a McArthur Foundation Grant.[citation needed] As 'the psychoanalyst of civilisations', the French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur listed Kakar as one of the world's 25 major thinkers,[dubious ] while the leading German weekly Die Zeit has profiled him as one of the 21 thinkers for the 21st century.[citation needed] He is a member of the New York Academy of Sciences, the Board of Sigmund Freud Archives in the Library of Congress, Washington and the Academie Universelle des Culture, France. In February 2012, he was conferred the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the country's highest civilian order. "The Sudhir Kakar Prize" for the best psychoanalytic paper by an author less than 40 years of age was instituted in 2013 in honour of Sudhir Kakar. The prize is given every year at the Annual Psychoanalytical Conference held in Delhi.



  • Mad and Divine: Spirit and Psyche in the Modern World
  • Inner World: A Psycho-Analytic Study of Childhood and Society in India: Psychoanalytic Study of Childhood and Society in India, OUP India, 2Rev Ed (14 October 1982) ISBN 0-19-561305-8 (10), ISBN 978-0-19-561305-6 (13)
  • Shamans, Mystics, And Doctors
  • Tales Of Love, Sex And Danger
  • Intimate Relations
  • The Colors Of Violence
  • The Indians
  • Kamasutra
  • Frederick Taylor
  • Understanding Organizational Behavior
  • Conflict And Choice
  • Identity And Adulthood
  • The Analyst And The Mystic
  • La Folle Et Le Saint
  • Culture And Psyche
  • The Indian Psyche
  • The Essential Writings Of Sudhir Kakar
  • A Book of Memory, 2011


  • The Ascetic Of Desire
  • Indian Love Stories
  • Ecstasy
  • Mira And The Mahatma
  • The Crimson Throne


  • Die Inder. Porträt einer Gesellschaft (2006)

Further reading[edit]

  • T.G. Vaidyanathan & Jeffrey J. Kripal (editors): VISHNU ON FREUD'S DESK : A Reader in Psychoanalysis and Hinduism, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-565835-3, Paperback (Edition: 2003)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "A book of Memory: Confessions and Reflections" Sudhir Kakar, Viking Press
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Singh 2011.
  3. ^ Kakar, Sudhir. "Colors of Violence." Chapter 2, p25.
  4. ^ Renée Zucker (7 October 2006). "Das System der Klaglosigkeit". die tageszeitung. Retrieved 1 January 2008. 
  5. ^ a b Roland, Alan (2009). "Mysticism and Psychoanalysis". Encyclopedia of Psychology and Religion. US: Springer. pp. 594–596. doi:10.1007/978-0-387-71802-6_449. 
  6. ^ In The Indian Psyche, 125–188. 1996 New Delhi: Viking by Penguin. Reprint of 1991 book.
  7. ^ The Rediff Interview/Psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar Date accessed: 1 April 2008


External links[edit]