Sudhir Kakar

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Sudhir Kakar (born 25 July 1938[1]) is an Indian psychoanalyst, novelist 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, Shimla.[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 his B.E. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Gujarat University 1958, Kakar obtained a master's equivalent in business administration (Dipl.-Kfm.) at the University of Mannheim (1960-64), and a Doctor's degree in Economics at the University of Vienna.[4] He began his training in psychoanalysis at the University of Frankfurt's Sigmund-Freud Institute 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.


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.[citation needed]

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

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 novel Ecstasy (2003) was "written exclusively for the senses of the skeptic and the mind of the mystic" and "is the beginning of a journey through the soulscape of spiritual India".[7] The story is set in Rajasthan of 1940s or 1960s[8]

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.[citation needed]

Awards and honors[edit]

Kakar's was awarded the 1987 Boyer Prize for Psychological Anthropology of the American Anthropological Association.[9] He received the Order of Merit, Federal republic of Germany, Feb. 2012, Distinguished Service Award, Indo-American Psychiatric Association, 2007, Fellow, National Academy of Psychology, India, 2007, Member, Academie Universelle des Cultures, France, 2003, Abraham Kardiner Award, Columbia University, 2002,Rockefeller Residency, Bellagio. April–May 1999,Goethe Medal of Goethe Institut, Germany, 1998,Watumull Distinguished Scholar, University of Hawaii,Spring Semester, 1998,National Fellow in Psychology, Indian Council of Social Science Research, 1992–94, MacArthur Research Fellowship, 1993–94,Jawaharlal Nehru Fellow, 1986–88,Homi Bhabha Fellow, 1979-80.Karolyi Foundation Award for Young Writers, 1963. The French weekly Le Nouvel Observateur profiled Kakar as one of 25 major thinkers of the world while the German weekly Die Zeit profiled him as one of twenty one thinkers for the 21st century Oxford University Press, Delhi is in the process of publishing 4 volumes of Kakar’s essays in their series Great Thinkers of Modern Asia.



  • 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
    • Die Inder. Porträt einer Gesellschaft (2006)[10]
  • 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
  • The Devil Take Love

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. ^
  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. ^ "Agony of the ascetic". Living Media India Limited. 9 April 2001. Retrieved 22 January 2016. 
  8. ^ "The Rediff Interview/Psychoanalyst Sudhir Kakar". 2001. Retrieved 1 April 2008. 
  9. ^ "Boyer Prize for Contributions to Psychoanalytic Anthropology". Society for Psychological Anthropology. 
  10. ^ Renée Zucker (7 October 2006). "Das System der Klaglosigkeit" (Book review). die tageszeitung. Retrieved 1 January 2008. 


External links[edit]