Indeterminate States in Transcultural Histories

‘Cultural Other’ in Jung’s India

In: International Journal of Jungian Studies
Sulagna Sengupta University of Essex UK

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This paper explores the Jung-India continuum which encapsulates many centuries of transcultural history. At the centre is Germany’s role in advancing Sanskrit scholarship, the Sacred Books of the East being one of Jung’s primary sources of readings on India. Jung’s notions about India were guided by German romanticism and enclosed many layers of cultural interactions between the two countries. They reflect historical moments of how notions about race and culture were formed through various interconnected movements. Jung’s long engagement with and his journey through India, at many points held indeterminate ideas about culture and feelings of otherness about India, its people, knowledge, religious goals etc. This paper elaborates on Jung’s notion of ‘cultural other’ with reference to India. India was also the ground for his discovery of his own psychological standpoint different from the East and the dream of the Grail. Jung had many divergences with Indian philosophers and spiritualists which made these transcultural exchanges complex. For example, the concept of unconscious psyche is absent in Indian philosophical knowledge. This paper examines these issues in understanding the notion of ‘cultural other’ in Jung, and the various ways by which he carried and expressed his differences, that facilitated a relational pathway between Jung and India, critical for future inquiry and dialogue.

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