Russell, Freud, Jung and I

Mohan, Russell, Jung and Freud

A real life story of a man from India , written in first person, who made an unexpected relationship with three men he never met !

Born under British Rule

I am Mohan
I am Mohan

I am Mohan, an Indian and a Hindu by religion.

I was born in 1937 when India was still under British rule. I had lost my father when I was seven and my one elder sister when I was 13. We were now four siblings and my mother.

Five of us were living together in a small town Surat in the then Bombay province of India that later was bifurcated into two provinces, Maharashtra and Gujarat.  Now Surat is in Gujarat. I also had my father’s mother, my grandmother living with us. She used to sell fruits in the daily domestic market about 100 meters away from my house.

My mother had also invited her brother to stay with us who was 17 years younger to her and who was not employed. My mother used to work as a domestic help in the houses of other people. Since we did not have a regular income we were living as economically backward class people.

A Mixture at Mission

I studied until XI Standard in the I.P. Mission High School that was about two kilometers away from my house. At  that time Bible was one of our regular subjects upto IX standard in the school. I used to like Jesus Christ and his parables.

As it was, we had lots of Hindu mythological stories about our Gods and together with Christian Gods’ stories they made interesting reading to us. I was a good student till VII standard. In the VIIIth standard we were introduced to Algebra and Geometry, Physics and Chemistry and also Sanskrit an additional language.

These five new subjects together with earlier subjects of Gujarati, English, Arithmetic, History and Geography made the syllabus quite taxing for me. I could not cope with these additional topics till we reached XI standards and in the standard XI examination that was conducted by Secondary School Certificate Examination Board,  I failed and could not continue my studies further.

The Bhakti Cult

At home we followed Hindu religion and offered our prayers to Rama and Krishna and to other Hindu Gods. As we had no source of income we used to live hand to mouth and as a family believed literally that God will take care of us.

In Hinduism this is called ‘Bhakti Cult’ which puts entire onus of our life on this earth in the hands of God and depending on Him for the Guiding Hand in the economic darkness all around us due to lack of source of income.

As a matric-failed or non-matric person (that is what we were titled at that time), I kept on looking for a job while loitering with my friends all day long. I used to pray to God almost one to two hours daily.

We had a copy of Bhagwad Gita and also a copy of Vishnu Sahastra Naam. I used to keep ranting various slokas from these two books while waiting for some miracle to happen in our family life that would end our collective miseries. At times I would come under a lot of pressure to do ‘something’ in order to earn money from my mother and my maternal uncle.

One day, when I returned home after loitering with my friends, it was announced that I would not be served any meals henceforth. I slept hungry that night.

A job and a future

Next day I picked up a job of an unskilled worker that was given to me at a bakery. I was given a rate of Re.1/- per day as a daily wage – no working hours and no other benefits.

About one kilometre away from my house there was an office that had a board on it was written District Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen Board Office. I used to visit that office regularly and read various vacancies advertised by them. There used to be one employee in that office named Munshi and I would tell him that I was a matric failed candidate and could he get me some job in the Armed Forces.

In early March 1955, Munshi told me that I could get selected in Indian Air Force as an airman from their Recruitment Office in Dhobi Talao Mumbai on my passing some tests and also medical fitness. For that I would have to visit Mumbai. I boarded the train to Mumbai and was selected as a trainee airman in IAF from 25/3/1955.

Petrol and Philosophy in Pune

Transferred to Air Force Station Pune in October 1956, I was given the work of filling petrol in the various planes with the help of a Petrol Bowser whenever the planes returned after their flights. Somewhere in the month of July 1957, I fell down while riding a bicycle and broke my left hand.

After hospitalisation, I was given ‘Light Duty” for six months and was asked to work in the library as a general help to arrange  books in their proper designated places after being returned by the AF personnel and for general upkeep of the library.

It was a very well stacked library, filled with flight technology subjects as well as books on Philosophy, Psychology Sex and Religion. I was interested in philosophy and in knowing and understanding who I was and of what my mind consisted.

Bertrand Russell

At that time I was a voracious reader. I read a book by CEM Joad on Philosophy and picked up his concepts of subjectivity of Mind in perceiving things around us and how it was difficult to become absolutely objective in our perceptions.

Betrand and Sigmund

Other books that interested me were ‘New Hopes for a Changing World’ and Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell. There were many references to Freud in these books. Then one day I found a book on ‘An Introduction to Psychoanalysis’ by Sigmund Freud. I fell in love with that subject for almost six months.

Sigmund Freud

 Slips of tongue, use of symbols by the mind, symbols in the dreams, libido, the suppression of libido, repression of libido and how libido sabotaged our efforts of suppression – all these concepts enamoured me day and night.

All my actions, past and present underwent the lens of psychoanalytic mind. My immediate feelings were ‘Oh, this is how the human mind worked’  ‘well, I have understood how this world functions’ etc. etc.

You can imagine a 21 years old man trying to understand all human actions in terms of psychoanalysis. My friends thought I have gone mad.    

The most endearing concept was the categorisation of the human mind in three layers of consciousness and duplicity of our mind.

Jung, Sanskrit and I

Carl Gustav Jung

“Mana  evam manushayanam karanam bandhmokshyo” that in free translation would  mean that the human mind is the root cause of all bonds in life and freedom.

Here I shall share with you a quote by C.G. Jung : “…… Therefore we should realise that a great idea can only take hold of us because something within us comes to meet it half way and corresponds to it.” During my school days, I liked  a sentence in Sanskrit which goes: “Mana  evam manushayanam karanam bandhmokshyo” that in free translation would  mean that the human mind is the root cause of all bonds in life and freedom thereof. At that time I did not know how this mind works and develops and destroys the bonds one creates. I was very eager to know and learn if someone could teach me that. Introduction to Psychoanalysis became my tutor and kindled that spark of learning in my mind that later on  developed into a fire. I basked in the glow and warmth of this fire throughout my later life and developed my mind to grow and undertake further responsibilities in life. Having had a life serving in the Armed Force and then, in the corporate world, retiring as a still able but retired Director, you will agree I did not do too badly for someone with my beginnings !

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