Americas and Oceania Collections blog

20 March 2015

Team Americas bookshelf: How much did Carl Jung learn from his trip to India?


Carl Gustav Jung, image from Wikipedia

[Ed: This is the first of Team Americas' new series where we reflect on what we've been reading recently. It's also a chance for you to meet our new colleague, Matthew Neill. From April, Matthew will be curating the Australasian and South Asian English collections, so Team Americas has grown in more than one way, and he's been reading 'Jung in India']

Carl Gustave Jung (1875-1961) the Swiss psychiatrist, psychotherapist and founder of Analytical Psychology – who generated the idea of the Collective Unconscious, as distinct from Freud, made a visit to India in December 1937. It is not clear from the archives from whom the invitation to India came? At the heart of the visit was the Silver Jubilee of the Indian Scientific Congress in Calcutta, in January 1938.

It is thought that the invitation came from the British, with the intention of conferring upon Jung an honorary degree. This then was the formal purpose of the visit. Jung joined the delegates in Bombay, as they gathered for a sightseeing tour of India that included Benares, the spiritual home of India; and Calcutta, the Imperial Capital of British India. Between Benares and the opening of the Silver Jubilee Congress, the delegation travelled to New Delhi, then Darjeeling, taking in, also the foothills of Mount Everest.

The Indian Science Congress events were due to take place from December 17, 1937, to January 15, 1938. Jung stayed on in India after the completion of the Congress. Throughout the trip, Jung travelled over 6 thousand miles by train, and or car, in two months he was in India. Notwithstanding the strain of an illness, this was a demanding schedule for a man of 63.

Jung’s itinerary

Dec 17                   Arrival in Bombay

Dec 17-18             Welcome and celebrations in Bombay, at the Taj Mahal Hotel

Welcome celebrations at Ballard Pier – the delegation would embark on a country side tour from here

Official dinner and lunch at the Willingdon Club and the Taj Mahal Hotel

Jung gave some public talks

A visit from the Maharaja of Rewa

Dec 18                   boarded the special train of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway, embarking for the grand tour of the historical sites of India

Dec 19                   first stop at Hyderabad followed by visit to the Hill Fort at Golkonda, Osmania University, and the sixteenth century tombs of the Quth Shahi Kings.

Dec 20                   the delegation proceeded to Aurangabad to view the Ellora and Ajanta Caves, Jung was interested in the frescoes based on the Buddha’s life stories. The fortress at Daulatabad was also visited.

Dec 22                   visit to Sanchi, the remains stirred Jung’s ideas on the Collective Unconscious

Dec 23                   the delegates proceed to the sixteenth century Mughal city of Agra, taking in the ruins of the walled city, the red sandstone fortress and the Taj Mahal and Akbar the Great’s deserted administrative capital of Fatehpur Sikri – close to Agra

Dec 24                   it is Christmas Eve and the party reach Delhi, one of India’s most ancient of cities, with its pre-Christian history, made up of ancient fortresses, palaces and mosques. Jung viewed Delhi Fort, Qutub Minar, Masjid, Shah Jahan’s palace and Diwan I Khas. Sightseeing was interspersed with luncheons and welcome ceremonies.

Dec 25                   Christmas Day and the delegates headed toward Dehra Dun to visit the Forest Research institute, a scientific institution of the colonial era

Dec 26                   the delegates leave Dehra Dun for Benares

Dec 27                   Arrival of the delegates in Benares, followed by a convocation ceremony at Banaras Hindu University. Jung ventures into the City. Unable to tolerate the grimness of the city, Jung exclaims: ‘I cannot stand this any longer; I want to return to the Hotel.’

Dec 28                   Jung takes leave of the delegation and heads to Calcutta for the beginning of the congress proceedings.

Dec 28                   the rest of the delegates leave Benares for Calcutta, but take a detour to Darjeeling on the way, and see the foothills of Mount Everest

Jan 2                       the celebrations of the delegates continue on arrival in Calcutta and the Congress begins in earnest

Jan 2                       Jung has contracted Amoebic Dysentery in Benares and is hospitalized in Calcutta

Jan 7                       the proceedings are well underway while Jung is in hospital, but he makes an appearance at the annual meeting of the Indian Psychological Society

Jan 7                       Lord Linlithgow, Viceroy of India visits Jung in hospital and confers on him a Doctor of Science, from the University of Allahabad

Jan 9                       Jung delivers a lecture at Calcutta University. This lecture was reported in the press and concerned Jung’s definition of the Collective Unconscious

Jan 9                       Jung attends the closing ceremony of the Congress

Jan 10                     Jung grants an interview to Dr. Indra Sen, an Indian psychologist, who will go on to develop his own school of integral psychology, strongly influenced by Jung. The content of the meeting remained secret

Jan 11                     Jung gives a popular lecture which is again reported in the press. The lecture concerned the primitive instincts of man and his inner urges, and the concept of psychological types

Jan 12                      Jung meets with a member of the Ramakrisna Order in Calcutta.

Jan 13                     Jung leaves Calcutta for Orissa to begin his private tour of South India

Jan 18                     Jung arrives in Madras and is convinced that he take lessons from his own experience, rather than ideas borrowed from Indian masters

Jan 19                     Jung travels from Madras to Mysore

Jan 23                     Jung visits Trichur and sees the Zoo and local temples

Jan 25                     Jung travels on to Trivandrum where he gives his last formal lectures in India at the University of Trivandrum

Jan 28                     Last of two lectures in Trivandrum

Jan 28                     Jung see’s the Indian Ocean and leaves Trivandrum for a Shiva temple in Madurai, known as the Great temple

Jan 29                     Jung crosses to Ceylon and Colombo Port

Jan 30                     Jung visits more temples around Lake Kandy famed for housing relics of the Buddha

End of Jan              Jung heads back to Colombo

Feb 2                      Jung gives talk at the BMA dinner his last event on the Indian Sub-continent


Jung’s trip to the Silver Jubilee Indian Science Congress was not a success. Jung found he had no links with psychologists in India, or the wider scientific community there, which may lend credence to the belief that the invitation for his visit had been extended by the British, rather than an Indian intellectual elite. Jung had been led to believe falsely that there was a body of opinion that were familiar with his ideas. It was clear from the proceedings once they had begun, not only were Jung’s ideas  unknown in India, the congress displayed a pronounced and deliberate confederacy of a Freudian character that alienated Jung.

 In charge of the congress proceedings on Psychology was, Girindrasekar Bose, a Freudian. Bose made no effort to communicate with Jung at all. His inaugural address made no reference to Jung.  ‘…for all practical purposes Jung was ignored by the representatives of Indian psychology. At the symposium: ‘Contributions of Abnormal Psychology to Normal Psychology,’ the introductions to the papers were made by another Indian Freudian, S. C. Mitra whose words were woven with Freudian concepts only. Mitra was later criticized for ignoring other branches of psychology. Mitra responded by saying:

 ‘… I have not separately mentioned Jung, Adler and other contributions as I believe that valuable factual materials of these researches as distinguished from the philosophy underlying them have been incorporated in the psycho-analytical system.’

Freud’s followers were against Jung from the outset. He had not expected this, and it made the northern part of his visit to India personally unsatisfactory. Yet this was not true of the second part of Jung’s journey to South India, a personal journey that the present author considers to be the real guiding purpose of the visit to India. The visit to South India gave Jung a chance to compare the convictions of years of study with the art and architecture of South India and the messages that were contained in it. In future blogs the story of this visit will be recounted, as will the message which Jung drew from such experiences for human kind as a whole.



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