Aspects of the Indian Hindu Male Psyche and Fascism – Tentative Explorations [1]

Rakesh Shukla

“One becomes a bit sceptical and asks how is it possible for the masturbation of small children and the sexual intercourse of adolescents to disrupt the building of gas stations and the manufacturing of aeroplanes” (p.63).
Wilhelm Reich, The Mass Psychology of Fascism

“Desire does not threaten a society because it is a desire to sleep with the mother but because it is revolutionary. And that does not at all mean that desire is something other than sexuality, but that sexuality and love do not live in the bedroom of Oedipus, they dream instead of wide open spaces, and cause strange flows to circulate that do not let themselves be stocked within an established order” (p.127).
Deleuze and Guattari, Anti-Oedipus


The present exploration is based on the thesis that a psychoanalytic perspective is useful in conceptualizing social and political issues of our times. The phenomena of fascism, fundamentalism, xenophobia, fratricidal violence, communalism and wars are the complex product of social, economic, cultural and psychological factors. Various frames of viewing throw up different, but equally important dimensions of a particular phenomenon. The conclusions of Jost et al (2003) after reviewing research in twelve countries with regard to political conservatism succinctly articulate the complexity: “The socially constructed nature of human belief systems (see Jost & Kruglanski, 2002) makes it unlikely that a complete explanation of conservative ideology could ever be provided in terms of a single motivational syndrome. Ideologies, like other social representations, may be thought of as possessing a core and a periphery (Abric, 2001), and each may be fueled by separate motivational concerns. The most that can be expected of a general psychological analysis is for it to partially explain the core of political conservatism because the peripheral aspects are by definition highly protean and driven by historically changing, local contexts.”

Respecting the contribution of psychoanalysis to understanding the mental health of the individual, the present work is in the nature of an attempt to go beyond the confines of individual psychology and apply a psychoanalytic approach to social issues. My views on these matters have evolved through almost twenty-five years of involvement with social organizations and movements working for radical social change, as well as dealing with the numerous obstacles to achieving social change, such as a reluctance to acknowledge the psychological dimensions to social problems. As to the nature of road blocks, Eliot Jacques (1955) offers a possible pointer: “it may become more clear why social change is so difficult to achieve, and why many social problems are so intractable. From the point of view here elaborated changes in social relationships and procedures call for a restructuring of relationships at the fantasy level, with a consequent demand upon individuals to accept and tolerate changes in their existing patterns of defences against psychotic anxiety. Effective social change is likely to require analysis of the common anxieties and unconscious collusions underlying the social defences determining phantasy social relationships"(p. 498).

Another possible reason for the marginalization of the need to redefine relationships is the ignoring of individual and psychological needs within organizations working for a more egalitarian society. About half a century after Marx, Freud evolved the analytical tools to understand the individual's unconscious drives to power and dominance. Firstly, a synthesis of Marx and Freud might have helped Marx’s votaries to have checked tendencies of dominance within their own organizations in their quest to build a more egalitarian and humane world.  Second is the lack of attention to the irrational factors at play while trying to tackle broad phenomena whether of militant nationalism, religious fanaticism, xenophobia or fascism. “However, irrational motivation in matters that are treated as purely 'social' or 'political' receive little attention….Freud's contribution, of trying to evolve methods to uncover the unconscious, needs to be taken out of the clinic and made part of mainstream political and social discourse” (Shukla, 2006). Adorno et al (1950) based on extensive research after World War II into personality structure and susceptibility to anti-democratic ideology in the United States speaking of fascism say “Since by its very nature it favors the few at the expense of the many, it cannot possibly demonstrate that it will so improve the situation of most people that their real interests will be served. It must therefore make its major appeal, not to rational self-interest, but to emotional needs—often to the most primitive and irrational wishes and fears” (p.10). Twemlow-Parens (2006) advance the view that Freud’s main legacy will be the application of psychoanalysis to community and social problems and strongly advocate community psychoanalysis.

Despite social diversity, there is universality to certain aspects of the psyche with which an ideology like fascism enmeshes and utilizes. Almost all human beings have the anxieties, insecurities, feelings of rage and anger that are part of daily existence. Alongside are positive feelings of belonging to a community, of love for the land they inhabit and for fellow human beings. While positive and negative feelings can acquire a social face due to various processes, it is the interface of politics and psychoanalysis that can determine how both negative and positive feelings in the psyche become mobilized for a fascist agenda. There are also certain dynamics which come into play when a collection of individuals begins to function as a group. It is clear that the working of the psyche of an individual appears distinct from that of the individual functioning as part of a group.

Theory and Groups
As far back as 1895, Le Bon in Pychologie des foules  succinctly articulated some of the aspects of the psyche that are universal in nature: “We see, then, that the disappearance of the conscious personality, the predominance of the unconscious personality, the turning by means of suggestion and contagion of feelings and ideas in an identical direction, the tendency to immediately transform the suggested ideas into acts; these we see, are the principal characteristics of the individual forming part of the group” (Freud 1921 p. 35).  The difference in the conception of the unconscious by Le Bon and that of psychoanalysis articulated by Freud is not of direct relevance and need not detain us at this juncture.

Le Bon goes on to mention certain other characteristics of group functioning which are worth extracting: “A group is extraordinarily credulous and open to influence, it has no critical faculty, and the improbable does not exist for it. It thinks in terms of images, which call one another up by association (just as they arise with individuals in states of free imagination), and whose agreement with reality is never checked by any reasonable agency. The feelings of the group are always very simple and very exaggerated. So that a group knows neither doubt nor uncertainty.  It goes directly to extremes, if a suspicion is expressed, it is instantly changed into an incontrovertible certainty; a trace of antipathy is turned into furious hatred”(Freud 1921 p.78).

Speaking of what can be termed a ‘fascist state of mind, Bollas (1992) says, “Doubt, uncertainty, self-interrogation, are equivalent to weakness and must be expelled from the mind to maintain ideological certainty. This is accompanied by a special act of binding as doubts and counter-views are expelled, and the mind ceases to be complex, achieving a simplicity held together initially by bindings around the signs of the ideology. Political slogans, ideological maxims, oaths, material icons fill the gap previously occupied by the polysemousness of the symbolic order. When the mind had previously entertained in its democratic order the parts of the self and the representatives of the outside world, it was participant in a multifaceted movement of many ideas linked to the symbolic, the imaginary, and the real—Lacan's terms. Specifically, words, as signifiers, were always free in the democratic order to link to any other words, in that famous Lacanian slide of the signifiers which expressed the true freedom of the unconscious to represent itself. But when representational freedom is foreclosed, signifiers lack this freedom, ideology freezes up the symbolic order, words becoming signs of position in the ideological structure (p. 201).”

Likewise, McDougals in ‘The Group Mind’ (1920)  describes the functioning of a group as “excessively emotional, impulsive, violent, fickle, inconsistent, irresolute and extreme in action, displaying only the coarser emotions and the less refined sentiments, extremely suggestible, careless in deliberation, hasty in judgment, incapable of any but the simpler and imperfect forms of reasoning; easily swayed and led ….and apt to be carried away by the consciousness of its own force, so that it tends to produce all the manifestations we have learned to expect of any irresponsible and absolute power”(Freud 1921 p.85).

The dynamics spelt out by Le Bon, McDougal and Bollas are at full play in the social and political arena in India. The imagery of battle in the minds of people is generally not amenable to logic or rationality. For example, attackers like Taimur[2] and Genghis Khan[3] who invaded and looted India several centuries ago, are conflated with present day Indian Muslims in order to exploit existing antipathies between Hindus and Muslims and turn it into full blown “othering” of the Muslim community as the repository of all evil.

It is Bion who proposed the thesis that when isolated individuals come together in groups, their anxiety mobilizes collective psychotic defences to stabilize and reassure themselves. He went on to propose a conception of unconscious group collusion that offers a bridge between the seeming disjunct between individual and group functioning. According to Bion (1952), “The apparent difference between group psychology and individual psychology is an illusion produced by the fact that the group brings into prominence phenomena which appear alien to an observer unaccustomed to using the group” (p. 461). Bion effectively draws from and builds upon Kleinian theory in the arena of group functioning. “I think that the central position in group dynamics is occupied by the more primitive mechanisms which Melanie Klein has described as peculiar to the paranoid-schizoid and depressive positions. [….]it is not simply a matter of the incompleteness of the illumination provided by Freud's discovery of the family group as the prototype of all groups, but the fact that this incompleteness leaves out the source of the main emotional drives of the group” (p. 475).

It is the succinct exposition by Segal (1957) of the primitive anxieties generated in the paranoid-schizoid position which can be applied to the context of Hindu-Muslim relations in India. Segal says, "… the paranoid-schizoid position anxieties of a primitive nature threaten the immature ego and lead to a mobilisation of primitive defences. Splitting, idealisation and projective identification operate to create rudimentary structures made up of idealised good objects kept far apart from persecuting bad ones. The individual’s own impulses are similarly split and he directs all his love towards the good object and all his hatred against the bad one. As a consequence of the projection, the leading anxiety is paranoid, and the preoccupation is with survival of the self”.

Indeed, these impulses have also been captured in cinema. Caspary (2002), discussing Bernardo Bertolucci's film “The Conformist” from a psychoanalytic perspective and reflecting on the fundamental dynamic of the fascist/authoritarian impulse, pithily articulates the processes in the psyche: “For Bollas the destruction of the symbolic is only the first “murder” necessary to maintain the fascist state of organization. In order to purify the mind of elements inconsistent with system norms, anyone who comes to represent destabilizing information—whether disavowed self-states, envied objects, or individuals who represent the very richness and complexity that has become so intolerable—must be eliminated.”.

Hindus form the majority population in India with Muslims constituting only about 14 percent of the population. Yet, ever since the birth of Independent India, the Hindu fear of being attacked, outnumbered and annihilated by the Muslims has played a key role in the mobilization of Hindus for attacking the community. The success of a Joseph Goebbels-like propaganda and the implanting of irrational beliefs in the Hindu community such as ‘Hindus are being persecuted in their own country’, ‘Muslims have four wives and 64 children’, ‘Hindus will soon be a minority in India’ or ‘More Hindus are killed in riots’ probably reinforces the splitting, idealization and projective identification operating in the psyche.

Of course, the charismatic fuhrer-leader aided by ‘transference’ taps into the processes of the unconscious to mobilize the masses. Freud’s analysis of the role of Christ in the Catholic Church and the Commander-in-Chief in the Army as well as his comments on identification between members of a group and the common emotional tie with the leader in Civilization, Society and Religion offers a direction for explorations of the role of the charismatic leader in the mobilization process. Fromm (1982) offers another pointer when he says, “The transference phenomenon, namely the voluntary dependence of a person on other persons in authority, a situation in which a person feels helpless, in need of a leader of stronger authority, ready to submit to this authority, is one of the most frequent and most important phenomena in social life, quite beyond the individual family and analytical situation. Anybody who is willing to see can discover the tremendous role that transference plays socially, politically and in religious life” (p.41).

Uncovering the links between the processes of the unconscious and the dynamics of mobilization of individuals may open up fruitful directions in the engagement with fascism.

Present Exploration
I first want to give shape to the abstract processes of group psychology in the specific situation of present-day India. Then, I will attempt to unravel the link between the individual psyche and behaviour in a group. In the instances of communal violence and killings in India, there have been instances of violence by the minority Muslim community, but predominantly the perpetrators have been Hindu men, who are therefore an important focus for this exploration. Undoubtedly, there is fascist-fundamentalist stream in the Muslim polity in India which in many ways feeds into Hindu fascist-fundamentalism, however, in my view, majoritarian fundamentalism is more dangerous than minority fundamentalism as is evident from the incidents in India of communal violence against minority communities.  Coming to the subjective, which is important in a psychoanalytic approach, having grown up in a Hindu family the familiarity of the emotional texture of relationships constitutes a vital input in the ideas and formulations presented in the paper. In short, I will attempt to explore and articulate the factors, pre-dominantly unconscious, in the psyche of the Hindu male which I believe operate in the mobilization for a fascist-fundamentalist agenda; a few tentative strokes on the broad canvas. 

The win of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the general elections in 2014 has catapulted celibate Narendra Modi, the “Roaring Son of Bharat Mata (Mother India)” in sharp contrast to the emasculated ex-Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, as the Prime Minister of India. This despite, or perhaps because of the anti-Muslim carnage that was orchestrated with government connivance in 2002. At a rational plane, successful polarization of society can ensure an electoral win based solely on the Hindu majority vote and is indicative of the deep roots and dangers posed by fascism in India. The BJP is the political formation which fights elections and is one of a number of organizations collectively referred to as the ‘Sangh Parivar’ or ‘Collective Family’.  The beginning was made by the founding of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in 1925. The ‘Parivar’ never looked back and proliferated - the Rashtriya Sevika Samiti for women, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad for students, the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh for workers and so on.  The RSS has a hierarchical structure with a Supreme Commander at the top and is the central controlling body for all the organizations.

‘Hindutva’ is the term used for the monolithic, aggressive, violent ‘jehadi’ (taken from ‘jehad’ meaning holy war in Islam) form of Hindu religion advocated by rightwing fascist formations in contradistinction to other more tolerant and diverse forms of Hinduism practiced in India. Parliamentary democracy and elections are but one of the many instrumentalities used for the propagation and perpetuation of the ideology. In fact, as is well known, the Nazi Party initially came to power in Germany after winning the elections in 1932 and Hitler was appointed Reich Chancellor in January 1933.  Winning votes by the Hindutva lobby, through communal polarization of the polity (as in the Gujarat assembly elections after the 2002 massacres of Muslims) is but a by-product of the process of mobilization, and not an end in itself. Following the 28th February 2007, burning of two compartments of a train full of Hindu ‘kar-sevaks’(people who had volunteered to build a Ram temple at the site of the demolished Babri Masjid[4] in Ayodhya) and the death of about sixty persons in Godhra, Gujarat, retaliatory violence against Muslims in Gujarat began. Extensive killings and rapes of Muslims immediately followed with a complicit BJP State Government. About 2000 Muslims are believed to have died in the carnage, believed to be pre-meditated and not a spontaneous reaction to the train-burning. Several independent investigations into the atrocities brought out these facts of a pre-planned anti-Muslim pogrom[5]. 

Although there is no unifying political doctrine associated with fascism, the shared common features of fascist movements include: aggressive and unquestioning nationalism; belief in the supremacy of one national, ethnic or religious group over others; disrespect for democratic and liberal institutions, even as they are used to attain power; a profound hatred for socialism; insistence on obedience to a powerful and absolute leader; and a strong association with militarism and a demagogic approach that appeals to and whips up the basest emotions in a mob, making it suggestible, hasty in judgement, easily swayed and carried away by the consciousness of its own force[6]. It is these features of the Hindutva movement, spearheaded by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), that permit comparisons with the Partito Nazionale Fascista (PNF) founded by Benito Mussolini, Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts in Britain, the Iron Guard in Romania, the Croix de Feu in France and the Nazi Party in Germany.

Since its formation in 1925, it has been the RSS’s agenda to transform a relatively pluralistic and liberal Hinduism into an aggressive Hindutva, with a call to attack minorities. While Christians have also been targeted by Hindutva forces, special virulence is reserved for Muslims. As Kakar (1995) puts it – “There is a special quality to the enmity I feel for a person who resembles me but is not me. Next to my brother, it is my neighbour the Ten Commandments enjoin me to love as I do myself, precisely because my neighbour is the one I am most likely to consider as a rival”. (p. 55)

The Sangh has a rigidly hierarchical structure, with leaders appointed rather than elected and the Sarsanghachalak as the ‘Supreme Commander’ at the top. Though the Sangh is open to married men, the grihastha (householder) is considered on a lower footing than the brahmachari, the virile but celibate son of Bharat Mata (Mother India) embodied in the pracharak (preacher). RSS ideologue Madhav Sadashiv Gowalkar (1939) in “We or our the Nationhood Defined,” professed great appreciation for the Nazi ideology and substituted the  desired Hindu “nation” with the valourised German “nation” and Muslims in place of the Jews. Not much has changed since Golwalkar’s time. The underpinning ideology of the organization continues to be based on the notion of a weakening Hindu race due to the pernicious influence of others. This conviction is reflected in statement made by K.S. Sudershan the head of RSS on June 6, 2007 which reads, “Missionaries were alluring tribals to convert. Today, symbols of Hindu pride like Ram Temple, Ram Setu are being attacked. Hence Hindus need to become strong”. (News report titled ‘Tipnis asks RSS to stand as bulwark against fundamentalism’ – Indian Express, June 6, 2007.)

Films, novels and comic books published after World War II successfully projected Germans, Italians and Japanese as the sole repositories of fascism.  It must be noted that the persistence of the perception of fascism either as a specific national characteristic of Germans or Italians or as the dictatorship of a tiny reactionary clique may stem from the fear of recognizing the reality that fascism is a phenomenon that pervades almost every country and society.

In any society there is a section which believes in fascism.  One can take the view that just as there are people who propagate capitalism, communism or socialism in society there are people and groups who believe in and propagate fascism. Indeed, fascism in India would not be such a threat if it were confined to groups like the RSS, BJP, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) or to individuals like Ashok Singhal and Praveen Togadia who head these organisations.

The situation becomes worrying when a sizable section of people starts subscribing to and implementing the fascist agenda. The widespread support to the fascist agenda was amply demonstrated by the large-scale killing of Muslims in Gujarat in February-March 2002 by mobs numbering 20-25,000 in places, predominantly with the general approval of Gujarat’s Hindu community. The support also manifested itself in the State Assembly elections later that year and the “peoples’ verdict” of returning the BJP Government to power in Gujarat. This “victory” was used extensively to silence critics by sledge-hammering the idea that the “Sovereign-Supreme People” had spoken, demonstrating the triumph of democracy. In fact, after the successful completion of an almost five-year term, the BJP using the earlier tested method of whipping up anti-Muslim sentiments also won the elections to the Gujarat State Assembly in December 2007 clearly illustrating the deep division along communal-religious lines in the Gujarat polity.

Lure of Fascism
A theoretical construct that posits the Sangh Parivar as “dirty fascists” and dogmatically refuses to see the common people’s support to fascist ideology cannot take us forward in developing insights crucial to combat the spread of fascism. Wilhelm Reich writing of the rise of fascism in Germany in the 1920s begins with the recognition that a large section of the working class in Germany supported fascism. The official explanation by the German Communist Party for this support did not lead to an understanding of the phenomenology of the support. Unfortunately, the anti-fascist, left and progressive forces in India, much like the Communist Party in Germany in the 1930s, spare scant thought to the complex factors in the individual psyche at play in the mobilization by the present day fascist forces. Reich’s pioneering work into the psyche of the “common man” or “little man” who is enslaved and craves authority but who also has a converse side is relevant to contemporary India. The interconnections he draws between daily life, sexuality, family, workplace and the growth of fascism can assist in understanding its proliferation in India in the past couple of decades.

It is to try and unravel what Foucault (1984) eloquently describes as: “….the fascism in us all, in our heads and in our everyday behaviour, the fascism that causes us to love power, to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us”(p.xiv). The particularities of the psyche which make it amenable/vulnerable or drawn to fascist ideologies would vary in different societies. Here I am attempting to explore possible facets of the Hindu male psyche which may make it prey to the “lure of fascism”. The positioning of the classical Oedipal complex and its play in the upbringing and childhood of boys in India may be a fruitful pathway of enquiry. Analysing the impact of culture and departing from the presumed universality of text book oedipal dynamics need not be looked upon as abandonment of Freudian psychoanalysis. In fact, Freud (1923) leaves space for an alternative resolution of the Oedipus complex: “Along with the demolition of the Oedipus complex, the boy’s object-cathexis of his mother must be given up. Its place may be filled by one of two things: either identification with his mother or an intensification of his identification with the father. We are accustomed to regard the latter outcome as more normal; it permits the affectionate relation to the mother to be in a measure retained.”(p.31-2).

Sex and Intimacy
The nature of relations between the husband and wife in India, as well as the role model for women as to what constitutes appreciation in society impacts the dynamics of the father-mother-son triad. It is likely that this remains true even for a large majority of modern young women in the big cities whose appearance, attire and behaviour seems far removed from women brought up in a conservative village or small town in India.  Outward changes are not necessarily accompanied or reflected in the inner world or psyche where possibly the process of change follows a dynamic not clear to us but which appears to be definitely slower in pace. Roland (1989) writing of Indian Identity and Colonialism comments, “To understand this is to recognize that while Ashish’s father’s values, life style, and even manner of authority were overwhelmingly Western, the inner emotional structure of the father-son hierarchical relationship was totally Indian.”(p.31)

In a society of ‘arranged marriages’ the bride and the bridegroom are almost perfect strangers to each other. In many a wedding, the bridegroom may well be secretly drinking (openly drinking is frowned upon as disrespect to elders) with his buddies who would be making raucous comments with sexual innuendoes humiliating to the bride and her family. After the ceremony, the much glamorised “suhaag raat”(wedding night) may at one end of the spectrum turn out to be little more than bridal rape with implicit if not explicit societal approval and endorsement by the groom’s mother. In these circumstances the “consent” of the bride may not even be an issue. It is likely that in a number of cases, the groom, eagerly anticipating the ‘deflowering’ of his ‘virgin bride’, may not even take her feelings into account. In fact, the law pertaining to rape in India excludes marriage and sanctions the husband’s sacrosanct privilege to sexual intercourse.

From these stark beginnings, the space for conjugal relations remains narrow and constricted in Indian society. Speaking of relations between the sexes, Kakar (1989) ),  notes that “Physical love will tend to be a shame ridden affair, a sharp stabbing of lust with little love and even less passion”(P.19). In fact, it appears that the clinics of the psychotherapists practicing in big cities do comprise of a sizable section of women depressed and/or disillusioned after marriage. Kakar’s conclusions are however based not on observations about middle- and upper-middle class women who come for psychotherapy, but also on interviews with low-caste, poor women and portray a uniformly miserable picture with regard to relations between the sexes in marriage. The expressions used indicative of the prerogative of the male  speak volumes with regard to the issue of satisfaction for the women in sexual relations, viz “Hafte mein ek bar lagwa lete hain” ( trans.: ‘I get it done to me once a week’) (P.22).

Kakar’s Intimate Relations was first published in 1989 and it has been an era of tumultuous change in the years following. However it is striking to read the findings of a recent International survey of 40,000 men in 43 countries) (Mens Health Magazine, 2006) that find Indians spending about thirteen minutes for sex (including foreplay). Sadly, even the advent of the more westernized “love-marriages” seems to have made little dent in the relational patterns, the status quo reflective of deep psychic realities. A recent newspaper report about a man killing fiancée over dowry is a case in point. The couple had been romantically involved and had been lovers for seven years. The couple belonged to different castes and the families were opposed to the match. The night before the marriage the ‘boy’ came with his mother and demanded Rs 500,000 dowry and when they refused he threw the ‘girl’ from the fifth floor house. (News report titled, ‘Man throws fiancée to death over dowry’ – The Times of India, April 30, 2007).

Thus, it is that in a ‘love-marriage’ too, which is supposedly a modern arrangement based on individual choice, the ‘boy’ goes along with his mother to demand dowry, a traditional marriage-linked tradition. This is a pointer towards the close mother-son relation and a pointer to the formation of the male psyche in India. Given the lack of intimacy in marriage, the primary emotional centre of a woman are the children, especially the son. The son is something of a combination of a knight in shining armour who will rescue, as well as the repository of the mother’s unfulfilled wishes.  According to Kakar, (1981) clinical experience consistently shows that, “displacement of a woman’s sexual longings from her husband to her son poses one of the most difficult problems for a boy to handle” and “the surge of unbidden and uncontrollable affect seems to threaten to engulf him while at the same time it arouses acute anxiety.” Kakar is speaking of individuals who had approached him for psychotherapy, seeking a constructive resolution. Roland (1989) based on psychoanalytically oriented therapeutic work in India writes, “Several women, quite psychologically sophisticated, have related to me that their husbands simply cannot tolerate too open assertiveness on their part because of unconsciously perceiving them as being so covertly powerful like their mothers. These women often give in to many of their husband’s demands, some on rather important career issues, because to assert themselves would be to profoundly disturb the marital relationship – that is, the husband would begin to experience his wife as the powerful mother.”(p.152). It is possible, however, that these feelings of engulfment and anxiety aroused in the ‘boy-male’ in some way get mobilized for an agenda of fascism and violence against the ‘other’. In the next section I attempt to explore these links.

Selfless Sons
In the popular epic Mahabharata, the patriarch Bhishma takes the course of embracing  brahmacharya (celibacy) in his prime so that his father, the ruler of Hastinapur,  could fulfil his desire of marrying a beautiful fisher girl. The bride’s condition precedent to the marriage was that her children alone could lay claim to the throne, prompting Bhishma (a son by an earlier wife) to become celibate, thus ruling out the possibility of having heirs at all. In a similar vein, King Yayati is cursed by Sant Shukracharya to become old in his youth. The only way out is if his sons give him his youth. The elder sons refuse, while the youngest one exchanges his youth and is accorded honour and inherits the kingdom. Interestingly, Ramanujam (1999) points out that there are “very, very few stories of actual patricide in Hindu myth, literature and folklore” and that in the stories generally “the son willingly gives up (often transfers) his political and sexual potency”, in contrast to the Oedipal myth predicated on hostility of the son towards the father. Goldman (1978) speaking of Oedipal myths in Sanskrit epic literature writes, “What these stories show, however, is that in almost every case in which this struggle is worked out between a son and his actual father in the Sanskrit epic literature it is the latter who succeeds. Actual sons are, if good sons, passive to the point of self-destruction and are rewarded for their passivity and subservience. If they are bad they are passively disobedient and are degraded as a punishment for their sins. The latter case, moreover, exists largely to serve as a contrast to the former. In neither case are they actually aggressive to their father, nor do they ever gain unimpeded access to the goals of maturity, independence and the free expression of sexuality.”

In fact, there is little room for ambivalence towards parents. The role model imprinted on the psyche through innumerable folk-tales and mythology is that of an obedient son. The story of Shravan Kumar is a favourite tale exemplifying the dutiful son. Shravan Kumar is a young man whose parents are old and unable to walk. However, as is prevalent practice in India, they want to want to go on a “teerth-yatra” (pilgrimage) in their old age. The “teerths” or pilgrimage centres have been established across the length and breadth of India by various holy men of yore. Shravan Kumar carries both parents in a “kanwar” – something like a large scale balance– with one parent in each of the pans with the bamboo pole across his shoulder. Shravan Kumar spends his youth trudging from one pilgrimage centre to another carrying his parents, which given the sub-continental dimensions of the country takes several years. Through all of this, Shravan Kumar experiences nary a feeling of resentment. If anything, he is proud to be of service to his parents and earns a lot of “punya” to his credit. “Punya” is translatable roughly as a kind of ‘pious brownie points’ in one’s credit account for the performance of good deeds in contradistinction to negative marks for committing bad deeds.

The utter denial of any ambivalence in the mother-son dyad is expectedly standard fare of Bollywood (studios in Bombay churn out a prodigal number of Hindi films each year) films. However, the films of even progressive male directors reflect the denial of ambivalence. A film screened at the film festival on ‘Gender and Sexuality’ (International Festival on Gender and Sexuality – Identities and Spaces : 12-15 May 2007) in Delhi titled “All About Our Mothers” (Directed by Manak Matiyani and Kuber Sharma, India) is illustrative. The documentary is a portrait of the mothers of the two young male directors. The film brings up issues of house-work, role expectations from women, the double burden of working outside and inside the house, but the context/paradigm of the film is exclusively husband-wife relations. It is standard practice in India for a mother to wash the clothes including the undergarments of the sons till marriage when the chore is taken over by the wife. It is implicit that the son old enough to make films will get cooked food on the table and washed underpants. The film has a romanticised portrayal of the “mother-son” relation without a hint of ambivalence, conflict or resentment. The sons are paying a tribute to their mothers and making them “heroines” and the mothers are helping the sons in making the film.

Films and popular media aside, the stories on which a child grows up emphasize the utter selflessness of the mother and total concern for the son with an underlying subtext of potential betrayal or doubt regarding the loyalty of the son, especially after marriage. “Joru ka gulam”, translatable as “slave of the wife” is one of the commonest sayings to sons who have got married. The implication in the saying is neglect of the mother. A folk tale from Uttar Pradesh in North India is worth recounting, as it makes the latent sub-text manifest. A son gets married. The wife does not like her mother-in-law and there is constant antagonism and hostility. The wife asks her husband to go, cut out and get the heart of his mother. The son goes does the needful and is carrying the still beating heart of the mother in his hand. On the way, his toe bumps into a stone and he stumbles. The heart says, “Beta chot to nahi ayi” (trans: “Son, hope you were not hurt”). The emotive impact and the imprint left on the psyche by such stories is strong, more so when related in the mother tongue by the care-givers of the child.

Valorising Celibacy
The renouncing of sexual life by young men is reified by other cultural beliefs regarding loss of strength by the falling of the seed. The valorisation of brahmacharya (celibacy) is taken to incredible lengths in Hindu religion. Thus religious texts are replete with statements like, “Brahmacharya is so powerful that by strictly following it one can win over death”. As Alter (1992) puts it: “A wrestler must not only abstain from sex, he must also build up his stock of semen and ensure that once built up it is as potent and strong as it can possibly be. The basis for this preoccupation is a belief that physical, personal, and intellectual strength emanates from semen. Semen is the locus of a person’s moral character and physical prowess”.

In fact, Bhishma Pitamha, the patriarch of the epic Mahabharata as a result of being a dedicated brahmachari was granted the boon of death-at-will and the power to change the course history of Hastinapur. These conceptions, however, are not only part of a mythical past but remain present day beliefs. Sri Asaram Bapu, a contemporary religious guru with a sizable following, claims that sex is not a healthy activity. Asaramji, after bemoaning the pernicious influence of Dr. Sigmund Freud, attempts to harness the prestige of medical science to tradition and enjoins his followers to follow one Dr. Molvil Keith, M.D. who declares: “This seed (semen) is marrow to your bones, food to your brains, oil to your joints and sweetness to your breath and if you are a man, you should never lose a drop of it till you are thirty years of age and then only for the purpose of having a child which shall be blessed by heaven” (The Times of India, September 29, 2000).

Adolescent boys in general have no acceptable outlet for their pent up sexual drives. The revering of brahmacharya along with beliefs about loss of semen leading to weakness of the body, mind and spirit acts as a block to healthy masturbation. Even when “indulged” in, it comes ridden with guilt, anxieties and fears about the consequences. On the other hand, “mother ****** and “sister-******” are the commonest abuses and are part of routine speech across the country. In fact, interventions in incidents of harassment of women in pubic spaces often takes the shape of abusing the perpetrator as “Sister ******” while simultaneously trying to make him feel ashamed by enquiring whether he does not have mothers and sisters at home, in a way encapsulating the contradictory feelings of Indian males towards women in their family. The rigid incest taboo in India, like in most societies, is indicative of the need to prohibit sexual feelings towards family members which are regarded as “unbrotherly” and “non-son-like” vis-à-vis boys/men and their mothers and sisters. These feelings for the “pure” mother and “virgin” sister evoke strong feelings of guilt and remorse. Sexual fantasies involving close family members along with lack of interaction and sexual activity among peers, fuels further frustration accompanied by feelings of guilt and perversion.

In the public domain, there is a denial of sex itself as un-Indian. The recent attempt to introduce the Adolescent Education Program by no less respectable a body than the government Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) was greeted with moral outrage.  The books were banned by the most industrialized state of Maharashtra as well as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. The attempt was decried as a ‘plot’ by the western countries to introduce sex and spoil the younger generation.  (News report titled ‘No sex education please, it corrupts and this is Maharashtra’ – The Indian Express, March 31, 2007). There are two recent reports which need to be put on board in this context. A survey by the Government of India found that over 50 percent of children had faced child sexual abuse. The percentage of boys abused was close to if not higher than the girls (“Physical, sexual abuse common in Indian kids” – A government of India study backed by UN Children’s Fund). The other is the high prevalence of child sexual abuse in government schools by figures in authorities like school principals and teachers. (News report titled, ‘Why kids in MCD schools are easy prey for perverts’ - The Times of India, April 22, 2007). A possible area of exploration could be whether the impulses leading to child sexual abuse and the feelings engendered in the perpetrators committing the act in some way get enmeshed and mobilized in the whipping of a righteous frenzy of the ‘other’ as the repository of all that is ‘impure’, ‘sexual’ and the unleashing of violence on the singled out community.

Thus the extreme suppression of sexuality, the intimate mother-son bond along with powerful images of powerful decapitating “Kali”(commonly depicted dancing  nude with a garland of human skulls and holding a severed head in one of several hands gripping various weapons), and the son giving up his potency to his father is the mixed bag of the Indian male psyche. Kakar (1997) posits that in Indian society, rather than conflict, the son seems to require an oedipal alliance with the father for autonomy vis-à-vis the mother and terms it “Maternal Enthrallment”.

In fact two vignettes from Kakar (1997) are worth recounting as textbook illustrations: “Mohan, too, we saw, became passionless whenever the motherly woman he fancied in the bus turned to face him. But instead of celibacy, he tried to hold on to desire by killing the sexual part of the mother, deadening the lower portion of her trunk, which threatened him with impotence. Furthermore, the imagined sexual overpowering of the mother, in the face of which the child feels hopelessly inadequate, with fears of being engulfed and swallowed by her dark depth, is not experienced by Mohan in the form of clear-cut fantasies but in a recurrent nightmare from which he wakes up screaming”(p.68).

The second vignette seems illustrative of the father-boss-fuehrer interconnection: “He compared himself to a frightened mouse in the presence of his father and felt that this trait had persisted all through his life. If anyone argues loudly, he said, especially, my boss, I have to agree and cannot say what I believe to be true. In these sessions it became clear that Deven’s fear of his father had largely to do with his sexual impulses. Whenever he talked of his attraction towards some girl or of his masturbation, it was in a very low, ‘mouse-like’ voicewhich I could hardly hear and this happened almost always at the end of the session when he could get away quickly. After any such confession, he would close his eyes tightly, clasp his hands on his stomach in an attitude of praying and cross his legs, as if protecting his genitals from retaliation” (p.78).

One other ingredient which has a vital importance for our purposes comes from the “Father” of Indian Psychoanalyses, Girendrasekhar Bose (the moving spirit behind the formation of the Indian Psychoanalytic Association in 1922): “The respectability of the mother image is sought to be neutralized by the substitution of the mother by the sister or women of lower social status and even prostitutes. There is impaired potency and obsessional fear of not being able to satisfy the woman in the sexual act. The small penis complex receives a further  strengthening from this source, the child’s penis being considered too small for the mother” (emphasis added) (1928).

Role of Suppression of Sexuality
The basic Reichian postulate that suppression of sexuality causes repression within the individual psyche and makes it a fertile ground for the spread of reactionary ideologies like fascism (carried forward by Deleuze and Guattari to the arena of the purpose served by Oedipalisation of desire) remains an underpinning of the present paper. In fact, the pioneering works of Kakar and Bose show the particularities and causative factors which contribute to the suppression of sexuality in Indian society. Observing that economic distress incites people to rebellion, while sexual distress prevents rebellion against both forms of suppression, Reich (1942) offers insights into the causative processes:  “The moral inhibition of the child’s natural sexuality, the last stage of which is the severe impairment of the child’s genital sexuality, makes the child afraid, shy, fearful of authority, obedient, ‘good’, and ‘docile’ in the authoritarian sense of the word. It has a crippling effect on man’s rebellious forces because every vital life-impulse is now burdened with severe fear; and since sex is a forbidden subject, thought in general and man’s critical faculty also become inhibited. In short, morality’s aim is to produce acquiescent subjects who despite distress and humiliation, are adjusted to the authoritarian order”.

Deleuze and Guattari acknowledging the radical contribution of Reich, the first to posit sociological reasons for the suppression of sexuality by society and repression by the individual, write: “But social repression should not be understood by using as a starting point a familial repression co-extensive with civilization – far from it; it must be civilization that must be understood in terms of social repression inherent to a given form of social production” (p.129). Referring to the thesis of suppression of sexuality and sublimation as transcendent requirements for “Civilization”, Reich in his inimitable manner remarks: “One becomes a bit sceptical and asks how is it possible for the masturbation of small children and the sexual intercourse of adolescents to disrupt the building of gas stations and the manufacturing of aeroplanes” (p.63).

Deleuze and Guattari pay a fitting tribute to him: “The fact remains that Reich, in the name of desire, caused a song of life to pass into psychoanalysis. He denounced the final resignation of Freudianism, a fear of life, a resurgence of the ascetic ideal, a cultural broth of bad consciousness. Better to depart in search of the Orgone, he said to himself, in search of the vital and cosmic element of desire, than to continue being a psychoanalyst under those conditions” (p.129-30).

Deleuze and Guattari carry Reich’s legacy forward and further the understanding of the role of suppression of sexuality in society: “It is therefore of vital importance for a society to repress desire, and even to find something more efficient than repression, so that repression, hierarchy, exploitation, and servitude are themselves desired. It is quite troublesome to say such rudimentary things: desire does not threaten society because it is a desire to sleep with the mother, but because it is revolutionary. And that does not at all mean that desire is something other than sexuality, but that sexuality and love do not live in the bedroom of Oedipus, they dream instead of wide open spaces, and cause strange flows to circulate that do not let themselves be stocked within an established order”(p.127). 

Self and Individualism
If one were to look at the present exploration, which attempts to tease out possible causes of the support to a fascist-fundamentalist ideology in the Hindu psyche, from the standpoint of theories around psychosexual stages of development, ego and super-ego development, object-relations, psychosocial and narcissistic stages of development with implicit Western universalistic norms, it would result in viewing the Indian as well as other non-western psyches as “inferior” or “distorted” with “pathological mothering” interfering with individuation and possibly more prey to fascism. Suffice to say that the greatest manifestation of fascism in the last hundred years was in Germany and that each society and culture engenders certain facets in the psyche which can enmesh with a fascist ideology. As Roland (1989) writing of potentialities and pathologies in a society and culture from a cross-cultural psychological perspective puts it: “It is also apparent from clinical psychoanalytic work in India, Japan, and America that in each society there are distinct kinds of psychopathology, structural deficits, and unconscious conflicts – a finding that is generally congruent with anthropological work relating mental illness to specific cultural and social patterns.”(p.325).

An exploration towards an understanding of the processes at play in a mobilization for a fascist-fundamentalist agenda in India is not to make a case for American individualism as a universal model of the self to be followed in all societies[7]. Acknowledging the more relational and contextual nature of the self in India as well as the effect of differential mothering on boundary formation between the self and others elaborated by Roland (1988), it is a plea for what could be called a middle path Indian self with slightly more space for autonomous functioning and for awareness, if not expression, of ambivalence and anger towards parents and elders in the family.

Roland’s extremely empathetic view of the Indian self and sensitive work itself serves to  illustrate the need for changes in this direction. Speaking of the we-self and multiple levels of communication of Indian, Roland (1989) writes: “ A striking example of these different levels of communication is cited by Das (1976b): a man beat his wife in accordance with the complaints of his mother and sister, thus fulfilling structural hierarchical expectations within the family, but that night made love to her in such an indiscreet way that he clearly communicated to the others that his deeper loyalty and love was to his wife, not to his mother and sister. From reports of his wife, his mother and sister were crestfallen the next morning”. (p. 222). Regardless of the contextualisation of the Indian conscience rather than universal norms, beating up a wife can hardly be looked upon as a healthy aspect of the male psyche and the marital relationship.

Roland’s work also gives pointers to the role strong identification with family and community and the “we-self” of Indians can play in the “othering” of another community: “Strong identifications on the part of both women and men with their families and jatis (caste/community) often leads to feelings that others of another community may be tremendously different – which indeed they are in terms of customs, ethos, traditions and norms – whereas the inner psychological structures and modes of relationship may be overwhelmingly similar. The experiential sense of we-ness and we-self in the close identifications with one’s own family and community thus enhances the perception of enormous differences in others.”(P.225-226).

In a communally surcharged atmosphere, the role of the intense mother-son relationship in the context of the killing of people and rape of women from the “other” community with the approval, if not encouragement of the mother is another area which can be a fruitful direction of inquiry. Again, Roland gives some pointers in this direction, “A psychopathological dimension of this intense mother-son relationship tends to emerge when there are feelings of an omnipotent alliance on both sides; that is, both son and mother may have strong inner feelings of powerfulness with little or no constraints on what they want and/or should do as long as they feel deeply connected to each other.”(p. 234).

 It looks likely that colonialism meshed in with features present in the prevalent psyche and the aim of Macaulay[8] in setting up the education system in India to produce clerks, resulted in the colourless “babu”(clerk) personality. This was again a mixed bag of worries about not getting employment, the single-track education system, family pressures to conform, marry, produce grandchildren and fulfil duties towards parents, which leaves little space to develop interests and healthy enjoyments. However, the anonymous, non-assertive, “non-entity” personality which gets pushed around in the workplace and takes the shape of the ‘obedient’ son in the family has a converse authoritarian-negative side which gets mobilized in aid of the fascist-fundamentalist agenda.

Protecting the Mother
The notion of defending “our mothers and sisters” plays a core part in mobilization in an agenda of attacking the other “Enemy” community. Feelings of inadequacy, lack of potency symbolized in the small penis complex plays another crucial role. The males of the “other” community are invariably looked upon as super-humanly virile, potent and lusting after our mothers and sisters. This is true of the view of black males by white supremacists, Jews by Nazis as well as the viewing of Muslims by Hindu males.

 In Gujarat long before any killings began, women’s bodies were centrally used to successfully polarize the two communities. The rallying cry for large-scale mobilization of Hindus and for the first time of Adivasis (indigenous peoples) was that, “They (Muslims) despoil our women!” Given the complicity of the state administration, the only hope of safety was in numbers and Muslims fled to areas where the community constituted a sizable proportion of the population. However, in Sanjeli village of Dahod district in Gujarat not one out of the 500 houses of Muslims comprising 40 percent of the population remains in the village. The “credit” for mobilizing about 25-30,000 Adivasis goes to Dilsukh Maharaj, himself a Bhil, who runs an ashram with a hostel for school children and is part of the Sant Samaj (Society of “sants-sanyasis”, that is individuals who have renounced the world). Dilsukhji declared that Muslims took “our” women and have “violated” at least 100 Bhil women in Sanjeli alone. Muslims, according to him, consider “our widows” to be everyone’s property.

Public meetings, speeches, pamphlets, schools, cultural groups, ashrams, philanthropic institutions, babas, sants and maharajs all have been systematically used as tools for the past decade by the “Sangh Parivar” to spread venom and demonize Muslims.  After the Godhra train burning incident on 27th February incident, rumours about Hindu women being abducted, raped and mutilated played a crucial role in the mobilizing. Leading Gujarati language dailies like Sandesh and Gujarat Samachar carried headlines on 28th February-1st March 2002, like “10-15 Hindu women were dragged away by a fanatic mob from the railway compartment”; “ Wicked villains of this mob kidnapped some ten women (behno –‘sisters’) whose whereabouts are not yet known”; “Helpless women were struggling to escape from the grip of Saitans (Devils)”; “Out of kidnapped young ladies from Sabarmati Express, dead bodies of two women recovered - breasts of women were cut off”  -  inflaming communal tension and feeding into righteous indignation and moral outrage providing a justification for the massacre and rape of Muslims that followed in the State. Psychoanalytically speaking, stories about breasts being cut off feed into associations of the nurturing breast of the mother being taken away, leading to intense feelings of infantile rage and anxiety which can then get mobilized for channelization against the “enemy” community.

Building upon prevailing Hindu-Muslim antagonism, feeding into insecurities, stoking fears and the successful implanting of a belief that the majority Hindu community is under threat from the minority community leads to the crossing of a certain threshold where an “Othering” takes place. ‘Muslim’ girls and women can never even be imagined as ‘mothers and sisters’ of our ‘Hindu’ boys. The stereotyping and boxing in of individual women into the categories of ‘whore’ and ‘goddess’, contributes to women of the other community being considered bitch-like and enjoying sex unlike the ‘dutiful’ good woman. Simultaneously, the men of the ‘other’ community get constructed as ‘animal-like’ oversexed males lusting after and posing a threat to the women of ‘our’ community.

 The inaccurate conflation of invaders like Taimur, Changez Khan, Babar from the past attacking ‘Mother India’ and violating ‘pure’ Hindu girls and women in the past with contemporary stories of Muslim men abducting, raping and mutilating our ‘mothers and sisters’ leads to the successful demonising of Muslims. Sexual violence against Muslim girls and women becomes a righteous moral act to save the ‘honour’ of ‘our’ mothers and sisters, at the same time emasculating the rapacious Muslim males and ‘dishonouring’ the entire community.

Indeed, the existence of Babri Masjid built by ‘Babar the Cruel’, as a phallic symbol which colonises Mother India and emasculates the virile sons who failed to protect her was forcefully played upon to spread hate and venom during the Ramjanmabhoomi rath yatra. In 1992,Lal Krishna Advani the leader of the BJP, the main Opposition party in parliament, started the Yatra from Somnath invoking the plunder of the temple (the destruction had nothing to do with Indian Muslims - Mahmud of Ghazni invaded India and in 1025 A.D. looted the Somnath Temple) and ended it at Babri Masjid in a masterful exercise at invoking past-trauma as if it happened now leading to intensifying of emotions and justifiable anger against "them". The culmination in the demolition of the Masjid restored Hindu male virility and symbolic Hindu feminine purity, Bachcheta (2004).

The idealization of the ‘pure’ mother with no room for ambivalence, extreme suppression of sexuality, the revering of brahmacharya, the giving up of potency for father, the desire for a charismatic fuhrer- father who can be obeyed obviating the need for autonomous functioning and responsibility, the anxieties, frustrations and fears about virility along with the projection of all ‘negative’, ‘impure’, ‘lustful’, ‘beast-like’, onto the “Enemy Other” are possible areas of exploration which may offer some insights and understandings of the processes at play and assist to devise strategies[9] to engage with a hate-ideology like fascist-fundamentalism in India.

The paper was first presented at an International Conference “On the Future of Asian Feminism Confronting Fundamentalism and Neoliberalism” on November 3, 2008 at Bali, Indonesia organised by Kartini Asia, Indonesian Association for Justice and Women’s Studies Centre, Dhaka University, Bangladesh.

(I would like to thank Dr. Eveline List, Institut für Geschichte, Psychoanalyse, Universität Wien, Austria, Dr. Douglas Kirsner, Deakin University, Australia and Dr. Neil Altman, New York University for their comments on earlier drafts which have contributed to the present version)


Adorno et al. The Authoritarian Personality, Studies in Prejudice, Harper and Brothers, 1950.
Alter, Joseph S. The Wrestler’s Body, Identity and Ideology in North India, University of California Press, 1992.
Bachcheta, Paola. Mother Goddesses and Warriors: RSS Women as Ideologues. Women Unlimited, 2004.
Bapu, Sri Asaram. Reap the Benefits of Brahamacharya: The Speaking Tree. The Times of India, 29 September 2000.
Bion, W. R. Group Dynamics: A Re-view. International Journal of . Psycho-Anal.  vol.33, reprinted in M. Klein, P. Heimann & R. Money-Kyrle, eds., New Directions in Psychoanalysis. Tavistock, 1955, pp. 440-77, p.457, 461, 475.
Bollas, Christopher. Being a Character, Psychoanalysis and Self Experience, Hill and Wang, 1992.
Bose, Girendrasekhar.  “The Genesis and Adjustment of the Oedipus Wish”, Originally read in a meeting of the Indian Psychoanalytical Association on 30 September 1928 (International Journal of Psychoanalyses, vol x, part 4, October 1929) - excerpted from “Vishnu on Freud’s Desk” edited by Vaidyanthan and Kirpal, OUP, 1999, p. 34
Caspary, Art. The Conformist: Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Fascism, (2002). Canadian Journal of Psychoanalysis, 10: 115-131
Deleuze Giles and Guattari, Felix – “Anti-Oedipus”, Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Continuum, 2004
Else Frenkel-Brunswik. Sex, People and Self as seen through the Interviews. Chapter XI, The Authoritarian Personality (ibid), 1950.
Foucault, Michael. Preface, Anti-Oedipus (ibid)
Freud S. Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. In Strachey J , trans., Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol 18. Vintage, The Hogarth Press, 2001.
Freud, S. The Ego and the Id, Standard Edition Vol 19, 1923.
Fromm, Erich. Greatness and Limitations of Freud’s Thought, Abacus, 1982.
Goldman, R. ‘Fathers, Sons and Gurus: Oedipal Conflict in the Sanskrit Epics’, Journal of Indian Philosophy, 6, 1978, p.350.
Gowalkar, M.S. We or our the Nationhood Defined. Bharat Publications, 1939.
Jacques, Elliot. Social systems as defence Against persecutory and depressive anxiety: a contribution to the psycho-analytical study of social processes. In M. Klein, P. Heimann and R. Money-Kyrle (eds) New Directions in Psycho-Analysis. London: Tavistock, 1955.
Jost John T., Glaser Jack, Kruglanski, Arie W and Sulloway, Frank J. –Political Conservatism as Motivated Social Cognition’, Psychological Bulletin 2003, Vol. 129, No. 3, 339–375
Kakar, Sudhir. Culture and Psyche, Selected Essays OUP, 1997.
Kakar, Sudhir. Intimate Relations, Exploring Indian Sexuality, Penguin Books, 1989.
Kakar, Sudhir. The Colours of Violence Viking, Penguin Books India, 1995.
Kakar, Sudhir. The Inner World, A Psycho-analytic Study of Childhood and Society in India, OUP, 1981.
Le Bon G (1895). Psychologie des foules – Trans: The Crowd: a Study of the Popular Mind, London, 1920 pg 35 – Cited Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. In: Strachey J, trans., Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol 18. Vintage, The Hogarth Press, 2001.
Maria Hertz Levinson. Psychological Ill – health in relation to potential Fascism – A Study of Psychiatric Clinic Patients, Chapter XXII, “The Authoritarian Personality” (ibid).
McDougal W. The Group Mind (1920), Cambridge pg 45, Cited in Group psychology and the analysis of the ego. In: Strachey J, trans., Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol 18. Vintage, The Hogarth Press, 2001.
Men’s Health Magazine. Sex Survey: Indian Men climax fastest. November 2, 2006. 
Ramanujam, A.K. The Indian Oedipus. In Vaidyanthan and Kirpal (Ed), Vishnu on Freud’s Desk, OUP, 1999.
Reich, Wilhelm. The Mass Psychology of Fascism, translation from German by Vincent R, Carfagno, Penguin Books, Reprinted 1983.
Reuters posted online 9 April 2007 “Physical, sexual abuse common in Indian kids” – A government of India study backed by UN Children’s Fund.
Roland, Alan. In search of Self in India and Japan, Toward a Cross-Cultural Psychology, Princeton University Press, 1989.
Segal, Hanna. ‘Notes on Symbol Formation’ Internat. J. Psycho-Anal. 38: 391-97, 1957.
Shukla, Rakesh. Probe the Unconscious, The Times of India, November 25, 2006.
Shukla, Rakesh. The face of Hindu Fascism, Himal Southasian, October-November 2007.
The Indian Express, 31 March 2007. No sex education please, it corrupts and this is Maharashtra.
The Indian Express, June 6, 2007 – Tipnis asks RSS to standard bulwark against fundamentalism.
The Times of India, April 22, 2007. Why kids in MCD schools are easy prey for perverts.
The Times of India, April 30, 2007 – Man throws fiancée over dowry.
Twemlow, Stuart W. and Parens, Henri. Might Freud’s Legacy Lie Beyond the Couch’ Psychoanalytic Psychology, 2006, Vol. 23, No.2, 430-451.

1. Given the impact of differences of caste, class, region, culture, social environment and individual upbringing in a country of sub-continental proportions it is hazardous to posit an ‘Indian Hindu Male Psyche’.  The present use of the term for convenience is perhaps debatable and open to discussion.

2. Taimur (1336-1405) also referred to as Tamerlane – Turkish King of Mongol descent who invaded India, in 1398 and is said to have executed 100,000 captives, mostly Hindus in a single day.

3. Genghis Khan (1162-1227) founder of the Mongol Empire, born Temujin was declared “Khan” in 1206 and took the title “Genghis Khan”. In 1221 he is said to have ravaged vast tracks of Punjab, attacked Multan and Lahore – his religion is speculated to be Shamanism or Tengriism prevalent in Mongol-Turkic tribes but he is inaccurately though widely perceived as a Muslim invader in India and in the mobilization for the killings of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002, slogans referring to Muslims as "Changez Khan ke aulad" (trans. Progeny of/Sired by Changez Khan) were extensively used to evoke murderous sentiments.

4. The Babri Masjid was a mosque at Ayodhya in Faizabad district of Uttar Pradesh built by Mir Baqi, a general during the reign of Babar, the first Mughal Emperor. The "Sangh Parivar" comprised of Hindu nationalist organizations claimed that the mosque was built on the site of a temple marking the birthplace of the mythological hero "Lord Ram" after destroying the temple. They started a movement to reclaim the birthplace referred to as Ramjanambhoomi. On December 6, 1992 the Babri Masjid was demolished by kar-sevaks (volunteers) at the culmination of the Ramjanambhoomi rath yatra led by Lal Krishan Advani, leader of the BJP, the main opposition party in parliament and the prime-ministerial candidate for the next general elections in India to be held in 2009.

5. Harvest of Hatred – The Concerned Citizens’ Report on Gujarat, 2002, Manohar Books; ‘Maro! Kaapo! Balo!’ – State, Society and Communalism in Gujarat, Peoples’ Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), May 2002; “We Have No Orders to Save You” – State Participation and Complicity in Communal Violence in Gujarat, April 2002, Human Rights Watch April 2002 Vol.14, No.3(C).

6. Chambers Dictionary of World History, 2003; Le bon (ibid).

7. Jack London (1876-1916) - Worker, Oyster Pirate, Railroad hobo, Prospector, Explorer, Author of ‘The Call of the Wild’, ‘White Fang’ and ‘The Sea Wolf’ is an iconic example of unconfined individualism.

8. Lord Macaulay (1800-1859) set up the system of education in India which remains the basic framework of teaching. Minute on Indian Education delivered by Macaulay in 1835: “It is impossible for us, with our limited means, to attempt to educate the body of the people. We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern; a class of persons, Indian in blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals, and in intellect. To that class we may leave it to refine the vernacular dialects of the country, to enrich those dialects with terms of science borrowed from the Western nomenclature, and to render them by degrees fit vehicles for conveying knowledge to the great mass of the population”.

9. Learning to take responsibility for one’s projections and taking them back at a collective level could be a possible direction of some form of community psychoanalysis.

Jul 18, 2016

Rakesh Shukla may be contacted at

Your Comment if any