Keynote Presenter

Suneet Varma

Suneet Varma

Suneet Varma, Ph.D., is associate professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Delhi, India. Dr. Varma's early work was in the area of philosophy of psychology/theoretical psychology. He now works in the area of spirituality and psychology, viz., yoga, Vedanta, Sufism, Buddhism, the Christian mystical tradition; and their links with Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga psychology. His most recent work is on the connections between spirituality, music, and healing.

Psychic transformation in Integral Yoga: Music, healing, and beyond

Sri Aurobindo uses the term psychic for the soul. The psychic is that part of us that responds to the true and the beautiful; love and joy being its essential nature. In bhakti yoga, the aspirant as seeker of the Divine gradually disidentifies with all emotions except that of love. Our life becomes increasingly characterized by a feeling of goodwill towards all human beings, and we view all and relate to all in terms of unconditional love; and at last, we experience the truth of the age-old tenet basudhaib kutumbkam (the entire world is one family). Bhakti thus allows for the coming forward of the psychic being.

An essential part of the presentation is experiential, utilizing excerpts from Indian classical bhakti music and Sufi music. While the songs are played, the words of the lyric are presented on the screen, along with the English translation. The lyrics point to the nature of self-transformation attained by the bhakta, and the deep experience of bliss experienced.

That music is used as a means to help enjoy bhakti rasa and lead a listener to a journey on the path of devotion (bhakti marga) is explained. Finally, it is pointed out that the bhakti marga helps an individual experience and live in the psychic. Not only is individual well-being and optimal functioning attained, a life lived in and through the psychic also paves the way for a lasting human unity.

Sri Aurobindo's symbol

Mother's symbol