“Psychology has a long past, yet its real history is short” was the statement made by Hermann Ebbinghaus (1908). Psychology is as old as the human civilization. Man in his eternal quest for knowledge has been curious about himself, his thought processes, his reflections, and his experiences. Psychology grew out of man’s interest in studying and understanding himself. The psychology we study today began in western philosophy. The roots of psychology can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Yet the contribution of the Indian philosophers cannot be ignored. While tracing the roots of psychology, the western textbooks hardly mention the contributions of ancient Indian thinkers. But the most recent researchers in psychology are turning their attention to the Indian vision of human consciousness. The ancient Indian views are lately being respected by the western psychologists.
The Indian sages have dealt with and spoken extensively on the functioning of consciousness. In order to understand the experience of man, and the problems of mankind, the Indian sages used experience and observation (pratyaksha) and reason (anumana), which were supplemented by intuition and testimony (pramana). All Indian philosophical discourses including Vedanta, Yoga, Nyaya, Mimansa, Budhism, Jainism, Sufi and Charvak provide rich information regarding important psychological themes such as mind, body, art of living, values, ethics, perception, emotion, motivation etc.
The modern discipline of psychology has its roots in ancient Greek philosophical thoughts propounded by Plato and Aristotle. The development of psychology can be divided into two periods:
(i) pre-scientific period, and
(ii) scientific period.
In 1879, Wundt founded the first formal laboratory of experimental psychology at Leipzig, and was the first person to refer to him as a psychologist. The year 1879 marked the boundary between the pre- scientific period and the scientific period.