Austrian theorist of religion Adolf Hall talks to Indian psychoanalyst and author Sudhir Kakar; link via PTDR. At, some point, Adolf Hall says:

I mention Shiva, because for a long time I’ve been toying with the thought of making a literary attempt to represent Adolf Hitler in the language of Indian mythology. In the West, particularly in Austria and Germany, we’re not placed to deal with Hitler in a form in which we can integrate him. Perhaps the ancient, long gone ways of dealing with evil, for example the Shiva stories, are an appropriate medium for suggesting how to integrate these destroyers.

Of course, Sudhir Kakar corrects him immediately:

I think that one should integrate the destructive so that it doesn’t remain foreign to one, one should discover it in oneself und so be able to arm oneself against it, because in doing so one can also incorporate such figures. However, I wouldn’t attribute the destructive to Shiva so much as of other demon kings, Ravana for example. There are several such figures in Indian mythology who, having first prayed to Shiva for a long time, as soon as they received his blessing considered themselves invincible and went over to evil. Vishnu, who embodies the principle of life, had to find the ways and means to bring these demon kings to reason. If anything I’d place Hitler among these demon kings.

So, who is the Vishnu now? Winston Churchill or FD Roosevelt? Whichever way you look at it, it does not look good!

One more disheartening bit of the interview is here:

SK: Astrologers are psychotherapists for the majority of the Indian society. They do the same thing, draw up a scenario, explain the connections, offer suggestions for solutions. Diagnoses and prognoses are made, like psychotherapy, just a lot cheaper.

AH: Western intellectuals would describe that as regression to pre-Enlightenment thought.

SK: One could cite that great Enlightenment thinker, Freud, who said that any psychotherapy that helps is good.

AH : So in India old, pre-modern ways of dealing with mental problems are still alive. They continue to have an effect and it can’t be expected that they will cease to function under the force of globalization.

SK: As long as belief exists in the mystical behind the real, which in contrast to Freud’s hard reality makes for the softness of the Indians, and as long as the Indian world view also includes the occult, then Gurus, ascetics, and astrologers will continue to play an essential role.

I neither believe that astrologers help, nor do I think that what they practise is psychotherapy — but then, I am not Sudhir Kakar. Long back, somebody from NIMHANS gave a talk at IISc — he argued that it is the sadhus who function as psychotherapists in Indian society — and, I think that makes a bit more of sense.