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h. n. murthy

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H. N. Murthy
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium
H. N. Murthy
H. N. Murthy
H. N. Murthy visiting The National College, Bangalore

Hosur Narayan Murthy, (1924 - 2011) was a psychologist, philosopher, Sanskrit scholar and teacher who headed the department of psychology at the prestigious "National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences" (NIMHANS), Bangalore. His family hailed from Hosur near Bangalore in the south Indian state of Karnataka. H. Narayan Murthy was born in Bangalore to brahmin parents-father Hosur Ramaswamaiah Subba Rao and smt Rajamma. His father was an official in "Iron and Steel Plant" at Bhadravathi. Narayan Murthy had his schooling at Bhadravathi before continuing his education at Bangalore and Mysore. 

Having finished his early schooling from the town of Bhadravathi near Shimoga, Narayan Murthy gained admission to Maharaja's College, Mysore to pursue Bachelor in Arts in Psychology. His dissertation for the bachelor's degree was a comprehensive study on "National Stereotypes" - as to perceptions of Indians regarding other nationalities and foreign perception of Indians. He completed his Bachelor's Degree in the year 1952 and was awarded the prestigious "Babha Memorial Gold Medal" for the best scholar in the Psychology and Philosophy group. His mentor and professor Dr M.V.Gopalaswamy (pictured here in group photo), was one of the founding fathers of psychology at university of Mysore.

Dr M. V. Gopalaswamy earned his PhD in London under Dr Charles Spearman and returned to Mysore in 1924 to establish India's second department of Psychology. Dr M.V.Gopalaswamy started the first broadcasting station in princely state of Mysore using a transmitter he had brought from England. He coined the word "Akashvani" which was later adopted by Government of India for its broadcasting stations. Dr S. Srikanta Sastri was a colleague and friend of Dr M. V. Gopalaswamy and assisted him in amateur radio broadcasts. They often discussed the "Tantra Philosophy" in relation to "Modern Psychology".

Incidentally, Dr H. Narayan Murthy happens to be Dr S. Srikanta Sastri's nephew. He completed his Master in Arts in Psychology from University of Mysore in 1954. He worked for a while at "Mysore State Mental Hospital" at Bangalore before relocating to "Ranchi European Lunatic Asylum" (currently renamed as "Central Institute of Psychiatry") at Ranchi, Bihar. H. Narayan Murthy later embarked on his doctoral thesis on "Causality in Experimental Psychology" at "Katholieke Universiteit Leuven", Belgium on an educational scholarship. His guide there was a Roman Catholic priest who was also a professor in psychology. He was awarded a Ph. D degree for his research work and the university conferred upon him the title of "Excelsior Professor" in recognition of his erudition and commendable contribution to the field of psychology. He is credited with the introduction of "Behavioural Therapy" for the mental patients at NIMHANS, Bangalore in the late 1970s. This novel approach towards an attempted change of behaviour and mental attitudes culminated in a welcome reduction in the number of patients seeking admission to the hospital. But his enduring legacy stems from his efforts at linking "Indian Philosophy" with "Modern Psychology" and establishing common grounds between the two. He was an ardent devotee of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa and Swami Vivekananda. He was in touch with various Swamijis of Ramakrishna order like swami Siddeshwaranandaji and swami Ranganathanandaji (former president). Here is an excerpt from former vice-chancellor of Bangalore University Dr M. S. Thimmappa's tribute to his mentor and professor (Dr H. Narayan Murthy):


"I found through him that one can be open to all system and schools of knowledge without being merely 'eclectical' as deep within every discovery of genuine truth there is a common thread connecting all forms, knowing which makes us more insightful and effective. Once (may be in the year 1967) we were discussing I. P. Pavlov’s work. Pavlov had borrowed Hippocrates typology - Choleric, Melancholic and Phlegmatic - to explain his observation of dogs behaviour which H. J. Eysenck later borrowed to explain his typology on Personality: Extraversion-Introversion. Both hypothesized on the brain process involved in such Types: Excitatory and Inhibitory properties of the brain, more specifically, the generation, maintenance and dissipation of those properties in the brain and their relation to Types: excitatory properties generates easily, lasts longer and dissipates slowly in Introverts/Melancholics whereas in Extraverts/ Phlegmatic the inhibitory properties in the brain are generated quickly, lasts longer and dissipated slowly. At once Dr. Murthy grew deep into himself, with his eyes in brilliant shine as is the case with him in all such situation, and tells me that it is a very profound observation, the generation-maintenance-dissolution is the rajas-satva-tamas / srushti-stiti-laya / brahma-vishnu-maheshvara in us. It was astounding to me. When I went home later, I rushed to pick up the book of Pavlov, which has already relegated to the back row of my book rack after the Examinations, and read it in one go, the whole work looked differently after Dr. Murthy's remark. In fact my foray into nature and control of arousal in different types and conditions of people (for my doctoral work) drew inspiration from such insights of Dr. Murthy. He always drew such meaning, a breath of fresh air, in the works of almost every shades of great psychologist, be it of a Dynamic, Phenomenological, Behavioural, Cognitive, Biological or Factorial mold including  the ancient Indian Thought."

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Dr H. N. Murthy breathed his last on 22nd of August, 2011 aged 87 years. His vast collection of books numbering in excess of 10,000 find refuge in a private collection at Mysore.  

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