Ph.D. Journey – A way to evolve yourself spiritually!

By Dr Palakh Jain and Dr Nilanjan Chattopadhyay 


This article aims to put forward a view that Ph.D. journey is no less than a journey to evolve yourself spiritually. Yes, you read it right! In various ancient philosophies, there is mention of 72 kalas (Art Forms) as per Jainism and 64 as per Hinduism which one needs to excel in. We believe the Ph.D. journey is one such kala that one needs to excel in for becoming a better version of their Self. 

There is a concept of “Flow” mentioned by famous Hungarian Russian psychologist, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. The concept mentions getting in tune with a state of Self where you are deeply absorbed in doing what you are doing, and you forget the external factors. We often see musicians entering this state of flow when they do Riyaz. Potters experience it when they play with clay and artists go into the state of flow when they paint the canvas. Ph.D. is a journey of going into the state of flow by dwelling deep into the subject for years till each ounce of your blood echoes what you are researching on. The ras that an artist or a musician experiences is akin to the ras that a researcher experiences while solving the research question at hand. The only difference is that the different part of brain gets activated in both scenarios. After all, it’s all about keeping your brain stimulated.  

As one learns the framework of casting the entire body of facts, data, and knowledge on a particular subject into a thesis, they train their brain to distill the unwanted information to arrive at a generic body of knowledge. Ph.D. scholars will agree that if it took them 6 years to solve an issue using a particular methodology, it takes 2 years to solve the next one and a few months to solve the third one and so on. Spirituality is about aligning the forces of your mind, body and soul. Ph.D. gives you that intense focus to align all three of them together for a larger goal.  

Another key virtue required to stay put on the journey of spirituality is the virtue of patience. The fact that one must stick with one’s thesis topic for a good “n” number of years is a testimony to the same. During these “n” number of years, there are phases when you want to leave your supervisor, leave your institute and even dump your ongoing Ph.D. work. Still, a Ph.D. student persists. He/she complains but eventually learns to accept fate. Isn’t this what all philosophies teach? Accept and be content with what you have. In fact one Jain monk mentioned that the biggest wealth is to be content with oneself.  

To conclude, spirituality is an experiential journey where the happiness of the soul is enhanced at each stage of evolution. These stages can be defined in terms of progress in the meditation process, fasting rituals etc. We strongly feel that doing a Ph.D. is one such experience that enables the scholar to experience the fruits of aligning mind, body, and soul in a disciplined and structured manner.  

(Dr Palakh Jain, Associate Professor, Bennett University and Senior Visiting Fellow, PahleIndia Foundation and Dr Nilanjan Chattopadhyay, Professor and Dean, Bennett University) 

Image courtesy of thesatimes

Share this post