I was reading about the Temple Sleep or Nidra in Wikipedia. It was mentioned that the Ancient Hindu people used to carry the person suffering from sickness to the temple to be cured by hypnotic suggestion or "temple sleep.

It was basically a practice of staying during night at a temple for meditational self-observance and communication with the deities.

Hence hypnotism as a tool for health seems to have been practised in Hinduism.

Question : What scriptures/literatures in Hinduism mention the details of Hypnotism?

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    In his book Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda says that hypnotism is for weak minds and only makes weak minds weaker. He says it should never be practiced. Apr 10, 2016 at 4:59
  • @SwamiVishwananda I see. Since I came across this concept in Wiki, I thought of checking if any scriptures/literature in Hinduism mentions the details of Hypnotism. Also, it seems that Temple sleep was practised only for to heal people suffering from some kind of sickness. Apr 10, 2016 at 5:08
  • Communion with the divine is not the same as hypnotism, surely?
    – user1195
    Apr 12, 2016 at 15:31
  • @moonstar2001 Yes, I too agree. But while reading about hypnotism I came across this term Temple Sleep which seems some kind of hypnotic suggestion. in any case, I was looking for general opinion/details of Hindu scriptures on the topic of Hypnotism Apr 12, 2016 at 16:31
  • I dont think hindu temples allow anyone to sleep inside. Sep 3, 2017 at 17:32

2 Answers 2


In his book Raja Yoga, Swami Vivekananda says (Complete Works, V1, section Raja Yoga, chapter 6 entitled PRATYAHARA AND DHARANA, available here - http://cwsv.belurmath.org/volume_1/vol_1_frame.htm):

We hear "Be good," and "Be good," and "Be good," taught all over the world. There is hardly a child, born in any country in the world, who has not been told, "Do not steal," "Do not tell a lie," but nobody tells the child how he can help doing them. Talking will not help him. Why should he not become a thief? We do not teach him how not to steal; we simply tell him, "Do not steal." Only when we teach him to control his mind do we really help him. All actions, internal and external, occur when the mind joins itself to certain centres, called the organs. Willingly or unwillingly it is drawn to join itself to the centres, and that is why people do foolish deeds and feel miserable, which, if the mind were under control, they would not do. What would be the result of controlling the mind? It then would not join itself to the centres of perception, and, naturally, feeling and willing would be under control. It is clear so far. Is it possible? It is perfectly possible. You see it in modern times; the faith-healers teach people to deny misery and pain and evil. Their philosophy is rather roundabout, but it is a part of Yoga upon which they have somehow stumbled. Where they succeed in making a person throw off suffering by denying it, they really use a part of Pratyahara, as they make the mind of the person strong enough to ignore the senses. The hypnotists in a similar manner, by their suggestion, excite in the patient a sort of morbid Pratyahara for the time being. The so-called hypnotic suggestion can only act upon a weak mind. And until the operator, by means of fixed gaze or otherwise, has succeeded in putting the mind of the subject in a sort of passive, morbid condition, his suggestions never work.

Now the control of the centres which is established in a hypnotic patient or the patient of faith-healing, by the operator, for a time, is reprehensible, because it leads to ultimate ruin. It is not really controlling the brain centres by the power of one's own will, but is, as it were, stunning the patient's mind for a time by sudden blows which another's will delivers to it. It is not checking by means of reins and muscular strength the mad career of a fiery team, but rather by asking another to deliver heavy blows on the heads of the horses, to stun them for a time into gentleness. At each one of these processes the man operated upon loses a part of his mental energies, till at last, the mind, instead of gaining the power of perfect control, becomes a shapeless, powerless mass, and the only goal of the patient is the lunatic asylum.

Every attempt at control which is not voluntary, not with the controller's own mind, is not only disastrous, but it defeats the end. The goal of each soul is freedom, mastery — freedom from the slavery of matter and thought, mastery of external and internal nature. Instead of leading towards that, every will-current from another, in whatever form it comes, either as direct control of organs, or as forcing to control them while under a morbid condition, only rivets one link more to the already existing heavy chain of bondage of past thoughts, past superstitions. Therefore, beware how you allow yourselves to be acted upon by others. Beware how you unknowingly bring another to ruin. True, some succeed in doing good to many for a time, by giving a new trend to their propensities, but at the same time, they bring ruin to millions by the unconscious suggestions they throw around, rousing in men and women that morbid, passive, hypnotic condition which makes them almost soulless at last. Whosoever, therefore, asks any one to believe blindly, or drags people behind him by the controlling power of his superior will, does an injury to humanity, though he may not intend it.

  • [Self] Hypnotism seems to be used in therapies throughout the world. Hence there has to be some substance to it. I am awarding the bounty. Hope to see more edits in this answer. :-)
    – iammilind
    Sep 10, 2017 at 13:37

It is a great difference between hypnotism (referred to by Swami Vivekananda) and hypnotherapy. In any way, many people are hypnotized from infancy by strong negative suggestions of their environments, companions or even parents or teachers and hypnotherapy is one simple way to get rid of those negative suggestions. A hypnotist takes control of one's mind but a hypnotherapist is a guide in a process of gentle self-healing. Yoga Nidra is a source of inspiration for some hypnotherapists.

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