This paper was presented at the
National Seminar on
Indian Psychology: Theories and Models

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007



Interpersonal dynamics in Indian Psychology

Lilavati Krishnan — Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur


Interpersonal dynamics is one among the numerous themes dealt with in Indian psychology, but one that is discussed infrequently. The present paper summarizes some principles related to interpersonal behaviour that are highlighted in traditional Indian thought. It is pointed out that many of the traditional Indian texts bring out interpersonal concerns that are part of the common person’s everyday life, in the form of stories passed on through a rich oral tradition. Interpersonal themes such as friendship, the use of power, nurturance, the protection of a sharanaagata, and the moral values underlying such behaviour have been dealt with in epics such as the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, in texts such as the Artha-shastra, the Panchatantra parables and also in folktales. Two questions are raised with regard to interpersonal dynamics as described in these texts: Are the principles expressed in these texts only ‘morals of the stories’, or do they express aspects of socio-cultural representations of interpersonal behaviour? What are the implications, if any, of these principles for the analysis of interpersonal behaviour in contemporary mainstream psychology?

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