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

SVYASA, Bangalore,
December 26 - 28, 2007



Lessons from history: conception of retribution and revenge in the Indian mindscape

Purnima Singh & Kshitija Wason — IIT, Delhi

Justice perceptions form the bedrock of most social interactions from the interpersonal to intergroup to the societal, forming the hinge through which the doors of held belief maybe abstracted upon. Several facets of justice perceptions can be identified and are reviewed here. This paper specifically looks at the reflections of notions of justice, with a special focus on concepts of retribution and revenge as they are reflected through the ages in the historical texts, mythological stories of yore and finally, as expressed in current Indian Penology. Linkages with the past are attempted through the lens of the coded ancient texts of the Manusmriti, epics and folk tales that find mirroring in the contemporary Indian Penal code. Particular recent cases and issues they raise about manipulation of justice perceptions are viewed through the bioscope of the past. The contemporary practices of the justice delivery systems are discussed in the light of the social psychological literature on legal justice.

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