lajjA in Indian Psychology: Spiritual, Social, and Literary Perspectives

  • Dharm P. S. BhawukEmail author


The concept of lajjA is developed by (i) examining dictionary meanings, synonyms, and antonyms of the word in sanskrit and hindi, and (ii) analyzing its usage in two popular scriptural texts, the bhagavadgItA and drugA saptazatI. Following this, its use in literature is examined in kAmAyanI, a modern hindi mahAkAvya or epic. Further, the use of lajjA in daily communication and proverbs is examined. This multi-method approach resulted in a thick-description of the concept, showing that lajjA has both internal and external aspects and synthesizes guilt and shame, which have been viewed as distinct and non-overlapping constructs in the western literature. Further, lajjA emerges as an important virtue that guides human behavior. The belief that there are guilt-cultures and shame-cultures is challenged, and implications of this concept for global psychology are discussed.


lajjA Emotion Shame Guilt doSa Indian psychology 



I would like to thank AcArya Satya Chaitanya, Professors Jai B. P. Sinha, Anand Paranjpe, Arindam Chakrabarty, Shamsul Khan, Dr. Mrigaya Sinha, Dr. Vijayan P Munusamy, Dr. Om P Sharma, Anand C. Narayanan, and Eric Rhodes, for their insightful comments that helped improve the paper. An earlier draft of the paper was presented at the International Congress of International Association for Cross-Cultural Psychology, Nagoya, Japan, July 31–August 3, 2016.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Hawaii at ManoaHonoluluUSA

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