Indian Martials have a rich history to observe psychology converging with warfare. Mahabharata, the Great Indian Epic, proclaims much of the concepts for military psychology to decipher. The Vyuh Rachna (fighting formations), leadership strategies, camouflage, and deceit(PsyOps) were some of the notable emergencies during the war. Likewise, Kautilya’s teaching professes much about the implementation of psychology to war and leadership.

Great Indian Mutiny of 1857 was yet another exemplary outcome of an unsung PsyWar marked with a defined impact on the morale of the troops that were otherwise forced to serve the adversary. Although the rise of Satyagrah and the Indian National Movement to unfurled a host of avenues for military psychology to claim its existence in India hitherto, officially Military Psychology had a subtle entry in India during the World War II by the establishment of the experimental War Office Selection Board in Dehradun during 1943 for selection of personnel to Armed Forces.

It is documental that in 1949, the experimental board was rechristened as Psychological Research Wing (PRW) with the primary objective to evolve a scientific system for the selection of officers and updated through the continued research program.  During this period,  Gardner Murphy,  a noted psychologist, visited India and held discussions with the Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, on the emerging operational challenges in conventional warfare and the scope of the institute’s charter (Sainik Samachar,  2007). Thus in 1962, Psychological Research Wing (India)(PRW) was redesigned as the Directorate of psychologist research to take on new areas of research related to the moral, ideological conviction, group effectiveness, leadership behavior, job satisfaction, higher altitude affect, motivation, attitude, anthropometrics, civil-military relations, and other issues. The Directorate Psychological Research grew into a full-fledged Institute to be renamed as Defence Institute.


Military psychology beholds a rich history of almost a century and has a bright future beyond, for centuries. The Legacy of the past paves the way and directions for applicability of psychology in future Warfare scenario. Rather, it provides the launching pad for current Research and application to take off so as to serve the armed force, extensively in the future.  World War 1 introduced psychology to the military in the arena of testing and selection; thereafter, it graduated counseling and forward psychiatry, training, man-machine systems, motivation, leadership, team building, and to the cultural system, cognitive engineering, and operational embedded psychology. Psychologists ventured into newer areas to take on newer challenges, and thus the boundary between disciplined and subdisciplines got thinner. Clearly, a host of arenas remain under the jurisdiction of military psychology to reign on and the century saga is just a premier to the Epic.

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