Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

FROM LAW TO DHARMA: STATE LAW AND SACRED DUTY IN ANCIENT INDIA

  • Mark McClish (a1)

Abstract

The legal treatises of ancient India, called Dharmaśāstras, are often read as records of the initial emergence of law from religion in South Asia. The Dharmaśāstras teach the dharma, or “sacred duty,” of different members of society. It is one of the dharmas of the king to adjudicate disputes that come before his courts, and it is widely accepted that a need to articulate the king's dharma led the composers of the Dharmaśāstras over time to fashion rules for state courts, a body of law called vyavahāra. Scholars such as Henry Sumner Maine and Max Weber saw in the Dharmaśāstras evidence of the disentanglement and rationalization of law, respectively. A close examination of our sources, however, shows that the law of royal courts emerged not within the Dharmaśāstra tradition, but within an adjacent and decidedly more secular tradition of statecraft. It was gradually absorbed into Dharmaśāstra texts, where it was reconfigured as sacred duty and its historical origins were obscured. This article argues that the early history of state law in India is best described, therefore, not as a transition from dharma to law, but as a transition from law to dharma.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      FROM LAW TO DHARMA: STATE LAW AND SACRED DUTY IN ANCIENT INDIA
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      FROM LAW TO DHARMA: STATE LAW AND SACRED DUTY IN ANCIENT INDIA
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      FROM LAW TO DHARMA: STATE LAW AND SACRED DUTY IN ANCIENT INDIA
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

References

Hide All
Acharya, Narayana Ram, ed. Yājñavalkya-smṛti of Yogīśvara Yājñavalkya with the commentary Mitākṣarā of Vijñāneśvara, Notes, Variant Readings, etc. 5th ed.Bombay: Nirnayasagara Press, 1949.
Bakre, Mahādeva Gangādhar, ed. Grihya-Sūtra by Paraskar, with Five Commentaries of Karka Upādhyāya, Jayarām, Harihar, Gadādhar, and Vishvanath. 2nd ed.Bombay: Munshiram Manoharlal, 1982.
Bodewitz, H. W., trans. The Jyotiṣṭoma Ritual: Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa I, 66-364. Leiden: Brill, 1990.
Bolling, George Melville and von Negelein, Julius, eds. The Pariśiṣṭas of the Atharvaveda. Leipzig: Harrassowitz, 1909–1910.
Caland, Wilhelm, ed. The Baudhāyana Śrauta Sūtra Belonging to the Taittirīya Saṃhitā, vol. 2. Calcutta: Asiatic Society, 1907.
Caland, Wilhelm, ed. and trans. Das Jaiminiya-Brāhmaṇa in Auswahl. Amsterdam: Johannes Müller, 1919.
Caland, Wilhelm. “Eine dritte Mitteilung über das Vādhūlasūtra.Acta Orientalia, no. 4 (1926): 141.
Caland, Wilhelm. “Eine vierte Mitteilung über das Vādhūlasūtra.Acta Orientalia, no. 6 (1928): 97241.
Chaubey, Braj Bihari, ed. Vādhūla-Śrautasūtram. Hoshiarpur: Katyayan Vaidik Sahitya Prakashan, 1993.
Chintamani, T. R., ed. The Kauṣītaka Gṛhyasūtras, with the Commentary of Bhavavrata. Madras: University of Madras, 1944.
Horner, I. B., trans. The Book of the Discipline (Vinaya-Piṭaka). 5 vols. London: Pāli Text Society, 1938–1966.
Hultzsch, Eugen. The Inscriptions of Asoka, New Edition. Corpus Inscriptionum Indicarum. vol. 1. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1925.
Jayaswal, K. P.The Hathigumpha Inscription of Kharavela.Epigraphia Indica, no. 20 (1929–30): 7189.
Kangle, R. P., ed. The Kauṭilīya Arthaśāstra, part I: A Critical Edition with a Glossary, 2nd ed.Bombay: University of Bombay, 1969.
Kangle, R. P., trans. The Kauṭilīya Arthaśāstra, part I: An English Translation with Critical and Explanatory Notes, 2nd ed.Bombay: University of Bombay, 1972.
Katre, Sumitra M., trans. Aṣṭādhyāyī of Pāṇini. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1987.
Kielhorn, F., ed. The Vyâkaraṇa-Mahâbhâṣya of Patañjali. 2nd ed. 3 vols. Bombay: Government Central Book Depot, 1892–1909.
Olivelle, Patrick, trans. The Dharmasūtras of Āpastamba, Gautama, Baudhāyana, and Vasiṣṭha: Sanskrit Editions and Annotated Translations. Sources of Indian Law. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 2000.
Olivelle, Patrick, trans. King, Governance, and Law in Ancient India: Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra. New York: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Olivelle, Patrick, ed. and trans. Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Mānava-Dharmaśāstra. New York: Oxford University Press, 2005.
Oldenberg, Hermann, ed. Çānkhāyanagṛihyam. In Indische Studien, Beiträge für die Kunde des indischen Alterhums, herausgegeben von Albrecht Weber, Band 15 (1878): 1166.
Oldenberg, Hermann, trans. The Gṛihya-Sūtras: Rules of Vedic Domestic Ceremonies. Part 1. Sacred Books of the East 29. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1886.
Oldenberg, Hermann, ed. The Vinaya Piṭakaṃ, 5 vols. London: Williams and Norgate, 1879–1883.
Vira, Raghu, ed. Jaiminīya Brāhmaṇa of the Sāma Veda, Book 1. Lahore: Arya Bharati Press, 1937.
Vira, Raghu, and Chandra, Lokesh, eds. Jaiminiya Brahmana of the Samaveda, Book 3. Nagpur: International Academy of Indian Culture, 1954.
Salomons, H. J. W., ed. Bhāradvājagṛhyasūtram: Het hindoesche huisritueel volgens de school van Bhāradvāja. Diss. Leiden: Brill, 1913.
Sarup, Lakshman, ed. and trans. The Nighaṇṭu and the Nirukta: The Oldest Indian Treatise on Etymology, Philology, and Semantics. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1967.
von Schroeder, Leopold, ed. Kâthakam: Die Samhita der Katha-Çâkhâ, erstes Buch. Leipzig: F. A. Brockhaus, 1900.
Stenzler, Adolf Friedrich, ed. Indische Hausregeln I: Âçvalâyana, Part 1: Text. Abhandlungen der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft, III Band, no. 4. Leipzig: Kommissionsverlag. F. A. Brockhaus, 1864.
Weber, Albrecht, ed. The Çrautasūtra of Kâtyâyana, with Extracts from the Commentaries of Karka and Yajñikadeva. 2 vols. Berlin: Ferd. Dümmler's Verlagsbuchhandlung, 1859.

Keywords

FROM LAW TO DHARMA: STATE LAW AND SACRED DUTY IN ANCIENT INDIA

  • Mark McClish (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.