A Dharma Reader: Classical Indian Law

Hardcover | October 25, 2016

byPatrick Olivelle

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Whether defined by family, lineage, caste, professional or religious association, village, or region, India's diverse groups did settle on a concept of law in classical times. How did they reach this consensus? Was it based on religious grounds or a transcendent source of knowledge? Did it depend on time and place? And what apparatus did communities develop to ensure justice was done, verdicts were fair, and the guilty were punished?

Addressing these questions and more, A Dharma Reader traces the definition, epistemology, procedure, and process of Indian law from the third century B.C.E. to the middle ages. Its breadth captures the centuries-long struggle by Indian thinkers to theorize law in a multiethnic and pluralist society. The volume includes new and accessible translations of key texts, notes that explain the significance and chronology of selections, and a comprehensive introduction that summarizes the development of various disciplines in intellectual-historical terms. It reconstructs the principal disputes of a given discipline, which not only clarifies the arguments but also relays the dynamism of the fight. For those seeking a richer understanding of the political and intellectual origins of a major twenty-first-century power, along with unique insight into the legal interactions among its many groups, this book offers exceptional detail, historical precision, and expository illumination.

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Whether defined by family, lineage, caste, professional or religious association, village, or region, India's diverse groups did settle on a concept of law in classical times. How did they reach this consensus? Was it based on religious grounds or a transcendent source of knowledge? Did it depend on time and place? And what apparatus ...

Patrick Olivelle is professor emeritus of Sanskrit and Indian religions at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author and editor of a number of books, including King, Governance, and Law in Ancient India (2013); Visnu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Vaisnava Dharmasastra (2009); Dharma: Studies in Its...

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:424 pages, 10 × 7 × 0.98 inPublished:October 25, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231179561

ISBN - 13:9780231179560

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Table of Contents

PrefaceList of AbbreviationsIntroductionPart I: Nature and Epistemology of Law1. Early Thinkers2. Later Aphoristic Texts on Dharma3. Perspectives from Political Science: Kautilya (First-Second Century C.E.)4. Innovations of Manu (Mid-Second Century C.E.)5. Developments After Manu6. The School of Vedic Exegesis7. Early Commentators8. Medieval Commentators and SystematizersPart II: Courts of Law and Legal Procedure9. The Beginnings10. The Early Theorists11. The Mature Phase12. Early Commentators13. Medieval Commentators and SystematizersNotesGlossaryBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

With his characteristic lucidity and verve, Olivelle leads us through nearly two millennia of lively scholastic debates in multiple genres on central issues of Classical Indian law, from the most abstract and sweeping-the sources of law: what makes law law-to the most minute and practical-legal procedure and the conduct of courts. His detailed introduction and his illuminating headnotes to the source types and to individual texts deftly guide even the neophyte through complex intellectual tangles and have much to teach even the expert.