The Spirit of Hindu Law

The Spirit of Hindu Law

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Donald R. Davis Jr Jr
Cambridge University Press, 1/21/2010
EAN 9780521877046, ISBN10: 0521877040

Hardcover, 208 pages, 22.8 x 15.2 x 1.6 cm
Language: English

Law is too often perceived solely as state-based rules and institutions that provide a rational alternative to religious rites and ancestral customs. The Spirit of Hindu Law uses the Hindu legal tradition as a heuristic tool to question this view and reveal the close linkage between law and religion. Emphasizing the household, the family, and everyday relationships as additional social locations of law, it contends that law itself can be understood as a theology of ordinary life. An introduction to traditional Hindu law and jurisprudence, this book is structured around key legal concepts such as the sources of law and authority, the laws of persons and things, procedure, punishment and legal practice. It combines investigation of key themes from Sanskrit legal texts with discussion of Hindu theology and ethics, as well as thorough examination of broader comparative issues in law and religion.

List of tables
Introduction (dharmaśāstra)
1. Sources and theologies (pramāna)
2. Hermeneutics and ethics (mīmāmsā)
3. Debt and meaning (rna)
4. Persons and things (svatva)
5. Doubts and disputes (vyavahāra)
6. Rectitude and rehabilitation (danda)
7. Law and practice (ācāra)

'It has been said that Hindu law is only the imagination of Hindu lawyers with no Sanskrit, but the Sanskritists are now coming to the rescue. In The Spirit of Hindu Law Donald R. Davis, Jr. provides not only an authoritative reading of ancient texts, but a challenging view of law itself. The presentation is conceptual and not historical, comparative and not contextual, and the author rightly insists that we can learn from and not simply about one of the oldest legal traditions of the world. It is a splendid book.' H. Patrick Glenn, McGill University