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Lekhapaddhati

Pushpa Prasad

Published in print November 2007 | ISBN: 9780195684476
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199082100 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195684476.001.0001
Lekhapaddhati

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The Lekhapaddhati, whose translation with full annotation is offered in this volume, is unique in the whole body of ancient Sanskrit texts. It is a collection of actual or specimen documents (lekhas) by unknown compiler, in use for public transactions, administration, rules for drafting land grants, treaties between kings, credit and banking system, mortgage deeds, creditor (dhanika/vyavahāraka) and debtor’s relations, judicial disputes, and private letters. Presumably, written as a guide for official scribes and professional letter writers, it is the sole non-epigraphic repository of grants and other public and private documents from early medieval India. These cover the eighth to the thirteenth centuries and relate to pre-Sultanate period of Gujarat. Their genuineness is shown by the fact that the texts of the royal grants or charter (patra) in this collection match closely with the texts from copper-plates. The large compass of other documents reveal many aspects of daily life, social customs which otherwise would remain obscure. Remarkable, for example, are the slavery deeds which show how much were girl slaves under the control of their masters and how caste taboos were utterly set aside where work by, or treatment of, female slaves was concerned. On what has been called ‘Indian feudalism’, the Lekhapaddhati’s evidence has been extensively used by the propounder’s of the theory as well as its critics. But it has to be remembered that the Lekhapaddhati has also much on trade, bills and drafts, land grants as a gift, and affairs of private life. Here we meet the lordly rulers, the stern officials, the gentlemen in town, the merchant, the slave master, the careless wife, and the forgetful husband. The book should appeal to those who want to look beyond the dynastic history, to the history of everyday life, private and official.

Keywords: lekha; official scribes; professional letter writers; copper-plates; feudalism; slaves; land grants; credit and banking; private letters; mortgage deeds

Book.  262 pages. 

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Table of Contents

Introduction in Lekhapaddhati

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