Journal Article

Hinduism as a Legal Tradition

Donald R. Davis

in Journal of the American Academy of Religion

Published on behalf of American Academy of Religion

Volume 75, issue 2, pages 241-267
Published in print June 2007 | ISSN: 0002-7189
Published online May 2007 | e-ISSN: 1477-4585 | DOI:
Hinduism as a Legal Tradition

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The role of law in Hinduism and the value of law as a category of Hindu studies have been underestimated. After making an initial case for the connection of dharma and law in the treatises on religious and legal duty known as Dharmaśāstra, this essay examines the role of dharma as law in other Hindu texts in order to show the possible horizons of understanding yielded by an incorporation of law into Hindu studies. Dharmaśāstra, it is argued, should be viewed as a form of legal rhetoric and its formulations of dharma understood as paradigmatic for the Hindu tradition as a whole. Finally, through a comparison with Islam and Islamic studies, the mutual modulations of law and Hinduism are examined in order to see the consequences of juxtaposing these two categories.

Journal Article.  10117 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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