Presentation on theme: "Hindu Law Introducing the subject and the course Law 314 / Religion 335 Hindu Law in Theory and Practice Dr. Timothy Lubin, Washington and Lee University."— Presentation transcript:
Hindu Law Introducing the subject and the course Law 314 / Religion 335 Hindu Law in Theory and Practice Dr. Timothy Lubin, Washington and Lee University Fall 2007
Why Study Hindu Law? To understand how law emerges from the intersection of religion, state, and society – e.g.: How do divine commands and ritual duties become part of a legal code? What happens when religious beliefs and customs are regulated by the state? Should divine or priestly authority count more than the state’s authority?
Why Study Hindu Law? For a unique case study of how a modern secular state deals with the legal implications of religious statuses, customs, and institutions: How does a secular state deal with disputes over religious property, rights of temple admission? What is the legal definition of a religion? Can the law be used to bring about reforms and improvements in society?
‘Hook-Swinging’ (a vow-fulfilling practice disapproved by the British)
Suttee (‘self’-immolation of widows)
Thuggee (sacrificial murder)
Framing Issues Categories –What counts as ‘law’ in pre-modern India? –What counts as ‘Hindu’? Periods –Pre-modern –Colonial –Post-Independence
What Counts as ‘Law’? … if there are no lawyers, no juries, no legislature, no prisons, little case law?! What there is: –Detailed codes of right and wrong conduct –Jurisprudence: scholarly legal opinion –Judges, tribunals –King and his officers to try and punish criminals –Evidence (documents, witnesses) –Fines, punishments, expiations, social sanctions –Records of decisions
Law & Morality Law & Custom Dharma = Virtue, Righteousness Codes (Shastras) claim authority from the Veda (revelation) Religious duties and social duties mingle King does not make Dharma, but makes adjudicates disputes, decides what accords with Dharma Acara = Good Custom, Model Conduct Despite the invocation of Veda, most rules reflect practices approved by scholars Vyavahara = usage, standard practice; also: legal process cf. Nyaya = lawsuit; judgment Acara varies by region, family, trade association
Periods Premodern –Mauryan (4 th -3 rd BCE) to Gupta (4 th -6 th CE) dynasties –‘Medieval’: Early (to 1200) and Late ( ) Colonial –East India Company ‘Raj’ (rule) ( ) –British Imperial Rule ( ) Post-Independence –The Constitution of 1950 –The Hindu Code Bills