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Commom Sense and Legal History in India- Collected Essay On Hindu Law And Dharmasastra

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Item Code: UAD760
Author: Richard W. Lariviere
Publisher: Primus Books, Delhi
Language: English
Edition: 2023
ISBN: 9789355721105
Pages: 434
Other Details 9.50 X 6.50 inch
Weight 730 gm
Book Description
About The Book

Common Sense and Legal History in India brings together the shorter works of Richard W. Lariviere on one important tradition of law in classical and medieval India-the corpus of Sanskrit legal texts called dharmasastra. Lariviere's contributions to both general and specific topics of Hindu law have changed our understanding of the depth and complexity of legal ideas, the possibilities and limits of Sanskrit legal sources for historical study, and the continuing relevance of dharmasastra in colonial and contemporary India. The essays collected in this volume demonstrate the value of careful philological study of Sanskrit materials and exemplify an approach to Indological studies that highlights the achievement of traditional scholarship while maintaining critical modern perspectives. Lariviere's research and interpretations, now collected in one place, are essential reading for legal historians of India.

About the Author

Richard W. Lariviere, whose career in academia and business is grounded in his expertise on India, is President Emeritus of the Field Museum, Chicago. He is also Professor Emeritus of Sanskrit and is the former Dean of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas at Austin; Provost and Executive Vice-Chancellor at the University of Kansas; and President of the University of Oregon. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a Fellow of the American Oriental Society, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Donald R. Davis, Jr. is Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions and Chair of the Department of Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in the fields of classical and medieval Hindu law and dharmaiastra. Among his recent publications are Hindu Law: A New History of Dharmasastra (co-edited with Patrick Olivelle, 2018) and The Dharma of Business: Commercial Law in Medieval India (2017).


THE PUBLICATION of Richard Lariviere's shorter works, so meticulously edited and curated by Don Davis, is a cause of great joy and satisfaction to me personally, because our lives have been personally and academically intertwined since the Fall of 1972 when the two of us entered the graduate program at the University of Pennsylvania. After teaching at Indiana University for seventeen years, it was Richard's initiative that brought me to Texas to join him. Coming to Texas brought our two families closer together-our two daughters considered themselves sisters-and it changed my scholarly focus. We became a team, and his influence made me take a radical turn to dharmasastra. Indeed, in the early 1990s we were supposed to edit the Laws of Manu together; we won a three-year grant from the National Endowments for the Humanities for that purpose.

As Don explains, this was the time when Richard's career path also took a turn, taking him to academic administration, at which he has excelled. As Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, Richard found resources to fund several significant initiatives I had dreamed up. The first was a large international conference on the seminal period of ancient Indian history-the centuries between the Maurya and Gupta empires-held in Austin in 2003, a conference we dubbed 'Between the Empires' (a volume of the same name was published in 2006). The second was another international conference, this time on Asoka, held in 2009 at the India International Centre in Delhi, later published as Reimagining Asoka (2012). All of this goes to show that sound academic leadership, which Richard epitomized, can facilitate great scholarship.

Yet, the gain to American academic administration was a loss to scholarship on ancient India, especially to dharmasastric studies. The richness of this collection-Richard's scholarly output over three decades-attests to his sharp intellect, work ethic, and attention to detail. Now that Richard has retired, perhaps we may be pardoned if we entertain a glimmer of hope that he may dip his toes once again into the vast ocean of the Sanskrit legal tradition.


THE ACADEMIC field of classical Hindu law and dharmasastra has always been small. Today, perhaps a dozen university-based scholars in the world concentrate on dharmasastra, the Sanskrit textual tradition at the centre of classical Hindu law. Ironically, Richard Lariviere is no longer among them, having left the field in the late 1990s for a career in academic administration. He is, however, responsible for several of us working on law in ancient India in universities around the world. His mark on this field came in two forms: original, rigorous philological publications and thoughtful, forward-looking institution building. This book concerns the first of these contributions, while the second contribution accounts for the fact that I am writing this introduction.

Richard Wilfred Lariviere was born in Chicago, USA, but he grew up in the small town of Marshalltown, Iowa. He received a bachelor's degree in the History of Religions from the University of Iowa in 1972 and a doctorate in Asian Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1978. At Penn, Lariviere studied under the guidance of Ludo Rocher, a luminary figure in the study of Hindu law and dharmasastra. Through Rocher, Lariviere saw the value of critical editions of Sanskrit texts, especially understudied texts that offered fresh evidence for the social history of India. In the 1970s, Penn vas already long a great centre for South Asian studies in the USA, as it continues to be to this day. From this exciting intellectual milieu, Lariviere began work at the University of Texas at Austin, after completing a long-term fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. At Texas, Lariviere was instrumental in raising funds for and building programs and faculty strength in South Asian studies. In the late 1990s, Lariviere took up his first higher-level administrative position as Associate Vice-President for International Programs (1995-9) and eventually Dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UT-Austin (1999-2006). In due order, Lariviere then assumed several positions at the highest level of academic leadership: Provost at the University of Kansas (2006-9); President of the University of Oregon (2009-11); and President of the Field Museum of Chicago (2012-20). For his many contributions to scientific, cultural, and non-profit leadership, Lariviere was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2019. His great gifts as both an Indological scholar and an academic administrator make him one of the few people to have had equal success in two rather distinct careers. The present volume returns to the first of these contributions in order to make available all of Lariviere's original essays and articles in one place.

Within the fields of Hindu law and dharmasastra, Lariviere is best known as the editor and translator of the critical editions of Raghunandana's Divyatattva (1981), the digest on ordeals from Bengal's most prominent early modern dharmasastra commentator, and of the Naradasmrti (1989), one of the early major dharmasastra texts, unique in its exclusive focus on vyavahara, or legal procedure. These two works established Lariviere's reputation as a philologist willing to do the hard work of collating scores of manuscripts, producing a critical apparatus, and making the difficult text-critical choices about the best reading of the texts possible. The Naradasmrti edition is especially important because it showed the field that it was possible to tackle a big editorial project on an early dharmasastra. As the first critical edition of an early mulasmrti, or `root-text' of dharmasastra, it both nurtured the field and facilitated the now several critical editions completed by Patrick Olivelle. Lariviere's experience and research revealed the problems with and strategies for managing the complex manuscript histories of the early smrti texts. This book, however, does not deal with Lariviere's major editions and translations. Instead, the purpose of this book is to collect Lariviere's short publications in order to highlight his contributions to the field.

Academics are the products of their training and the models set by their teachers and predecessors in the field. Following the model of his teacher Rocher, Lariviere's early work is dominated by close philological readings of dharmasastra texts, especially short studies of the semantic development or function of Sanskrit concepts in dharmasastra. Take, for example, a 1981 article about the so-called judicial wager, or pana, mentioned in both the Laws of Yajnavalkya and the Laws of Narada. Basically, the pana 'was an amount paid by the party who offered it if he was proven wrong in his claim'. In a style that I have adopted for several of my own articles, Lariviere examines the major commentarial treatments of the early rules about pona, trying to use their insights to frame a description of this procedural institution. In this case, however, the commentator's variant and contradictory explanations-set forth in detail within the article-fall short of making good sense'. Sometimes the king receives the pana; sometimes, the victorious litigant. The amount staked is sometimes pegged to the disputed amount or the criminal fine; sometimes not. Some commentators suggest that trials must include a pana; others make it optional. In short, there is little consensus about any of the details concerning a wager or guaranty used to distinguish a particular legal procedure. Instead, as Lariviere concludes, 'The fact that the pana ... does not seem to have any clear purpose ... lead [s] me to hypothesize that none of these commentators knew this pana in actual practice.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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