29 Hastings L.J. 1283 (1977-1978)
Hindu Conceptions of Law

handle is hein.journals/hastlj29 and id is 1305 raw text is: Hindu Conceptions of Law

By LuDo RocHER*
I         NY DISCUSSION of Hindu conceptions of law has to start
with the basic observation that nowhere in the Hindu tradi-
tion is there a term to express the concept of law, neither
in the sense of ius nor in that of lex. Not until the arrival of the
colonial powers was the concept of law used on the subcontinent,
by Europeans and through the medium of European languages. It
was not until 1772, the year in which it was decided that, in all suits
regarding inheritance, marriage, caste, and other religious usages or
institutions, the Hindus should be governed by their own laws, that
an effort was made to study and translate the Sanskrit books in which
the Hindu laws were codified. These books happen to be the dhar-
maidstras, treatises on dharma. Hence, the equation established by
the Western editors and translators of these books was dharma i.dstra
equals lawbook, code, or Institute. They also established the equa-
tion:  dharma equals law.2
To be sure, Indians have followed this well-established practice.3
When it comes to expressing the concept of law in modern India
through the medium of modern Indian languages, however, different
0 Professor of Sanskrit; Chairman, Department of South Asia Regional Studies,
University of Pennsylvania. Doctor of Laws 1950, Ph.D. 1952, Ghent (Belgium).
Corresponding member, Belgian Royal Academy of Overseas Sciences, 1964-; Fellow,
Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1971-. Editor and translator of Sanskrit legal treatises.
Author, Bibliographic du droit hindou ancien (1965) and other books and monographs
on Hindu law and Indology.
1. Plan for the Administration of Justice Extracted from the Proceedings of the
Committee of Circuit (Cossimbascar) 15 August, 1772. (B. K. Acharyya, Codification
in British India, Calcutta 1914, p.153).
2. E.g., INsn'ruTEs OF HmIu LAw, OR THE OnANCES OF MANU (W. Jones
trans. 1794); THE INsTrruTEs OF M~Au (G. C. Haughton ed., trans. 1825); Lois DE
MANOU (A.L. Deslongchamps ed., trans. 1830-33); YXJKAVALxYAS GESETZBUCH (A.
F. Stenzler ed., trans. 1849); THE OaRDNANcEs OF MANU (A.C. Burnell trans. 1884);
THE LAws OF MAuu (G. Biihler trans. 1886); THE CODE OF MA-U (J. Jolly ed. 1887).
3. See, e.g., G. JHA, THE LAWS OF MANu. Jha began publishing this translation
in 1920.

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