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The History of the Arthasastra Mark McClish (Northwestern University, Illinois)

The History of the Arthasastra By Mark McClish (Northwestern University, Illinois)

The History of the Arthasastra by Mark McClish (Northwestern University, Illinois)


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Summary

The Arthasastra is the foundational text of Indic political thought. By analyzing its early history, Mark McClish overturns prevailing beliefs that ancient India was governed by religion and shows that this text originally espoused a political philosophy characterized by empiricism and pragmatism, ignoring the sacred mandate of dharma altogether.

The History of the Arthasastra Summary

The History of the Arthasastra: Sovereignty and Sacred Law in Ancient India by Mark McClish (Northwestern University, Illinois)

The Arthasastra is the foundational text of Indic political thought and ancient India's most important treatise on statecraft and governance. It is traditionally believed that politics in ancient India was ruled by religion; that kings strove to fulfil their sacred duty; and that sovereignty was circumscribed by the sacred law of dharma. Mark McClish's systematic and thorough evaluation of the Arthasastra's early history shows that these ideas only came to prominence in the statecraft tradition late in the classical period. With a thorough chronological exploration, he demonstrates that the text originally espoused a political philosophy characterized by empiricism and pragmatism, ignoring the mandate of dharma altogether. The political theology of dharma was incorporated when the text was redacted in the late classical period, which obscured the existence of an independent political tradition in ancient India altogether and reinforced the erroneous notion that ancient India was ruled by religion, not politics.

About Mark McClish (Northwestern University, Illinois)

Mark McClish is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Northwestern University, Illinois. He has published a number of works on the Arthasastra and ancient Indian law, politics, and religion including the book The Arthasastra: Selections from the Classic Indian Work on Statecraft (with Patrick Olivelle, 2012) and numerous articles. He has received support from the Fulbright-Hays program and the Mellon Foundation.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction; 2. Arthasastra historiography; 3. The resegmentation of the Arthasastra; 4. Citation and attribution; 5. The deep structure of the text; 6. The history of the Arthasastra; 7. The politics of the Dandaniti; 8. Varnadharma in the Arthasastra; 9. Statecraft, law, and religion in ancient India; Appendices.

Additional information

NLS9781108701747
9781108701747
1108701744
The History of the Arthasastra: Sovereignty and Sacred Law in Ancient India by Mark McClish (Northwestern University, Illinois)
New
Paperback
Cambridge University Press
2020-09-17
307
N/A
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