Was ancient India ruled by politics or religion? In The History of the Arthaśāstra: Sovereignty and Sacred Law in Ancient India
(Cambridge University Press, 2019), Mark McClish
explores the Arthaśāstra (ancient India’s foundational treatise on statecraft and governance) to problematize the common scholarly idea that politics in ancient India was circumscribed by religion, i.e., that kings prioritized a sacred duty to abide by the spiritual law of dharma. McClish shows that this model of kingship comes to the fore only in the classical period, demonstrating that the Arthaśāstra originally espoused a political philosophy marked by empiricism and pragmatism.
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