The History of the Arthaśāstra
Sovereignty and Sacred Law in Ancient India
Cambridge UP 2019
New Books in Hindu StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in Intellectual HistoryNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books in South Asian StudiesNew Books Network October 9, 2019 Raj Balkaran
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.
For information on your host Raj Balkaran’s background, see rajbalkaran.com.