This is the first scholarly book devoted to the study of the term dharma within the broad scope of Indian cultural and religious history. Most generalizations about Indian culture and religion upon close scrutiny turn out to be inaccurate. An exception undoubtedly is the term dharma. This term and the notions underlying it clearly constitute the most central feature of Indian civilization down the centuries, irrespective of linguistic, sectarian, or regional differences. The nineteen papers included in this collection deal with many significant historical manifestations of the term dharma. These studies by some of the leading scholars in the respective fields will both present a more nuanced picture of the semantic history of dharma by putting contours onto the flat landscape we have inherited and spur further studies of this concept so central for understanding the cultural history of the Indian subcontinent.
Patrick Olivelle is the Chair, Department of Asian studies, where he is the professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions. His work has covered the ascetical traditions of Indian, the Upanisads, and the Dharmasastras. Among his major publications are The Asrama System: History and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution (Oxford, 1993), Pancatantra (1997), The early Upanisads: Annotated Text Translation (Oxford, 1998), Dharmasutra: The law Codes of Apastamba, Gautama, Baudhayana, and Vasistha (Motila Banarsidass, 2000), Manu’s Code of Law: A critical edition and translation of the Manava Dharmasastra (Oxford, 2005), and Dharmasutra Parallels: Containing the Dharmasutras of Apastamba, Gautama, Baudhayana, and Vasistha (Motilal Banarsidass, 2005).