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Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manava-Dharmasastra

Patrick Olivelle (Author)
Synopsis Manu's Code of Law, which dates back to about the second century CE, has long been considered the most authoritative work on Hindu law, religion, and social mores. In this volume is contained the first critical edition of the Code, as well as an accurate and elegantly worded translation. The Code has often been the subject of criticism as it is believed to propagate a negative and unjust attitude towards women and persons of low caste. The editor points out that it is important to understand the authentic material and words of the original before taking any position about its social value. In a substantive introduction Patrick Olivelle explains the sources, structure, and socio-political background of the treatise. He goes on to examine its nature and purpose, as also the contradictions within it. In a major contribution to debate and study in the field, Olivelle discusses in detail his conclusion that the subtle, yet clear, structure of Manu's Code shows that it is the work of a single author. Further, on the basis of his finding that the self-references in text, the colophons at the end of each chapter, and at the very end of the work, all speak of the treatise as sastra', he has used the Sanskrit title Manava-Dharmasastra, rather than the more usual Manu Smriti. This major scholarly work is based on a painstaking and systematic search of original manuscripts. The final outcome is the result of the collation of 53 manuscripts and citations by 12 authors, the study of 38 other manuscripts, and a close reading of 9 commentaries.
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About the author

Patrick Olivelle

Patrick Olivelle is the Chair, Department of Asian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, where he is the Professor of Sanskrit and Indian Religions. Among his recent publications are The Samnyasa Upanisads: Hindu Scriptures on Asceticism and Renunciation (Oxford, 1992), The Asrama System: History and and Hermeneutics of a Religious Institution, Rules and Regulations of Brahmanical Asceticism (State University of New York Press, 1994), Upanisads, Pancatantra, The Early Upanisads: Annotated Text and Translation, The Dharmasutra of Apastamba, Gautama, Baudhayana, and Vasistha, and Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manava-Dharmasastra.

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Bibliographic information

Title Manu's Code of Law: A Critical Edition and Translation of the Manava-Dharmasastra
Format Hardcover
Date published: 18.01.2005
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0195681482