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2nd Unit : 2nd Study Group Session

2nd Unit : 2nd Study Group Session

A tentative methodology in the Dharmaśāstra studies

The 2nd Study Meeting, the 1st Unit

On October 24, 2011 (Mon.), Researcher Ichiro Numata, from the International Research Center for Philosophy gave a presentation titled “A tentative methodology in the Dharma??stra studies.” Here is the summary.

Although research in the ancient Indian law has not been ample in Japan either in quality or quantity, the field has attracted attention in the Western world ever since the dawn of the Sanskrit studies. It was pursued not only as a branch of Sanskrit studies but for contributing to the British rule over India: it was also because India was regarded as a typical “Asian” society in the meaning that it is not Western. However, it should be noted that the descriptions of the ancient Indian law do not represent the real society but only constitute a theoretical construction.

The word “dharma,” which is translated as “law,” represents the notion which controls seasons, celestial bodies, weather, the acts of gods, and rituals in ?igveda, and it was transformed in time to fit to the human society on the earth. Then the group of literatures themed on dharma, usually translated as “laws” appeared, in which a change took place: into the tradition of veda succeeded by brahmans such as penance, something to be controlled by the secular power such as legal provisions were introduced. Further, in The Manusm?ti where it is more cearly shown, legal provisions on priesthood, pilgrimage or familiy issues came to be included. In the backdrop of this change were the popularity of priesthood at that time, rise and falls of political or social gourps, and the appearahce of a powerful empire called the Mauryan dynasty. It is essential to study the contents of the ancient law in view of these historical contexts, and by doing so, it would be able to collaborate with other disciplines such as historical researches, said the speaker.

The 2nd Study Meeting, the 1st Unit

In the question and answer session, issues such as the issue of the king and the legislation, and that of the sacred and the secular were discussed; it was noted that while the sacred was established as such, dharma was separated, formed and developed apart from that. Further, profound discussions took place on the development of philosophy based on dialogues, with reference to the cases from India and Europe.