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Indian law from a seventh century Chinese Buddhist perspective

Deeg, Max 2019. Indian law from a seventh century Chinese Buddhist perspective. Bulletin de l'Ecole Francaise d'Extreme-Orient

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Abstract

This paper will discuss the passage in the 7th century Chinese Buddhist traveler monk Xuanzang’s “Record of the Western Regions of the Great Tang (Dynasty)” on law and legal procedure in early medieval India. Xuanzang’s depiction of the Indian legal system is compared and contrasted in some detail with the information gained from the Artha- and Dharmaśāstra literature. The particular features in Xuanzang’s report which clearly differ from the śāstric literature are explained in the context of Tang China’s social and political situation. By doing so I do not only want to warn from reading the “Record” as a face-value description of India but also would like to highlight the necessity to read a specific text like the “Record” in its immediate context which is more Chinese than Indian. Interpreted in this way Xuanzang’s record gains what it loses on the “historical” side by presenting a fascinating compilation of “facts” about a cultural other in which idealization – the “description” of an ideal (pseudo-)Buddhist legal system – is used for the end of indirectly criticizing and influencing his own social and political environment.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: In Press
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BQ Buddhism
D History General and Old World > DS Asia
ISSN: 0336-1519
Last Modified: 25 Jun 2019 16:05
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/116932

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