Custom in the Vedic Ritual Codes as an Emergent Legal Principle

Journal of the American Oriental Society 136.4 (2016): 669–687.

20 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2017  

Timothy Lubin

Washington and Lee University; Washington and Lee University - School of Law

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

The degree to which the early dharma literature was an extrapolation from the earlier ritual codes can be seen from a number of shared features of form and content. One of these that has not received more than passing notice is the fact that the Dharmaśāstric principle of regarding customary norms as a valid basis of dharma, both in general (sadācāra, śiṣṭācāra) and in limited spheres (deśācāra, grāmadharma, kuladharma, etc.), has its origins in ritual rules in the śrautasūtras and gṛhyasūtras. Passages from the Baudhāyanaśrautasūtra and numerous gṛhyasūtras show that already in these rulebooks established practices of particular social groups were accepted as a valid authority in certain contexts where explicit textual warrant was lacking, and that a further distinction was there made between the general norms of experts and the valid particular norms of locality or social group.

Keywords: custom, ancient law, dharma, Dharmashastra, Hindu law, Veda, Vedic ritual, code, authority, norms, India, South Asia

JEL Classification: K10, K14, K40, K42

Suggested Citation

Lubin, Timothy, Custom in the Vedic Ritual Codes as an Emergent Legal Principle (2016). Journal of the American Oriental Society 136.4 (2016): 669–687.. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2925505

Timothy Lubin (Contact Author)

Washington and Lee University ( email )

204 W Washington St
Lexington, VA 24450
United States
540-458-8146 (Phone)
540-458-8498 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://home.wlu.edu/~lubint/

Washington and Lee University - School of Law ( email )

Lexington, VA 24450
United States
540-458-8146 (Phone)
540-458-8498 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://law.wlu.edu/faculty/profiledetail.asp?id=297

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