Tracing the Evolution from the Antiquities: Hindu Tenets on the Law of War

International Journal of Law and Legal Jurisprudence Studies, 2014

18 Pages Posted: 20 May 2017

Date Written: July 28, 2014


An individualistic insight to the very underpinning of Social Contract reveals as per Hobbes a persisting state of war among individuals which according to him is the state of nature. While Rousseau, acknowledging the light of reason as the quintessential factor presupposes that the state of nature of human beings is essentially of peace and concord. He goes a degree further than Locke to contend that beyond the natural capacity for pity, there is no innate human nature. Human nature is itself a social product. This forms the core of various modern social and political philosophies and its magnification to a macro level, in connotation of states lead to the development of International Law, concluding that the innate nature of state is also of peace and harmony.

The Law of War is a species of this genesis of governance of statal behaviour. However, it needs to be borne in mind while we trace its development; Western ‘Eurocentric’ thinkers decline to recognize Ancient Hindu Jurisprudence which enunciated principles on Ethics of War far from the conception of those modern thinkers, both in terms of time and conceptual clarity. This paper attempts to highlight the contribution of ancient Hindu philosophers to relook at various dimensions of war ethics. This paper being an historical analysis shall deal with the definition of war in the Hindu parlance, the classification of war as per various Hindu scholars, the Hindu doctrine of bellum Justum, Hindu doctrine of jus in bello, the status of war as last resort, ethics of warfare and conclude with how this learning from sages and seers would be an archetypal in order to have a rich confluence of intelligentsia from the past to positively influence the present of International Humanitarian Law and its enforcement.

Keywords: International Humanitarian Law, Hindu, Law of War

Suggested Citation

Pandya, Param, Tracing the Evolution from the Antiquities: Hindu Tenets on the Law of War (July 28, 2014). International Journal of Law and Legal Jurisprudence Studies, 2014, Available at SSRN:

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