Sale and Purchase Contracts in the Dharmaśāstras
12 Pages Posted: 27 May 2020
Date Written: April 17, 2020
Although the Dharmaśāstras were not written as history texts and although they were not written by historians, they deal with matters pertaining to the ordinary life of people. As such, it is legitimate to ask if we can learn anything about the economic situation of the period when these texts were written by looking at their content. Scholars, such as Olivelle and LaRiviere have opined that, in fact, the laws in these texts were based on current practice. Based on this assessment, in this paper, we specifically look at the rules regarding annulment of sale/purchase transactions, as laid down in the Arthaśāstra and in a variety of other early Dharmaśāstric texts. By making a small number of judicious assumptions regarding the dating of these texts, we also attempt to make inferences regarding the change in the nature of markets over the period around the beginning of the first millennium CE.
Keywords: markets, legal texts, ancient economies
JEL Classification: N25, N35, K12, L10, P42
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation