Political Brahmanism and the state : a compositional history of the Arthaśāstra

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McClish, Mark Richard

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This dissertation is about how to use the Arthaśāstra of Kauṭalya as a source for the study of religion and culture in classical South Asia. The Arthaśāstra is perhaps the single most important source for reconstructing the culture of the period and one of the most misunderstood. In the following pages, I take two approaches to helping scholars produce more and better information from the text. First, I engage in source criticism of the extant Arthaśāstra, trying to unlock its various layers and compositional moments. Second, I use this material to demonstrate how the ideology of Brahmanism, which promotes the political interests of the Brahmanical community, was a later addition to a text previously devoid of such concerns. In the conclusion, I apply these findings to the current thinking on the history of religions in this period and argue that the redaction of the Arthaśāstra was part of a broad re-assertion of Brahmanical privilege in a new political context.




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