The earliest textual attestation of ‘dharmaśāstra’ and more: An analysis of chronology in ‘A Dharma Reader’
Abstract: Which is the earliest extant textual attestation of the word ‘dharmaśāstra’? Is the birth of the Dharmaśāstra genre causally linked, and incontrovertibly indebted, to the Buddha and emperor Aśoka? Patrick Olivelle’s 2017 book ‘A Dharma Reader — Classical Indian Law’ contains statements that appear to be pointed answers to the above questions, a pointedness that I find pregnant with serious revisionist implications of profound consequence not just to the textual history of the term ‘dharmaśāstra’ and the origins of the Dharmaśāstra genre but also to the history of the idea of Dharma itself and perhaps to some people of those traditions in which Dharma is seen as Sanātana. In this paper, I foreground aforementioned statements of Olivelle (who has been hailed by Dominik Wujastyk as the world’s leading authority on the history of Indian dharma), delineate some of their revisionist implications and present a critical analysis of some of his reasoning and conclusions thereof. In doing so, a case is made for the need to pay attention to attempts at altering chronology, particularly those that enable tendentious attributions through imagined cause-and-effect hypotheses accompanied by sweeping consequences.
- Academia (may require some form of signing-in): https://www.academia.edu/44589423/The_earliest_textual_attestation_of_dharma%C5%9B%C4%81stra_and_more_An_analysis_of_chronology_in_A_Dharma_Reader_
- For an option that requires no signing-in: https://meghk.wordpress.com/2020/11/28/the-earliest-textual-attestation-of-dharmasastra-and-more-an-analysis-of-chronology-in-a-dharma-reader/