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Title: Sovereignty and dharma : the role of justice in classical Indian political thought
Author: Slakter, David Alan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2734 0646
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis draws attention to the tension between the binding claims of dharma and the obligations of the king (qua state) to protect the material interests of his subjects. I argue that a significant part of the Mahdbhdrata can be understood as a response to this dilemma, and that a developed political philosophy and theory of justice is found therein. The picture of justice delineated within the Mahabharata emphasizes the ceteris paribus priority of dharma when the king or other functionaries of the state consider how they should act. When dharmas conflict or the demands of certain dharmas conflict with the king's fundamental obligation to defend his subjects against violence and deprivation however, he reserves the right to decide how to act in such an instance. To prevent abuse in such situations, the king must be virtuous. In the context of the Mahabhiirata, this means acting for the sake of the kingdom and his subjects, rather than for his own interest. The king demonstrates his virtue by his prior willingness to submit to the demands of dharma even when they are contrary to his material interests, while a king who shows himself to value his own flourishing over that of his subjects may find himself justly deposed by a more righteous king.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available