King: Rājadharma

Mark McClish*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

3 Scopus citations


This chapter explores two related aspects of statecraft in ancient India: techniques of governance (nīti) and the king’s sacred duty under dharma (rājadharma). It is often held that rules on governance developed out of more fundamental reflections on law and obligation in the early Dharmaśāstra literature, that practical techniques of rule were articulations of the king’s sacred obligations. In fact, the early nīti tradition developed its rules on governance independent of the dharma tradition. The concept of rājadharma served to facilitate the integration of material from this pre-existing nīti tradition into the early dharma texts, which initially did not pay a great deal of attention to kings or kingship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Oxford History of Hinduism
Subtitle of host publicationHindu Law A New History of Dharmasastra
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780198702603
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Arthaśāstra
  • Kingship
  • Nīti
  • Obligation
  • Rājadharma
  • State
  • Statecraft

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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