Punishment: Daṇḍa

Mark McClish*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

4 Scopus citations


In Indic thought, the daṇḍa (“staff”) represented the king’s use of violence for the purpose of governance. His right and obligation as daṇḍadhara (“wielder of the staff”) to punish those deemed deserving of punishment under the law defined the king’s role in the legal system. In this sense, daṇḍa represented the legalization of domination, in which state violence was reckoned as just punishment. But the king was not the only one with a recognized right to punish. This chapter explores how daṇḍa was used to articulate and legitimize relations of domination within the legal imagination of Dharmaśāstra. It asks, in particular, who is conferred the right to punish and how much?.

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 pages10
ISBN (Electronic)9780198702603
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Daṇḍa
  • Jurisdiction
  • Kingship
  • Penology
  • Punishment
  • Violence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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