Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 March 2011
The aim of this paper is to outline the characteristics of one very important class of Southeast Asian law texts—the “Indian-derived.” In the process, it may be possible to throw light on some basic questions such as the nature of State, and the definition of sovereignty in medieval Southeast Asia. The texts are important examples of the adaptation of Indian legal culture in new environments. I hope to show that the idea of law exhibited in the texts, while dependent upon such basic Indian ideas as “duty” (dharma), is not only differently defined in the various cultures of “Indianized” Southeast Asia but transcends such limited legal definitions as “rules” or “coercion.” Law instead rests upon native concepts, giving rise to rules of conduct that ought, to be observed by reason of social condition. It is among these rules that law is to be found; law is an aspect of dharma, the definition of which varies from one law text to another. It is ultimately concerned with a definition of obligation that is simultaneously suitable in local terms and consonant with absolute principles derived from the Indian texts.
Further details on the subjects treated in this paper will appear in his Concise Legal History of South-East Asia, to be published by the Clarendon Press in April 1978.
2 See the lists in Forchhammer, Emil, The Jardine Prize: An Essay on the Sources and Development of Burmese Law (Rangoon: Government Press, 1885), pp. 108–09Google Scholar and Baw, Shwe, “The Origin and Development of Burmese Legal Literature” (Ph.D. diss., Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, Univ. of London, 1955Google Scholar).
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5 Dhammavilasa, XII.6; Manu, VII.360, 361. Dhammavilasa, XII.2; Manu, VIII.28, 374–78. Dhammavilasa, XII.25; Manu, VIII.369–70.
6 Wagaru, V.64.
7 Dhammavilasa, IV. II.
8 Rangoon: Court of the Judicial Commissioner, British Burma, 1882. The Notes comprise sections I, II, III on marriage; IV and VIII on marriage and divorce; and V, VI, and VII on inheritance and partition.
9 This dhammathat, obtained a preeminent position in Anglo-Burmese law. It was held by the Privy Council that, where its provisions were clear, reference need not be made to any other text; Ma Hnin Bwin v. U Shwe Gon, (1914) 8 L.B.R. 1 (P.C.).
11 See Note II.
12 As indeed did the title of Jardine's Notes.
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14 See footnote 2 above.
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30 See further below.
31 Griswold & Prasert na Nagara (n. 23 above), pp. 111ff.
32 The Thai version of the Dharmaśāstra.
33 By Thammasat University, Bangkok.
34 See Wenk (n. 25 above), pp. 37–41 on the revision of the Buddhist Canon under Rama I in 1788.
36 The Pali equivalent of the Sanskrit word dharmaśāstra.
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38 More properly—in its hybrid form—Dhammasattha.
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76 On custom vis-à-vis texts, see below.
77 Note 70 above, p. 259.
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80 See Forchhammer (n. 2 above).
82 Now known mainly in the text “The Three Great Seals”; see Lingat (n. 28 above), pp. 19–27.
83 See Wales (n. 45 above).
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85 This did not, of course, prevent comparative jurists from “demonstrating” that the Thai texts were “basically Hindu law”; see Masao (n. 51 above).
86 See, e.g., Moertono, Soemarsaid, State and Statecraft in Old Java: A Study of the Later Mataram Period, 16th to 19th Century (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell Modern Indonesia Project, Monograph Series, 1968)Google Scholar.
87 See his “The Idea of Power in Javanese Culture” in Holt, Claire et al. (eds.), Culture and Politics in Indonesia (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1972), pp. 1–70Google Scholar.
88 A classic example from Java is the well-known Bratajuda cycle episode in which Ardjuna and Kresna (Krishna) discuss duty and sentiment.