Before discussing the individual contributors to the Seminar allow me first to offer a general and over-arching picture of the legal situation as evinced by these two late bronze age epic songs; this concerns jurisdiction and jurisprudence as well as the more metaphysical and transcendental aspects of dharma. There are two fundamental conditions which need to be initially clarified concerning the nature of moral, ethical, and formal orders of conduct within the two poems that we are here examining and discussing in the Seminar.
Firstly, essentially there are two legal systems that co-exist in our present Pune Critical Edition of the epics: they are that of the Mahabharata, which portrays a system of adharma as it exists at the outset of the Kali Yuga, and there is the dharmic system of the Treta Yuga which the work of Rama illustrates. In the former only one quarter of all thought, speech, and action can actually be in accord with dharma or ethical propriety, whereas in the latter. dharma is active in three quarters of all human and natural experience. Thus one epic presents an essentially adharmic society whilst the other depicts a society where dharma almost completely prevails. These are the distinct legal paradigms which are projected by our two greatly different poems.
Secondly, in epic Mahabharata the text that is given in the first eleven parvans presents a society that has a preliterate and premonitory culture and there the practice of moral decision is unlike that which is revealed in the latter seven books of the poem where moral authority is a question of royal judgement. That is, there are two legal orders at work in the Great Bharata; the first half of the f; poem demonstrates an archaic revenge based legal system whereas the second part of the epic reveals to us a more classical system of jurisdiction that is founded upon the king's adjudication and verdict. This is not the case for the Ramayana where the legal culture of the text is it uniform throughout the poem.
One can similarly observe another dharmic crisis in the epics in that in both works there is a crisis occurring between structures of kinship and lineage. In the Great Bharata the rivalry between two factions of a clan occur as in the manner of matrilineal and matrilineal moieties being in contention: that is, the Paridavas and the Dhartarastras.
In the Ramayana this form of conflict is more condensed in that the patriline of Dagaratha is for a while overcome c, by the matrilineal claims of Kaikeyi and her son. Different lineage systems exhibit unlike patterns of moral custom for their values are different.
Both parties in these contestations believe themselves al to be right and consider that they are acting with ethical propriety. As Amartya Sen has observed, we arrive at our understanding of justice only through our perception of an injustice, via how it is that we identify wrong in the world.
That is, justice is inferred from experience of life whereas injustice is an amorphous apprehension that we carry within us at all times. The former is originally objective or empirical and is based upon perception, whereas the latter is personal, private, or social, and is founded upon an inward or mental conception of worth.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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