In order to understand the legal use and significance of documents in medieval India, we need to start from the contemporaneous legal categories found in the Sanskrit scholastic corpus called dharmaśāstra. By comparing these categories with actual historical documents and inscriptions, we gain better insight into the encounter of pan-Indian legal discourse in Sanskrit and regional laws in vernacular languages. The points of congruence and transgression in this encounter will facilitate a nuanced history of documents and their use beyond unhelpfully broad categories of written and oral. A new translation of one major scholastic discussion of documents is presented as a way to raise issues relevant to any historical description of the legal encounter text and practice.
Davis, Donald R. Jr.
"Toward a History of Documents in Medieval India: The Encounter of Scholasticism and Regional Law in the Smṛticandrikā,"
The Medieval Globe: Vol. 2
, Article 8.
Available at: https://scholarworks.wmich.edu/tmg/vol2/iss2/8
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