Donald Davis, Jr.

Legal Consciousness in Medieval Indian Narratives


This paper employs the notion of legal consciousness to examine stories about law and justice in medieval India. Legal consciousness refers both to ordinary people’s awareness of how law operates and to gaps that exist between what people think they know about the law and what actually happens in legal matters. Drawing on stories found in collections such as the Kathasaritsagara and Rajatarangini, as well as the famous Mrcchakatika of Kalidasa, evidence of literary depictions of legal problems and their resolution will be used to gain some insight into contemporary consciousness of law and legal procedures in medieval India. The conclusions made about erstwhile ideas of legality and justice will be shown to supplement the understanding of India’s legal history possible from other sources.