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Women In The Sacred Laws
Kulapati's Preface The Author
Foreword Prologue
The Dharma Sutras Contemporary Evidence
The Manu - Samhita The Later Law-Books
Digest On Hindu Law Espirit Des Lois
Major Sections

FOREWORD

In this volume we enter the stage of the Dharmasutra codification of the sacred law, followed by an age of commentators, and then of schools of interpretation, authorities and digests.

In this professionally congenial field of manipulation of texts and accommodation of novel usages by exceptions and revised definitions the legalists of all nations would find themselves at home. A main factor in actual changes of practices and mainspring in a progressive contraction of women's legal status, the authoress sees in the unconditional religious requirement of a son to secure the beatification of ancestors and the continuity of the family.

Then there are the elaborate by rules concerning gotra pinda, etc., pseudo- scientific niceties, avoidances and omens: there is steady reduction of marriage age and discouragement of the ancient condition of widow remarriage. Amid the limitations of inheritance a fuller consideration than is usual is here given to the ancient practice of appointment by a sonless father of a daughter to function as his son and heir, the status of putrika historically important in at least a part of the Indian sphere.

The terrible approval of sati, for which the Greeks conceived a too ingenious explanation, is here plausibly attributed to the domination by conquering peoples from northern Asia.

In the concluding chapter 'Esprit des lois' are assembled epigraphical evidences of comparatively free inter-caste marriages during mediaeval centuries : after which are summarised the chief enactments of the British period. The concluding pages of Miss shakuntala Rao's meritorious and well-inspired work are devoted to an exposition and justification of the provisions of the new Hindu Code.

August 1952

F.W.THOMAS.

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