This chapter examines the history of the Hindu legal tradition. Vedic law lived in close association with many, particular chthonic traditions, never purporting to abrogate them, and the importance of local tradition is an ongoing theme in Hindu thought. People remained governed by their old law until such time as they came to see the new Vedic law more as their law than the old one. Neither law remained the same in this process, and people came to be identifiable as Hindu as they came to subscribe to modified Vedic law. If they did not, they remained a distinct community.
This book offers a major new means of conceptualizing law and legal relations across the world. National laws are placed in the broader context of major legal traditions, those of chthonic (or indigenous) law, talmudic law, civil law, Islamic law, common law, Hindu law, and Confucian law. Each tradition is examined in terms of its institutions and substantive law, its founding concepts and methods, its attitude towards the concept of change, and its teaching on relations with other traditions and peoples. Legal traditions are explained in terms of multivalent and non-conflictual forms of logic and thought.