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Indian Political Thought - I

CEC and St. Xavier's College (Autonomous), Kolkata via Swayam


The course aims to familiarize students with the various intellectual traditions of the Indian sub-continent prevalent from the Vedic period to the Muslim period of rule in India. The focus of the study will be to understand the core concepts of statecraft, kingship, law and order, administration, diplomacy, foreign affairs, Justice, Governance as laid down in the important literary texts. It would also bring in the contemporary relevance of the political principles enunciated centuries ago. The course will help students to develop a critical understanding of the major themes and issues such as community, state, kinship, culture religion as perceived by different thinkers. A student would be able to understand and appreciate the 4 main streams of pre-modern Indian thought which are (a) Brahmanic tradition (b) Shramanic tradition (c) Islamic tradition and (d) Syncretic tradition.


Week 1 : 1. Literary Sources of Ancient Indian Political thought 2. Nature of Hindu Political Thought 3. Idea of dharma 4. Idea of state and kingship   Week 2 : 5. Fundamental Concepts in Ancient Indian Political thought 6. Brahmanic tradition: Origin and features 7. Shramanic thought: Features 8. Principles of Syncretism in Hinduism and Islam   Week 3 : 9. Buddhism: Concept of Dhamma 10. Buddhist principles of statecraft 11. Origin of the State: State of Nature 12. Origin of the State: The Social Contract   Week 4 : 13. Theory of Kingship in Digha Nikaya 14. Political Philosophy in the Mahabharata 15. The Shantiparva: origin and Nature of state 16. Rajadharma In Shantiparva   Week 5 : 17. Dandaniti in Shantiparva 18. Politics Ethics and Good Governance in the Mahabharata 19. Manusmriti Introducing the text 20. Dharma in Manusmriti   Week 6 : 21. Rajdharma in Manusmriti 22. Principles of Government in Manusmriti 23. Manusmriti principles of social organization 24. Manusmriti code of laws   Week 7 : 25. Introducing Kabir 26. Kabir’s views on Socio-religious dogmas 27. Syncretism in Kabir’s Bijak : Universal humanism 28. Syncretism in Kabir’s Bijak : Monotheism and religious toleration   Week 8 : 29. Syncretism in Kabir’s Bijak : Economic inequalities, livelihood and property 30. Arthashastra: Introducing the text 31. Saptanga Theory of Kautilya 32. Kautilya's Dandaniti   Week 9 : 33. Kautilya: Diplomacy and Mandala theory 34. Kautilya: Principles of Foreign Policy 35. Arthashastra as a manual of good governance 36. Kautilya and Machiavelli : Comparison   Week 10 : 37. Medieval India: State, Society and Religion 38. Features of Islamic thought 39. The State during the Delhi Sultanate 40. Fatwa –i-Jahandari: Analysing the text   Week 11 : 41. Barani's ideas in Kingship 42. Barani: Bureaucracy, Law and Administration 43. The state during the Mughal rule 44. Abul Fazl: Kingship and Sovereignty   Week 12 : 45. Abul Fazl: Social Organization 46. Abul Fazl: Religion and State 47. Akbar’s ideas on justice and toleration 48. Abul Fazl: Administration and Governance

Taught by

Dr. Jhumpa Mukherjee

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