1922 607 Short Notices As Professor Keith puts it in his foreword to Mr. Narendra Nath Law's Aspects of Ancient Indian Polity (London : Milford, 1921), ' India offers nothing that can be regarded as a serious theory of politics in the wider . sense of that term. But there was an intensive study of the practical aspect of government and of the relations between states.' As far as Mr. Narendra Nath Law's book deals with this latter side of kingship it is welcome and useful. In the centre of the study stands the examination of Kautiliya Arthasastra, a treatise on administrative law and practice, the Dandaniti which kings and their officials had to be specially instructed in. The author does not restrict himself, however, to an analysis of the contents of this particular treatise, but draws on all available sources of information, including the great epics, in order to reconstitute the precepts of the statecraft of ancient India. He notices also the indications of different arrangements of an oligarchical and even of a ' democratic ' kind testifying to local customs which gave prominence to tribal councils. One aspect of the prevailing monarchical power the religious one is treated naturally with a great wealth of details. Unfortunately Mr. Narendra Nath Law has thought it necessary to supplement his chapters on the subject by lengthy disquisitions on magic and religious sources of political authority. Facts from the life of primitive tribes of Australia and other ethnographic materials are brought in without much discretion and accuracy, while references to Sir James Frazer, Andrew Lang, Sir Henry Maine, Mr. F. W. Thomas, &c., are marshalled for the sake of establishing certain rather vague views as to the part played by magic and by religion in political development. Readers may, however, easily put aside these superfluous chapters and look for valuable indications in the pages dedi- cated to the technique of royal administration. P. V. Mr. F. E. Pargiter has given in his Ancient Indian Historical Tradition (London : Milford, 1922) the final results of his elaborate and painstaking researches in the Puranas and the epics, undertaken in the hope of shedding fresh light on early Indian history. Full recognition should be accorded to the care with which he has carried out his task, for work on the Puranas, in the absence of critical texts, is disheartening in the extreme. It is, however, impossible to hold that Mr. Pargiter has succeeded in his main object, the discovery of an historical tradition current among the Ksatriyas or ruling class, and giving a correct account of events im- perfectly and inaccurately recorded by priestly tradition. The Brahmins with their claims to intellectual supremacy are by no means universally
Page:English Historical Review Volume 37.djvu/615
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