Blame of Theft in Ancient India: Some Notes on the Ties of Property and Proprietor

Ksenia Nikolskaya

Vostok/Oriens '2014, №1

The paper analyzes some contexts found in religious and legal sources of Ancient India. The main issue in fragments under consideration is protection of property. In this study, contrary to the historiorgraphic commonplace, the emphasis in the theme of theft is moved from the legal issues to the questions of cultural anthropology. According to the sources, censure of theft in Ancient India is bound up with religious beliefs about the mechanisms of ritual contamination, including transmitted through the objects. Thus, the basis of prohibition of theft lies in such a system of ideas in which every thing, in a certain sense, appears to be a continuation of its master. Any physical contact with an object is equivalent to physical contact with its master. Getting an object – also by means of theft, – a new owner receives some part of former owner’s sins. In Ancient India caste society such concept was one of the main motivations for the censure of theft.

Keywords: property, gift, theft, magic, Ancient India

Pages: С. 29–40

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