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dharmasastra

("righteousness science"), ancient Indian body of jurisprudence that is still fundamentally the family law of Hindus living in territories outside India (e.g., Pakistan, Malaysia, East Africa) and is in force, subject to legislative modification, in India. Dharmashastra is not primarily concerned with legal administration, though courts and their procedures are dealt with comprehensively, but with the right course of conduct in every dilemma. Some basic principles of dharmashastra are known to most Hindus brought up in a traditional environment. These include the propositions that duties are more significant than rights, that women are under perpetual guardianship of their closest male relatives, and that the king (i.e., the state) must protect the subjects from all harm, moral as well as material.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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