Skip to content
Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter Oldenbourg 2021

7. Ideas of Peace and Practice of Peacemaking in Pre-Modern South Asia

Murari Kumar Jha

Abstract

This chapter surveys the concepts of peace, moral dilemmas of violence, and the efforts at conciliation and peacemaking in South Asia during the pre-modern period. Contrary to the general perception, violence and warfare had been endemic in South Asian society from early historical times. The classical Indian authors on statecraft, religious lawgivers, and philosophers conceptualized peace as the inner, spiritual quest of an individual. Through his promulgation of dhamma or righteous behaviour, the Maurya emperor Ashoka invoked the ethical conduct of the subject. In the sixteenth century, the Mughal emperor Akbar came up with the idea of ṣulḥ-i kull (peace with all). Although these concepts originated in two different imperial contexts, they highlight the need to harmonize conflicting interests of the diverse subject population. The chapter analyses the historical context in which political violence was managed and peace was negotiated and discusses the Mughals’ role as the chief arbiters of conflicts in their empire.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston