Frederick Engels, Ernest Untermann, eds.
Kahane, trans.Foreword by Friedrich A.
Historically, in the Hindu legal tradition, rules were primarily enacted, implemented, and enforced at the local level. The village panchayat was responsible for hearing and deciding legal disputes on the basis of religious laws and existing local custom. Given the diversity that existed throughout the Indian subcontinent, there could be a significant difference between the laws as applied in the local communities.
Foreword by Bettina Bien Greaves.
The primary sources of law in the Hindu legal tradition are the religious texts (the sastras and sustras) and the accepted interpretations of these works by religious scholars (the vedas). One distinguishing characteristic of the Hindu tradition, however, is its flexibility in terms of the recognition of new laws. Unlike some other religious traditions, in which change to the laws is very difficult to achieve, the Hindu tradition accepts change as a natural part of life. The dharma always has accepted that new laws will have to be made by men to govern their current situations. Whether the laws are created by custom, legislation, or judicial decision, the Hindu tradition accepts manmade law as an essential component of a functioning social order, while at the same time recognizing the transient nature of this law and the fact that it will continue to change as circumstances and societal needs change.