The Rajamandala (or Raja-mandala meaning "circle of kings"; मण्डल, mandala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle") was formulated by the Indian author Kautilya in his work on politics, the Arthashastra (written between 4th century BC and 2nd century AD). It describes circles of friendly and enemy states surrounding the king's (raja) state.
The term draws a comparison with the mandala of the Hindu and Buddhist worldview; the comparison emphasises the radiation of power from each power center, as well as the non-physical basis of the system.
The terminology was revived two millenniums later as a result of Twentieth Century efforts to comprehend patterns of diffuse but coherent political power. Metaphors such as social anthropologist Tambiah's idea of a "galactic polity", describe such political patterns as the mandala. Historian Victor Lieberman preferred the metaphor of a "solar polity," as in the solar system, where there is one central body, the sun, and the components or planets of the solar system. The "Rajamandala" concept of ancient India was the prototype for the Mandala model of South East Asian political systems in later centuries, established by British historian O. W. Wolters.
- Torkel Brekke (2006), "Between Prudence and Heroism: Ethics of war in the Hindu tradition", The Ethics of War in Ancient Asia, Routledge, p. 124
Kulke; Rothermund (2004), A History of India, p. 350
Upinder Singh (2008), A History of Ancient and Early Medieval India: From the Stone Age to the 12th Century, Pearson Longman, p. 349
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- Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja. World Conqueror and World Renouncer : A Study of Buddhism and Polity in Thailand against a Historical Background. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976. ISBN 0-521-29290-5. Chapter 7, cited in Lieberman, Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context c. 800-1830. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003-2009 ISBN 978-0521804967. P. 33
- "Victor B. Lieberman" (Biography). Professor of History, Department of History, appointed 1984. University of Michigan. February 4, 2005. Retrieved August 17, 2011.
Center for Southeast Asian Studies
- Lieberman, 2003, p. 33
- Craig J. Reynolds (2006), Seditious Histories: Contesting Thai and Southeast Asian Pasts, University of Washington Press, p. 40
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- King, Governance, and Law in Ancient India: Kauṭilya's Arthaśāstra, translated and annotated by Patrick Olivelle, Oxford University Press, 2013
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- Hermann Kulke; Dietmar Rothermund (2004), A History of India (fourth ed.), Routledge
- Vikas Kumar (2010), "Strategy in the Kautilya Arthasastra", Homo Oeconomicus, 27 (2): 289–320
- Mahendra Prasad Singh (2011), "Kautilya: Theory of State", Indian Political Thought: Themes and Thinkers, Pearson, pp. 1–17, ISBN 978-81-317-5851-9