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This paper examines 'mandala' as a tradition of knowledge in Southeast Asia. It marries two concepts of mandala: (1) a Hindu-Buddhist religious diagram; with (2) a doctrine of traditional Southeast Asian 'international relations', derived from ancient Indian political discourse. It also highlights the value of Chinese thought as the 'yin' to ancient India's 'yang', in the construction of a Southeast Asian mandalic political culture. In its investigations, this paper draws on to the writings of key historians of this period, particularly O. W. Wolters, as well as the influential Indian text on governance, Kautilya's Arthasastra.