This article discusses Indian contract law, focusing particularly on the evolution from status to contract, i.e. a process whereby a complex set of duties arising from membership of a community was gradually replaced by a system in which obligations between individuals are made freely. This is known as Maine’s law, a universal law that applies to all societies, but which is particularly relevant to Hindu society, as it was first formulated with reference to this society. At the turn of the new millennium, contract still remains a cornerstone of industrialised nations such as India. However, the demise of the classical concept of contract as theorised in the nineteenth century, and the growing need to defend groups whose contractual power is weak, such as employees and consumers, has reversed this trend. The decline of the doctrine of contractual freedom appears to have caused a return from contract to status.