Hinduism and Tribal Religions

Living Edition
| Editors: Jeffery D. Long, Rita D. Sherma, Pankaj Jain, Madhu Khanna

Oaths (Hinduism)

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-94-024-1036-5_302-1


In Hinduism, there are several associative words that denote “oath,” such as shapatha, vachan, and pratigya; however, the connotation of these words is not same. Shapatha means oath as well as curse, but pratigya and vachan are used in the sense of promise to fulfill an oath. Moreover, there are two words: shapa and abhishapa, which are exclusively used to convey the sense of curse. In Indian courts, as loosely demonstrated by popular Bollywood movies, witnesses swear to their religious texts, for example, a Hindu witness swears to Bhagavad Gita, and a Muslim witness swears to Quran. But this practice ended in 1840 CE, and under the 1969 CE law, witnesses swear by a universal god. It is believed that many secrets of Hindu mysticism will never be known to the world as they are bound and protected under an oath of secrecy. A Sanskrit inscription atop Indian Supreme Court building reads Yato Dharma stato Jayaha“let the victory lies with dharma”; incidentally this...

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  1. 1.
    Hopkins EW (1932) The oath in Hindu epic literature. J Am Orient Soc 52(4):316–337. JSTOR. www.jstor.org/stable/593849CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Humanities & Social Sciences – Languages & LiteratureShri Mata Vaishno Devi UniversityKatraIndia