Pluralism, Texts, and Oaths

Yashwant Malaiya malaiya at CS.COLOSTATE.EDU
Thu Mar 9 17:33:54 UTC 2000

Incidentally Hinduism is also not a religion "of the book".
Gita, though quite popular now, is not necessarily universally
accepted, for example, the Arya Samajis and Lingayats will
not accept it as "scripture".

It is uncommon among Jains to use a book to take oath.
I remember one case when a Jain had taken a "Jina-Vani-Samgraha",
a prayer book, to court to take the oath. This was widely
condemned by the Jain community who thought that such a use of
a sacred text is disrespectful.


-----Original Message-----
From: Indology [mailto:INDOLOGY at LISTSERV.LIV.AC.UK]On Behalf Of Stephen
Sent: Thursday, March 09, 2000 10:25 AM
Subject: Re: Pluralism, Texts, and Oaths

Noel Salmond wrote:

> I recently got a call from an official of the government of Canada
> for information with regard to choosing sacred texts for use in
> ceremonies for new Canadians
> For instance, they want to know what to provide for Buddhists. I'm
aware of
> how complex this can be: what kind of Buddhist? Buddhism isn't a
> of the book" in the way that the biblical traditions are etc.
> Could someone tell me what the drill is in the U.S., in the U.K., in
> I gather that in secular India one swears on a copy of the

The idea of swearing on books of holy scriptures is alien, as far as I
know, to Buddhism.  I have served on a juries here in the UK and when
one is sworn in, a bible is normally proffered unless one specifically
asks otherwise.  For Muslims, a Quran is obviously needed while I
believe a copy of the Bhagavad Gita may be provided for Hindus.  As a
Buddhist I chose to affirm (as do Quakers) rather than swear and this
is what most Buddhists do here.  However, in the past I think it was
decided that a copy of the Dharmapada/Dhammapada was accepted.
Arguably, the best thing for a Buddhist would be to "swear" on the
Three Jewels -- the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  FYI although nominally
a Buddhist country, people in Japan in similar situations merely
affirm to tell the truth sincerely etc.

Best wishes,
Stephen Hodge

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