Since our current King of the East has an Arabic Muslim persona, I got to thinking about how my Hindi or Tribal persona might have interacted with a Mughal Muslim emperor. Oaths of fealty, which are widely used in the SCA, is a European centric concept, and don't have the same meaning in the parts of the world that interest me. As an intellectual exercise, I started researching it. I needed to know: Could a Muslim ruler accept an oath from a non Muslim? And what would an Indian oath look like?
Long story short: Yes, Muslim Rulers had to do some mental gymnastics to get it to work, but they did, and they did it in India specifically (Moin).
And then I found a reference to an oath in the Mahabharata which was used to assert the innocence of the person making it. As I said, an "oath of fealty" was not a concept that applied in ancient India, but certainly swearing that something was true did apply, (Hara). So I took the Sanskrit which had been translated into English and I modified the text to make it feel appropriate to a SCAdian context.
After I had it in English, I asked my brother to translate it into French, as our current King speaks French as his first language, and I thought it would be neat to have it in my back pocket, just in case.
Then, because I have been working with the Purananuru text for an upcoming paper, I awkwardly asked one of my coworkers if he could translate it into Tamil. It turns out that Ravi understood what I was doing well enough that he was able to translate it into both classical Tamil and modern street Tamil. The text is transliterated below.
All of this is important context because this past weekend I was able to apply this persona appropriate oath under fire.
Stay Tuned to find out what happens when Just in Case becomes "oh shit."
“Take to heart, these words of mine: I would forfeit my journey to all my ancestors, if I do not carry out what I say,(1) O Rulers of The East. I will protect your lands, your people and your honor with all the skills I possess: my service, my art and my sword.” (2)
Prenez ces paroles à cœur: Je céderais ma place à côté de mes ancêtres, si je n'exécute pas ce que je dis, ô dirigeants de l'Orient. Je protégerai vos terres, votre peuple et votre honneur avec toutes les compétences que je possède : mon service, mon art et mon armes.
Classical Tamil: Ennudya intha varthaigalai manthil kollungal: naan solvathai niraiverraillai enral, en munnorgal anaivarukkum chellum payanathai naan kaividuven,
Kizakkin aatchiyalaragale, enthau sevai, enathu kalai marrum enathu vaal ena ennidam ulla anaithu thirankalaum ungal nilangalaiyum ungal makkalaiyum ungal kauravathaiyum paadhukappen.
Oath Modern Tamil: Intha en varthaigalai ungal idhayathil padhiyungal: Naan solvathai seyavidil, intha payanathai en ella munnorgalin mun niruthidevan,
Kizhakil irrukum mannarkale, ungal mannai, ungal makkalai, ungal maanathai ennidam irukkum thiramaiyaalum en valalum en por kalaikalalum
en sevaiyalum paadhukappen.
(1) Hara, Minoru, A note on the Ancient Indian Oath, Annals of the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute Vol. 68, No. 1/4, RAMAKRISHNA GOPAL BHANDARKAR 150TH BIRTH-ANNIVERSARY VOLUME (1987), pp. 225-231 (7 pages)
(2)Moin, A. Azfar, Sulh-i kull as an oath of peace: Mughal political theology in history, theory, and comparison, Modern Asian Studies (2022), 56, 721–748 doi:10.1017/S0026749X2100041X This article explains how an Islamic King can take an oath of peace (Sulh-i-kull) from a pagan.
Translation into French, and pronunciation coach: Christopher E. Journeay
Translation into Tamil, and pronunciation coach: Ravi Srinivasan