3. Be Truthful
‘A thing of beauty is a
joy forever’ said Keats. He also said, ‘Truth beauty, beauty
is truth’. When truth is so beautiful, when it gives joy to the
speaker why do we speak lies, for simple things too ?
Observe the following conversation, for instance, between a mother and
‘Why are you late today ?’
‘I had a special class in English’.
‘But I saw your friend Venu-’
‘Oh! he’s lazy. He didn’t attend it.’
‘He said that your English madam was on leave.’
‘Yes, but other English madam took the class.’
‘You said there was only one English madam in your college.’
‘Oh! come on ma! don’t you trust me. The other English madam
from our neighbouring college came.’
For one small lie, he had to build up a wall of lies. He could have simply
spoken the truth’ My friend took me out with him. I had no time
to tell you. Sorry ma!’ After all he had not committed a great sin.
But that’s how people keep speaking lies.
Truth is God. God should be worshipped as the embodiment of truth.
Satya Vachanaaya namah -
Satya Swaroopaya namah -
Salutations to the one whose speech is truth, who is a lover of truth
and who is an embodiment of truth.
Krishna, an embodiment of truth himself highlighted the glory of truth
in Bhagvad Gita in these lines.
satyam priya-hitam ca yat
van-mayam tapa ucyate - Bhagavadgita 17-15
anudvega-karam—not agitating; vakyam—words; satyam—truthful;
hitam—beneficial; ca—also; yat—which; svadhyaya—of
Vedic study; abhyasanam—practice; ca—also; eva—certainly;
vak-mayam—of the voice; tapah—austerity;
ucyate—is said to be.
Speaking truthfully, pleasingly, politely, beneficially, without agitating
others and reciting Vedic literature regularly is known as austerity of
speech. (vachika Tapasu)
Just as physical training is attained
by the exercise of the body, literary training is attained by exercise
of the mind, spiritual training is attained by exercise of the spirit.
It means we have to practice speaking truth everyday of our life. Initially
we may find it difficult but ‘practice makes a man perfect.’
Gandhi was not born great, but he achieved greatness by realizing the
value of truth. He wondered why everyone could not be as truthful as Harischandra.
He tried to change all those he came into contact with.
Being inspired by Gandhi’s truthfulness, a boy named Madhu decided
to speak only the truth one day. It so happened that his mother tried
out a new sweet that morning and sought his opinion. He blurted out, ‘It’s
so insipid! can you ever call it a sweet ? Why do you trouble us with
such experiments ?’ Mother was taken aback. He could not help it.
On his way to college, his friend asked him excitedly ‘Madhu’,
how do I look in this new dress ? Madhu said frankly ‘It is so gaudy
and dazzling. Whatever made you select such a crazy one.’ His friend
was angry. That afternoon, his lecturer called him aside anxiously, ‘Madhu,
you know that I am preparing a guide. Read these pages and give me your
valuable suggestion. I chose you because you are a brilliant boy.’
Madhu read accordingly. He did not like a work of it. He said, ‘Sir,
what made you write such answers ? They don’t seem to be penned
down by a learned man like you.’ The lecturer was offended.
Madhu’s enthusiasm to speak the truth has died down by the evening,
since he has hurt the feelings of three people close to him. He walked
into a park, to get out of his depression. He bought ground-nuts, ate
them and was about to throw out the paper when he came across a joke there.
He read it out.
A woman, ‘Look here, photographer. When you took my photo ten years
ago, it was so good. I looked so beautiful in it. But see this latest
photo. I look horrible. You have lost your mastery over your profession.’
The photographer smilingly replied. ‘Yes, ma’m. I do agree
with your comment. I am losing perfection. It is because I have grown
ten years older than before.’
Madhu understood his mistake. How subtly the photographer had told the
woman that she was no more beautiful.
This story takes us to the truth in Manu Sruti.
Na bruyaat Satyamapriyam
Priyancha naanrutham bruyat
Esha dharma Sanaathanah.
Speak truth, speak pleasingly. Do not speak unpleasingly though it is
truth. Do not speak falsehood, though it is pleasing.
From this sloka and from Madhu’s experience, we learn how to speak
the truth - speaking truth alone does not count. Speaking truth politely
is what counts. We have no right to hurt the feelings of others. For instance
Madhu could have told his mother, ‘You are good at savouries’,
to his friend ‘light colours suit you better’ to his lecturer
this is a better guide for dull students’. By speaking thus, he
could have won their affection on one hand and he would not have had the
guilty feeling of offending the others.
We continue to speak truth, we cleanse our hearts of evil thoughts, we
win the confidence of our kith and kin. We have no stress or tension since
we need not build a lie upon a lie and remember the lies. We will be looked
upon as a truthful person. Finally we attain austerity of speech - Vaaksuddi.
Whatever we speak comes true. My daughter raised a genuine doubt - ‘Won’t
people misuse their Vaaksuddi to curse others ?’ Then I explained
to her that such people will be devoid of such petty jealousies.
In Bhagavatha, Bhudevi, the Goddess of the earth, lamented in one context,
‘Oh Lord, I can bear the burden of any number of sinners. But I
cannot bear to carry those who have betrayed truth.’
We belong to the family of Satya Harischandra who was praised byViswamitra.
‘The whole world can be held in the palm of one’s hand. The
entire ocean can be drunk at one gulp. The earth and the sky can be rolled
into one. But it is impossible to make Harischandra ulter a lie’.
Such an embodiment of truth should be our ideal saint.
‘Satyaanasthi Paro dharma’