Anand V. Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Wed May 12 13:22:07 CDT 1999

On Tue, 11 May 1999 14:36:11 -0500, Ravi <msr at COMCO.COM> wrote:

>Anand wrote:
>2) satyam.h - the mitAxarA defines satyam.h as
>"aprANipIdAkaraM yathArthavachanam.h", which means speaking
>truth that does not cause pain to creatures (both humans and
>animals). To clarify one must always speak the truth unless
>doing so would cause only untold suffering to others.
>namaste Anand:
>Should not one speak truth no matter what the consequences
>are? Valluvar definition also coincides with what you have
>written. He says, "Truth is defined as that which causes no
>harm to other beings"*.
>Is there a shruti support for the definition you have
>I can understand this definition, but what I find it
>difficult to digest is the often quoted verse "na brUyAt
>satyam apriyam".

 The Manu Smriti (4.138) says "satyaM brUyAt.h.
 priyaM brUyAnna brUyAt.h satyam-apriyam.h | priyaM cha
 nAnR^itaM brUyAdeshha dharmaH sanAtanaH ||"

 One should speak the truth, which is agreeable, not the
 truth which is disagreeable. One should not speak an untruth
 which is agreeable. This is the eternal dharma.

 I think the mitAxarA commentary by vijnAneshvara makes
 clearer what kind of truth must not be told. The criterion
 is the pain caused to beings.

 Clearly, there is no dispute that one should not speak a
 lie which is pleasing. For example, if a student tells his
 parents that he has passed his exam with flying colors while
 in fact he has failed the exam, it is an example of telling
 a lie which is pleasing. This must be avoided. Uttering
 lies out of a selfish motive is definitely against dharma.

 On the other hand, suppose one utters a lie to save women and
 children from being massacred in a war. Such a lie is far
 better than  speaking a truth that could not have saved those

 Manu warns of dire consequences to those who lie on the witness
 stand in legal matters. Therefore, he concludes, witnesses of
 all varNa's must speak only the truth (tasmAt.h satyaM hi
 vaktavyaM sarvavarNeshhu sAkshhibhiH ... Manu Smriti 8.83). But
 even in this case, Manu allows falsehood to be uttered provided
 the life of a brAhmaNa, kshhatriya, vaishya, or shUdra, is saved
 by the utterance of such falsehood (Manu Smriti 8.104).

 The taittirIya upanishhad contains the instruction "satyaM vada"
 which is interpreted as speaking the truth that is worthy of
 being uttered.


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