Meaning of ‘Uttama Satya Dharma – Supreme Truthfulness’, quotes from the Jain Shastras, its interpretation with real-life instances.
– Muni Sri Kamkumarnandi Maharaj
Truth is the speech of inward purity.
– Sir Edwin Arnold
The word ‘satya’ (truth) has been derived by the addition of the suffix ‘yat’ with the root ‘sat’ (satya) are prevalent in common use; e.g. truthful, real, genuine, honest, loyal, non-deceitful or truth speaking.
“Satsu prshastaishu janaishu saddhuvachnam satymituichate”
i.e., To speak saintly words with the noble souls are truth.
“Satam sadhunam hitbhashnam satyam”
– Bhg. Aara
i.e., To speak genuine words with monks and their devotees – the householders – is the virtue of truth.
To speak politely in accordance with scriptures for the uplifting of religion is called truth. Nothing on earth is as glorious as truthfulness; it brings in its wake all other virtues.
Every living soul should always speak with restraint only truthful words, which are sweet like nectar and beneficial to self and others as well. If perchance at any time a man feels hesitation in speaking truthful words, he should better keep mum.
A person who is truthful in his conduct and dealings leads a smooth and simple life. Even mere contact with truthful and good persons makes a man truthful. Sir Edwin Arnold has rightly said:
‘Of all the pleasures given on earth
The company of good is best.
For weariness has no birth
In such a company sweet and blest.’
Satam prasangain nirgunropi gunri bhavait”
i.e., ‘He who treads the path of truth remains happy for ever.’ Lord Jinendra has also affirmed the above idea thus:
“Idam jenaishvaram vakyam satypatham sukhpradam”
The Indian Government has also assigned the highest significance to truth by adopting the eternal motto ‘Satyamev Jeyatai’– ‘Truth conquers all’. Indeed, Truth is the highest divine principle’. A renowned Hindi poet sings:
Satya brabar tap nhi, jhut braber pap
jiske hirday satya he, tis kai hirday aap
i.e., No austerity is equivalent to truth and no sin is equal to falsehood. God’s abode is the soul who has truth in his heart.
While walking on the road a poor Brahman found a diamond, which was worth one lakh rupees. He was going casually with the diamond in his hand. A jeweler was coming from the opposite direction as if searching for something on the road. He looked confused and uneasy. Meanwhile seeing him restless at the heart the Brahman asked him, “O brother jeweler! What makes you so restless? See; I have found this diamond. If it belongs to you, please take it.” Saying this he handed over the diamond to the jeweler. Then the jeweler said, “I had lost two diamonds. You have given me only one. Give me the second one also. Only then I will let you go.” So the Jeweler handed over the Brahman to the police, and filed a lawsuit against him. In the court the judge interrogated the Brahman, “Tell gentleman, what is the truth?” The Brahman replied, “My Lord! While walking on the road I found a diamond lying there. I was going straight in a carefree mood. Just then this man looking vexed at heart was coming from the opposite direction making a search for something lost. I asked him, “What are you searching for?” Then he replied that he had lost his two diamonds. I then handed over one diamond and said, “See, I have found this diamond. If it belongs to you, please take it.” Then he took the diamond from me. But again he said that he had lost two diamonds.” At this the judge made further inquiry from the Seth. Even then the Seth said, “I had lost two diamonds which I had dropped some where on the road. The Brahman has given me only one diamond but declines to give the second one.” The judge realized that if the Brahman had not been truthful, why should he have given one diamond to the Seth, despite being poor himself.
Therefore, after deep pondering he declared the judgement – “As the diamond found by the Brahman was only one, it could not belong to the Seth. So the diamond should be given to the Brahman. The Seth had dropped the two diamonds together at a time, so he might have dropped them else where.” Then the Seth spoke, “Well, Your honor! Then let me have this single diamond.” In reply the judge said, “Now you cannot get this one diamond as well.” Right is the following statement:
The flame of truth may be put down by falsehood temporarily for a while, but it cannot be put out for ever by any attempt.” Indeed:
Sataymaiv varo lokai, satyam Dharmai sadasrit
Satya sarvanri mulani, satyanasti pram padam
Truth grants happiness in this world. All living beings survive on the power of truth. The day when truth is fully annihilated or goes into oblivion, fire will leave its inherent burning property, which is impossible. Truth is eternal. Truth is God and God is truth. By sticking to truth a man becomes God; a human being becomes super human; by the force of truth an animal sheds its present state and becomes the almighty God; the soul changes into superb soul. All the great men born on this day became great by the force of truth. ‘The wind blows for ever’ is a universal truth. One, who adheres to truth, crosses the ocean of universe easily. He who kicks truth is also kicked in life and meets his doom. We can uplift ourselves by the help of truth. Truth alone is beautiful and good in this universe. The great poet Keats has sung:
Beauty is truth, Truth beauty
That is all ye know on earth,
And all ye need to know.
That’s why truth has been exalted in the axiom ‘satyam shivam sundram‘ – The true, the Good and the Beautiful. The person who despite being himself incapable of following the moral code of conduct laid down by the Holy Lord Jinendra, advocates the holy message of the Lord, does not contradict it and does not tell a lie in daily dealings as well, is truthful indeed.
“Truthfulness is the basis of all the virtues that form good character. One who is true to himself is true to world.”
To call a spade a spade is the first requisite of truthfulness. But in the spiritual sphere due to supremacy given to nonviolence over self and non-self, beneficial and sweet words are called truth, even if there is a bit of falsehood in them. Indeed, a statement, which does well to living beings is truth. On the contrary, a statement howsoever true it may be, but if it causes harm to somebody is untruth. In short, spreading false doctrines, revealing the secrets and deformities of others is falsehood. Likewise back biting, making false documents and breach of trust are all forms of falsehood. A man should abstain from such false truths.
Jain Acharyas have divided truth into two categories on the basis of ‘Anuvartas’ (partial vows or small vows), ‘Mahavaratas’ (Absolute vows or great vows). One who does not speak hurtful, harsh and pinching words; who does not reveal the secrets of others but speaks benevolent and affectionate words; who uses pleasing and compassionate words for all living creatures; who speaks celestial words for spiritual uplift, observes ‘Satyanuvarta’ (partial vow of truth).
Not to speak false words being instigated by attachment, malice, greed and discord; and to avoid the use of truthful words causing anguish to others is ‘Satya Mahavarta’ i.e., great vow of truth. Not to utter at any time treacherous or agonizing words inspired with humor, fear, anger or greed; to avoid the use of words that cause mental injury to others in thought, speech, and action is also the great vow of truth – ‘Satya Mahavarta’.
Satyavachi prtishtata sarva gunsampda. Anritbhashinram bandhvopi avmanyate, mitrani chprityjanti, jihvachhedansarvsahrnraadivysnbhagpi bhavti
The treasure of all virtues lies inherent in a truth speaking person. A liar is condemned even by his own kith and kin. No body likes to befriend him. He has to undergo severe punishments like cutting of the tongue and deprivation of all his wealth and property.
A Brahman named Shivabhuti was reputed by the title Satyaghosh. He used to say that he would never tell a lie. If he ever told a lie, he would cut his tongue with a dagger. Being pleased and fully convinced with his honesty one day a Seth left his four precious diamonds in his custody and set out on his business errand. He had earned a huge amount of money abroad. After twelve years he was on his way back home. Unfortunately his ship sank in the sea and all his wealth was lost. The Seth came to Satyaghosh and demanded of him to return his four diamonds. At this the Brahman, known as Satyaghosh, turned the Seth out of his house declaring him to be a mad person. Now the Seth knocked the door of the king for justice. But the king paid no heed to his petition. However, the queen traced out the theft of Satyaghosh through her own spies. She recovered the diamonds from his house and placed them in front of Seth. The Seth picked up only his own diamonds out of them. Thus the king was convinced beyond doubt about the deceit of Satyaghosh.
The king sentenced Satyaghosh to undergo any one of the three punishments i.e., either he should eat three plates full of cow dung; or suffer thirty two blows of his wrestlers; or forfeit all his possessions. The sinful Satyaghosh was almost dead with humiliation. At first he preferred to eat cow dung but could not eat the whole of it. Then the king ordered a wrestler to give him hand blows. But just one stroke of the wrestler left him almost half-dead. Ultimately the helpless Satyaghosh had to surrender all his wealth to the king. In this way the wretched fellow had to suffer all the three punishments one after the other. This deep shock resulted in his death and thereafter he was reborn as a snake in the king’s treasure house.
The persons who are not beset with crookedness, falsehood and deceit, alone are entitled to attain an unblemished soul.
Taisha maso birjo Brahamloko na yaishu jihmnritam na maya chaiti
Followers of all religions have applauded the virtue of truthfulness whole heartily. In ‘Manu Smriti‘ the significance of truth has been stated as below:
Ekmaivadvitiam tu prbruvnachbudhatai
Satyam savargasya sopanam paravarsya nauriv
i.e., a truth speaking person is regarded as unique. Like a boat that peddles in the ocean and takes us ashore, truth is the ladder that leads to heaven.
The following couplet 207/67 of the Maha Vana Parva states truth thus:
Vedasyoupanishat satyam satasyopnisad dama
Damasyopnishat tyaga shishtacharaishu nityasha
The essence of the Vedas is truth; the essence of truth is self-restraint is abstinence is always present in the conduct of cultured persons. Even if we weigh thousands of horse sacrifices (Ashwamedha Yaga) on one scale, and truth on the other scale of a physical balance, we shall discover that truth is heavier i.e., superior to thousands of horse sacrifice ceremonies. This fact has been stated in the ‘Adi Parva’ of the ‘Mahabharat’.
Ashwmedhsahastram ch satyam ch tulya dhritam
Ashwmedhasahastadhi satyamev vishishtai
– Maha. Adiparv 75/10
The worldly people follow suit to the utterances of the great men who attain excellence by the acquisition of perfect speech and perfect spirituality. When the Tirthankaras attain absolute truth and all supreme virtues, human beings follow to the letter the nectar-like sweet sermon that has a spontaneous overflow from their lotus mouth. In daily routine of our practical life too we observe that people pay attention to the words of men with a lofty character, and listen with reverence to the words of ideal persons who always speak the truth as well as practice it in life. The sages and gods have acknowledged truth alone as superb. Only a truthful person attains supreme immortality in this world. ‘Shukraniti’ 3/257-58 states:
Ya sahayam sada kuryat prtipam na vadait vachchit
Satyam hitam vakti yati datai grihnrati mitrtam
i.e., He who is always helpful, never utters bitter and unpleasant words, talks only about truthful and beneficial things, believes in the policy of ‘give and take’ becomes a true friend. It has been said, “A friend in need, is a friend indeed.”
Sometimes some situations come when even truth turns into untruth e.g., to call blind a ‘blind’. Though it may be a fact that a man is blind by birth, it is a bitter truth to call him a blind, because such a remark hurts his feelings and causes agony to his heart. Such words as inflict pain to somebody’s heart are regarded untrue despite their being true. In the ‘Vana Parva’ of the ‘Mahabharat’ this fact has been expressed thus:
Yad bhuthitmatyatam, tat satyamitidharanra
Vipryakrito Dharma, pashya Dharmasya sukhsamtam
That indeed is the real truth, which contributes to the welfare of all living beings. On the contrary that which causes harm to somebody is untruth. Therefore, always speak the truth, speak affectionate and pleasant words; but never speak unpleasant words despite their being true and do not speak a bitter truth.
Once a sage sat in a forest. Just then some people came running after a cow to kill it. The sage at once understood that these people were none else but butchers and hunters. They were on their hunting mission. Seeing these hunters the sage stood up. All these people came to the saint and spoke, “O holy saint! Has any cow passed this way?” The saint was in a fix. If he said ‘yes’, all these butchers would chase and kill the cow; if he said, ‘No’, he would be branded a liar. To escape these two adverse situations the saint at once sat down and said, “No cow has passed this side since I have sat down.” If he had said so in a standing position, it would have been falsehood. Therefore, to speak whatever is true as well as non-violent i.e., to safeguard and defend a life, is truth in the real sense. Thus even a lie takes on the garb of truth, if it brings good to others.
The ascetics (Sharamans) regard truth as all-powerful. They are of the view that anyone who takes recourse to truth obtains infinite power, ineffable bliss and kindles in himself the flame of unrestricted knowledge latent in the human soul. In the absence of truth a person cannot march even a step forward. The worldly beings cannot realize the absolute truth with physical existence. Right it is: ‘We can know only the partial truth, but not the absolute truth.’
The great scientist Einstein has questioned, “What is the absolute truth?” Einstein himself answers, “We can know only the relative truth i.e., partial truth. The real truth is known only to a universal observer.” A universal observer in the opinion of Einstein is none else but the Almighty with infinite power of knowledge and bliss.
We worldly people are non-omniscient; hence we cannot know matter in its infinite state or nature, but we can know its partial nature. The reason is that our knowing capacity is limited. But those who are omniscient and omnipotent souls, can know simultaneously at the same moment all objects of the whole universe that exist forever in all the three ages – past, present and future – in their complete form and vivid states.
Up to the twelfth stage of spiritual advancement all creatures have imperfect knowledge. At this stage it is quite natural for a living being to commit a mistake due to his knowledge of only partial truth. Hence even by chance untrue words come out of his mouth now and then, he should get rid of this mistake by acknowledging the untruth; he should not conceal it. Just as if we wrap fire in a piece of cloth in our attempt to conceal it, burning the cloth it comes out taking a more fierce shape; likewise a lie cannot be concealed however much we may try to do so.
Astyam uktva na guhait guhmanai vivardhate
i.e., Truth is a concern not only of the mind, as the common men believe; but truth is related to the combination of all the three – mind, body and speech. Truth signifies:
‘Right is might, but not might is right.’
To see things in their right perspective i.e., to understand a person whatever he is; to speak a thing as it is; and to practice what we preach is truth. It is universally acknowledged that truth is the personal possession and real nature of soul. It is peace giving and blissful. When a worldly person thinks of acting contrary to truth, at first his conscience forbids him to do so. Still a person overrules the dictates of his conscience and practices untruth getting under the control of worldly allurements, deceit, greed and indulgence in sexual pleasures. He is worried all the time lest his falsehood should come to light. His mind remains in tension forever. Hence, if you want to attain peace of mind and body, stick to truth. Infinite is the glory of truth. Therefore, always speak the truth. Do not tell a lie. A lie has no legs. A great moralist has advised saying:
“Man should never tell a lie, which is always injurious to living beings, whether for his own sake or for the sake of others, or out of anger or fear. He should also not force others to speak a lie.” The scriptures instruct.
The consequences of falsehood are very disastrous. A liar is deprived of his peace of mind.
Satyam vadait masatyam, satyam Dharma sanatnam
Harishchandra charit vai divi satayn chandravat
i.e., Speak the truth forever under all odds.
Truth is the eternal virtue. The immortal glory of the well renowned truthful King Harish Chandra pervades the vast sky like that of the moon, simply due to truth.
All the great men who have existed on this earth to this day achieved greatness only due to harnessing truth to the core of their heart. Those who adhere to truth make their self-uplift. On the contrary, those who are addicted to falsehood meet a miserable lot and suffer downfall. These note worthy words deserve careful attention:
“The path of truth will lead you to your goal, if you only go straight forward, without moving this side or that.”
There lived a gentle natured and profound scholar Upadhaya (a teacher) named Ksheerkadamb in Swastikawati City. Many students, chief amongst whom were his own son Parvata, the Stha’s son Narad and the royal Prince Vasu, received education from him. All three had great mutual love and affection for one another. One day the simple living, learned teacher Ksheerkadamb while engaged in teaching and discourse with his three main disciples sat on a crystal clear marble slab inside a cave of Swarangiri hill. At that time he was explaining to his disciples the intricate religious axioms defining them in a very lucid style. Just then two Gods named Amitmati and his disciple Anantmati accomplished in celestial virtues descended from the sky and to him. Seeing Ksheerkadamb busy in religious discourse with his pupils in a calm and serene mood, the God Anantmati spoke, “Hurrah! All these are decidedly noble souls and are likely to attain salvation in the near future.” Hearing this Amitmati said, “O disciple! Your statement is correct to some extent; but out of them two will go to hell and two will enter heaven.” This conversation between the two Gods made Ksheerkadamb, who enlightened the whole universe with the light of scriptures shudder at heart with fear. He at once dispatched his disciples home, and in no time himself he reached the God Amitmati. He paid homage at his feet with full reverence and inquired, “O celestial being! Who out of us will go to hell and who will enter heaven?”
Amitmati replied, “O Ksheerkadamb! The untruthful Prince Vasu who is maddened with the pride of royal treasures and your son Parvata who misinterprets the Holy Scriptures will go to hell. The Seth‘s son Narad who honestly observes the vows of a householder and possesses the jewel of Right Belief, and you yourself shall enter heaven.”
On hearing these words from the mouth of the divine God, Ksheerkadamb out of aversion for the world and his own body developed the feeling of renunciation. So he got himself initiated into Jain monkshood in the presence of his teacher. He uprooted with his own hands his lustrous beautiful dark hair. In the end after a noble death – the Samadhi Maran of a saint – he entered his heavenly abode i.e., Paradise.
On the other hand, Parvata succeeded his teacher father. He became a teacher and started teaching the students. One day Narad taking a present of garments paid a visit to his teacher’s widowed wife – the mother like Chitravali and met his classmate Parvata as well. After making proper inquiries from his teacher’s wife about her well-being and giving her the present, he reached the school run by Parvata. By chance at that time Parvata made a blunder. He explained to his students that the word ‘Ajairyasthavayam’ means to ‘perform Yajna by sacrificing a he-goat.’ Narad objected to it and said, “O learned Parvata! Do not give this wrong explanation. ‘Aja’ means the paddy, which has lost the power of germination. Hence the phrase ‘Ajairyasthavayam‘ means that a Yajna should be performed for health, peace and prosperity by offering three-year-old paddy. My friend! Only thus had our highly learned proficient teacher explained this word to us. It does not befit you to give a wrong interpretation of the right word after inheriting your father’s high seat of a teacher. It seems your mind has gone astray and your wisdom has become extinct.” On hearing his friend’s words full of wisdom, Parvata said, “O Narad! The explanation given by me is fully true and correct. If you prove it untrue and inappropriate, let me be punished by chopping off my tongue.”
Narad said, “But who will decide our controversy?”
At this Parvarta said, “The justice loving king Vasu will decide our controversy and we shall come to know his decision about the truth or untruth of your explanation by attending his court tomorrow.”
When Chitrawali, the widow of Ksheerkadamb and mother of Parvata heard this, she sent for Parvata and counseling him said, “My son! To give such wrong explanation is a cause of downfall and leads to hell. Therefore, give up your obstinacy in sticking to your wrong interpretation, otherwise you will have to go to hell.” But Parvata declined to follow the advice of his mother. He was adamant on his own version. It has been rightly said: ‘vinash kalai viprit budhi’ ‘A man loses his wisdom in adversity’.
Parvata’s mother knew well that her own son was wrong and talking rot, and to favor him would signify moral degradation. Even then infatuated with affection for her son, she went to king Vasu to plead for him. She spoke, “O, king! Once you had promised to grant me a boon. Today I have come to you to ask for the boon.”
The just and truthful king Vasu said, “Mother! Demand whatever boon you like. Your boon shall be granted at all costs. I am ready to offer you every thing that I possess.” At this the lady said, “Tomorrow Parvata and Narad will come in your court to seek your decision over a controversy. Although Parvata’s view point is weak, it supports sin and is a gateway to moral downfall, yet you will have to defend my son Parvata and give your decision in his favor.”
Hearing this king Vasu trembled at heart. He was in a great fix. He pondered in his mind, “What should I do now? If I do not keep my word, I will have to suffer great disgrace; and if in order to fulfill my promise I favor Parvata, my fall into the pit of hell is inevitable. If there is a deep well on one side, there is a deep ditch on the other. I fail to decide what to do in such a critical situation.” But he opted for hell; so at last he bid farewell to his teacher’s wife with a promise to defend her son Parvarta.
The next day Narad and Parvarta appeared in the royal court. Each one of them presented his case before the king giving forceful arguments. They both waited for the king’s judgement with a heavy heart. Parvata was somewhat doubtful at heart, but Narad was fully confident that the just king Vasu would certainly deliver his verdict in his favor. But the promise-bound king Vasu delivered his judgement in favor of Parvata. As soon as he declared his judgement in favor of untruth, his throne sank into the earth and there was an uproar all around. Narad burst out, “O wicked king! Why did you prefer to go to hell by favoring untruth? Take side of the truth.” But the helpless king remained adamant on his decision and ultimately went to hell after death.
By the above example it becomes obvious that “Truth always conquers in the long run” ‘satya maiv jeytai‘. Therefore, a living being aspiring for his own spiritual welfare should never favor falsehood, otherwise he has to meet a miserable plight.
In his last sermon before his ideal death i.e. Samadhi Maran His Holiness Shri Shanti Sagar Maharaj, a prince among ascetics laid stress upon the need of truth for a believer in non-violence. By truth he meant the adoption of right perspective and correct apprehension of spiritual values.
The great poet Reidhu has defined the supreme virtue of truth as under:
De dhamhr karanru dos nribarnru ih bhavi skhrhru
Sachyu ji vynrulu bhavnri atalu oljyi visasadhru
Sachu ji savam thamaham phanru, sachu ji nhiyligreu vihanru
Sachenr ji sohi namruv jammu, sachainr pavtau punr kam
Sachnr sal gnr ganr mahanti, sachainr tias saiva vahanti
Par baha yaru bhasahuma bhabu, sachu ji tam chhandhu vigeh gachu
Sachu ji Parmapau athi so bhavun bhavtam dalanr iku
Rundhije munrinra vyanr guti, jam khanri fitaii sansar ati
sachu ji dham Phainr kaivalnranru lahair janru
Tam palhu bhi bhav bhanru ma aliyu deh venru
1. The virtue of truth is the originator of the virtue of compassion, it banishes all faults and is bestower of bliss in this world and the divine world. A truthful speech is unique in the universe, i.e., nothing in the world can match it. We should speak truth with confidence.
2. The virtue of truth is the main among all virtues. Truth is the most sacred injunction on the earth’ surface. Truth is like a bridge to take us across the ocean of the world. Truth is the guiding force to bring mental happiness to all creatures.
3. Human life is glorified by truth. Truth alone diverts men from evil to do holy deeds. All virtues together achieve nobility and grandeur through truth alone, and the Gods fulfill the vow of service due to truth only.
4. The small vows and big vows are attained through truth, and truth puts an end to all human miseries. We should always speak generous and affectionate words. We should never utter such words as hurt the feelings of others.
5. O noble soul! Never speak a word, which creates obstacles for others; even if it may be true, give it up with pride. Truth is the only God. Truth is like the radiant sun to vanquish the darkness of the world. Always worship it.
6. The nude monks observe Vachan Gupti i.e., follow regulations of speech. They put an end to the worldly agony and sorrows in the twinkling of an eye.
7. A man automatically attains enlightenment as a result of the virtue of truth. O noble soul! Practice truth and do not speak unpleasant words in the world.
Hence, O Mortal Man! Be truthful; and be truthful. O man! Know that truth is the fundamental principle. The wise man that always abides by the commandment of truth goes beyond death; for truth is the food of soul and falsehood cannot have a long lease of life. Know thou the truth. He, who abides by the precept of truth, attains the deathless state.
A truthful person is honored every where. Therefore, we must:
Honor to those whose words are deeds
Thus help us in our daily needs;
And by their overflow
Raise us from what is low.