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:
>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.
>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
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
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