[Advaita-l] Rtam and Satyam

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Fri Jul 1 06:41:37 EDT 2022

On Fri, Jul 1, 2022 at 2:11 PM Anand N via Advaita-l <
advaita-l at lists.advaita-vedanta.org> wrote:

> Namaste,
> Can someone please define Rtam and Satyam and also give their difference.

In the Taittiriya Upanishad beginning there is a Shanti Patha where these
two words occur

ऋतं वदिष्यामि । सत्यं वदिष्यामि ।

For which Shankaracharya writes:

*ऋतं* यथाशास्त्रं यथाकर्तव्यं बुद्धौ सुपरिनिश्चितमर्थं
*सत्यमिति *स एव वाक्कायाभ्यां सम्पाद्यमानः,

I give below please translation of Swami Gambhirananda for these lines:

Rtam, righteousness, is an idea fully ascertained by the intellect in
accordance with the scriptures and in conformity with practice. Satyam
truth is that which is reduced to practice through speech and bodily

From this what transpires is Satyam when unarticulated is Rtm.

This kind of friends we can have when both these terms are used
together. However, when both are used in different contexts, then the
meaning also differs. For example, Brahman is called Satyam in the
Taittiriya Upanishad itself. Hear it means that which is constant without
undergoing any changes. And very interestingly the opposite of this Satyam
will be an-Rtam. So  here Rtam will be equivalent to Satyam in this
context. In fact Shankaracharya says in the bhashyam for this word Satyam
in the context of Brahman says 'that which does not stay constant, that is,
that which gives up its determined nature, is an-Rtam, that is false, and
for that he cites the Chandogya Upanishad which says clay alone is real and
the name form clay products are mere words, implying that they are unreal.

We have the word Rtam to denote Brahman too in this verse from the
mahopanishat 4.54 / Laghu Yoga vAsiShTha utpatti prakaraNam 1.12:

ऋतमात्मा परं ब्रह्म सत्यमित्यादिका बुधैः ।
कल्पिता व्यवहारार्थं तस्य संज्ञा महात्मनः ॥4.54॥

[In order to facilitate parlance, the wise employ words such as Rtam, AtmA,
Param, Brahma, Satyam, etc., to designate that Supreme Self.]


> Om Namo Narayanaya,
> Anand
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