Dashlakshan Parva Day 5: Truthfulness


Today is the fifth day and is celebrated as the day of supreme truthfulness. The first four, i.e. forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness and cleanliness are our nature and psychic/ mental constructs. From today for the next five days, we shall refer to the activities of speech and body meant to make the four more potent and enhance our worldly happiness.

Jains divide truth into two categories, namely absolute truth, like God or pure soul and relative truth. Here we are talking of relative truth only which means that the truth I am speaking is as per my knowledge level and intentions. We should express our understanding of an entity fearlessly as we see, hear, or feel as it is; nothing less and nothing more in an amicable manner i.e. does not hurt anyone. A person who always speaks such truth is happier and free from worry/fear while a person who does not speak the truth or uses harsh language is always worried and planning what to say next to hide earlier false statements. This supports the famous statement that ‘a lie has no legs to stand upon’ appropriately shows the importance of speaking the truth’. It is important in today’s democratic and inter-worked world as seen by an example: ‘We call a blind person or physically disable person as physically challenged and not blind etc.’

Satyameva Jayate i.e. truth always prevails is part of the national emblem of India.

Why does one speak a lie? When we are overtaken by anger, arrogance, crookedness, or greed which we have discussed earlier as opposites of forgiveness, humility, straightforwardness and cleanliness. Thus, we have to avoid speaking lies. When faced with an embracing situation, where one does not know the truth, it is better to keep quiet or say ‘I don’t know’ rather than speak the lie. Let me clarify this through a short story:

An aging successful businessman was looking for his successor amongst his colleagues. So, he called his five best performing executives to a meeting and gave them each a seed of tomato. He asked them to take it home, plant it, take care of it and come back after 21 days. They all panted the seed in their pots and took great care every day. After a few days, they found no plant germinated. Scared that the businessman will throw them out, each went to the market separately and bought a healthy tomato plant and started nursing them. The fifth one kept on nursing the infertile seed. After twenty-one days, all five went to the businessman with their plants. The first four showed their big tomato plant each with tomato flowering. The businessman expressed happiness. The fifth one presented his flowerpot with no plant at all and felt ashamed for his failure. In the end, the businessman laughed and selected the one who brought the empty plant vase, saying he gave them all sterile seeds and was looking for the most truthful/trustworthy to take his position.

Let us now see how speaking the truth is practiced in different life situations:

In the family: We use affectionate language while speaking the truth with each other. It also implies that we do not criticise or belittle others as they hurt. Example: my cousin sister as class VI school student was admitted in an English-speaking school. At the time of going to school, she used to have stomach-ache and avoided going to school. Her father gave her a banging every day until one day her mother realised that she was putting up a show. So, she talked and found out that she was scared of the school as she did not know English. Immediately she was reverted to her old Hindi medium school. Similarly, parents should avoid the use of authoritative language with their children to bring them around for wrongs committed.

In school/college: Try to be honest with your teachers if you have not done homework and shall catch up soon. Avoid making fun of others as it hurts the person. If you do not understand what the teacher is teaching, please say so gently to him/her

Dealing with office, Society, government: Use prescribed standards of measures and reporting and obey rules. A businessman should correctly state the contents, weights, side effects and suitability for use, price and expiry date on the product.

Lifestyle: Honesty is the best policy. However, it is dangerous and painful in the long run if you feel happy by truly expressing your weakness to your parents/teachers/ friends/partner and not act to remove your weakness. If we use this to seek their help and guidance in removing our weakness, we become happier and respected by all; otherwise we will develop a feeling of low and unwanted as we become lazy and use truth as an escape mechanism.