What is truth?

To know a thing as it is, is known as truth e.g. to know a snake as a rope is untruth. Generally, it is considered that speaking truth means speaking exactly in accordance with one’s knowledge/thoughts. But, one's knowledge may be false. As such,  speaking truth means speaking in accordance with one’s knowledge, which has been obtained after going through different 'pramanas' successfully. There is a notion that an ‘untruth’ spoken for the good of another is okay and such untruth and truth can be placed on the same platform. But to speak an untruth is always wrong even if it happens for the timely benefit of another. The fact is-a lie can never do good of anybody (neither to the person telling a lie nor to the person/soul for the benefit of whom it is told). A lie can benefit another for the time being only - whether this period is a minute, an hour, a year or the whole life-span. Ultimately, an untruth is a cause of misery for the person/soul for whose benefit (so called) it is spoken. As such we should always speak the truth. It is one of the basic spiritual laws. Practice of speaking the truth purifies our mind in our general behaviour, we can resort to ‘silence’ depending on the circumstances but should never tell a lie. Keeping mum is right only if it is necessary for righteousness. Otherwise than for the sake of righteousness, keeping mum is always wrong. Our budhi is the true judge as to when to speak and when to keep mum. To ‘keep mum’ is bad for the reason also that it develops sansakaras of fright in our soul. ‘Keeping mum’ is right in the following circumstances:-

1.       When it is necessary for righteousness.

2.       When the other is not capable of understanding, what you say.

3.       When there is every reason to believe that the other person is going to use the material said to him for harming some.

          Truth is of two types. All worldly things change with change in times and circumstances. e.g. a machine made today will not remain the same after twenty years. The knowledge produced from knowing the machine today and the knowledge produced from knowing the machine after twenty years will not be the same. And as such, speech made about that machine in accordance with knowledge of today and twenty years hence will be true but will differ. Second type of truth is-where no change happens because of change in times and circumstances. Knowledge about God comes in this category. The ‘truth’ which does not change is called ‘Rit’. Our aim should be to bring the truth of our soul closer and closer to ‘Rit’.

          To know a thing as it is, Maharishi Dayanand has given following suggestions.

1.       A true thing or event is always in accordance with the attributes of God e.g. to harm a person without any fault of his is against the attribute of justice of God. As such, harming a person without his fault cannot be truthful.

 2.      A thing or event to be true should not be against the principle of nature e.g. to say that body of a man never perishes is untrue.

3.       To know the truthfulness or falsehood of a thing or event, we should depend upon the words’ of ‘Apt’ men as word-evidence (‘Apt’ men are those whose behaviour is exactly in accordance with the teachings of Vedas).

4.      For a thing to be true, it should in accordance with nature of soul. For example, by nature soul has a liking for pleaure and disliking for miseries. As such, a thing can not be true if it shows soul's liking for miseries.

5.       To know the truthfulness or falsehood of a thing or event, we should accept the decision based on different evidences (direct evidences, referential evidences, word evidences etc.).

          For convenience, we can start practising truth from our family and gradually we should increase the area of practising truth.