Virtue of truth

CHENNAI: Truth is an invaluable virtue and according to the Vedic tradition the Supreme Being is the ultimate truth. The Bhagavata Purana reiterates that the Lord incarnated as Narasimha so that the truth of His child-devotee, Prahlada’s declaration that God was omnipresent would not be falsified: “In order to substantiate the utterance of His servant and His presence in all objects, the Lord appeared in the pillar of the court assuming a queer form, which was neither man nor beast.” The opening verse of this Purana states that God is the transcendent, self-effulgent Reality (truth).

The manifestation of the Lord as Rama was to be an exemplar of truth, and His exile to keep His father’s promise to Kaikeyi was its demonstration. When Bharata and his entourage failed to persuade Rama to return to Ayodhya, Sage Jabali finally argued that He was not bound to complete the period of exile as Dasaratha was no more. Rama’s declaration then is a pointer that truth cannot be interpreted to suit one’s convenience for men may come and go but truth remained eternal, “Truth alone is God in the world, piety hinges on truth.” The Bhagavata Purana declares the incarnation of the Lord as Krishna as the manifestation of truth.

In her discourse, Srimathi Prema Pandurang said truth upheld Dharma, and truth was God’s best gift to mankind and untruth man’s betrayal of God. The life of King Harischandra, a king of the Ikshvaku lineage, illustrates that one who embraces truth will never be deterred by any amount of hardships in his life for his conviction will give him the strength to bear them lightly. Could there be a greater suffering or anything more heartrending than an emperor being reduced to a gravedigger after losing his kingdom, and separated from his wife and child?

Harischandra exemplified Vasishta’s avowal of him when Viswamitra challenged him to name the one who would never compromise on truth. And Viswamitra was bent on proving Vasishta false.

In the battle between the sages, Harischandra became the pawn in the trial of truth and he conquered that the gods hailed the long period of his suffering as a “Satyayajna”, a sacrifice for the sake of truth.

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