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       =======  Understanding Hinduism  =======

Truth
The Mahabharata
Santi Parva, Section CLXII
Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

Yudhishthira said: Brahmanas and Rishis and Pitris and the gods all applaud the duty of truth. I desire to hear of truth. Discourse to me upon it, O grandsire! What are the indications, O king, of truth? How may it be acquired? What is gained by practising truth, and how? Tell me all this.

Bhishma said: A confusion of the duties of the four orders is never applauded. That which is called Truth always exists in a pure and unmingled state in every one of those four orders. With those that are good, Truth is always a duty. Indeed, Truth is an eternal duty. One should reverentially bow unto Truth. Truth is the highest refuge (of all). Truth is duty; Truth is penance; Truth is Yoga; and Truth is the eternal Brahman. Truth has been said to be Sacrifice of a higher order. Everything rests upon Truth. I shall now tell thee the forms of Truths one after another, and its indications also in due order. It behoveth thee to hear also as to how Truth may be acquired.

Truth, O Bharata, as it exists in all the world, is of thirteen kinds. The forms that Truth assumes are impartiality, self-control, forgiveness, modesty, endurance, goodness, renunciation, contemplation, dignity, fortitude, compassion, and abstention from injury. These, O great monarch, are the thirteen forms of Truth. Truth is immutable, eternal, and unchangeable. It may be acquired through practices which do not militate against any of the other virtues. It may also be acquired through Yoga. When desire and aversion, as also lust and wrath, are destroyed, that attribute in consequence of which one is able to look upon one’s own self and one’s foe, upon one’s good and one’s evil, with an unchanging eye, is called impartiality.

Self control consists in never wishing for another man’s possessions, in gravity and patience and capacity to allay the fears of others in respect of one’s own self, and immunity from disease. It may be acquired through knowledge. Devotion to the practice of liberality and the observance of all duties are regarded by the wise as constituting goodwill. One comes to acquire universal goodwill by constant devotion to Truth.

As regards non-forgiveness and forgiveness, it should be stated that the attribute through which an esteemed and good man endures both what is agreeable and disagreeable, is said to be forgiveness. This virtue may well be acquired through the practice of truthfulness.

That virtue, in consequence of which an intelligent man, contented in mind and speech, achieves many good deeds and never incurs the censure of others, is called modesty. It is acquired through the aid of righteousness. That virtue which forgives for the sake of virtue and profit is called endurance. It is a form of forgiveness. It is acquired through patience, and its purpose is to attach people to one’s self. The casting off of affection as also of all earthly possessions, is called renunciation. Renunciation can never be acquired except by one who is divested of anger and malice.

That virtue in consequence of which one does good, with watchfulness and care, to all creatures is called goodness. It has no particular shape and consists in the divestment of all selfish attachments. That virtue owing to which one remains unchanged in happiness and misery is called fortitude. That wise man who desires his own good always practises this virtue. One should always practise forgiveness and devotedness to truth. That man of wisdom who succeeds in casting off joy and fear and wrath, succeeds in acquiring fortitude. Abstention from injury as regards all creatures in thought, word and deed, kindness and gift, are the eternal duties of those who are good.

These thirteen attributes, though apparently distinct from one another, have but one and the same form, viz., Truth. All these, O Bharata, support Truth and strengthen it. It is impossible, O monarch, to exhaust the merits of Truth. It is for these reasons that the Brahmanas, the Pitris, and the gods, applaud Truth. There is no duty that is higher than Truth, and no sin more heinous than untruth. Indeed, Truth is the very foundation of righteousness. For this reason, one should never destroy Truth. From Truth proceeds gifts, and sacrifice with presents, as well as the threefold Agnihotras (sacred fire ceremony), the Vedas, and everything else that leads to righteousness. Once upon a time a thousand horse-sacrifices and Truth were weighed against each other in the balance. Truth weighed heavier than a thousand horse-sacrifices.
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