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Should We Always Speak the Truth?

Should We Always Speak the Truth?

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Published by vlaxmanan
According to the Bhagavad Gita (chapter 17, verse 15), our speech must have four important characteristics: it should not agitate, it should be truthful, it should be pleasant, and it should be beneficial to the listener and motivated solely by a sense of welfare of those to whom it is addressed. Such speech, says Krishna, becomes a form of austerity. Some real life examples of the application of these principles are compiled here. Also discussed are the issues of speaking the unpleasant truths and the pleasant lies.
According to the Bhagavad Gita (chapter 17, verse 15), our speech must have four important characteristics: it should not agitate, it should be truthful, it should be pleasant, and it should be beneficial to the listener and motivated solely by a sense of welfare of those to whom it is addressed. Such speech, says Krishna, becomes a form of austerity. Some real life examples of the application of these principles are compiled here. Also discussed are the issues of speaking the unpleasant truths and the pleasant lies.

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Published by: vlaxmanan on Dec 20, 2013
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05/30/2014

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SHOULD WE ALWAYS SPEAK THE TRUTH?
India
s motto (center) : Only the Truth triumphs Courtesy
:
http://i524.photobucket.com/albums/cc328/Zombetties_from_mars/Retro/Clipart/WomenGossiping.jpg; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satyameva_Jayate  http://comps.gograph.com/gossip-word-on-bullhorn_gg56143988.jpg Dear All: As you probably know, this is a favorite topic of mine and I have often discussed this in my earlier emails (to our Gita groups), within the context of the teachings of Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita, specifically verse 15 from chapter 17 (given below) which deals with this topic. I recently came across two fantastic real life examples where the well-known advice columnist Emily Yoffe (who goes by Prudie and whose columns appear weekly in Slate magazine) was asked for advice about difficult problems and her answers were amazingly consistent with Sri
Krishna’s teachings
 in the Gita. I had posted them on my Facebook page (see
Ourgitapage
 within my Facebook account  https://www.facebook.com/vj.laxmanan). I also came across an interesting article which another well-known sloka from the shaastras (Satyam brooyaat priyam brooyaat) that also deals with the topic of speaking the truth, when we should speak the truth, or if it should be speak the truth without any qualifications. One of these articles discusses Narendra Modi politics. Because of the topical
 
nature, I compiled all of these discussions into a Word document which is now being shared with all. Happy reading. Satyam eva jayate, you say? Think about it. Na brooyaat satyam apriyam. Very sincerely V. Laxmanan
7 hours ago (as of 6:15 am on Dec 20, 2013)
GITA APPLIED TO A TRICKY REAL LIFE PROBLEM
 
Just last week (actually on Dec 9, 2013), I had posted about the sloka from chapter 17, verse 15, which goes as follows:
 
Anudvegakaram vaakyam satyam priya hitam ca yat
l
Swaadhyaayaabhyasam caiva vaangmayam tapa ucyate
ll
 
अनुेगक वायं सयं यतं च यत् 
l
वायायायसनं चैव वाङमयं तप उयते 
ll
वायाय अयसनं
)
Here (in chapter 17) Krishna is describing different three types of tapas (asuterities) and one of them is vaangmaya tapas - the austerity of speech. Performing tapas does not mean retreating to the Himalayas and sitting alone on some mountain top and giving up everything. Tapas can be performed daily, where we are, with our body (shaariram), mind (manas), and speech (vaak). The first line of the above sloka says that our speech must have the following characteristics: 1.
 
should not be agitating anyone (anudvegakaram), 2.
 
truthful (satyam), 3.
 
pleasant (priyam), 4.
 
must be beneficial and motivated by the welfare or good of the person to whom it is addressed (hitam).
 
Here's a nice example that I have often used in discussions of the above sloka. A lady seeks advice from the columnist Prudie (appeared this past week and I posted about it yesterday, Dec 19, 2013). She is the assistant to a very successful business man. She finds that the boss is having an affair with a colleague and returns from business trips (with this woman) a very happy man. The assistant lady is also friends with the boss
 family and gets invited to their Christmas parties and get-togethers. Should she tell the wife of the boss about the affair? Applying the above standard given by Krishna, such a
spilling of the secret 
 would violate the rule of satyam and priyam and anudvegakaram. This is the example of an unpleasant truth which will only agitate the wife. The repercussions for both the wife and the assistant cannot be predicted. It is best to keep the mouth tightly zipped and just attend the Christmas party. (It is also likely that the wife knows abou
t her husband’s infidelity and
may be mortified by and resent the fact that his assistant is now talking about it.
 ) Now, not surprisingly, Prudie, although she probably never studied the Gita (good chance, she is also of Jewish faith, I understand) gives the same advice in a very charming way. Do read the whole story (
Satyam brooyat priyam brooyat na brooyaat satyam apriyam
l
 Priyam ca naanrutam brooyaat esha dharmah sanaatanah
ll
 
सयं ूयात् यं ूयात् न ूयात् सयम् अयम् 
l
यं च नानृतं ूयात एष धमः सतानः
ll
One should speak (brooyaat) the truth, one should speak the pleasant (priyam) truth, one should not speak the unpleasant truths. This is the first line. The second line says: And, one should also NOT (na) speak pleasant lies (anrutam); na + anrutam = naanrutam. This is the sanaatana (eternal) dharma. The second line means the dharma spoken here is always valid. Pleasantness trumps truthfulness. Both ingredients must be present in our speech. Knowing to control the urge

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