The elusiveness of Truth in human life was presented in my previous article, We must keep our hope as we search for Truth, amplified with insights from the Hindu faith. Let us look further into Truth as an absolute necessity for human life – as essential as the air that we breath, for the survival of our species. We will also make reference to mythological and historical stories from Hindu culture that illustrate the infallibility of Truth.
Truth reflects integrity, and without integrity, man is nothing. Truth is also the foundation of Trust. And without Trust, the entire human civilization would collapse.
If you think this is utter exaggeration and hyperbole, consider this: you work, you earn a wage, then you receive an “official” looking piece of paper (pay cheque) that has your name and a dollar amount reflecting your earnings. You take that “official” piece of paper (pay cheque) to your bank and deposit it; the bank accepts it. You buy essentials at the store for you and your family to live on, and pay with a piece of plastic (credit card) or with a piece of paper (currency), and the store accepts it. The store collects payment from your bank account. All this involves Trust. You trusted your employer to give you the necessities of your livelihood as a note of promise (unlike in the very ancient system of barter), in return for your work contribution to the employer. The bank accepted your pay cheque because it trusts you. And the merchant allowed you to buy groceries, because he trusted you when you used your plastic card to pay for groceries.
There are literally zillions of such transactions occurring all around the world each day. All based on Trust, which arises out of Truth. And this Trust is enforceable by law.
Trust is also essential between individuals and leaders of organizations or states, and between states / nations to maintain economic health and a decent life for human beings. Trust, which is supported by international law. Without Truth, this whole system can collapse. The greatest example of coming close to a global collapse in recent times is the global financial crisis of 2008, whose origin lies in lies – an utter abandonment of Truth and Trust that went unnoticed and was brazenly side-lined by greedy persons forsaking Truth.
Weakening of Truth and Trust starts to occur when we, as a family, as a society, as a nation, fail as adults, as parents, as teachers, and as leaders, fail to be vigilant in adhering to Truth. Children, from a very young age, must be brought up understanding Truth in a way that they internalize it – that is, Truth becomes part of every cell of their being.
Adhering to Truth requires tremendous discipline, and may require sacrifice.
The Hindu mythological story of King Harishchandra illustrates how an honest and truthful person (the king), no matter how rich and powerful, sacrifices his wealth and power to preserve his own integrity. The king and his wife, after giving up their kingdom and wealth, face challenge upon challenge, undergo tragedy after tragedy, but never give up their integrity, honesty, truthfulness or humanity. In the end, the Gods themselves show appreciation on Harishchandra and his wife, and restore his status as King.
In the history of the Maratha kingdom of India, the history of judge Ram Shastri is well known. When the king dies, the king’s young son is murdered by the uncle named Raghoba. When judge Ram Shastri was appointed to conduct the murder trial, Raghoba tried to bribe, intimidate and even threaten judge Ram Shastri’s life. At the trial of the uncle Raghoba, judge Ram Shastri never wavered from Truth, and based on evidence, declared Raghoba as guilty of the murder of his own young nephew. When political considerations by the state council spared Raghoba of punishment, and appointed him as the king, judge Ram Shastri retired to his village to live out the rest of his life in isolation and poverty – a great sacrifice.
Truth, Trust and Integrity are the pillars of human societies, reinforced by laws of the nation and by international laws agreed upon by nations. If Truth, Trust and Integrity start to weaken, then human society itself can begin to crumble. Corruption and chaos could lead to weakening or even extinction of such a society. Societies need to be continuously reminded of these important spiritual principles, by spiritual leaders and teachers and nation builders of every generation.
The impending Climate Change/Global Warming catastrophe absolutely requires every human being on the planet to face the Truth, rise to the challenge, and do whatever is necessary to avert it. Otherwise, human existence itself on this planet is doomed.
Suresh Basrur practises the Hindu faith, participates in inter-faith activities in Victoria, and speaks to audiences about Hindu religion, philosophy and practices.
You can read more articles on our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE