Article published in 'Sadguru's Blessings' Magazine
December 2013 issue
Telling lies, no papa!
Telling lies is one of the very basic instincts of man. Every person, at one point of time or the other would have uttered a lie in life. Telling lies may be a habit in some; may be indispensable for some and may be forced by circumstances for some others. Whether lying is a sin or a virtue is a debatable issue, though the decision weighs more in favour of sin!
Human relationships are sustained through the bridge of mutual belief and understanding. Cordial relationships among individuals can be expected only when they act in good faith without sacrificing the interests and hurting the sentiments, feelings or the belief of others. A person who is very open in mind, thought and speech is revered by the society as a gentleman. Such a person will be a role-model to the rest of the society.
Lies, in most of the times, lead to undesirable results. It may result in breaking up of relationships, it may cause irreparable damage to one’s ego, it may create unnecessary enemity among individuals and groups and it may also lead to physical harm including death! Therefore, lying, especially in bad faith, is a great sin and has to be avoided at all costs. Therefore, sanctity in our thoughts, words and actions lead us to a righteous way of life. Read these words of Dr.APJ Abdul Kalam: “When you speak, speak the truth; perform when you promise; discharge your trust... Withhold your hands from striking, and from taking that which is unlawful and bad...”. Inculcating this virtue of always telling the truth among the children right from early stages is one of the pre-requisites of a sane and civilized society. It is, therefore, very necessary that we observe our children right from their childhood closely from this angle. Children naturally tend to lie for various reasons. This tendency has to be watched very carefully and they need to be educated through anecdotes and stories about the ill-effects of telling lies (like King Harishchandra, ‘Punyakoti’ – story of a cow which dares to present itself before a tiger after feeding its calf in order to keep up its earlier word to the tiger, etc). Of course, it is incumbent that those who teach their children on this issue must, in the first instance, practice it themselves in letter and spirit, thus inspiring their off-springs. Children naturally and blindly follow their parents. They have an infallible faith that their parents can never commit a mistake. It is up to elders to live up to their untarnished faith and belief.
Being true to oneself is the first step towards avoiding telling lies. Because a man who lies to himself and believes it, will, in course of time, finds it hard to distinguish the truth inside him and around him. Such a person will soon lose all respect in the society. Many such people also think that frequently telling a lie will camouflage the truth and people will accept it as the truth. But this is not so; it will only be short-lived. Truth is like a sun covered by clouds. The moment clouds wither away, the sun re-appears and glows more powerfully. Avoiding telling lies and adherence to truth is the surest means of removing fear or guilt conscience from one’s heart. This practice is an established and sure way of purification of the inner-self and a silent worship of the Lord Supreme inside. Therefore, telling a lie is, basically, deceiving one’s own self. It is like deceiving the Lord Supreme presiding in the lotus of our hearts. Telling lies to others also amounts to a similar act of deceiving the God. Our conscience will always be reminding us whenever we are telling a lie. It cautions us that it is not right to do so and also warn us about its ill-effects. But still, owing to some pressure or other, we proceed to tell lies over-looking the advice of our inner-self. We need to keep our conscience clear and pure in order to perpetually avoid telling lies. In this connection, the words of Swami Vivekananda are very relevant: “You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul”. Telling a lie may, at some point of time, may be inevitable. But there is always scope and opportunity to reverse it or tell the truth at least later. Confession is a great virtue; it is not cowardice. As Mahatma Gandhi has said: “Confession of errors is like a broom which sweeps away the dirt and leaves the surface brighter and clearer. I feel stronger for confession.” Confession of a guilt or a lie is not a matter of shame. In fact, it lightens one’s heart and enables to regain one’s lost respect in society very quickly.
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[qÉlÉÑxqÉ×ÌiÉ – 4 – 138]
This implies: Always tell the truth and always tell the truth which is dear to others. Do not tell a truth which, at a particular of time, may not be desirable. But never tell a lie simply because it is dear and pleasant to others. This is Sanaatana Dharma.
There is an incident in Ramayana where Lakshmana speaks about the ill-effects of telling a lie to Sugriva. With the ambassadorship of Hanumantha, both Lord Rama and Sugriva agree to join hands in the pursuit of Seetha. Rama agrees to kill Vali, the elder brother of Sugriva and Sugriva in turn agrees to help the latter to find Seetha. After the killing of Vali by Lord Rama, Sugriva was anointed as the King. Sugriva, forgetting his word to Rama, indulges himself in the company of beautiful women in the palace. Raged by this breach of word, Lakshamana angrily rushes to the palace of Sugriva and admonishes him. During that conversation, he mentions that: “Telling a lie on account of a horse amounts to killing hundred horses. Telling a lie in respect of a cow amounts to killing thousand cows. But a person who tells a lie to another person will be killing his own kith and kin, besides himself”. No need to elaborate or reiterate that telling a lie is one of the greatest sins.
Sometimes telling a lie may prove to be beneficial and profitable, in the short run. But it will be short-lived and will bounce back causing much more damage and loss. Truth remains truth for ever. This is the hard truth we must all remember always! Truth and righteousness is the root of human life. However, the path of truth, most of the times, appear to be very hard to tread. Many obstacles and problems bother us in the way. But an enlightened person knows that these obstacles are merely a test of our commitment to truth. Once we move firmly in the set direction, especially under the guidance of a benevolent preceptor (Guru), the obstacles wane away. Therefore, avoiding telling lies and unstinted commitment of being true to oneself and to society at large is a virtue which all of us should foster, pursue and cherish at all times.
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