Gandhi's Views On Truth
(Meaning of Truth)
I deal with truth first of all, as the Satyagraha Ashram owes its very existence
to the pursuit and the attempted practice of truth.
The word satya (Truth) is derived from Sat which means 'being'. Nothing is or
exists in reality except Truth. That is why Sat or Truth is perhaps the most
important name of God, In fact it is more correct to say that Truth is God than
to say God is truth. But as we cannot do without a ruler or a general, such
names of God as 'King' or 'Kings' or ' The Almighty' are and will remain
generally current. On deeper thinking, however it will be realized that Sat or
Satya is the only correct and fully sign fact name for God.
And where there is Truth, there is also is knowledge which is true. Where there
is no Truth, there also is knowledge which is true. Where there is no Truth,
there can be no true knowledge. That is why the word Chit or knowledge is
associated with the name of God. And where there is true knowledge, there is
always bliss. (Ananda). There sorrow has no place. And even as Truth is eternal,
so is the bliss derived from it. Hence we know God as Sat-Chit-ananda, one who
combines in Himself Truth, Knowledge and Bliss.
Devotion to this Truth is the sole justification for our existence. All our
activities should be centered in Truth. Truth should be the very breath of our
When once this stage in the pilgrim's progress is reached, all other rules of
correct living will come without effort, and obedience to them will be
instinctive. But without Truth it is impossible to observe any principles or
rules in life.
Generally speaking observation of the law of Truth is understood merely to mean
that we must speak the Truth. But we in the Ashram should understand the word
Satya or Truth in a much wider sense. There should be truth in thought, truth in
speech, and truth in action. To the man who has realized this truth in its
fullness, nothing else remains to be known , because all knowledge is necessary
included in it. What is not included in it is not truth, and so not true
knowledge; and there can be no inward peace without true knowledge. If we once
learn how to apply this never failing test of Truth, we will at once able to
find out what is worth doing, what is worth seeing, what is worth reading.
But how is one to realize this Truth, which may be likened to the philosophers
stone or the cow of plenty? By single minded devotion (abhyasa ) and
indifference to all other interests in life (vairagya) replies the Bhagvat Gita.
In spite, however of such devotion, what may appear as Truth to one person will
often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry the seeker.
Where there is honest effort, it will be realized that what appear to be
different truths are like the countless and apparently different leaves of the
same tree. Does not God himself appear to different individuals in different
aspects? Yet we know that He is one. But Truth is the right designation of God.
Hence there is nothing wrong in every man following Truth according to his
lights. Indeed it is his duty to do so. Then if there is a mistake on the part
of any one so following Truth it will be automatically set right. For the quest
of Truth involves tapas self suffering, sometimes even unto death. There can be
no place in it even a trace of self interest. In such selfless search for Truth
nobody can lose his bearings for long. Directly he takes to the wrong path he
stumbles, and is thus redirected to the right path. Therefore the pursuit of
Truth is true bhakti (devotion). It is the path that leads to God. There is no
place in it for cowardice, no place for defeat. It is the talisman by which
death itself becomes the portal to life eternal.
In this connection it will be well to ponder over the lives and examples of
Harishchandra, Prahlad, Ramchandra, Imam Hussain, the Christians saints, etc.
How beautiful it would be if all of us, young and old, men and women devoted
ourselves wholly to Truth in all that we might do in our walking hours, whether
working, eating, drinking, or playing till dissolution of the body makes us one
with Truth? God as Truth has been for me a treasure beyond price; may He be so
to every one of us.
– From Yeravda Mandir, Chapter 1.