Courtesyr.Smt.Saroja Ramanujam

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A well wisher should speak only the truth which is beneficial. Sathyam brooyaath. He should speak lovingly. Priyam brooyaath. But he should not speak the truth if it is not pleasant, na brooyaath sathyam apriyam, that is., which is harmful. Apriyam here means that which is not pleasant by way of doing harm and not that you should not speak the truth if it hurts. But untruth should not be spoken just because it will please the listener, priyam cha na anrtham brooyaath.


sathyam brooyaath priyam brooyaath na brooyaath sathyam apriyam priyam cha na anrtham brooyaath esha dharma:: sanaathana:


Mareecha advised Ravana against his abduction of Seetha and Vibheeshana told him to return Seetha. Both were well-wishers and spoke the truth that Ravana will be destroyed by not listening to their advice. They spoke to him with love and concern. This is the example of sathyam brooyaath priyam brooyaath


There is a story that shows the meaning of na brooyaath sathyam apriyam. A cow was fleeing from men, who were pursuing it wishing to kill, and it went round a hermitage where a sage was sitting outside meditating.
The pursuers came and asked the sage whether he saw a cow coming that way. The sage replied that the eye does not speak and the tongue does not hear. Thinking that he was mad the pursuers went away. What the sage meant was that the eyes saw the cow but could not speak and the tongue could speak but had not seen the cow.


Thus he did not speak the truth yet he neither spoke untruth. This is a case of na brooyaath sathyam apriyam as it was apriyam harmful to the cow.


Seetha told the rakshasis, who asked her whether she knew Hanuman, which she did not know. She spoke untruth but it was in accordance with dharma that one should not cause harm to others even by telling the truth because ahimsa takes precedence over all else.


Rama similarly told Sumanthra, when Dasaratha was asking him to stop on their way to the forest, to drive fast and tell the king later that he could not hear the command to stop. This again was to avoid giving pain to Dasaratha by prolonging the agony of separation.


Surpanakha told Ravana the untruth that she was trying to bring Seetha to him and was punished by Lakshmana, which was pleasing to Ravana but it brought him destruction. This is the case of priyam cha na anrtham brooyaath, one should not speak an untruth just to please another.