Truthfulness is mandatory | Forum

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hari1941 Sep 12 '18

Truthfulness is mandatory.


From early childhood I was preached to be truthful, honest and trustworthy.  As I grew up, I was told lying is not sin if it benefits me or someone else but harms none.


For example I make some misrepresentation about myself and thus praised for, it satisfies my ego but does not harm anybody. It may not be a sin but it's a lie anyway. There can be other examples.  So truthfulness is not mandatory as I was taught. One can make few calculated lies here and there.


A butcher is chasing a caw with the intention of slaughtering it but the caw dodges him and he asks me sitting at my doorsteps if I saw a caw running this way. I saw the caw but deny any knowledge.  The caw was saved for that moment at least.  When I narrated the story to others I was praised for my act of compassion which is a virtue. It could have been a buffalo, a bull or a goat or any other animal. I will not make a guess if the opinion would have changed but that is another issue. In this case the caw was saved but the butcher lost his money. Still it is being treated a virtue.  What should I make of it?  Truthfulness is mandatory because I saved one at the cost of other. My speaking the truth might have benefited the butcher. In any case he would find it sooner or later.


What do you say?


Babu Sep 12 '18
AVRamani Sep 12 '18

Thiruvalluvar was a Tamil poet philosopher of the 4th century. He was a totally upright person, who lived his words. He wrote the famous 'Thirukkural', the book of 1330 couplets that dealt with all aspects of life and how to conduct oneself.

One of his couplets in the chapter on Truthfulness translates like this: A lie can stand along side Truth if it results in fault-free good.

In your example, telling a lie about the cow's whereabouts seems to have a small issue of preventing the butcher from doing his normal work. The good part is the saving the cow's life.

My take is that I am under no obligation to give information to the butcher. Instead of telling him a lie about the cow, I can refuse to answer him. Sort of: 'Get lost. I won't tell you'.

The Forum post is edited by AVRamani Sep 12 '18
shobham Sep 12 '18
We cant be truthful all times. 

Decency, situation , politeness can all  felicitate lies. 

And what is TRUTH anyway? 

In some cases It changes according to time, place and person. What is East for me can be West for you. 

In civil life a measured lie sometime works better than a unconditional truth. 

shobham Sep 12 '18

 In fact liers,cheaters & looters are ebjoying life far better than truthful,honest & straight farward people.

I do not think THAT should guide our own behavior. 

The lies I meant needed were   harmless ones ; like when you praise food you dont like at an invitation.. Say a person is looking good even when s/he is not. 

Where truth will actually hurt someone , lies are better. 

But not willful cheating or lying for profit.