CONCEPT OF TRUTH, DHARMA AND LIFE
BY DAYANANDA SARASWATHY
WHAT I CHERISHED MAY BE DONE BY ALL
Yajurveda XIX, 30 says that man knows the truth when he possesses a desire to know the truth and to act truthfully. One should have faith in truth alone but never in untruth.
A man who acts truthfully obtains high worth. By becoming worthy he obtains high rank by means of good qualities and becomes universally respected and successful. This his reward. It can be achieved by means of good qualities and actions only.
By observing virtuous vows such as Brahmacharya he gains respect in his as well as in others; estimation. This creates an abiding faith in truthful conduct, for, truthful conduct alone is the source of respect. When this faith goes on constantly increasing, man by its means ultimately attains God and emancipation.
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Hence a man should always cultivate faith and enthusiasm for the acquisition of truth.
The following verses of the Atharvaveda reveal the characteristics of Dharma.
'God had made men the possessors of volition, exertion, energy and righteous (Dharmie) conduct. They should, therefore, become wise by studying the Vedas and by acquiring knowledge of God. They should always seek the protection of God and depend on strenuous action.
'May all men be endowed with truth which is incalculated in the Vedas and Shastras, which is free from error and stands the tests of direct cognition, etc. Let them make supreme efforts to cover themselves with highest glory resplendent with the light of right conduct and auspicious qualities, and having the resources of a universal empire at it service. May the e masters of fair renown for the acquisition of noble qualities and truthful conduct and may they shed its luster on all sides.
'May all me find their fullest contentment in their own property and in their good qualities
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and may they do good to all beings. May they have firm faith in truth in every way. May the protect others and be themselves protected by the true teachings of honest and trustworthy learned men. May the obtain place of honor before the all pervading God and in activities of universal utility, such as Ashvamedha, in the knowledge of physical sciences and skilful performance of arts. God ordains men to impress this on their minds that they are here in this world for the performance of good works which may be beneficial to all, up to the time of their death.'
'Let all their activities follow the dictates of justice. Let them show courage, fearlessness and fortitude in acting truthfully. Let them be not elated with joy at gain and pleasure and dejected with sorrow at loss and pain in which they may find themselves involved for the time being. They should, on the other hand, try their best to alleviate their suffering and should bear it with resignation. Let them root out the diseases of the body and the mind and render their limbs strong and their intellects firm and acquire strength requisite
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for the performance of redoubtable deeds by obeying the good rules of Brahmacharya, etc. Let them acquire learning and education and let their speech be truthful and sweet and possessed of similar good qualities. Let hem keep maas (mind) and the five organs of cognition and five organs of action, tongue, etc. constantly engaged in the pursuit of true Dharma and away from sinful acts. [Here the word vak - tongue, is used as a generic term for the organs of actions].
Let them spend their best energies in acquiring glories of imperial rule. This alone is the Dharma promulgated by the Vedas, based on justice, free from partiality and bias, associated with truthful conduct and universally beneficial. All men should follow it always. What has gone before as well as what comes after is an exposition of this very Dharma. God has revealed the Dharma in these and the following verses for the good of all mankind.
'The special qualifications of a Brahmana, viz., the acquisition of the highest learning, qualities and actions and the dissemination of virtuous, etc., should always be given
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scope to develop themselves and the special virtues of a Kshatriya such as learning, skill, courage, fortitude and valor should have always room to grow. Let the assembly of good men always make the empire full of happiness and auspicious virtues by making good laws for it.
The Vaishyas, i.e., the merchants, should have free access to all quarters of the globe and should be afforded every protection so that they may increase the wealth by means of trade and commerce. Let noble qualities shine forth and let a pure desire for virtuous traits of character be cultivated. Let men achieve fair renown. Let there be proper permanent arrangements for the teaching, learning and diffusion of true knowledge.
Men should have a desire to acquire, what they do not possess, by just means, should protect and preserve and improve and increase what they possess and , lastly, should spend their riches in righteous actions. In this fourfold way they should always strive to increase their wealth and provisions and happiness.
'Men should prolong their lives and become physically strong by leading a chaste life,
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observing the salutary laws of food and dress and thoroughly obeying the good rules of Brahmacharya. They should preserve beauty of their persons by not giving themselves up to incontinence and unrestrained gratification of the sense. They should establish a fair reputation for themselves by means of doing
righteous acts so that (their example) may add to the zeal of others in their performance.
Let what they recite or hear being recited, be always for glorifying the name of God or for the acquisition of Godlike qualities and let them make themselves endowed with good renown. By means of Pranayama, i.e., control of breath they should strengthen and purify Prana i.e., in-breathing or the air which is drawn into the body from outside, and Apana, i.e., out-breathing or the air which is breathed out of the body.
By residing in a healthy place and by the forcible ejection and the withholding of the breath they should acquire strength of body and mind. They should thoroughly know the ocular, aural and inferential and other proofs and with their help should acquire correct and complete knowledge.
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'Men should use liquids such as water, etc. and juices such as milk, ghee, etc. after purifying them thoroughly according to the rules of medical science. They should eat, cooked and uncooked edibles, after purifying and dressing them.
They should always worship God and should always speak the truth that has stood the test of the proofs, the direction cognition etc., exactly as it exists in their consciousness; and should always believe the same.
They should offer adoration to God and perform universally beneficial Yajnas and with proper care and energy should apply their minds, words and acts, to the collection of materials necessary for the completion of both.
The should properly educate, train and provide for the comforts of their children and the (subjects of the) empire. They should also train their domestic animals - the elephants, horses, etc. [The frequent use of the conjunction 'and' - Cha - in these verses signifies that men
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should acquire such other good qualities also as have not been specifically enumerate above].
We shall now give some extracts from the Taittiriya Shiksha bearing on the subject of Dharma. All men should always act according to the essential requirements of Dharma as explained therein. They are briefly as follows:
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To know a thing as it is, to act truthfully, to bring into practice the essential features of knowledge and Dharma such as rita (morals, divine worship as they are in reality), to restrain the senses from unrighteous conduct and to always employ them in righteous acts; never to let a desire to act unrighteously enter the mind, to utilize the Vedas and Shastras and the things of the world such as fire, etc., for the purpose of the spiritual and the practical sciences so that one may be able to do good to others. To always secure the happiness of all beings by purifying the atmosphere and the rain water by means of regularly performing the Yajna from the daily homa to the Ashvamedha; to arrive at pure truth and to remove doubts by associating with and serving righteous and pious men possessed of perfect and profound erudition, to obtain proficiency in human sciences such as the science
of Government, etc.
To beget children in accordance with Dharma, to bring them up in true Dharma, to educate them and to make them cultured; to conserve virile powers and to have sexual intercourse at the proper time (ritu)
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according to the rules of Putreshti; to provide for the safety of the children in the womb and at the time of their birth and to make their bodies and minds grow and develop.
The opinion of the Acharya Rathitara is that a man ought always to speak the truth. The Acharya Pauraushishthi lays down that a man should always act in accordance with dictates of true knowledge and Dharma by observing the rules such as rita (divine worship, moral behests, etc.)
The Acharya Nako Maudgilya, however, holds that the noblest act is to study and teach the Vedas, that there is no other work of Dharma among men better than this and that it is the highest religious exercise.
The preceptor on the conclusion of his disciple's study of the Vedas should instruct him in the Dharma in the following words:-
"O disciple! Always speak the truth, follow the Dharma whose distinguishing mark is veracity. Never forsake the reading and the teaching of the Shastras. Serve your teacher and procreate children. Acquire proficiency in true Dharma and maintain and enhance your
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prosperity and glory. You should always acquire knowledge from the learned (the devas) and the wise (the pitris) and should always serve them. Render loving service to your mother, father, preceptor and holy guests. Do not forsake it through carelessness and laziness."
The mothers, etc., should address their sons as follows:-
"O sons! Follow us in our good works only, but never follow usif we happen to commit sinful acts. Associate with those persons only among us who may be learned and possess knowledge of God. You should always have faith in what they say, but never trust the words of others.
Men should always make a gift of such objects as learning, etc., with love without love, with grace, with modesty, moved by fear or for redeeming their promise. To make a gift is far better than to receive it from others. O disciples! If ever you be troubled with a doubt in respect of an act or a line of conduct you should approach the learning who know God, are free from bias and yogins
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who keep aloof from adharma, possess learning and other good qualities and have a love of Dharma. Get a solution (of your doubts) from them and act accordingly. You should travel by the road which is trodden by them. We implant this teaching, this advice, in your heart.
This is the inner teaching of the Vedas. All men should give this exhortation (to their sons and disciples.) The worship of God who is all existence, all consciousness and all bliss should be performed with the greatest faith and devotion, but should be preceded by such conduct as has been mentioned above. There is no other way to worship Him." Taittiriya Aranyanka VII9. 11.
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Now we describe the characteristics of the Tapas:- "Ritam, i.e., Tat-tvam (that-ness), the worship of Brahma and knowledge of a thing as it is in reality; Satyam, i.e., truthful speech and conduct; Shrutam, i.e., the learning and the teaching of all arts and sciences; Shantam i.e. the keeping aloof of the mind from Adharma and the fixing of it on Dharma, peace of
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mind; Damah, i.e., to rstrain the senses from Adharma and to employ them in Dharma; Shamah, i.e. to keep the mind back from Adharma and to concentrate in on Dharma; Danam, i.e., to always make a gift of true knowledge and Yajnam, i.e., the performance of the Yajnas described above. The word tapas signifies all these and nothing else." Taittiriya Aranyaka X.8.
"Also, O man! Believe that tapas is to worship God who pervades all regions. The opposite of this cannot be tapas. The distinctive mark of Dharma is no other than truthful speech and conduct, because through truth men attain to worldly happiness and to that uninterrupted bliss called moksha (emancipation) of good men is truthful conduct. Good men, therefore, always take delight in truth and tapas is, accordingly, to act according to the
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requirements of Dharma whose distinguishing features are ritam, etc. Brahma is also, the name given to the acquisition of learning by means of the due observance of the laws of Brahmacharya. The other portions of the above extract, vix., danam (gift) etc. also are to be construed in a similar manner.
The characteristic of the learned is mental activity. The True (God) makes the wind blow and the sun shine. Men attain to honor by means of truth and not otherwise." The words Manasa rishayah in the next mean vital airs, knowledge, etc. Taittiriya Aranyaka X. 62 & 63.
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"This Atman (God) is attained by means
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of truthfulness, right knowledge and constant Brahmacharya alone. The yatis, (those who possess self-control) whose imperfections have been destroyed, see Him - the pure effulgence residing within their body. God attained by the practice of the true Dharma, etc." The meaning of this Mantra is easy. Mundakopanishad III. 1.
"Truth realized in conduct ever conquers. Through it man always becomes victorious and through untruth i.e., action opposed to Dharma he comes to defeat. The Devayana i.e., the path of the learned, viz., the road of
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emancipation which is the giver of unending bliss is illumined and widened by
truthful conduct. By taking the road illumined by the performance of the true Dharma the sages obtain what they desire and arrive there where is the last abode of truth viz., Brahma and enjoy the bliss of emancipation for ever and ever which can not be gained otherwise. All should, therefore, act according to Dharma and forsake Adharma.' Mundakopanishat III.1.6.
"That alone is to be known as Dharma which has been enjoined to be performed by the Vedas and that which has been prohibited by God is Adharma having no substance in it (anartha). It ought to be given up, therefore, by men." Purva Mimansa. I.1.2.
"That alone is to be recognized as Dharma which leads to the desired happiness in this
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world and also to the highest bliss of emancipation. That which is opposed to it is Adharma." Vaisheshika I.1.2.
All these extracts are only an amplification (of the teachings) of the Vedas. God has thus preached the Dharma for the sake of all men in a great number of the Vedic Mantras. This is the only Dharma for all men. There is no second Dharma different