By Swami Harshananda
Satya literally means ‘truth’.
Satya or truth has been accorded the pride of place among the virtues recommended to be cultivated by man. All the religious works wax eloquently over it. Its fundamental definition is ‘that which is un-affected by time, place and causation’. This simply means that ‘satya’ stands for God, the Absolute.
Satya as per Sahasranāmas
In fact, several sahasranāmas use this word to denote God. As an extension of this meaning, anything that helps a man’s progress towards God, is satya.
Satya as General Term
Satya is speaking the truth, consonance of thought and word. One should avoid speaking falsehood, partial truths and even unpleasant truths. Truth should be spoken in a sweet and pleasant way. Unpleasant truths, when they must be spoken, should be presented in a palatable manner.
Truth Test In Ancient Times
In the ancient days, if a person accused of a crime denied it, he was to prove his innocence by touching a red-hot iron. It was believed that if he was speaking the truth, truth itself would protect him.
Results of Asatya
Asatya stands for all that is opposite to satya. It is what is untrue, unreal, evil and crooked. Speaking asatya has been permitted as an āpad-dharma under extraordinary circumstances when one’s life is threatened by evil and unscrupulous persons.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore