Truthfulness and Honesty
By Gangadhara das
1. I meditate upon Lord Sri Krsna because He is the Absolute Truth and the primeval cause of all causes of the creation, sustenance and destruction of the manifested universes… (Srila Vyasadeva; Srimad-Bhagavatam [SB] 1.1.1).
2. Satyam, truthfulness, means that facts should be presented as they are, for the benefit of others (Srila Prabhupada; Bhagavad-gita [Bg] 10.4 purport [pp]).
3. If one does not know what is honesty, how can he be honest? But if you know what is honesty, then you can be honest (Srila Prabhupada; Perfect Questions Perfect Answers [PQPA] p. 55).
4. You must know the order of God. And if you follow that, then that is honesty (Srila Prabhupada; PQPA, p. 56).
5. Everything animate or inanimate that is within the universe is controlled and owned by the Lord. One should therefore accept only those things necessary for himself that are set aside as his quota, and one should not accept other things, knowing well to whom they belong (Sri Isopanisad, mantra 1).
6. If I know that everything belongs to Krsna, I will not use anything without His permission. That is honesty. And that is knowledge (Srila Prabhupada; PQPA, p. 58).
7. Even if you drink a glass of water without knowing to whom it belongs, you are a thief. So you may think, “I am honest,” but actually you are a thief. You must remember Krsna, “Oh Krsna, it is Your creation, so kindly allow me to drink.” Therefore a devotee always thinks of Krsna. In all activities he thinks, “Oh, it is Krsna’s.” This is honesty. So without Krsna consciousness everyone is a rascal, a thief, a rogue and a robber (Srila Prabhupada; PQPA, p. 61).
8. Religion, truthfulness, cleanliness, tolerance, mercy, duration of life, physical strength, and memory will all diminish day by day because of the powerful influence of the age of Kali (Sukadeva Gosvami; SB 12.2.1).
9. In the age of Satya your four legs were established by the four principles of austerity, cleanliness, mercy and truthfulness. But it appears that three of your legs are broken due to rampant irreligion in the form of pride, lust for women, and intoxication (King Pariksit; SB 1.17.24).
10. You are now standing on one leg only, which is your truthfulness, and you are somehow or other hobbling along. But quarrel personified [Kali], flourishing by deceit, is also trying to destroy that leg (King Pariksit; SB 1.17.25).
11. All ordinary transactions and dealings became polluted with cheating, even between friends. And in familial affairs, there was always misunderstanding between fathers, mothers and sons, between well-wishers, and between brothers. Even between husband and wife there was always strain and quarrel (Suta Gosvami; SB 1.14.4).
12. Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behaviour nor truth is found in them (Lord Krsna; Bg 16.7).
13. Gambling of all description, even speculative business enterprise, is considered to be degrading, and when gambling is encouraged in the state, there is complete disappearance of truthfulness (Srila Prabhupada; SB 1.17.38 pp).
14. [In Kali yuga] one who is audacious will be accepted as truthful (Sukadeva Gosvami; SB 12.2.6).
Receiving and Living the Truth
15. Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth (Lord Krsna; Bg 4.34).
16. We must always keep within our hearts the instructions of, sadhu, sastra and guru. This is the process (Srila Narottama dasa Thakura; Prema-bhakti-candrika).
17. One should never climb into a tree, grasp the unripe fruits and forcibly pull them off. Similarly, the followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami never abolish the initial systematic process of devotional service. The rupanugas never teach that the perfection of devotion can be reached by abandoning the consecutive order of development stages on the path. (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada; Prakrita Rasa Shata Dushani).
18. The followers of Srila Rupa Gosvami never leave the path of the great devotees [mahajanas] and run to pursue a ‘new’ path. One should never mistakenly call material obstacles ‘useful for devotional service’, thereby following the wrong path. One should never say that the mundane opinions of the prakrta-sahajiyas [cheap materialistic imposters] are aprakrta [transcendental] (*; *).
19. Sri Krsna, the Personality of Godhead, who is the Paramatma in everyone’s heart and the benefactor of the truthful devotee… (Suta Gosvami; SB 1.2.17).
20. A devotee should always try to hear about spiritual matters and should always utilize his time in chanting the holy name of the Lord. His behaviour should always be straightforward and simple, and although he is not envious but friendly to everyone, he should avoid the company of persons who are not spiritually advanced (Lord Kapila; SB 3.29.28).
21. For him who had conquered the mind, the Supersoul is already reached, for he has attained tranquillity. To such a man happiness and distress, heat and cold, honour and dishonour are all the same (Lord Krsna; Bg 6.7).
22. The Supreme Personality of Godhead said: Fearlessness; purification of one’s existence; cultivation of spiritual knowledge; charity; self-control; performance of sacrifice; study of the Vedas; austerity; simplicity; non-violence; truthfulness; freedom from anger; renunciation; tranquillity; aversion to faultfinding; compassion for all living entities; freedom from covetousness; gentleness; modesty; steady determination; vigor; forgiveness; fortitude; cleanliness; and freedom from envy and from the passion for honor – these transcendental qualities, O son of Bharata, belong to godly men endowed with divine nature (Lord Krsna; Bg 16.1-3).
23. Peacefulness, self-control, austerity, purity, tolerance, honesty, knowledge, wisdom and religiousness – these are the natural qualities by which the brahmanas work (Lord Krsna; Bg 18.42).
24. This Bhagavata Purana propounds the highest truth, which is understandable by those devotees who are fully pure in heart (Srila Vyasadeva; SB 1.1.2).
25. No book is without errors. God’s revelation is absolute truth, but it is scarcely received and perceived and preserved in its natural purity. We have been advised in the 14th Chapter of the 11th Skandha of the Bhagavata to believe that truth when revealed is absolute, but it gets the tincture of the nature of the receiver in course of time and is converted into error by continual change of hands from age to age. New revelations, therefore, are continually necessary in order to keep truth in its original purity. We are thus warned We must not allow ourselves to be led by those who lived and thought before us. We must think for ourselves and try to get further and further truths which are still undiscovered. In the Bhagavata we have been advised to take the spirit of the sastras and not the words (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura; The Bhagavata: Its Ethics and Its Theology).
26. From the four types of evidence – Vedic knowledge, direct experience, traditional wisdom and logical induction – one can understand the temporary, insubstantial situation of the material world by which one becomes detached from the duality of this world (Lord Krsna to Uddhava; SB 11.19.17).
27. Transcendental topics cannot be understood by argument or logic (Srila Vyasadeva; Vedanta Sutra, 2.1.11).
Speaking the Truth
28. Those who do not know the purport of the scriptures, yet teach them to others are simply like asses carrying the load of the scriptures. (Lord Caitanya; Caitanya Bhagavata 2.1.158).
29. Unless one practices devotional service himself he cannot teach it to others. This conclusion is indeed confirmed throughout the Gita and Bhagavatam (Lord Caitanya; Caitanya-caritamrta [Cc] Adi 3.20.21).
30. Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature (Lord Krsna; Bg 17.15).
31. According to social conventions, it is said that one can speak the truth only when it is palatable to others. But that is not truthfulness. The truth should be spoken in such a straight and forward way, so that others will understand actually what the facts are. If a man is a thief and if people are warned that he is a thief, that is truth. Although sometimes the truth is unpalatable, one should not refrain from speaking it. Truthfulness demands that the facts be presented as they are for the benefit of others (Srila Prabhupada; Bg 10.4 pp).
32. The scriptures advise satyam bruyat priyam bruyat, “in the material world only palatable truths should be spoken. Unpalatable truths should be carefully avoided.” Devotees always humbly offer respect to everyone, but when there is a discussion on a point of sastra, they do not observe the usual etiquette, satyam bruyat priyam bruyat. They speak only the satyam although it may not be necessarily be priyam (Srila Prabhupada; Letter to Sumati Murarji, 1976).
33. By discussing the truth one should give up fear (Narada Muni to King Yudhisthira; SB 7.15.22).
34. We will fearlessly tell everyone the truth, without deceiving anyone. We have to speak the kind of truth that is truly beneficial for the living being, even if it is unpleasant. This is not the same as creating anxiety for others. We have to search for reality. We have to think about the good of all people in the world. We have to do what is beneficial for ourselves and others with great determination (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura; Srila Prabhupader Upadesamrta / Prabhupada Saraswati Thakur , p. 97).
35. Sri Sri Guru and Gauranga will not be pleased until we can speak the truth fearlessly. If I am afraid that if I tell the truth objectively, it may become unpleasant, and so I do not speak the truth, then that means I have given up the path of revealed truth and accepted a path which is not bona fide; then I am an atheist and a cheater (*; *).
36. A wise person should not enter an assembly if he knows the participants there are committing acts of impropriety, and if, having entered such an assembly, he fails to speak the truth, speaks falsely, or pleads ignorance, he will certainly incur sin (Sukadeva Gosvami; SB 10.44.10).
37. A person who knows things as they are and still does not bear witness becomes involved in sinful activities (the young brahmana; Cc Madhya 5.90).
38. If there is some honest criticism there should be no cause of becoming upset (Srila Prabupada; Letter to Vrndavanesvari, 28.07.69).
39. Srila Jiva Gosvami says that there are three types of discussion – vada, jalpa and vitanda. In a vada discussion the motive of all concerned is to find out the truth. This is the ideal kind of discussion. It is for persons who are sober and impartial about the outcome; they simply want to know what is the truth of the matter. They are in the mode of goodness. Jalpa is a discussion wherein one is not interested in what is said by others, whether it has some truth or all of the truth, because one simply wants to be heard. Any other view or contribution is of no interest. This is the way for a person in the mode of passion. A vitanda discussion is in the mode of ignorance. In this version the truth is of no value. One simply wants to win at all costs (Srila Jiva Gosvami; Sri-Sat-Sandarbha).
40. There is nothing more sinful than untruthfulness. Because of this, mother earth once said, “I can bear any heavy thing, except a person who is a liar (Bali Maharaja; SB 8.20.4 ).
41. Humility implies perfect submission to the truth and no sympathy for untruth. A person who entertains any partiality for untruth is unfit to chant the kirtana of Hari (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada).
42. If a brahmana is not truthful, all his claims as a brahmana at once become null and void (Srila Prabhupada; SB 1.17.41 pp).
43. Unless one is completely truthful, one cannot achieve Your favour, which therefore cannot be achieved by hypocrites (demigods pray to Lord Krsna in the womb of Devaki; SB 10.2.26).
44. Good things happen only to a person free from deceitfulness. A deceitful person does not get any benefit. A straightforward person can be weak, but he is not deceitful. A person who is deceitful says one thing and thinks another. A weak person is always ashamed, sorry and mortified because of his own inadequacies, but a deceitful person is proud of his own tricks (Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakura Prabhupada; Srila Prabhupader Upadesamrta / Prabhupada Saraswati Thakur, p. 98).
45. “I will deceive the acarya, I will fool the doctor, I will hide the poisonous snakes of my bad tendencies in the dark recess of hypocrisy, I will not let anyone know about them – but I will get some name and fame from other people by pretending to be saintly” – this kind of mentality is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of terrible deceitfulness. Such people will never benefit (*; *).
46. If we put on the garb of a devotee and become busy with non-devotional activities, if we are absorbed in material enjoyment and that becomes a priority, or if we take the tridanda and want to kidnap Sita, like Ravana, then we are stabbing ourselves to death. We are doing something terrible in the name of hari-bhajana. If for millions of births we have some weakness, some bad habits, that is not so harmful. But if once we take to the path of deceitfulness – we pretend to be devotees but secretly engage in sinful enjoyment – then all troubles will remain with us. It is better to take birth among millions of other species, as a bird, or a beast or an insect (*; *).
47. We have to show our indifference or anger to those who are intoxicatedly absorbed in the worship of akrsna (non-God). But first of all I have to see if I myself am an enemy of the devotees. It is essential to ask, am I serving Krsna or am I doing something else in the pretence of devotional service, how much love do I have for Krsna, do I want to cheat Krsna, and do I want to enjoy what is meant for His enjoyment? I see that I, with my body which is greedy for enjoyment, am a great enemy of Krsna and His devotees. Instead of always remembering the lotus feet of Krsna and thinking of His happiness I am engaged in the search for my own happiness, in gossip and faultfinding. I am not looking at myself at all; I am not seeing my own fault. Therefore first of all I have to express anger at myself… I have to try in every way to have an exemplary character and to sincerely serve Hari, guru and vaisnavas. Only then will I benefit… First of all I have to express anger at my bad tendencies that are unfavourable for devotion, such as the desire for material gain, prestige and position, and my tendencies towards deceitfulness. This way I have to control them. I have to look at my own interest first. Otherwise great danger will come my way. Then I have to express anger towards my friends and relatives, related to my body, who are against guru and Krsna, who want to see me as an enjoyer and thus attracting me to maya. Only then will I be safe and the highest good will come to me, not otherwise (*; *, p. 99).
48. One should give up the association of dharmadvajis, the hypocritically devout, with special care. Those who accept the external signs of dharma but do not actually follow dharma are called dharmadvajis. There are two types of dharmadvajis – the hypocrites and the fools, or the cheaters and the cheated. In devotional service this hypocrisy ruins everything. Better to associate with sense enjoyers, for in this world there is no worse association than the dharmadvaji. The deceitful dharmadvajis accept the signs of dharma with a desire to cheat the world, and to fulfil their crooked desires they cheat the foolish by helping them in their rascaldom. Some of them become gurus and others become disciples, and by trickery they accumulate wealth, women, false prestige and material assets. If one gives up the association of crooked hypocrites, then he can honestly engage in devotional service. Honest worship is the only way to attain Krsna’s mercy. As stated in Srimad-Bhagavatam (1.3.38; Suta Gosvami): “Only those who render unreserved [without hypocrisy] uninterrupted, favourable service unto the lotus feet of Lord Krsna can know the creator of the universe in His full glory, power and transcendence” (Srila Bhaktivinoda Thakura; Sri Bhaktyaloka, p. 37).
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