Mohandas Gandhi on the Meaning of Truth

Author: Mohandas Gandhi

January 1, 1927

The word satya (Truth) is derived from Sat which means ‘being.’ Nothing is or exists in reality except Truth. That is why Sat or Truth is perhaps the most important name of God, In fact it is more correct to say that Truth is God than to say God is truth. On deeper thinking, however it will be realized that Sat or Satya is the only correct and fully sign fact name for God.

And where there is Truth, there is also is knowledge which is true. Where there is no Truth, there also is knowledge which is true. Where there is no Truth, there can be no true knowledge. That is why the word Chit or knowledge is associated with the name of God. And where there is true knowledge, there is always bliss (Ananda). There sorrow has no place. And even as Truth is eternal, so is the bliss derived from it. Hence we know God as Sat-Chit-Ananda, one who combines in Himself Truth, Knowledge and Bliss.

Devotion to this Truth is the sole justification for our existence. All our activities should be centered in Truth. Truth should be the very breath of our life. When once this stage in the pilgrim’s progress is reached, all other rules of correct living will come without effort, and obedience to them will be instinctive. But without Truth it is impossible to observe any principles or rules in life.

But how is one to realize this Truth, which may be likened to the philosopher’s stone or the cow of plenty? By single minded devotion (abhyasa) and indifference to all other interests in life (vairagya) replies the Bhagavad Gita.

In spite, however of such devotion, what may appear as Truth to one person will often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry the seeker. Where there is honest effort, it will be realized that what appear to be different truths are like the countless and apparently different leaves of the same tree. Does not God himself appear to different individuals in different aspects? Yet we know that He is one. But Truth is the right designation of God. Hence there is nothing wrong in every man following Truth according to his lights. Indeed it is his duty to do so. Then if there is a mistake on the part of any one so following Truth it will be automatically set right.

[…] In such selfless search for Truth nobody can lose his bearings for long. Directly he takes to the wrong path he stumbles, and is thus redirected to the right path. Therefore the pursuit of Truth is true bhakti (devotion). It is the path that leads to God.

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Mohandas Gandhi on the Meaning of Truth