Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Speak Truth, Speak Sweet, No harsh truths, No sweet lies,

Summarizing the crux of perennial philosophy or sanātana dharma, Manusmṛiti 4:138 says – “Say what is true, say what is sweet, but do not say what is true but not sweet, nor say what is sweet but not true. This is the perennial wisdom.”

Many people interpret the third instruction as a sanction to tell sweet lies. However, the fourth instruction clarifies that. 

What it means is that when you have to convey a situation of harsh truth, you can deliver it sweetly, gently, cushioning the blow. If you cannot find ways even to sweeten the blow that you will deliver, then you are not trying hard. Feel with your heart and you will find a nicer way to communicate. 

If you are a leader, or someone others look up to, you cannot break someone’s heart and still expect him or her to follow you wholeheartedly.

Word is sacred. Word is potent. Veda advices to avoid harsh or bad words. Truths expressed harshly is not actually helping the recipient. Occasional reverse psychology may work, or as some call as 'rude awakening', but that requires compassion as well, since the rudeness is only a ploy to get the message across and not genuine disregard or lack of compassion.

And now the language aspects -

Speak Truth, Speak Sweet,
No harsh truths, No sweet lies,
- That is the eternal dharma.

सत्यं ब्रूयात्प्रियं ब्रूयान्न ब्रूयात्सत्यमप्रियम् ।
प्रियं च नानृतं ब्रूयादेष धर्मः सनातनः ॥

satyam brūyat_priyam brūyan_na brūyāt_satyam_apriyam ।
priyam cha nānṛitam brūyādéṣha dharmaḥ sanātanaḥ ॥ [IAST]

satyam brUyat_priyam brUyan_na brUyAt_satyam_apriyam ।
priyam cha nAnRitam brUyAdeSha dharmaH sanAtanaH ॥ [ITRANS]

satyam = truth

brUyat_priyam = should speak, sweet
brUyAt = should peak
priyam = dear, sweet

brUyan_na = should speak, not
brUyAt = should speak
na = not

brUyAt_satyam_apriyam = should speak, truth, not sweet
brUyAt = should speak
satyam = truth
a-priyam = not sweet

priyam = sweet, dear

cha = and

nAnRitam = not, truth
na = not
an-Ritam = not-truth

brUyAdeSha = should speak, this
brUyAt = should speak
eShaH = this

dharmaH = dharma, right action, duty, practice, obligation

sanAtanaH = perennial

(c) shashikant joshi । शशिकांत जोशी । ॐ सर्वे भवन्तु सुखिनः ।
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  1. this is so clear, so tender, so fierce. i love this encouragement and explanation, really, of right speech.

  2. Sarah,
    Thank for an equally succinct comment that captures the beauty of the dictate of Manusmriti. Please do comment more often :) And join us on Facebook as well.

    The lofty heights of great ideas that consider the entire humanity, are many, as expressed in Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism).

    Sadly, everything that came after that, every 'religion' the world over, has very stubbornly and knowingly tried to NOT see anything of value outisde their closed system, specially in the grand old mother of the world - Hinduism.

    The loss is purely of all those who choose to ignore. But do they even know what they are missing out on?

  3. I so liked this phrase... need to be thoroughly practiced and implemented in our behaviour! Just because of our impolite, manipulated and harsh speech, we break hearts, relationships and homes.

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Many thanks Most appreciated-Namaskar


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