Satya- “Truth”

Through my Sanskrit studies I have become enamored with the word “Satya,” or “Truth.”  I am not a scholar of Sanskrit, but simply an amateur student. That being said, I thought I would share a little bit about this great and ancient word.

The word satya is made of two parts- “sat” and “ya.”  Sat is often translated as “existence,” but can also be translated as “truth.”  It is the present participle of the verb “as” or “to be,” which forms the word  “being” or “existing.”

“ya” is a suffix that means “pertaining to” or “deriving from.”

So satya can be translated as “deriving from existence,” or “that which pertains to existence.”  (Egenes)

And isn’t this what gives Truth it’s power?  Truth comes from Reality, the Is-ness of the moment. Speaking and acting out of Truth aligns us with a power far greater than our own. In Patanjalis Yoga Sutras it states-

“To one established in truthfulness, actions and their results become subservient.” (II.36)

It’s no wonder then, why great sages like Gandhi praised the power of Truth.

“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…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.” (Yeravda Mandir, Chapter 1)

Neem Karoli Baba placed an equally high value on it-

“Total truth is necessary. You must live by what you say.”

When asked how the heart could be purified, Maharaj-ji said, “Always speak the truth.”

(Maharajji.com)

This teaching is central to all cultures and traditions. Truth is self-evident and needs no justification. It is saturated with existence itself and is pregnant with the moment. It is inherently valid and is its own reward. It is the Self uninhibited by the cleverness of desire. It is Being set free.

“And the truth will set you free” -Christ (John 8:32)

When I see just how incredibly beautiful Truth is, it creates a burning desire to strive for it. It also shines a light on the ways that I fall short of this great ideal. It shows me just how subtle the mind and its desires are, and how deep these habits lie. In a flash of a moment my mind can churn Truth in its swirling stew of desires, tainting it’s beauty with a complex web of motivations and ego. I say I want God, but how many moments of the day do I truly allow raw, unfiltered Truth to flow effortlessly from my words, facial expressions, posture, and reactions?

Today I am awestruck by the power of Truth, and humbled by all of the ways I continually try to limit its transformational power.

असतो मा सद्गमय
तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय
मृत्योर्मा अमृतं गमय
शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः

asato mā sad gamaya, tamaso mā jyotir gamaya, mṛtyor māmṛtaṃ gamaya

From the unreal lead me to the real, from darkness lead me to light, from death lead me to Eternal Life

(Bṛhadāraṇyaka Upaniṣad (1.3.28.)

 

 

About Sitaram Dass

kirtan, devotion, activism, and writings at sitaramdass.com View all posts by Sitaram Dass

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