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  • A Perspective on Truth

    The truth is good. It is also bitter. That we share a love-hate relationship with it is commonplace. Let us look at an illustration of the same from the Mahabharata.

    In their last year of exile, the Pandavas are forced to go incognito.

    They seek refuge in the kingdom of Matsya. When the armies of Duryodhana attack the kingdom, news reaches the king that his son Prince Uttar had fended off the army and kept them at bay. Overjoyed by his son’s caliber, he orders grand and pompous celebrations. That is when one of the courtiers tells the king that it was quite impossible for such a young lad to defeat seasoned warriors like Karna and Duryodhana single- handedly. He mentions the eunuch dancer Brihanalla who had trained under the great warrior Arjuna and tells the king that it must have been because of her that the armies of Matsya had been victorious. Ignoring this statement, the king goes on to praise his son. The courtier again tries to convince the king of Brihanalla’s great skills as a warrior. He is ignored yet again. When he tries to speak again to the king about the impossibility of Uttar’s single-handed victory, the king slaps him in anger. The facts: It was indeed Brihanalla who was actually Arjuna in disguise who helped fend off the enemy. The courtier was none other than Yudhishthira, the follower of Dharma and speaker of truth.

    What we need to learn from this illustration is that we have to be careful in our treatment of the truth. To quote a line from Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone- “The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”

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