Is Truth Always Absolute?

We know the truth is the opposite of a lie. The truth is transparent. It is clear like the daylight cutting through all the confusion to rip open the heart and make things apparent. They seem as a breath of fresh air, a manna from heaven. It has angelic qualities as dharma is always with the truth. Truth is absolute in the Mahabharata. We know Krishna as the absolute truth as he is always on the side of Dharma. In the Ramayana, in a conversation with Vibhishana, the mighty Kumbhakarna debates the meaning of truth. We see Vibhishana say categorically that the truth is absolute and singular as it is one. Kumbhakarna, on the other hand, retorts that the meaning of truth has changed from yoga to yoga and people interpret truth in their own way through the prism of their perspectives. He says that the way in which Vibhishana have chosen to help Ram and his army is the same way in which Kumbhakarna sees his dharma and his truth to fight for his brother Ravana, his country and his Jaati.

But is truth really singular or one? It is no more than a mixed bag of various permutations and combinations. Who is responsible for Draupadi’s great harassment in the Mahabharata? Is it Duryodhana who orders Dushasana to fetch Draupadi in the middle of the sabha and undress her? Or is it Yudhishthira who broke the dharma of considering his wife as part of his property and, thus, trading her in a game of dice? Maybe it was Shakuni who manipulated the dice game to make sure Duryodhana wins. It could be one of them or all of them. Truth, here, is not absolute at all. The truth is more like a puzzle.

The judicial system uses lie detector tests to find out if a defendant or criminal is lying. Courts take sworn affidavits as playoffs. The lawyers always ask you to answer questions only with a yes or a no so as not to smudge the truth with as it is ambiguous.

Another example of seeking the truth is that of the great O.J. Simpson murder trial that so much captivated the American public for over two decades. The truth was not about O.J. getting off scout free but most people did not agree with the verdict of not guilty. Things caught up in the race issue and the negligence shown by people taking the blood samples. Then again, Nicole Brown Simpson’s relationship with O.J. and Ronald Goldman got a lot of attention. It was a media circus with truth shuffling from one corner to the other corner. Both sides were armed with evidence to counter the other, both were with a battery of the best lawyers money could buy. Yet, truth seems to elude the process and what immerses is a lack of faith in the system and also the way we perceive truth.

So, if you think the truth is absolute, think again.

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