Truth Be Told, Or Withhold?

“The truth.” Dumbledore sighed. “It is a beautiful and terrible thing, and should therefore be treated with great caution.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

Was watching this really interesting series on TV called Dharmakshetra. Dharma incidentally is one of those words that’s the most difficult to define. It’s duty, truth, wisdom, knowledge, beauty, your conduct, a way of living, righteousness, the cosmic law and order and so on. It’s the universal truth that is encompassed in that one word and there’s no single word definition or translation in English really. And kshetra is a place, a venue, a battleground, a chapter, a field, etc.

India’s ancient Hindu epic called the Mahabharata is in my humble opinion the greatest text ever written by anyone anywhere in the world at any time in human history. It’s an enriching tapestry of characters, stories, human foibles, weaknesses, that is vibrant, vivid and relevant even today. Reading it is actually a study in human psychology. It’s also a deep inquiry into questions that always plague us:
who am I?
why am I here?
what should I do in any situation?
is my action right or wrong?
am I a good person?
is comparison good?
can I jump to conclusions?
how should I direct my actions?
how should I live?
why do I feel jealous, insecure, worthless?
what is my duty?
should I listen to call of duty above all else?
is killing your loved ones in war fair?
is everything fair in love and war?
is it okay to keep mum when the most heinous injustice is being committed on your loved one?
is it okay to be sly and cunning if it’s about survival?
is it not human to be greedy and covetous?
what does it mean to forgive? can one forgive one’s own mother when she’s been really lousy and mean to you?
what are the pitfalls of blinding love?
what does “love is blind” really mean?
can a woman who is a wife of 5 men be called a whore?
can you wager a person, even your own wife in a gamble?
what does loyalty mean?
is loyalty above and beyond even the relationship of mother to her son?

The questions are infinite. And the entire series is about how each of the key protagonist is questioned about their decisions at various pivotal points in the epic. These are questions that plague everyone who has read the grandiloquent text. And the answers are up to every reader to interpret and that’s the clever intricacy and intrigue of this epic. Bringing into play every facet of human character that you can think of.

But the answers? The answers to questions that we each ask. Of ourselves, to others and to the Universe. Tell me O Lord, why is this happening to me? Why did I lose in love? Why did she dump me and marry someone else especially after I’d bought the solitaire? Why oh why do I feel the need to thwack someone on the road due to road rage despite all my meditation practice? Why does self-doubt creep up unsolicited just when you’re about to strike a good deal? When will I find the epitome of success? What is success and is my definition correct? Why can’t I be like Kate Middleton or Matt Damon or George Clooney or the Dalai Lama?

Well, sometimes there are just no answers. Sometimes the answers are too painful to hear. Sometimes you can’t just explain your feeling away with a shrug and a cocked eyebrow. And sometimes you can’t and don’t want to hear the answer. Because truth be told, while it can set you free, can also piss you off (like Gloria Steinem said). After all no one ever said the truth is easy to hear, easy to bear, easy to withhold or be told. So? Truth be told or withhold? What’s your answer?