Saturday, April 07, 2007
Source of Satyameva Jayate
Yesterday afternoon, I was standing on the street kerb in front of my house, enjoying a smoke, and looking at the tile with the bird image on the gate post (the same as the one on this blog’s mast-head). On the telephone cable passing along the house were two sparrows. From high above on the blooming radha-chura tree in front of the house came the ceaseless tuk-tuk-tuk of the coppersmith. And from a few houses away came the entrancing call of the caged cuckoo.
Looking at the two sparrows, I recalled the verse “two birds sitting on a tree …” I vaguely knew this was from the Upanishads. I went back indoors, and later went to the internet to find the exact verse. I found this very soon, in English translation; it was from the Mundaka Upanishad, and was also repeated in the Svetasvatara Upanishad.
I wanted to get the original Sanskrit verses, I thought I might try to set this to melody. I found that too soon enough. But as I was rapidly scanning the Sanskrit verses of the Mundaka, I came upon “satyameva jayate…” (3.1.6). Extraordinary! This was a great chance discovery!
Quite some time back, I had written a post on Satyameva jayate, the Indian national credo, which means “truth alone is victorious”. Hence searches on satyameva jayate showed up my post, as my sitemeter’s analyses showed me. But there had been several searches from time to time on where this phrase was originally from, which edict it appeared on. I was not aware of the origins of the Indian national credo. I presumed it was simply a phrase in Sanskrit, with the meaning expressing the goal set for the new republic.
But as I now discovered, thanks to the two sparrows on the wire, the national credo was from the Mundaka Upanishad. A concluding verse of this Upanishad declares that its aim is to make man attain Self-Knowledge. “Munda” means head; hence the name indicates that this Upanishad is the Head of all Upanishads.
सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं
सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः
यत्र तत् सत्यस्य परमं निधानम्
satyameva jayate naanritam
satyena pantha vitato devayanah
yenaa kramantyarishayo hyaaptakaamaa
yatra tat satyasya paramam nidhaanam
Only truth prevails, not untruth; by the path of truth is laid out, the Divine way, on which the sages of yore, fulfilled in their desires, attain the supreme treasure of Truth.
A precious education in citizenship for this child of India.