Western Moral Story

My old time friend Sunil Babbar, who is very active on social media, sometimes sends very meaningful posts of lasting value, like the one he sent today on the legend around truth and lie.

In nutshell, the folklore goes around the meeting between the Truth and the Lie one day and the Lie telling the truth about that being a nice day. Though sceptical of taking the Lie’s claim on the face value, the Truth herself looks at the sky and finds it to be a beautiful day indeed! After that they reach a well and the Lie suggests that they should take a bath together. They undress and enter into the water. The Lie comes out of the water, puts on the clothes of the truth, carries her clothes to be disposed of and runs away. Truth comes out and searches the Lie everywhere. The World, seeing the Truth naked, turns its gaze away, with contempt and rage. The poor Truth returns to the well and disappears forever, hiding therein, in shame. Since then, the Lie travels around the world, dressed as the Truth, satisfying the needs of society, because, the World, in any case, harbors no wish at all to meet the naked Truth. There’s also the world-famous painting- “The Truth coming out of the well” by Jean-Léon Gérôme, 1896, which is considered a classic.

It’s a simple fact woven beautifully in a simplistic story and immediately reminds one of our own folklore – stories from Panchatantra that were simplistic and yet had a deep moral message at the end. Whether it’s grapes are sour or unity is strength, we have all grown up imbibing wisdom from these folklores.

However, there’s one clear difference between Western legends and myths and our own folklore. Our folklores always end on a positive note to drive home the message. It’s always about the victory of the truth over the evil or good over the bad! In the above story, there’s no option given to the poor Truth to ever come out of the symbolic well and expose the Lie! The Lie dressed up as the Truth seems to be eternal!

If it were a Panchatantra story, a virtuous Prince would have come and stopped by the well, where he would have noticed the naked Truth. He would immediately give his shawl to cover her up, take her out and accompany her in search of the Lie. After a short war, the virtuous prince would kill the Lie, married the Truth and rule the world truthfully like Ramrajya.

Thanks Babbar sir for sharing such priceless nuggets that provide me with an opportunity to share such good thoughts with my readers.

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