What stays is the Truth, what recedes is the false || Acharya Prashant (2015)

सत्यमेव जयते नानृतं सत्येन पन्था विततो देवयानः  
येनाऽऽक्रमन्त्यृषयो ह्याप्तकामा यत्र तत् सत्यस्य परमं निधानम् ।।

The True prevails, not the untrue; by the True the path is laid out,
the way of the gods, on which the old sages, satisfied in their desires,
proceed to where there is that highest place of the True One.

Mundaka Upanishad (Third Mundaka, First part, Verse 6)

Question: Why does the Upanishadik seer say “Satyamev Jayate”?

Speaker: Satyam ev Jayate. Only the Truth wins. Or, Truth alone wins.” “Ev” means ‘only’. Satya hee jeet ta hai (Only the Truth wins). So the question is: Why did the Upanishad not say, “Satyam Jayate (Truth wins)”? Why did he not say it in this way? What is the significance of “ev”? Why must it be said, “Truth alone wins”?

It has been said so, because the Upanishadik seer knew that we are prone to image formation. Understand this. We see two parties fight. And when two parties are fighting, we have already labeled them, because we carry images. We say, “One is the side of Truth, and the other side is the side of falseness. One is the side of dharma, the other is the side of evil.” That we have decided even before the battle. But life is bigger than the labels that you give to it. Life is beyond our limited comprehension.

It is quite possible that the side that you have called as ‘evil’ would win. Now this will create a great problem for you, because you have decided in advance that which is the Truth party and which is the false party. Now the false party has won. What to do? Your shallow faith would stand shaken. You would say, “No. Upanishads; the very word of Truth. They said, ‘Truth wins,’ but I am seeing the false win.” Hence it is quite significant that it must be said, “Satyam ev Jayate.”

If it is winning it is the Truth. If it is winning it is the Truth. Only the Truth wins. So whatever is winning, is the Truth.

Please understand this. Now you have nowhere to hide; now you cannot say that the seer was mistaken. The seer is saying, “It doesn’t matter who wins. Only the Truth wins, only the Truth wins. Only the Truth prevails. It doesn’t matter what you have thought of as the Truth. Your thoughts do not matter. What matters is, the fact. Go to the fact, see what is really happening.”


The really happening is, the really winning. See what is really happening. That which is really happening, really -really happening, will lead you to the Truth. Are you getting it? Equally significant is the question: What is meant by ‘Jayate‘, what is meant by winning? Without answering that question, we cannot understand the significance of ‘ev (only)’.

When in our normal parlance, do we call something as ‘a victory’? We call something as ‘a victory’ when the challenger has been vanquished, he is no more, he has been finished, and the victor has sustained. That is the definition of victory, right? The opposing party has been finished, and the winning party has continued and sustained. That is what we call as ‘victory‘, right? So that which continues, that which sustains, is – the victory. That is the reason why final test of Truth is, nityataa, eternity. It must sustain. Challenges will come in between, but those challenges will die down. Truth alone will prevail, and persist, and continue. And it will continue even beyond time. Hence we cannot even say, “It continues.”

Continuing within time, is a small thing. Truth is that which continues even after time ceases to continue. That is the definition of nityataa. Do you get this? Who is the defeated party? The defeated party is the one who has a definite time-span. The defeated party is the one who has a definite time-span, and at the end of that time-span it is killed, finished. So it is a defeat. Now you are no more.

When a warrior is killed, then he is no more, and he is called ‘defeated’. So that is the definition of ‘defeat’. If you are somebody who will end, then your very being is a defeat. Or if you are something that will exist only as long as existence, or if you are somebody whose time-span is only as wide as time itself, then too it is a defeat. Because time too comes to an end. Time had a beginning and time will have an end.

Truth is that which really-really sustains, which was there before time, which is there as the basis of time, and which will be there even after time. That is the definition of ‘Truth’, and that is the definition of ‘Victory’. “I alone prevail,” that is the definition of Truth and Victory, both. Are you getting it?

Now that which will really prevail, you would have never betted upon it to prevail. You will always think that other things are permanent. You fall in love with a woman, and what do you tell her? You tell her, “Time will never be able to separate us.” Or if you are little more realistic, then you will say, “Till death do us part.” You try to imagine permanence in things that are actually not permanent, which means that you try to think of those things as victorious which are actually already defeated. We have said, “To end, to come to a full stop, is defeat. And to be everlasting, nitya, is victory.”

Man’s limitation is that he really does not know that which is actually permanent, beyond time. And instead, he tries to attribute permanence to other trivial things. He collects wealth, thinking that wealth would stay with him. So the saints have to repeatedly remind him, “This is not going to go with you.” We have already taken the example of carnal attraction, or kids. You try to assume a certain permanence there, which is never there.

Even your body. Many of us are so body-identified that we have raised scriptures, which imagine a scenario in which we are walking into the other world, in our bodily form. Have you not read stories that – “After death he reaches the gate of heaven, and he knocks there”? Now obviously if you are knocking, then you are knocking with your hands. So what have you been told? That even after death, your body will sustain. Do you see the conspiracy?

“After death, when he reached Yamraaj (Lord of Death), Yamraaj asked him, ‘Tell me about my virtues and vices, paap and punya‘.” Now the fellow is talking to Yamraaj. Obviously if he is speaking, he must be speaking with his throat. So you are insisting that the body is there, even after the death. You are trying to attribute permanence to the body, which body cannot have.

Man will always think of falseness as Truth, of the limited as Unlimited, of the ending as Everlasting. Hence, it is very important that the Upanishadik Rishi has wisely said, “Satyam-ev Jayate.” You would never know the Truth. You only know the false. And you can even label false as Truth, that’s what you keep doing. So when the false is defeated, you will receive a mighty shock. You will not say that you were mistaken, you were mistaken, and you were supporting the wrong party. What will you say? You will say, “Oh! My God. This is probably Kali Yuga (Age of vice). See, the Truth has been defeated.”

Understand this. You will witness falseness being defeated, but you have labeled falseness as Truth. Now you will not admit that you were mistaken. You will not admit that it was falseness that you have been supporting, and it is but natural that falseness will be defeated. You will say, “This surely must be Kali Yuga. See the Truth has been defeated. What is certain is, that falseness is Truth, because I labeled it as Truth. Now I labeled it as Truth, and it has been defeated, so this must be a very chaotic age. And I need not have any faith in the Truth now, because the Truth has been defeated.”

The Rishi is telling you,”If it is being defeated, if it is being defeated, then it is not the Truth.” In fact, an equally useful, actually more useful statement would be, “If it is being defeated, it is false.”

The statement has been made here by the Upanishadik seer in a sense of affirmation. He is saying, “Truth alone wins.” I would like to make a statement via the negativa, in a sense of negation; not in a sense of affirmation. I would like to say, “The false alone loses,” because it is very difficult for you to see, ultimately who will win, and no victory is final, so you might be mistaken. But it is very possible for you to see who is being defeated. Defeats you are seeing every day, every moment. Hence remember, the false alone loses. If something is losing, it is false. If something is coming to an end, it is false. Do not be surprised when something comes to an end, for it is the nature of all things false, to come to an end.

Are you getting it?

Do not try bad arguments. You fall in love with a woman, and the relationship breaks after sometime. What do you say? You say, “My love was pure, but the situations were such that it could not survive.” Or you say, “My love was pure, but she was not so committed. So it could not survive.” You do not admit that only the false loses, and if your love has lost, then it was a false love. You never admit that, because that hurts the ego.


Whatever comes to an end, comes to an end, only because it is false. Otherwise, it cannot come to an end. Whosoever has ever been defeated, has been defeated, only because he was false. Otherwise, he cannot be defeated. Truth alone wins. And more importantly, the false alone loses. So if you are losing it daily, then know that you are standing in the false. Are you getting it?

You may not know the Truth, and that is alright, because as a limited human being you cannot lay your claim on knowing the Truth. But surely you must know the false, that is far easier. You see destruction around you everyday, don’t you? You see your hopes being defeated, you see your dreams being shattered, and you see your relationships breaking down. Just know that if it is gone, it is gone because it was false. That will bring peace to you. Nothing ever goes away for any other reason; it goes away only because it is false.

Do not complain against existence. What you have lost, was anyway false. Why complain now? What you have lost, was anyway false. And if you have a problem in knowing whether it is false or not, just use this test. “Is it going to come to an end?” And don’t leave it to imagination.

See that it is coming to an end, daily, every moment. Because if you just leave it to imagination, and ask yourself, “Is it going to come to an end in the future?” your mind may deceive you. Your mind will tell you, “No, no. It is never going to come to an end. It is eternal.” Realize that it is ending daily, that there is a defeat daily.

And when you realize false as ‘false’, the Truth has already dawned.

Watch the session at: What stays is the Truth, what recedes is the false The transcription has been edited for clarity.

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