Satya: Truthfulness

Satya is the second of the Yamas, following Ahimsa. Satya means truthfulness. Satya means "to speak the truth," yet it is not always desirable to speak the truth on all occasions, for it could harm someone unnecessarily. We have to consider what we say, how we say it, and in what way it could affect others. If speaking the truth has negative consequences for another, then it is better to say nothing.

Kabir and thief

There is a beautiful story of Kabir and a thief.

Kabir, the poet - saint was humming a Doha (a couplet) as he sat weaving in his hut. It is natural for saints to revel in divine thoughts, even while engaged in work.

Suddenly, the front door of his hut was thrown open and there stood a ruffian, "Quick, show me a place to hide, the policeman is after me!" demanded the intruder rather rudely.

Kabir calmly pointed to bales of cotton huddled together and said, "There! There you will be safe!" The intruder hid there.

Now the police man entered the hut and asked "I am trying to nab a thief, I saw him running in this direction. Did you see him?"

Kabir, in his unique style, casually pointed to the bales of cotton. The policeman looked at Kabir's face and thought that Kabir was lost in his own world, like saints are. So he did not take him seriously and left hurriedly.

After sometime, the thief emerged safely from the bales of cotton and confronted Kabir, "You are a saint. You are supposed to protect anyone who takes refuge in you, even if he be a sinner. Why did you reveal my hiding place to the police? What if I had been exposed?"

"My dear friend", Kabir spoke to the robber affectionately. "I spoke the truth, since I was sure that the only truth was capable of protecting you. If I had uttered a lie, it would have landed both of us in trouble. Truth alone saves us in the long run. Falsehood leads to ruin and sorrow."

The thief gave up his wrong ways and became Kabir’s disciple.


Kabir who was follower of truthfulness transformed a thief into his disciple.

Woodcutter's Axe

One day a wood cutter's axe accidentally fell into a river. The poor wood cutter made a good search in the water. But his efforts were in vain. Finally, he burst into tears. Hearing his sobs, God appeared before him. The God disappeared into the river and came up carrying a golden axe. The wood cutter did not accept it. He stated that his axe was not made of gold.

God disappeared and soon returned with a silver axe. The wood cutter again denied that it was his axe.

God once again plunged into the river. It soon reappeared carrying the axe of the wood cutter. The poor man greeted the angel with words of profuse thanks and great joy. God was impressed by the man's honesty.

He presented him with the golden and silver axes in recognition of his truthful nature.