Here is another quote from Swami Prabhavananda The Spiritual Heritage of India (1962; from a section on the Ramayana and Rama) concerning truth:

This extreme devotion to truth is to be understood in the light of the characteristic Hindu belief that it is this quality by which God himself is chiefly known. God is, above all, truth [...] All other crimes can be forgiven, for they represent faults that can be overcome, but not so untruthfulness. This alone, for the Hindu, is the unpardonable sin.

Is this undisputed and if so, how does it bear out in contemporary India, e.g. its the state's code of law or in what one could witness in daily life?

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    @Keshav -satyam bhruyat priyam bhruyat na bhruyat satyam apriyam priyam ca nanrutam bhruyat esha dharmah sanatanah Speak truth in such a way that it should be pleasing to others. Never speak truth, which is unpleasant to others. Never speak untruth, which might be pleasant. This is the essense of sanatana dharma.
    – user808
    Jun 21, 2015 at 20:09
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    @Krishna Yeah, that Manu Smriti quote is echoed in the Vishnu Purana as well: sacred-texts.com/hin/vp/vp086.htm "Let therefore a wise man ever speak the truth when it is agreeable, and when the truth would inflict pain let him hold his peace. Let him not utter that which, though acceptable, would be detrimental; for it were better to speak that which would be salutary, although it should give exceeding offence. A considerate man will always cultivate, in act, thought, and speech, that which is good for living beings, both in this world and in the next." Jun 21, 2015 at 20:18
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    @Drux Maybe he just means it metaphorically: it's understandable why a Hindu might do other bad things, like he might commit adultery because he's been swayed by the senses, but that the most un-Hindu thing you can do is betray the truth, because that's at the core of what Hinduism is. So in that sense it's the worst "sin" against the idea of being Hindu, even if it's not the literal worst sin in terms of karma and consequences in the afterlife and things like that. Jun 22, 2015 at 6:58
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    Prabhavananda meant it metaphorically, as Keshav says there is no sin that is unpardonable. It is mentioned, however, in other books, that speaking the truth always is the highest austerity in the Kali Yuga. One should speak the truth, but one should not speak a harsh truth. A harsh truth is a truth that will cause bad feelings or cause someone to take bad actions. But don't lie. Jun 23, 2015 at 5:17
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    And as Krishna says in the Gita (IV. 36.) "Even if you are the most sinful of sinners, yet by the raft of Knowledge alone will you be borne over all sin." Knowledge with a capital K meaning the realization of the Eternal One. Jun 23, 2015 at 5:21

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From Tulsidas' Sri Ramacharitamanas

In Ayodhya Kand; when planning for her two infamous boons, Kaikeyi showed her displeasure to Dashratha. Then Dashratha said this to Kaikeyi, to assure her that he won't depart from his words of fulfilling her wish as no sin is as severe as untruthfulness (here).

Even a multitude of sins cannot be matched with a lie.

Is Untruthfulness unpardonable?

No. As Shri Rama Himself said in Sundar Kand when asking Sugriv to bring Vibhishan directly to Him with due respect (here),

I will not abandon even the murderer of myriads of Bråhmanas, if he seeks refuge in Me. The moment a creature turns its face towards Me the sins incurred by it through millions of lives are washed away. A sinner by his very nature is averse to My worship. Had Vibhishana been wicked at heart, could he ever dare to approach Me?

Hope this answers your question.


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