Friday, June 23, 2006

Truth and Opinion

Letter to the Editor: and cc to

Truth and Opinion
Respected Sir,

I am from Hyderabad (and earlier from Chennai). But every time I come to Bangalore I pick up VT (Vijay Times) knowing that it is a popular new paper already. I am back in Bangalore, as a Visiting Professor to teach a course on Ethics at SAIACS (South Asia Institute of Advanced Christian Studies) and have been reading VT again and have realized one of the reasons for your success: You allow Free Interaction, Discussion, and Debate and thus honour the commitment to the good principle of “responsible freedom of expression.” Hats off (salaam) to you.
I am writing in response to PN Benjamin’s article in the Opinion page (Redefine old pedestals of religion and fundamentalism, 14th June) a letter in the Letters to the Editor column (Truth is in Life and Being by GR Ramnathan, 14th June, which refers to another letter published on the 12th). I agree with a whole lot of stuff in both these entrees. But I would like to express my views/thoughts on “Truth & Opinion.” I think that each of us is free to hold any opinion on any matter or believe anything that we want to believe. But our beliefs and opinions need not necessarily be true. So we should honour/respect people as people, because each person is created by the same Creator God with intrinsic worth and dignity and of course freedom of choice, in divine likeness, as the Bible teaches. So when I meet people who believe differently or hold different views than the views I hold, I would not just tolerate (in my view a negative attitude – saying ‘well, your views are different and not good enough, but I still tolerate you’) but rather positively respect them and their freedom. One way I express that respect is by entering into a discussion or dialogue or debate, knowing that 1) they are intelligent, capable of reasoning, and 2) truth matters (in the ultimate sense – Satyame va jeyathe, meaning ‘the truth shall triumph’).
I think that we should take truth seriously in all areas of our life, including the religious sphere, know the truth, and live by it. On this I agree with Mr. GB Ramanathan. I also agree with Mr. PN Benjamin that the best thing to do in response to a book like Da Vinci Code (and the movie) is not to demand a ban on it, but rather study it carefully, analyse it, examine it, and find out the truth. When I did that I found out that it is contradictory (and hence not acceptable) for Dan Brown (and the Publishers of course) to classify his writing as ‘fiction’ and also to put the claim on page one (titled ‘FACT’) that it is all based on facts. The fact or truth is that most of the things that Dan Brown says about Jesus Christ, Mary Magdalene, Early Christianity, Secret Societies, Leonardo Da Vinci, the Bible, the Gnostic Gospels, Constantine, etc., are out-right false or inaccurate. I have read scholarly works that have listed (and shown with proofs) many historical errors. May we all have the desire to know the truth, like our ancestors (who prayed, Asathoma Sdadgamaya, Thamasoma Jyothirgamaya, Mrithyorma Amrithangamaya, meaning, “lead us from untruth to truth, from darkness to light, and death to life or immortality”), know the truth, and enjoy the freedom and liberty that truth brings into our lives.
Many thanks to VT again for this wonderful freedom to express, dialogue, discuss, and debate in a healthy and respectful manner.
Sudhakar Mondithoka,

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