Pleasant Fake vs. Harsh Reality – Ancient Edict of Manu & Today’s America


Tales from a very ancient past tell us about a great flood that swamped the previous civilization. That must have been an enormous flood because references to such a flood are found in many countries around the world. The earliest & most detailed tale comes from India which contains the largest & most geologically volatile collection of snow in the highest mountain range in the world. Because of that mammoth collection of snow, the mountain range is called Him-Aalaya or literally the reservoir of snow (Hima).

According to several ancient Indian texts, a man named Manu saved a baby fish who remembered Manu’s kind act. The fish, who grew into a huge horned whale, returned to warn Manu of an impending flood. Manu built a boat and securely tied it with ropes to the horn of the whale. The whale swam above the flood and took Manu and seven famous sages to safety.


              (Whale leading boat wth Manu & 7 sages)                        (Whale of Manu – 9-10th century – British Museum)


Similar tales are found in literature from other parts of the world. What makes Manu’s tale unique is what happened afterwards. Scholars from all over went to see Manu to learn about the pre-flood society. What Manu told them has been preserved in a text appropriately termed Manu-Smruti or the Memoir of Manu. It is an amazing text that describes the state, the customs and ethics of society of that pre-historic time.

The tale of Manu is also unique because men to this day are called descendants of Manu in Sanskrut and, more generally in Indo-European languages. Just as descendants of Raghu are called Raghav, descendants of Sindhu are called Sindhav, all the human beings in the world, the descendants of Manu, are called Manav.

Getting back to Manu-Smruti, this week’s media storm about President Trump reminded us of a famous edict for leaders that was laid down by the ancient Manu in his memoir, Manu-Smruti:

  • सत्यम् ब्रूयात प्रियम् ब्रूयात अप्रियम् सत्यम्  मा ब्रूयात – Speak (bruyat) Truth (satyam); Speak Pleasant [that pleases] (priyam); Do Not Speak Unpleasant (a-priyam) Truth (satyam)

That ancient edict remains so true even today and not just in Manu’s India but in the richest, strongest & most educated country on earth. This week President Trump voiced a thought that is the central question in America’s attempt to reform immigration – whether today’s America needs to focus on immigration that brings  necessary & ready talent into America or should America continue to focus on humanitarian immigration that brings poor & destitute people into America.

President Trump had made this a central theme of his candidacy. His ideas were simple & straight – our immigration policy today forces Science & Engineering Ph.D.s from MIT, Stanford & other Universities to leave the country or stay in a limbo for many years in a US economy that is starved of talent while allowing in poor mostly non-highly-educated immigrants who compete for jobs with lower middle class & poor US citizens. This led President Trump to ask a simple question in his meeting – why does American policy allow so many immigrants from poor, generally low-education & under-developed countries?

The above choice is a topic on which many luminaries have spoken publicly, including Michael Bloomberg, Jamie Dimon and leading politicians from Democrat & Republican parties.

The difference is that these luminaries spoke in softer, rational-sounding phrases while President Trump’s question was voiced in unpleasant harsh reality. Actually the term attributed to President Trump was highly insulting to the countries involved & their people. Having said that, we have heard worse in more private & even public comments all over America. The term “Hell-hole” has been commonly used for poor, under-developed countries in American discourse and even on American TV.

Perhaps, the term S***-hole is far far worse than Hell-hole, at least for TV anchors on ABC, CBS, NBC & CNN. May be that is why desperate Trump-hating mediaratti attacked President Trump with unbridled ferocity for his S***-hole term.

Such attacks may actually be sound political strategy. Today’s Democrat party & its TV backers have nothing to show to the American people. They have not pushed for any legislative ideas that can improve the lives of American working families. In contrast, President Trump has passed his Tax Cut bill. If the people see this tax cut helping them, then it could be a sorry November 2018 for Democrats.

So they are concentrating their fire on the personality of President Trump and arguing that makes him unfit to be President. This is not a totally dumb strategy. The Democrat urban & suburban base is made up of college-educated people and of people who approve of college-educated ways of speaking on TV. They are repelled by the Trump style of speaking.

Will this undiluted focus on President Trump’s style prove successful in November 2018? Or will President Trump be able to sell what he has achieved despite total non-cooperation from Democrats? Will he able to sell his authentic nature and demonstrate doing is much more important & beneficial to America than fake pleasant speech?

How will minority working families look at President Trump in November 2018? Will they think well of him because of the bonuses given to employees by US corporations following his Tax Cut? Will they see his focus on bringing US corporations back to America from foreign lands? Or will they vote against him because of his realistic but unduly harsh words?

Effective action with Blunt Unpleasant Talk or Fake Pleasant talk with No action – That is the choice today. What America chooses will end up deciding America’s future.


*Most husbands we know would look back wistfully to Manu’s era mainly because of one definition or description Manu used in his Memoir Manu-Smruti – सा भार्या या प्रियम् ब्रूयते   – She is the Wife who speaks pleasantly/endearingly with her husband. Has society & marriage changed so much or was Manu simply engaging in pleasant fake speech?


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  1. Crude language from head -of-state is something a lot of us find inappropriate. The president has been malleable regarding immigration and maybe something positive could have come out of it. (Maybe it still can). Now he has managed to muddy the waters. So unless one is simply fond of people who greet the world with a one-finger salute, it’s hard to find anything good with the deplorable expression.

    1. That is the polarization in the country – on one hand, people like u abhor crude language from head of state on the other hand, you have many others who welcome frank & candid descriptions which are true. Also many believe previous heads-of-state have used worse language which wasnt quoted; Pres Clinton was reputed to have volcanic temper & used language that media never reported

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