Satya – the Search for Truth

satya, giving selfless service to students on 200 hour yoga teacher training rishikesh


Gandhi held that his dharma (path) was satya and ahimsa – truth and non-violence. Satya is the second vow found in the yamas (the first limb of ashtanga yoga, as prescribed by Patanjali), and is translated as truthfulness.  

When the sadhaka is firmly established in the practice of truth, his words become so potent that whatever he says comes to realization. II:36

Iyengars commentary on this sutra focuses on the sadhaka or spiritual aspirants’ true dedication to the practice of truthfulness. He writes: ‘if we say ‘I will never eat chocolates again’, as long as one cell of our body holds back and disagrees with the others, our success is not assured. If the stated intention is totally whole-hearted, not one cell dissembling, then we create the reality we desire’ (Iyengar,150, 1993).

For Iyengar, truth must occur at the cellular level, and only then will words manifest into outcomes. People often like to stand for something, protest against injustices, campaign for peace etc. But first, we must find truth within. Reacting against exterior situations, when you have not reconciled with yourself, will lead to nothing but violence (on the inside as well as on the outside)

Where there is peace, there is truth. Ahimsa and satya are interwoven. Gandhi believed, that in order for one to realise truth, one must find truth through love. And the greatest manifestation of love is expressed through non-violence. Love it seems, is the cornerstone for all practice, the root of all experience. It is selfless. Thus, the search for truth and love, is to be found through the action of selfless service.

This suggests the understanding of satya as a practice. Truth is something to be worked towards (this is not a statement or view regarding the objective or subjective nature of truth). The seeker must walk the path of love, selfless service and non-violence (which are all the same). One must have convictions strong enough to penetrate every part of their body and live through those convictions. It is only then that words become reality.

For information on our yoga courses and teacher training certifications, where you will delve into the philosophy of the yoga practice, please see the relevant pages: 

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