Satya is a Sanskrit term meaning truth or correct. But in Jainism it has a more subtle meaning. Jainism defines Satya as harmless truth or we can say those words that are true or correct and importantly, do not harm or hurt any living being. So utmost care must be taken in speaking. The implication of this vow is extended to prohibition of following:
- Spreading rumors and false doctrines.
- Betraying confidences.
- Gossip and backbiting.
- Falsifying documents.
- Breach of trust.
- Denial of the existence of the things, which do exist.
- Assertion of the existence of non-existent things.
- Giving false information about the position, time and nature of things.
One's speech should be pleasant, beneficial, true and unhurtful to others. It should aim at moderation rather than exaggeration, esteem rather than denigration, at distinction rather than vulgarity of expression, and should be thoughtful and expressive of sacred truths. All unthruths necessarily involve violence.
One should protect the vow of truthfulness by avoiding thoughtless speech, anger, greed, putting others in fear. The idea is to overcome greed, fear, anger, jealousy, ego, frivolity, etc., which are considered breeding grounds of falsehood. Only a person who has controlled these emotions and desires has the moral strength to speak the truth at all times. However, in keeping with the principle of non-violence in speech, if a truth is likely to cause pain, sadness, anger or the death of any living creature, then a Jain is advised to remain silent.