Rig Veda 1.164.46c states as an axiom, "Truth is one; the wise call it by many names." Is this the plain narration of a fact, or a meta-narrative, which engages in legitimizing that fact? If it is the latter, why does it legitimize the many names, by qualifying those who do it as wise people? How does it become wisdom to name the one truth by diverse names? What are the purpose and criterion, by which the Vedic sage presumes to make such authoritative statements? I think the basic purpose of the presumed authority of the Vedic author of the statement was his will to social peace and harmony as the normative working principle and criterion of the function of authentic faith and religion. He was realistic enough to recognize the inevitability of ethno-religious diversity, but he was also intuitive enough to perceive the unity of analogy underlying all the confusing diversity. Thus, this became his alternative mantra to the vision of America, which its founding fathers famously formulated as ‘Et pluribus unum.’
How the One Truth gets Diverse Names
To account for this phenomenon, we shall have to consider two experiential analogies. Let us first observe what a straight rod looks like when it is placed in a see-through glass-jar of clear water. In the medium of the air we breathe, the rod looks straight. However, from the point of its contact with water, it looks crooked, fractured or broken. The rod remains one and the same; the observers are also the same; only the media, through which we view the rod, have changed and become two, instead of one. The change or difference in the medium makes the same rod look like two different rods.