Tuesday, January 19, 2010





Silence, in Sanskrit, is defined as ‘maunam’ which means ‘the way of the munis, or, the way of the great saints.

We all use the power of speech and much has been written about it. But, the power of silence is much less explored and much less used.

When we talk with the mouth and hear with the ears, our power of speech is at work. 

When we don’t hear any tangible sound with the ears, we feel we are experiencing silence. 

When we do not talk with our mouth, we feel, we are silent.


This is silence of the senses, of the mouth and the ears.

This silence is of the world and is external to us.
Most people are frightened by the possibility of prolonged non usage of the speech faculty by them and towards them. If you don't talk...or, if no one talks to you... Your connection with the world seems to be  cut off.  You will tend to feel acutely lonely. This loneliness creates fear, depression and frustration.


In recent years, when youngsters do not talk to elders, many elders feel this loneliness. The old age homes provide them home and also company of similarly placed people to talk to and listen to.

When Youngsters are avoided or left out by other youngsters (of their generation),they also feel lonely much more. They feel ‘rejected’ by the world. Many such youngsters get into depression and a few attempt suicide.
This is the result of a huge, compulsive, gregarious or herd-like mind set in us. We want to speak to and be spoken to  often.

This process is re-assuring to us that we are alive and in our group. When placed in the midst of a population not speaking our language, our power of speech is suddenly taken away from us. We try our might to learn the language of the people around and speak to them and get spoken to by them, as early as we can.

We eulogize the power of the word, which seems to rule all human beings. The absence of the spoken word in our life creates a huge silence.

When we say, in the beginning was the word, (Sabda or Naadha in Sanskrit) , we actually mean this spoken word. There was no written word initially. Scripts came much later.

The word and the sound belong to the five senses and the mind. It does not exist beyond the senses and the mind - for all practical, human purposes.

Disable the ear, and the whole world falls into silence for you.

Disable the tongue, your speech faculty is gone.

The absence of the spoken word therefore creates a void for the five senses and the mind. The experience of this void, even in a small measure, is unbearable for most people.


But, we do use this ‘external’ kind of silence of the mouth and the ear, very effectively and usefully in our lives, on many occasions.

This silence can be used to avoid or mitigate quarrels. Silence can be used, with empathy, to listen to others’ problems, difficulties and woes and reduce their suffering. 

Many people are incapable of listening to others’ woes with empathy. Instead, when the suffering person begins to narrate his woes, the listening person immediately opens his mouth and goes into a speech of his own. 

Whoever can listen in effective silence with empathy emerges as the savior of the sufferers, even if all that he does is listening. Silence is thus used to understand the world at large and human society in particular. 

Silence can be used to enhance our learning capabilities and concentration skills. We do choose a silent place and silent atmosphere for any serious learning objective. There are many such uses of even the external silence of the ears and the mouth.

But, the great saints have broken these barriers and shackles of the word and the sound. The internal silence that they reach after conquering the external silence is unique in awakening the divinity and the huge reservoir of  inner powers in us.

We can all observe the fact that the best of prose evolves into poetry, the best of poetry into song, the best of songs into prayer, the best of prayer into meditation, and the best of meditation into silence. It is a continuum. Most people know and practice up to the level of prayer. This is the limit up to which the senses and the mind permit the human being to achieve ordinarily.


To transcend this limit and go to the level of meditation and inner silence, we need to unshackle ourselves from all sense stimuli including the word and the sound. For this, sages usually advise solitude and silence. Most meditation Gurus use these two parameters to teach deeper levels of meditation to their disciples.


We must use solitude and silence initially to get into meditation. Choose a convenient place satisfying these two criteria.

Slowly, we can transcend them and get into meditation in any other place.


What are the first steps in meditation? Choose a place as described above and sit on a slightly raised platform so that insects and other living creatures do not disturb you. Lord Krishna, the Greatest exponent of Yoga advises in his Gita - sit on a slightly raised plat form; put a mat of Kusa grass on it, a deer skin and a clean cloth one on top of the other on it - and then, sit on it - for your meditation. Krishna tells us many important tips for effective meditation.

Sit comfortably on the same, in any posture which is convenient for you to sit for the duration of the meditation. Then, relax yourself bodily and mentally. this is important. Close the eyes. Actually, what is essential is the total relaxation of the eyes and not total closing. To start with, closing is a good practice.

If you don’t get Kusa grass, deer skin etc, it doesn’t matter. Make the sitting place, a clean, insect-free place. The platform must not be too high or too small to sit. After some practice, any place can become fit for Meditation.

Relax the whole body and then the mind. Withdraw slowly from the external stimuli. This will happen automatically, but slowly. The first timer for meditation need not unduly worry about it. Avoid all worry, whatever happens.


Just watch the thoughts passing through your mind. Do not try to create any new thoughts by your effort, nor suppress thoughts that are arising on their own. Mind does create thoughts all the time.

Do not worry about these thoughts. Just watch them. Do not run after these thoughts. If you do without your will, do not worry, just come back effortlessly and watch again. Be a silent watcher. Be your own witness.

The thoughts will come down soon. Sit in meditation for half an hour. Do not strain your self, do not worry whatever happens in meditation, keep relaxed, allow things to happen. Just allow. Do not resist. Be a watcher all the time.


There are many ways of meditation. Being a silent watcher is one. Being a watcher of your own breath is another. There are many others for the beginner. All of them lead to the same result.

In meditation, first, all the five senses become quiet slowly, then the mind becomes quiet, the thoughts die down slowly, and then, a strange peace descends into us. The calmness that we experience for the first time takes us into further depths of this inner silence. It comes - gradually.


Some sages call it the no-mind state. We are intensely aware and awake but devoid of all thoughts and all sensory outputs. In place of the mind, a new awakening takes place. Suddenly, many things start becoming clearer. Yet, there is silence, there are no thought processes, nothing to think about or worry about. Nothing matters. The power and beauty of this inner silence is phenomenal.

When we sit in meditation, we may experience this inner silence in small breaks, in small moments, but, regular meditators will start experiencing these silent moments more and more. The state of “Samadhi” or deep enlightenment through the process of meditation and inner silence is the goal of yogis.


Have you ever wondered why all great yogis are also the most joyous persons? It is because of the infinite power of this inner silence in them. It is some thing to be experienced and not merely written about or read. We say, in the beginning was the word; Very true; but, in the beginning was this inner silence as well, which punctuated the word. 

Word is - the speed-breaker on the path of this inner silence. It is intermittent. Silence is all over.

We experience the power of the word. But, do we experience the power of the inner silence? All secrets are hidden in this Silence.

I urge the readers to take on this journey of Silence; of meditation and start experiencing the power of inner silence; this is the ultimate experience that there is in all creation.

= Yours


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1 comment:

  1. THANKYOU so much for posting this. can i share ur personell email id with me. or mail me at srikanthdra@gmail.com .