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Towards Inner Harmony: Principles Governing Control Over The Tongue

Published: 11.05.2004
Updated: 02.07.2015

A student of philosophy asked, "What is the most important thing in life? Is not awareness of the highest importance? I think it is the most valuable because all other values are established through awareness. The world is all consciousness; and from that originate all values. Without consciousness, without awareness, there can be no values.”

I kept silent for a moment. To agree or to disagree with him seemed pointless. Sometimes questions are asked which one cannot accept or reject. I, therefore, said, "I do not quite agree with what you say, nor do I disagree. It cannot be said that consciousness is most valuable. We discuss all other values in relation to consciousness. In the inanimate world, there is no such discussion. There is no awareness of any values there, so the question of discussing them does not arise. No values exist in the unconscious world; there is no doctrine, and no discussion. Doctrines exist only in the world of consciousness. That is why consciousness has been considered the greatest value, which is quite logical. Yet, from the point of view of the whole, this logical conclusion is somewhat faulty. Consciousness is silent, wordless; it is limited to itself without any extension or development. The world of consciousness is a limited world. There is no room in it for development. All extension in the world has occurred because of language. Without language, our world would be extremely limited. Without the word, there can be no development. The world then contracts to an individual; there is no society, no relationship. The development of society, the extension of relationship takes place through the medium of language. So we can say that the word is the most important thing in the world. The word has created the world. As the Bible says: " in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and all things were created by the Word."

The development of society is the creation of language. Without language, without the word, one man could establish no relationship with another. Without the medium of the word, there would have been no memory, no imagination, no thinking.
These are the three aspects of knowledge

  • memory,
  • imagination and
  • thinking.

All these are dependent upon the word, upon language. Today's psychologists hold that the mind cannot be altogether distinct from the word. The function of the mind is to remember, to imagine, to think, to meditate. Is there a memory without the word? Can there be any imagination without language, without the word? Is thought possible without language? There can be no memory, no imagination, no thinking away from the word. So, what is the dividing line between the mind and the word or language? In this connection it might be suggestive to observe that language is mind made explicit, and the mind is language muted. When the mind is made explicit, when it starts talking, it is termed as language. When the language is muted, when it falls silent, it is termed as mind. However great a learned man may be, however transcendental a seer, without language, he will be of little use to the world. The same is true of even fully emancipated and enlightened souls. A person who has achieved the ultimate realisation may be silent. He knows everything but he cannot communicate his knowledge to others. He is of little help to the world. It is said of a muni that he himself is free and he also delivers others from bondage. Not only does he resolve his own problems, but he also helps others to resolve theirs. All this is possible through the medium of the language. Without language it would be simply impossible. Deprived of language, he may himself be free, but he cannot bring freedom to others.

There are three kinds of people.

There was a king who needed a servant He called a number of people to his palace to test their ability. He needed an attendant and it was necessary to hold a test to select the most suitable person. Many people presented themselves. He asked three of them to stay, dismissing the rest. To these three candidates he presented a problem. He said, "If per chance, your beard and mine catch fire at the same time, what would you do?" The first of them immediately said, "Sir! I'll extinguish the fire in your beard, without any regard for mine." The second one said, "Your Majesty, I'll quench the fire in my beard first, and then attend to yours." The third one said, "Sir! I'll use one hand to extinguish the fire in your beard, and the other hand to extinguish the fire in mine."

The king commented upon the answers the three men gave him. The first man, he said, is impractical. There is no man in the whole world who, when confronted with personal danger, thinks only of others, without any regard to his own safety. A man who does so is indeed impractical. The man who says something impractical, cannot be depended on. He is not reliable. An ignorant man's talk is always impractical. What he says may be flattering, but in the end he leaves you in the lurch.

The second man is selfish. Such a man cannot do good to anyone. He is ever self-seeking. Always lost in his own pursuits, always thinking of his own advantage. He is incapable of giving thought to another's plight. Such a man is very dangerous.

The third man is practical. He knows the ways of the world; he talks sense. He is neither impractical nor selfish. His life is grounded on tact and wisdom.

So the third man got the appointment.

The man who knows what is good for him, and also knows what is good for others, is practical. He talks sense. His conduct is duly appreciated.

Language too is a medium through which one can do good to oneself and others. Along with its capacity for good, language can do much evil too. Language is thus capable both of good and evil. What language can achieve, is not achievable either through the mind or through the body. So language is the most valuable.

The movement of life involves three facts - the mind, the tongue and the body. The mind comes first, because it manifests consciousness. Then language, and still later the body. Together these constitute the frontiers of living - our whole conduct or thought, whether good or bad, is determined by these. Some ill thought arises in the mind, and if it is limited to the mind alone, one's behaviour is not affected. The thought of beating someone for instance, of slapping or stifling someone. The thought arises in the mind and is limited to the mind alone. No harm is done. The thought arises and then passes away, it finds no entry within. But when this thought manifests itself in language, it remains a secret no more! The frontier stands advanced and one's conduct is influenced. It gives rise to anger and acrimony, and the opponent's brow is clouded. Again if the exhibition is limited to language alone, it produces some tension, but when the body is impelled into action, the situation becomes much more grave. The hand is lifted, slaps are administered, the legs kick. The conflict begins.

The mind, the language and the body - each has its limit. Our behaviour moves within these limits. That is why the mind occupies the first place. If some thought arises in the mind, restrain - yourself, keep it limited to the mind. The best thing, of course, is not to entertain any evil at all, but if some evil does enter the mind, keep it there. Do not let it proceed outward. If the virtue of this is seen, many evils would be nipped in the bud.
But when a man crosses this limit, the situation remains under control no longer; the man's thought becomes known to all the world. As long as thought is confined to the mind, it is something individual but the moment one's thought manifests itself in language, it immediately becomes something social; it remains individual no more. This defines the limits of the individual versus society. When the conduct is limited to the mind, it is individual but when the conduct and behaviour get outside of the mind, they cross the individual limits and enter the social domain.
Speech marks the beginning of society. When thought proceeds from the medium of the language to that of the body, it is further extended. Language represents the power which represents the mind on the one hand, and moves the body on the other. When a man fights someone, it is through language. When he loves, it is also through language. Through language, man wins friends or makes enemies. Language is a great force. Words that escape your lips can turn the man before you into a friend or a foe.

An Indian saw an Englishman drowning and was filled with pity. The Indian knew how to swim. He jumped into the water and brought the Englishman safe to the shore. On reaching the shore, the Englishman expressed his gratitude to his saviour, saying, "Thank you!". The Indian was an illiterate peasant; he knew no English. He interpreted the sound in his own way and thought the Englishman was saying, "Throw me!" Accordingly, he lifted him up and threw him into the water again. All this due to the miracle of language, the magic of the word! At a word, the saviour became the destroyer. The pity enkindled in his heart earlier vanished at a word, giving rise to anger, deep resentment supplanting pity; the Englishman now lay tossing restlessly in the water, the Indian watching him on the shore unmoved!

Strange things are encompassed by language. The whole of human history is grounded thereon. All the knowledge, bound in language, is available in books. All man's achievements have been made possible through language.

Language is accompanied by three powers:

  • the force of the language, itself;
  • the force of feeling; and
  • the force of the vibration produced by the word

Feeling remains in the background; the relationship between it and language is very intimate.

The feeling behind the word determines the nature of action; it colours the very vibrations of the sound. Language cannot be properly understood in isolation from the underlying sentiment. The listener grasps the meaning through his own feeling, and the speaker's feeling is a pointer in that direction. Feeling indeed may be said to be subtle language. It is a tireless worker. All psychological transformations are wrought by language charged with feeling. Words communicate the feeling; the feeling is not beyond the word. An image forms in the mind; it is the image of the word itself.

There was an old woman going with a bundle on her head. A horseman was passing that way. He saw the old woman and felt pity for her. He said, "Mother! I'm going your way. Come, place the bundle on the horse; you may collect it at the next halt!" The old woman gave the bundle to him. When the old woman reached the next halt, she saw the horseman tarrying there. She drank water, and then said to the horseman, "Brother, you may go ahead now. Give me the bundle. It was very kind of you to carry it thus far." The horseman gave the bundle back to the old woman, and rode ahead. A thought crossed his mind, "I lost a big opportunity. The old woman's bundle was rather heavy. It must have contained some valuable stuff. Had I gone on without stopping, the old woman could do nothing to recover her bundle. I made a great mistake in returning goods that had fallen to my lot." With this thought, he stopped then and there. The old woman reached the spot in due course. The horseman said, "Mother! you must have been tired. Come, give the bundle to me, I'll carry it for you till the next halt. " The old woman replied, "Oh, no. Never more shall I part with my bundle. The genie that told you also told me."
The old woman knew at once that the horseman's intention was no longer good.

The force of feeling is communicable. Feeling is in fact language in the mute, subtle and ratified. Whatever feeling or word forms in one mind, gives rise to a counter feeling or word in the other mind. It is a well-known psychological fact, withal indisputable. It could not be otherwise. If a man thinks and means well to another person if he entertains good feelings, these are effortlessly communicated to and produce good feelings and thoughts in the other person as well. On the other hand, an adverse thought or feeling unconsciously produces a feeling of antagonism in the other person.

One aspect of language is feeling, the other is articulation. A whole science of incantation is founded upon articulation. The potency of the mantra derives itself from feeling and articulation, and to this is also allied the doctrine of vibration. In modem times, a great deal of research has been done on speech and on the science of incantation. The findings thereof speak of three powers, allied to one another:

  • the power of feeling,
  • the power of utterance or articulation, and
  • the power of incantation.

Articulation produces vibrations. A word is pronounced, and it gives rise to alpha-vibrations. Another word produces beta- or theta-vibrations. The mantras are classified in terms of the vibrations they produce.
The word 'Aum' when articulated, produces alpha-vibrations and the brain becomes relaxed, quietened. As the stillness of the brain grows more intense, more and more alpha-vibrations are produced. This constitutes a very important technique of relaxation. All the seed-mantras produce various kinds of vibrations which influence the brain. The code characters are - a; si; a:; u:; sa:; arham; aum; ri; shri:; kli:. All these are seed-mantras. The vibrations thereof affect the glandular system and help maintain an even flow of internal secretions from various glands. The glandular secretions are regulated by the articulation of arham. When the brain is confused, the mere repetition of a word (the deity's name) brings about tranquillity and equipoise.

Dhyana (meditation) may be accompanied by jap (repetition of a deity's name). This produces tranquil vibrations and helps in the development of concentration. The iteration of some words produces coolness, whereas that of others produces heat. The repetition of ra a thousand times will increase temperature. Ra is a code character. The atoms thereof produce such vibrations as are heat-giving. Similarly, there are cool-producing characters too. There are characters for causing attraction or control. They produce various kinds of vibrations which manifest their power. That vibrations have power is an established fact, no longer a secret. Our world is a world of vibrations-the vibrations of thought, the vibrations of speech, the vibrations coming out of the physical organism. This universe of ours is a melting pot of different kinds of waves and vibrations. Everything has its own vibration; nothing is without it. Only that which is without language is beyond vibration because it is beyond language itself. No man who is limited by language, choice and thought, can go beyond vibration.

We practise dhyana in order to experience a world beyond vibration. However, to go beyond vibration, to overcome the gravitational pull of the earth and enter space, is not easy. It is indeed a very difficult undertaking. But man is industrious. He has great determination, tremendous will power. His consciousness is strong. He has triumphed over the earth's gravitational pull. He has conquered that limitation and has successfully travelled in space. Can he not then, through dhyana, go beyond all vibration? He certainly can. It is possible. It can be done.

The question arises as to how to develop the power of utterance. Until speech is delivered from error, until all impurities are washed away, it cannot be said to be true and pure. There is a way of achieving pure utterance-through prolonged articulation, the sound is lengthened. To establish contact with feeling and the mind, the practice of prolonged articulation is very important. This is one kind of utterance. There are many kinds-lofty, common, accentuate short, long, protracted, etc. In the science of incantation short articulation has one use, long articulation has another, and protracted articulation still another. The more protracted the articulation the greater the energy created and the deeper its association with the mind. The articulation of arham and aum is protracted. Sama Ved contains significant descriptions of various methods of articulation. On the basis of articulation alone, one mantra may have a thousand different shapes.

Many people do jap (repetition of a word, especially the name of a deity). They say, "We have been doing it for years together and nothing happens." How could it be otherwise? As long as you do not master the secret of right articulation, the mantra cannot be meaningful or potent. And you cannot find the secret without a guru. Again, the man who is not himself fully acquainted with the changes wrought by different kinds of word-articulation, cannot teach the secret to others. One spell-word, differently articulated, can be productive of fifty different effects. Aum for instance, can be articulated in diverse ways. One kind of articulation produces one effect, and a different articulation of the same word, produces another effect. A different resonance would be productive of a different outcome.

So, the articulation of a mantra is very important and is given due priority in mantra-shastra, the science of incantation. Even the most beneficial mantra, because of incorrect articulation, becomes ineffective or even harmful.

Ancient Jain literature enumerates various defects of articulation. While articulating a mantra, particular sounds may not be unduly shortened, nor unduly lengthened, nor unduly mixed together. One must pause, where there is a pause; no verse should be jumbled into another. It is necessary to be careful as to how you combine different words, how you pronounce them. The non-observance of a pause at a particular word where a pause should be observed, invariably results in confounding the meaning. It is only with the removal of defects of articulation that speech becomes pure and effective. One of the dictums of speech-control is that a man who knows the art of right articulation goes to heaven; the word, for him, becomes a passport to salvation, to complete fulfilment.

Inappositeness or miscombination of words and letters is a serious flaw in composition, for the entire spirit behind the word stands, abused thereby; the very life-cycle is altered.

There lived in Nagore town a petty attendant who wrote verse. At the conclusion of a poem, he put in the name of his town. However, by oversight, he wrote "Nago rame" (which means 'wandering naked) instead of "Nagore mein" (which means 'in Nagore'). It so chanced that after a few months of composing that poem, he went mad and began to roam about the streets quite naked.

The combination and articulation of words in speech affects our sensibilities. The force of the word, the force of the feeling behind the word, and the force of articulation - it is important to rightly apprehend all the three. This, in itself constitutes the process of speech-purification, prolonged articulation being one of the indications thereof.

Another means of speech-purification is that all pronouncements be founded on truth. One may master the art of right articulation, gain an insight into the profound role of vibrations, but if the underlying split is false, everything is marred. If we analyse the present-day problems, we shall find that they are all rooted in untruth. That is why our problems are becoming more and more complicated. It is said that the business of the world cannot go on without untruth. Politics is nothing but underhand manoeuvring; all diplomacy is founded upon falsehood. From the lowest to the highest, the conduct of society is based upon untruth. The man who tells a lie, is saved; he who speaks the truth is undone.

The judge said to the accused, "You are present in the court of justice! Speak the truth; no lies. Do you know where falsehood or truth will take you?"

"Hon'ble Sir! I know it well enough. Telling a lie would land me in hell, speaking the truth in jail."

Today every man seems convinced that in society as it is, speaking the truth is to invite endless trouble and hardship. One who is adept at telling lies, goes scot-free even after having committed the biggest crime. An ingenious talker who knows how to cover his lies, is ever successful. He who speaks the truth is considered to be a blockhead, a lunatic and a fool- such is the general belief. Because of this belief the entire relations of society stand vitiated. Of course, we do want that injustice, immorality and tyranny should end, that honesty, genuineness and truth should prevail. But how to bring this about? The very source of life is contaminated. If the foundation is wrong, how can truth prevail?

Lord Mahavira presents an excellent view of truth. He says, "Truth is where there are simplicity of posture, of sentiment, of speech, and harmoniousness." Harmoniousness means freedom from discordance. To say one thing today and quite another tomorrow is discordance. The true, the real is beyond discord; it does not alter with time. Whatever was said ten years earlier would hold true fifty years hence. There would be no discordance. Nowadays, however, there is crookedness in sentiment and in speech, and life at every step is full of discord. Under the circumstances, how can speech be really potent? How may one achieve purity of utterance? Each word escaping the lips of a man who has achieved purity of utterance comes true. It can never be false. The greatest means of achieving perfection of fulfilled; it speech is truth. The word of a truthful person is ever fulfilled; it is beyond contradiction. Truthfulness invests his word with such power that even natural phenomena have no option but to fall in line with it. Indeed, truth and celibacy impart such power to an individual as to render nature subservient to him: the clouds gather in the sky and are dispersed at a signal from him. Rishirai was a great sadhak. Whenever he set out on foot, the clouds would cover the sky and the hot sun grow mild. Such miracles do happen. And many more. There is no limit to the power of truth. Nowadays, however, it is drilled into men's ears from childhood that if they speak the truth, they will be undone, whereas a lie would save them. With this as the general philosophy of life how can anyone establish truth as the basis of life?

The second means of attaining purity of utterance, as we said, is faith in truth. Those who have based their life on truth, have gone ahead, even if belatedly. Unshakable faith in truth inevitably yields good results. But very few have this unshakable faith. If one always speaks the truth, one's word comes to possess extraordinary power, which leads to perfection of speech.

The purification of the body is necessary. Also necessary is the purification of the mind. Between the body and the mind is ensconced our goddess of speech. Without purification of speech, the body goes crooked. So does the mind. It is therefore essential for a sadhak to worship Saraswati, the goddess of speech.


Published by: Kuldeep Jain for "HEALTH & HARMONY" An imprint of: Jain Pubilishers (P) Ltd, New Delhi

Reprint 2006

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Anger
  2. Arham
  3. Aum
  4. Body
  5. Brain
  6. Celibacy
  7. Concentration
  8. Consciousness
  9. Dhyana
  10. Guru
  11. Jap
  12. Mahavira
  13. Mantra
  14. Meditation
  15. Muni
  16. Sadhak
  17. Saraswati
  18. Science
  19. Space
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