This chapter is the English translation of Gujarati Book
Title - Sadhak and Sathi
Author - Shri Atmanandji (Dr. Soneji)
CHAPTER - 7
Silence is abandonment of speech, conversation etc. with a
right knowledge and spiritual advancement in view. This is a
very important part of spiritual progress. It is being analyzed
here, not only in its conventional meaning, but in a very wide
perspective, so as to be useful to the aspirant.
Silence is resorted for enhancement to meditate on the doctrines
heard from great preceptors or received from the study of
scriptures. Sadhakas (aspirants) of all stages can cultivate it
according to their own capabilities. Sadhakas in the elementary
and middle stages should resort to as much control of speech as
possible, so that much physical and mental energy gets
accumulated. This accumulated energy can now be advantageously
applied for the purposes of self-study and self analysis. The
success in Sadhana can thus be accomplished more speedily by
using this spared energy for spiritual progress which might have
been otherwise wasted in mundane pursuits of happiness.
GOOD USE OF POWER OF SPEECH:
Only the human soul can acquire the capacity of such intricate
and highly disciplined and balanced speech. No other
creature or being has the power of such highly developed
speech. Such a power of speech as this which has been
acquired by good deeds of past (Punya), should be so
well utilized as to be conducive to the welfare of one's
own self as well as of others.
If we are not in a position to help those suffering from various
causes like diseases, distress, pangs of separation from kith
and kin or such other calamities, we could at least heartily
console them by soft, soothing, beneficial and pleasing words.
Such an excellent and remarkable use of the power of speech can
be rightly designated as `silence', since such a use of speech
is not for less important purposes, but for benevolence of
ABANDONMENT OF POINTLESS TALKATIVENESS:
We come across many people in society who are talkative.
It is always wise not to initiate talk which is
not conducive to our betterment, or any noble purpose.
Criticizing others, using abusive words, indulging in idle
or wicked talk, uttering words that offend and hurt others,
busying oneself in self praise - all these mean sheer waste
of our power of speech. Persons endowed with a sense of
discrimination, should abandon this with conscious effort.
SUCCESS OF SILENCE:
Since ancient time, silence is worshipped as an important
component of spiritual discipline. Initially, the practice
of this virtue may commence with some three hours of
silence at noon time, say on Sunday or any other suitable
day. This practice may be enhanced by routines, the vow
daily from 8.00 p.m. to 8.00 a.m. the next day. During
these hours, the exceptions could be made for prayers,
uttering a hymn of praise for adoration of God. The vow of
continuous silence for three to seven days is very helpful
during the course of intensive meditation and scripture
writing. Thus is practiced the vow of silence by different
aspirants, according to their circumstances and the various
stages of their spiritual advancements.
Only through deep contemplation and the practice of
silence, is it possible to become a genuine ascetic (Monk).
Spiritual progress (Samadhi) is attained only by right restraint
on speech and breaking through the chain of indecisions and
doubts. Advanced aspirants should therefore, constantly praise
self-steadiness (Atma-sthirata) together with silence during
Lord Mahavira, after the renunciation of the worldly life,
observed silence for twelve and a half years. Mahatma Gandhi
used to observe silence on every Monday. Yogi Shri Maharshi
Aurbindo observed silence for seventeen years. Ramana Maharshi
very often inspired those desirous of self-knowledge, to search
after "Who am I?" in a state of silence. He too passed much of
his time in a state of silence. The immense utility of the
practice of silence is thus witnessed in the lives of all these
In the present days, many monks resort to the practice of
silence from evening to sunrise.
On the basis of factual evidence mentioned above, now the
aspirant who has essentially understood the rarity, utility,
and excellence of good speech will certainly embark upon
the genuine practice of silence or only the scrupulous use of
his speech. Through the medium of this practice, energy of
the soul that was so far being externally wasted, is now
fruitfully utilized in accomplishing control of the senses
and the mind. This self-control will substantially
contribute towards success in various stages of
concentration of the mind by making it introvert and steady
and eventually culminating in the highest transcendental
meditation or a thoughtless state (Nirvikalpa Samadhi).
The practice of silence is thus of invaluable assistance in
the experiment of internal conversation of the self with
one's true self.
GLORY OF SILENCE:
1. Speech is great, but silence is greater still. Silence is
the holy temple of our divine thoughts. If speech is silver,
silence is gold, if speech is human, silence is divine.
2. Silence is the best and the most unique art of conversation.
3. Silence is the best speech. If you must speak, speak the
minimum. Do not speak two words, if one is enough.
4. The ego gets wiped out in the state of silence. Once this
happens, who will speak and who will ponder? (all duals have
5. Silence is an excellent means for self-betterment, but only
rarely does one of us make good use of it.
LIVING EXAMPLES OF SILENCE:
A Jain monk Lalluji Swami was one of the foremost of the
devotees of Shrimad Rajchandra. He was the founder of Shrimad
Rajchandra Ashram at Agas near Anand in the state of Gujarat,
He passed the four months of the rainy season in 1893 at Bombay
in order to have close contact with his spiritual teacher
Shrimad Rajchandra. Shrimad Rajchandra prescribed the reading
and study of the verses of "Samadhi- Shataka." On the first
page of the book Shrimand wrote the famous Mantra, "the Jiva
(soul) attains to supreme knowledge (Kevala-jnana) when one is
merged in the nature of Atma (soul)."
When the four months of the rainy season was nearly over, Shri
Lalluji Swami submitted, "I have no interest in external things.
When shall I attain to the stage of being identified with the
Shrimad replied, "You require me to preach you."
Lulluji submitted, "Then please preach."
In reply Shrimad Rajchandra remained silent. He thus preached
silence. It was with this preaching that Shri Lalluji Swami
went to another city Surat from Bombay. He observed silence for
three years. In this observance of silence, the only exceptions
were necessary conversation with other monks and spiritual
discourses with Shrimad. Shri Lalluji Swami very often stated
in his sermons that this observance of silence was of immense
benefit to him.
Mahatma Gambhirnath was a Bengali scholar and saint of the
nineteenth century who settled in Himalayas for his
spiritual uplift (Sadhna).
Once Mahatma Gambhirnath was seated in the meditation in the
peaceful atmosphere of Himalayas, some Bengali gentlemen visited
him just with the idea of his Darshan (to see) and to have the
benefit of noble company. They sat for a while and then humbly
requested the Mahatma to deliver some preaching, for the uplift
of their souls. The visitors submitted that they had come from
far off distances and would feel unhappy if a sermon were not
delivered. The Mahatma stated, "Observe and ponder."
Meeting with genuine Mahatmas has one great reward. It is
to fill to the brim of our hearts with their holy, simple,
happy personality. Their silence asks us to open our
internal eyes and devotedly to have Darshan of Atma (soul), the
God in this temple of the body. Thus silence consists of the
purport of countless scriptures.
The railway train was running at full speed from Calcutta to
Delhi. In one compartment, two British passengers were talking
in English. Pointing at one monk (Sadhu), travelling in the
same compartment, one British passenger was telling the other,
"Look, what a deception! With such youthful age, healthy body,
and full capacity to work, this man became monk to get free food
and to loiter anywhere. There are thousands of such monks in
this country and people feed them in blind faith."
Criticism of this sort went on for a long time, but the monk
(Sanyasi) sitting on the opposite seat was pondering deeply
with a calm posture.
When the train arrived at one station and halted, the station
master saw the monk (Sanyasi), bowed down before him and asked
in English, "What can I do in your service, Sir?"
The Sanyasi answered in English, "One glass of water will
be enough. I want nothing else."
The two British passengers observed that the Sanyasi spoke
in such pure English. They felt surprised. They never
knew that the Sanyasi was educated. They had abused the
Sanyasi so much and still there was not a word by way of
reaction. His posture was the same, full of happiness as
The passengers inquired of him, "Well sir, why did you
not react to our criticism?"
He replied, "Brothers, I remain engrossed only in the
thoughts of my life's work. I do not enter into any kind
The peaceful posture and Sadhana of the vow of silence
brought about a lot of regard on part of those two British
This Sanyasi was Swami Vivekananda, the chief disciple of the
great monk Shri Ramkrishna Paramhans. He was a great
socio-religious leader of the nineteenth century. He became
famous for his unique speech in the World Religions Conference
in 1893 in Chicago, U.S.A.
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