Two Chatter Boxes

Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati

There are only two types of beings on this planet who chatter continuously: birds, who from morning to night chatter, chatter, chatter, and people, who from the time they wake up until the time they go to sleep, love to chatter. Silence does not come in the dictionary of human beings. If they are told to keep silent, it is always seen as a discipline that they have to rebel against.

What is speech?

Speech is an expression of behaviour, and not only human behaviour for animals have it too. When does an animal speak or try to speak? The animal, whether it is a dog or any other animal, will try to convey when it needs something, or when it wants something. When the animal is in pain, it will try to utter some sounds or when the animal is happy, it will try to express itself. Therefore, happiness, pain and need are the three conditions where speech is used to express what one feels.

Speech in Sanskrit is known as shabda. Speech which is spoken through the mouth is known as vac, and Saraswati is called Vac Devi. She is the goddess of learning and Vac Devi, the shakti, the power who controls and regulates speech.

Saraswati as a goddess, not as a demonical power, but as a godly power represents the positive, the beautiful, the just, the wisdomful that has to come out in form of vac. If Saraswati was depicted as a demoness, then the negative would be represented. However, since Saraswati is represented as a goddess, it is the positive of the speech power that one has to be aware of. The wisdom of Saraswati is Vac Devi, Vac Shakti, the power of expression through speech.

Connecting to the positive Saraswati

This power of expression through speech on the positive side is thoughtful and wisdomful and on the negative side it is irrational and critical. One is the positive Saraswati and one is the negative Saraswati. If you are optimistic, happy and convey happiness through your speech, the positive Saraswati is with you. If you are criticizing, gossiping and using speech to express your anger and negativity, it is not the positive Saraswati who is sitting on your tongue at that time. Although the speech is there, it is not white, it is black. The speech does not contain wisdom, it contains hurt. The speech does not contain love, it contains destruction. So ask yourself, is the Saraswati on your tongue the positive or the destructive aspect?

In the scriptural descriptions of the vedic, tantric and other philosophical and spiritual systems in Asia, as well as in religious traditions like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam, emphasis has been on what one speaks, how one should speak and what the purpose of speech should be.

What is the purpose of speech, why should one speak at all? Speech is taken to be a shakti, an expressive power of the mind. Speech pulls on the shakti of the mind for the mind is like a battery. When one speaks a lot one is actually depleting the battery of the mind as the mind is being used. One is not recharging the mind, instead one is wasting the energy of the mind.

If one is restrained, thoughtful and full of wisdom in what one speaks, then one is conserving the battery which will last longer and be more effective.

The focus has to be on luminosity and the positive. Restraint in speech is also an indication that one can remain connected with positivity by remembering the deva and the devi aspect, the positive and the luminous aspect of life.

—14 March 2015, Ganga Darshan, Munger