Celebrating Holy Name Globally
THE FREE PRESS JOURNAL
MUMBAI | SATURDAY | SEPTEMBER 17, 2011
EXPERIENCE THE SOUND
CAITANYA CARAN DAS
"Most people speak because they find speech more
tolerable than silence," reads a cheeky T-shirt slogan.
For many stressed and distressed people,
even when their mouth is silent, their mind is
screaming and speech offers an easy distraction
from the turmoil within. That's why the Bhagavad-
gita (17.16) declares mauna to be an austerity,
not of the mouth, but of the mind. Mauna is not
merely "the inability to speak" of the dumb; it is
the calmness of the mind that enables us to hear
the guiding voice of God within.
Of course speech and silence both have their utility.
Throughout history, social reformers (and deformers)
galvanized followers by their power of
speech. On the other hand, seekers introspected
for enlightenment through silence.
Can we then conclude that speech is a vehicle for
social transformation and silence for individual
The concluding aphorism of the Vedanta-sutra
anavrttih shabdat resolves this dialectic by introducing
an intriguing higher dimension - sound beyond
silence. A spiritual neophyte may mistake
spiritual and material sounds to be identical. But
the difference can be understood through intelligence
and experienced through practice. Just as a
child unaware of paper currency sees no difference
between waste paper and a 500/- rupee note, a
spiritually immature person unaware of spiritual
values sees no difference between ordinary material
sound and extraordinary spiritual sound. Material
sound agitates our mind, spiritual sound
pacifies it. Material sound entangles us, spiritual
sound liberates us.
Spiritual sound - the revealed word of God - is exalted
in all the great traditions of the world. In the
Judaeo-Christian tradition, St. John (1.1) states,
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God." In the Vedic traditions,
hymns, verses, songs, mantras, bhajans
and kirtans beckon adventurous spiritualists to
higher realms of enlightenment and fulfillment.
The holy name of God is non-different from God
as asserted by Padma Purana - abhinnatvat nama
naminoh. Hence chanting the holy name brings us
in immediate and direct contact with God, purifies
us and gradually tunes our consciousness to the
spiritual level where we can receive the guidance
of the Supersoul in the heart.
(The Writer is a member of ISKCON, Pune)