Silence prevails

I would like to tell you a funny story about how silence prevails. Sound is bound to fail us, but silence always prevails. I have told this story many times, but it is extremely significant because it applies to each and everyone.

When I was eight or nine years old, the Second World War was approaching. Nobody knew what was going to happen. So my brother Chitta bought rice and dal in a very large quantity.

My brother and I stood at a particular place in the market. We were not selling anything, but my brother was reciting passages from the Upanishads. I had learnt these sacred mantras and heard them many, many times. But at that time, I was still restlessness incarnate, so I did not pay much attention to them. Just four or five years later, I was the one in the ashram to recite these mantras from the Upanishads thousands and thousands of times out loud, sometimes even millions of times. In just a few years, my restlessness had completely disappeared. I am sure my brother continued reciting them also, but inwardly.

My brother was reciting these holy verses most soulfully. A middle-aged man who was the manager of a circus came up to my brother and started screaming at him very loudly: "Your father borrowed so much money from me. Now he has passed away. Who is going to return my money? You have to repay me. You have to give me all my money back!"

Would my father, who was a successful banker, have borrowed money from a circus manager? Absurd! My brother did not pay any attention. The man kept screaming, and his voice became loud, louder and loudest! The man was almost ready to strike my brother, and I was getting more and more annoyed with him. I was about to do something, but suddenly the man left. I was using a pump to add air to my football, and soon I was ready to go home.

After only ten or twelve minutes, the same man came back. He fell flat at my brother's feet and started crying, "Please, please, I beg you to forgive me. I was the one to borrow money from your father. He did not borrow one cent from me. When I saw you, I thought you would demand money from me. Since I have no means to return the money I owe you, I started screaming at you and telling all kinds of lies."

In fact, my brother had no idea that this man owed our father any money. After screaming at Chitta, the man saw the saintly qualities of my brother, and his conscience started bothering him. He came back to beg forgiveness from Chitta.

Once again, my brother maintained total silence. He did not say one word. Then the man went away. He knew that my brother did not pay any attention.

Here is the proof that silence acts. As much as we can, it is good to keep silence. In the beginning of our journey, barking dogs disturb us so much. When we maintain our inner poise, the dogs surrender. Again, when a dog barks or bites a man, it is not news. The very nature of a dog is to bite. But if a man bites a dog, the news will spread all over the world.

Quite often, the Highest Supreme will advise us not to come down to the level of people who bite us ruthlessly. The Supreme does not want us to bite them in return. There is a great difference between a dog biting and a man biting. After some time, the dogs will stop biting or barking, because their ego comes to the fore. It is beneath their dignity to bark when the man does not respond.

In the same light, when someone comes and knocks at our door, we can easily know if it is a friend or an enemy. How? The friend will knock only a few times and then he will say to himself, "My friend is doing something important. Otherwise, he would have definitely opened the door for me. He has such love for me, and I have such love for him." The friend will quietly wait, because he knows that his colleague is doing something important and cannot open the door at that moment.

The enemy will knock hard for a few minutes. Then, when there is no answer, his ego will come forward and he will think, "It is beneath my dignity to knock at this man's door. Who needs him? I will have nothing to do with him." Then the enemy will go away.

Similarly, a fly may land on your hand. If you brush it away, it will come back again. You may do this twenty or thirty times, and the fly will keep coming back. Then, let us say, you have decided to compose a beautiful song or to write an inspiring poem. You have no time to pay attention to the fly. Suddenly the fly disappears. Why? The fly's innate ego sees that it is not getting any attention, and so the fly goes away.

Enemies always try to draw our attention by hook or by crook. If they see that we are not giving them any attention, they go away and decide to knock at someone else's door. When we pay attention to them, it creates many more problems for us.

So silence is the answer. Silence prevails.