SPEECH

(Within whose mind the immaculate Name of the Lord abides deep) His
speech is sweet, and his words are nectar; night and day,
he sings the Glorious Praises of the Lord (sggs 853).
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Since one's life is shaped by his mind, what he thinks, that he becomes. As the mind is nothing but thoughts-stuff (Phurne), whatever is in one's mind will reflect in his words (or speech). In turn, words manifest as actions ("Karnee"); actions form habits; and habits solidify in character. Thus, thoughts processed in one's head ultimately become manifest in his face, speech, body and overall attitude. Simply put, what we consistently cultivate in our minds determines our character-formation, and our destiny. Therefore, if one wants to change the character-formation in him, he can do so by consistently changing his thoughts. Thus goes the proverbial expression: "Man is the architect of his destiny".

No wonder the sweet speech is acknowledged as "magic Mantra" in the Gurbani (Sri Guru Granth Sahib, SGGS). There is also an another popular proverbial expression: "As you think, so you become." Because our tongue utters and our body acts as is our thinking, mentality or awareness. To link with God, the Gurbani asks us to wear these "three robes" - sweet speech, humility and forgiveness. Sweet speech also entails truthful speech.

  • ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਕਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਵੇਸੋ ਹਉ ਕਰੀ ਜਿਤੁ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੈ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੬॥ ਨਿਵਣੁ ਸੁ ਅਖਰੁ ਖਵਣੁ ਗੁਣੁ ਜਿਹਬਾ ਮਣੀਆ ਮੰਤੁ ॥ ਏ ਤ੍ਰੈ ਭੈਣੇ ਵੇਸ ਕਰਿ ਤਾਂ ਵਸਿ ਆਵੀ ਕੰਤੁ ॥੧੨੭॥: Kavan su akhar kavan gun kavan su maneeaa mant. Kavan su veso haou karee jit vas aavai kant. Niwan su akhar khavan gun jihba maneeaa mant. Ye trai bhaine ves kar taa vas aavee kant ||127||: What is that permanent letter; what is that virtue; and what is that jewel-like spell? What are those clothes, which I can wear to captivate my Husband? ||126|| Humility is the word, forgiveness is the virtue, and sweet speech is the jewel-like spell. O sister (soul)! Wear these three robes and you will captivate your Husband. ||127|| (sggs 1384).
  • ਜੈਸਾ ਸੇਵੈ ਤੈਸੋ ਹੋਇ ॥੪॥: Jaisaa sevai taiso hoi ||4||: one becomes just like the One he serves (as one thinks, so he becomes). ||4|| (sggs 223).
  • ਜੇਹੀ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਤੇਹਾ ਤਿਨ ਰਾਹੁ ॥: Jehee surit tehaa tin raah: As is (beings') awareness, so is (their) way (sggs 25).
  • ਜੇਹੀ ਮਨਸਾ ਕਰਿ ਲਾਗੈ ਤੇਹਾ ਫਲੁ ਪਾਏ ॥: Jehee mansaa kar laagai tehaa phal paae: As are the desires (ਮਨ ਦੀ ਕਾਮਨਾ ) one harbors (when he serves the Satguru), so are the rewards one receives (as is the aspiration, so is the reward) (sggs 116).
  • ਕਾਦੀ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਿ ਮਲੁ ਖਾਇ ॥ ਬ੍ਰਾਹਮਣੁ ਨਾਵੈ ਜੀਆ ਘਾਇ ॥ ਜੋਗੀ ਜੁਗਤਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅੰਧੁ ॥ ਤੀਨੇ ਓਜਾੜੇ ਕਾ ਬੰਧੁ ॥੨॥: Kaadi koor bol mal khae. Brahamin naavai jeeaa ghaai. Jogi jugat na jaanai andh. Teeno ujarai ka bandh. Teene oujaarrae kaa bandh ||2||: The Qazi tells lies and eats filth. The Brahmin kills (inflicts pain to souls: ਆਤਮ-ਘਾਤੀ..) and then takes (cleansing) baths (ਤੀਰਥ-ਇਸਨਾਨ). The Yogi is blind, and does not know the Way. The three of them devise their own destruction ||2||(sggs 662).
  • ਸਤੁ ਸੰਤੋਖੁ ਸਦਾ ਸਚੁ ਪਲੈ ਸਚੁ ਬੋਲੈ ਪਿਰ ਭਾਏ ॥: Sat santokh sadaa sach palai sach bolai pir bhaae: I (Soul- bride) ever gather truthfulness and contentment in my lap, and my Beloved Lord is pleased with my truthful speech (sggs 763).

The Gurbani groups all human beings in two categories - Gurmukhs and Manmukhs. The Gurmukhs are the Spiritual Beings (Self-realized or enlightened beings), The Manmukhs on the other hand are unenlightened, materialistic or ego beings who follow their deluded minds (Haume). The Gurmukhs are sweet spoken, whilst the Manmukhs are bitter. Either each one of us is a Manmukh or a Gurmukh. In the Gurbani, Maya is also identified with bitter speech. It implies that the Manmukhs are Mayadhaaree. In the love of Maya, Manmukh's reading, speaking, thinking and acting are false. The external mind (Haume) absorbed in wrong speech, wrong thought and wrong action becomes insanity.

  • ਨਾਨਕ ਮਨਮੁਖਿ ਬੋਲਣੁ ਵਾਉ ॥: Nanak Manamukh bolan vaaou: O Nanak, the speech of the self-willed manmukh is just wind (sggs 151).
  • ਮਨਮੁਖ ਬੁਧਿ ਕਾਚੀ ਮਨੂਆ ਡੋਲੈ ਅਕਥੁ ਨ ਕਥੈ ਕਹਾਨੀ ॥: Manmukh budhi kaachee manooaa dolai akathu n kathai kahaanee: The intellect of a Manmukh (who follows his own mind, self willed...) is false; his (Mayaic) mind wavers and wobbles, and he cannot speak the Unspoken Speech (sggs 1233).
  • ਗੁਰਮੁਖਿ ਸਦਾ ਸੋਹਾਗਣੀ ਪਿਰੁ ਰਾਖਿਆ ਉਰ ਧਾਰਿ ॥ ਮਿਠਾ ਬੋਲਹਿ ਨਿਵਿ ਚਲਹਿ ਸੇਜੈ ਰਵੈ ਭਤਾਰੁ ॥ ਸੋਭਾਵੰਤੀ ਸੋਹਾਗਣੀ ਜਿਨ ਗੁਰ ਕਾ ਹੇਤੁ ਅਪਾਰੁ ॥੨॥: Gurmukh sadaa sohaaganee pir raakhiaa our dhaar. Mithaa bolahi niv chalahi sejai ravai bhataar. Sobhaavantee sohaaganee jin gur kaa het apaar ||2||: The Gurmukh is the happy and pure soul-bride forever. She keeps her Husband Lord enshrined within her heart. Her speech is sweet, and her way of life is humble. She enjoys the Bed of her Husband Lord. That happy and pure soul-bride is noble and she has infinite love for the Guru ||2|| (sggs 31).
  • ਹੋਰੁ ਕੂੜੁ ਪੜਣਾ ਕੂੜੁ ਬੋਲਣਾ ਮਾਇਆ ਨਾਲਿ ਪਿਆਰੁ ॥: Hor koorr parranaa koorr bolanaa Maya naal piaar: False is other reading and speaking in the love of Maya (sggs 84).

As indicated in the Gurbani, man's True Nature (Pure Consciousness or Awareness, Joti-Svaroopa, etc.) also includes sweet speech. But it has been lost on account of the rise of Haume (ego) within - lust, anger, greed, attachment, self-conceit, enviousness, stubborn mindedness, selfishness, unrighteousness and so on. Without conquering these negative tendencies of the deluded mind, one's speech will not turn sweet and sublime. To this end, the Gurbani urges us not to do those deeds that will attach our minds to this mental "filth".

  • ਸੋ ਕਿਛੁ ਕਰਿ ਜਿਤੁ ਮੈਲੁ ਨ ਲਾਗੈ ॥ ਹਰਿ ਕੀਰਤਨ ਮਹਿ ਏਹੁ ਮਨੁ ਜਾਗੈ ॥੧॥ ਰਹਾਉ ॥: So kish kar jit mail na laagai. Har kirtan mahi eh manu jaagai ||1|| ||Rahaaou||: Make only those efforts by which the "filth" (fith of Bikaars: lust, anger, greed, attachment, pride and their countless variations) may not stick to your mind; and your mind remains awake (alert or aware of the pull of Bikaars) through the Lord's Kirtan (ਪਰਮਾਤਮ ਦੀ ਸਿਫਤਿ-ਸਾਲਾਹ) ||1|| ||Pause|| (sggs 199).
  • ਸਹਜਿ ਸੰਤੋਖਿ ਸੀਗਾਰੀਆ ਮਿਠਾ ਬੋਲਣੀ ॥: Sahaj santhokh seegaareeaa mithaa bolanee: We are adorned with intuitive ease, contentment and sweet words (sggs 17).

Why is it the Gurbani emphasizes so much on sweet speech? Because, in the Gurbani, sweet speech is recognized as Godhood. In other words, to experience within God's sublime Presence, one's speech has to be equally sweet and sublime. Speaking without due consideration and discrimination causes intellectual and psychic upheavals. Both to speak and to think go hand in hand — both are to create. Therefore, the control of speech and the mind is of the greatest importance in one's inner transformation.

  • ਮਿਠ ਬੋਲੜਾ ਜੀ ਹਰਿ ਸਜਣੁ ਸੁਆਮੀ ਮੋਰਾ ॥ ਹਉ ਸੰਮਲਿ ਥਕੀ ਜੀ ਓਹੁ ਕਦੇ ਨ ਬੋਲੈ ਕਉਰਾ ॥ ਕਉੜਾ ਬੋਲਿ ਨ ਜਾਨੈ ਪੂਰਨ ਭਗਵਾਨੈ ਅਉਗਣੁ ਕੋ ਨ ਚਿਤਾਰੇ ॥: Mith bolarraa jee har sajan suaamee moraa. Haou sanmal thakee jee ouhu kade na bolai kouraa. Kourraa bol naa jaanai pooran bhagavaanai aougan ko na chitaare: My Dear God, my Friend, speaks so sweetly. I have grown weary of testing Him, but still, He never speaks harshly to me. He does not know any bitter words; the Perfect Lord does not even consider my faults and demerits (sggs 784).
  • ਦੇਖਿ ਦਮੋਦਰ ਰਹਸੁ ਮਨਿ ਉਪਜਿਓ ਨਾਨਕ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤ ਬਾਨੀ ॥: Dekh damodar rahas man oupajiou Nanak pria amrit bani: Seeing my Lord, joy has welled up in my mind; O Nanak, the speech of my Beloved is so sweet! (sggs 1119).
  • ਮੇਰੈ ਮਨਿ ਮਿਸਟ ਲਗੇ ਪ੍ਰਿਅ ਬੋਲਾ ॥: Maerai mani misat lage pria bolaa: The Speech of my Beloved seems so sweet to my mind (sggs 1211).
  • ਕੋਮਲ ਬਾਣੀ ਸਭ ਕਉ ਸੰਤੋਖੈ ॥: Komal bani sabh ko santhokhai: The Sweet Words of His Bani soothe everyone (sggs 299).
  • ਬਿਨਵੰਤਿ ਨਾਨਕੁ ਦਾਸੁ ਹਰਿ ਕਾ ਤੇਰੀ ਚਾਲ ਸੁਹਾਵੀ ਮਧੁਰਾੜੀ ਬਾਣੀ ॥: Binavant Nanak daas har kaa teree chaal suhaavee madhuraarree bani: Prays Nanak, I am Your slave, O Lord; Your walk is so graceful, and Your speech is so sweet (sggs 567).

To cultivate this essential quality, the Gurbani asks us to follow the Guru's Teachings, abide in the Divine Name; become the true spiritual beings (Gurmukhs); renounce negativity; listen to the the words of the Holy; constantly remember God; practice devotion; live out Love for there is a direct link between love and sweet speech etc.

  • ਗੰਢੁ ਪਰੀਤੀ ਮਿਠੇ ਬੋਲ ॥: Gandh pareetee mithe bol: There is a bond between love and words of sweetness (sggs 143).
  • ਗੁਰਮਤਿ ਹਰਿ ਹਰਿ ਮੀਠਾ ਲਾਗਾ ਗੁਰੁ ਮੀਠੇ ਬਚਨ ਕਢਾਵੈਗੋ ॥: Guramat har har meethaa laagaa gur meethae bachan kadhaavaigo: Following the Guru's Teachings, the Lord seems sweet to them; the Guru inspires them to speak sweet words (sggs 1308).
  • ਆਪੁ ਤਿਆਗਿ ਸਰਣੀ ਪਵਾਂ ਮੁਖਿ ਬੋਲੀ ਮਿਠੜੇ ਵੈਣ ॥: Aap tiaag saranee pavaan mukh bolee mithrre vain: Renouncing selfishness and conceit, I seek His Sanctuary, and speak sweet words to Him (sggs 136).
  • ਫਰੀਦਾ ਕੰਨਿ ਮੁਸਲਾ ਸੂਫੁ ਗਲਿ ਦਿਲਿ ਕਾਤੀ ਗੁੜੁ ਵਾਤਿ ॥: Fareedaa kann musalaa soof gal dil kaatee gurr vaat: Fareed, you wear your prayer shawl on your shoulders and the robes of a Sufi; your words are sweet, but there is a dagger in your heart (sggs 1380).
  • ਮੁਖਹੁ ਭਗਤਿ ਉਚਰੈ ਅਮਰੁ ਗੁਰੁ ਇਤੁ ਰੰਗਿ ਰਾਤਉ ॥: Mukhahu bhagati oucharai amar guru it ra(n)g raatou: Guru Amar Daas utters the words of devotion, imbued with the Love of the Lord (sggs 1394).

In the final analysis, what it comes down to is that the man of Viveka-Budhi (discriminating intellect) ought to merge his sense organs into the mind (including tongue); then merge that mind into the wise self; then merge that wise self into the Soul (Aatmaan); and lastly merge the Soul into the Supreme Soul (Parmaatmaan). in other words, just as the water in the mirage is eliminated upon knowledge of the real nature of the mirage, similarly, upon knowledge of one's True Nature, one transcends all mirage-like projections of his ignorance and becomes established in Parmaatmaan.

— T. Singh
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