Guiding Light: Speak with loving kindness

Dada J. P. VaswaniUpdated: Monday, October 31, 2022, 06:44 PM IST
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Speak softly; speak gently; speak with loving kindness. Treat everyone with love and respect. Greet God in everyone you meet. Let others' harsh words and unkindness never drive you to return unkindness for unkindness.

A king once posed a question to the wise men assembled in his darbar: what is the sweetest thing on earth? The king firmly said to his courtiers, "I do not want a text book answer. Your answer should come from your own experience." One of the courtiers seated there answered, "The sweetest thing in this world is honey." The second courtier said, "The sweetest thing is unrefined sugar candy." The third person answered, "The sweetest thing is sugar." The fourth answer was, "Malai barfi". And many such answers were given.

The king then posed a second question, "Which is the most bitter thing in the world?" "Poison," replied someone. The king immediately chided the person, "Have you ever taken poison? Have you ever experienced its effect? I said, the answers should come from your own experience. A person who has taken poison, cannot be alive."

There were many answers such as karela (bitter gourd), dandelion, mushrooms and so on. At last, one man gave an answer which pleased the king greatly. He said, "Your majesty, the answer to both your questions is one and the same: the sweetest and the most bitter thing on earth is the human tongue. Man can have a sweet tongue or a sharp tongue. A sweet tongue is soothing; it is like a balm. It is the sweetest thing. A sharp tongue hurts and stings. It is the bitterest thing in the world." The king was very pleased with the answer and rewarded the man for the same.

Harsh words cause deeper wounds than sticks and stones. The poet-saint, Thiruvalluvar, tells us: burnt flesh and skin heal sooner or later, but the wounds inflicted by a harsh tongue never, ever heal. Why should we be guilty of inflicting such wounds? Therefore, let us resolve to speak gently, softly, sweetly.

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