- 1. Definition of Path of Silence (Mounyoga)
- 2. Types of Moun
- 3. Benefits of observing Moun
- 4. Practical suggestions
- 5. Achieving silence of speech (vak-moun) automatically
- 6. A sage (muni), a sage with steady intellect (sthitapradnya muni) and a great sage (mahamuni)
- 7. Limitations
- 8. Comparison with other paths of Yoga
Achieving progressive control over the organs of speech, body and mind is maun (silence). According to the Path of Devotion (Bhaktimarg), ‘forgetting to speak as a result of remaining engrossed in contemplation of God’, is the real silence.
The table below gives information on the different types of silence (maun).
|Silence of speech
silence of hearing
|Silence as of
|1. Signs||Not uttering a
single word means
silence of speech
not even hearing
one’s own speech
is silence of hearing
akin to wood
gestures etc. (In
energy is wasted
in responding by
g or saying ‘ham,
hum’ than in
|2. The organ or
in the practice
|The organs of
|3. The spiritual
level % after
|4. The mode of
* Information on the four modes of speech viz. Vaikhari, Madhyama, Pashyanti and Para is given in ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 9 – Path of Chanting The Lord’s Name (Namasankirtanyoga)’.
A. Incidental: If one feels that expressing one’s opinion will complicate the issue or will be unacceptable to the other, then under those circumstances, an individual observes silence.
When performing ritualistic worship (puja), chanting, etc.
When performing religious observances on certain days of the week like Thursday, auspicious dates (tithis) like the eighth day (ashtami) and the eleventh day (ekadashi) of the Hindu lunar calendar and during the four months of Shravan, Bhadrapad, Ashvin, Kartik (chaturmas) of the Hindu lunar calendar.
When listening to the story of Mangalagouri
C. Daily ablutions
उत्सर्गे मैथुने चैव प्रस्रावे दन्तधावने ।
श्राद्धे भोजनकाले च षट्सु मौनं समाचरेत् ।।
Meaning: During cleansing processes like defaecation, urination, blowing the nose, cleaning wax from the ears, removing discharge from the eyes, etc. and also during intercourse, when one has a bleeding wound, when brushing teeth, performing religious rites for the departed (shraddha) and when eating, one should maintain silence.
A. According to physiology:
One can conserve the energy wasted in speaking by observing silence.
Several worldly problems are a consequence of speaking. By observing silence they are naturally avoided.
One can avoid telling lies.
Speaking is a result of thinking and emotions. If one does not express one’s thoughts and emotions like anger, then gradually they come under control and the impressions from the subconscious mind decrease. This means that observing silence with the body makes it easier to achieve silence of the mind.
Usually since one is not multilingual, the barrier of language can be overcome by speaking with gesticulations.
Concentration and contemplation are possible because of silence.
It helps to develop an introverted attitude. Ritualistic worship (puja), reading holy books, periodic reading of holy texts (parayans), meditation and chanting The Lord’s Name are all a type of silence.‘Observing silence is of great importance in the study of establishing communion with The Lord. Since it is directly related to speech, when the mind wanders towards the world forgetting God, speech becomes one of its important media. Communion with God is not possible without introversion. Unless the mind gives up the habit of wandering outwards, which it does rapidly through the medium of speech it cannot become introverted. Hence when speech is curtailed, the extroverted nature of the mind automatically becomes feeble.’ (1)
The raja component begins to decrease and hence, the sattva component increases.
If a certain thing remains unused, it accumulates. For instance if money remains unspent, it gets accumulated and one becomes financially prosperous. Similarly, if one does not speak then the energy in words increases, that is one acquires the supernatural power of speech (vaksiddhi) by which whatever one speaks comes true. One also acquires the ability to bestow a curse or a boon.
After acquiring the supernatural power of speech, that is the state when whatever is spoken comes true, if one observes silence, one does not have to repent for that which has come true due to what was uttered accidentally.
The individual learns to maintain the stance of an observer. Due to these benefits, it is said ‘Silence can achieve everything (मौनं सर्वार्थसाधनम् ।)’ (2)
A. The stages in silence of speech (vak-moun), silence of hearing (karnamoun)
Not speaking that which will hurt others
Avoiding useless discussions, chattering, arguments, etc.
Speaking only what is essential
Speaking only on Spirituality if one has to speak, at all.
B. Initially whilst observing silence, it is better not to remain in the proximity of others. Thus there is no question of either speaking by accident or getting thoughts about others. If it is not possible to practise silence in one’s home, then it should be practised in isolation. Since one cannot express any thoughts, initially one gets frustrated from within. Considering this point as well, remaining in solitude proves beneficial.
C. In the period of silence one should not read newspapers, listen to the radio, watch television, etc. as there is a possibility of getting distracted.
D. One should give prior instructions verbally or written, about what food one will eat, etc. as more energy is expended in expressing thoughts through gestures, rather than actual speaking. Besides, there is a possibility of misinterpretation by others.
E. One should practise silence for one to two hours on working days and five to six hours on holidays. Then the period of silence should be increased to one full day, a week, a fortnight, a month and so on. Each period of observance of silence consists of forty days. This is called an anushthan. After one anushthan one should break the period of silence for atleast two to four days. Subsequently one may observe another anushthan.
F. In the period of silence one should engage in chanting, concentration, meditation or introspection, so as to avoid thoughts in relation to speech.
‘The real support for silence is chanting The Lord’s Name itself. Without chanting, the one practising silence can get deluded. Chanting is the real secret of silence.’
– H.H. Mounibaba, Narayangaon
H. It is essential to observe silence when performing vowed religious observances (vrats, vaikalyas) and periodic reading of holy texts (parayans). As a result, the sattva component as well as the spiritual emotion (bhav) increases and the benefits derived from it are augmented.
In any path of Yoga, when desires and instincts and queries of the mind are over, the attitude becomes introverted and silence of speech is automatically achieved.
A. A sage (muni): The one who speaks on no subject other than Spirituality is referred to as a sage.
B. A sage with steady intellect (sthitapradnya muni)
‘Vachamyam is a seeker who observes silence. The description of such a saint is given in Shrimadbhagvadgita (2.56) as follows:
दु:खेष्वनुव्दिग्नमना: सुखेषु विगतस्पृह: ।
वीतरागभयक्रोध: स्थितधीर्मुनिरुच्यते ।।
Meaning: He who is unperturbed by sorrow, is unattached to happiness, love (affection), fear and anger is called a sage of steady intellect.’(2)
C. The great sage (mahamuni)
He who has renounced words is a mouni
Hence one can practise the Yogas with fervour
– Shri Dasbodh 17.5.9
Implied meaning: ‘Despite speaking, the liberated souls do not speak. Silence and spiritual knowledge are The Lord’s secret manifestations, all the others are expressed manifestations. Hence, silence (moun) is described as a psychological penance, instead of a vocal one. That is, as long as there is desire for objects the silence of speech cannot be considered to be the real silence. Brahman is described as the ‘Wordless Brahman’. Hence those who are liberated while still embodied and have experienced that ‘I am Brahman’ are said to be practising silence although they are speaking. Of the different types of silence, deep sleep silence (sushuptimoun) and great silence (mahamoun) are of this type. In short, speech is worldly, not speaking is Spirituality and silence is Brahman. In other words, losing awareness of one’s silence is the true silence !’ – H.H. Kane Maharaj, Narayangaon
A. No great discomfort is caused by practising silence of speech (vak-moun) and silence as of wood (kashthamoun). Others however, are at a loss to understand the one practising it. In order to achieve silence of deep sleep (sushuptimoun) and great silence (mahamoun), one has to undertake spiritual practice as advised by the Guru. Silence of speech and silence as of wood are the tools, while deep sleep silence and great silence are the targets.
B. ‘In the science of Yoga who is a learned fool?
The one who practises postures (asans), pranayam, etc. without following the restraints (yam) and regulations (niyam).’(3)
The same tenet is also applicable to those practising silence of speech and silence as of wood. [Yam and niyam are the first two parts from the Ashtangyoga (Eightfold Yoga) of Patanjali and are related to the mind. Refer ‘Science of Spirituality: Chapter 36 – Path of Meditation (Dhyanyoga)’.]
Refer ‘Science of Spirituality : Chapter 40 – Comparison of the Various Paths of Yoga’.
‘Path of Deliberate Rigour (Hathayoga)’, published by Sanatan Sanstha.
. Svasvarup Anusandhan Athava Antaryatra, Pg. 105. Author : K.V. Belsare. Publisher – P.M. Tilak, Tridal Publications, Near Prarthana Samaj, Girgaon, Mumbai 400 004.
. Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh. Vol. 7, First edition, Pg. 432. Editor and Publisher : Pandit Mahadevashastri Joshi, Secretary, Bharatiya Sanskrutikosh Mandal, 410, Shanivar Peth, Pune 411 030.
. Sadhubodh : Shri Gulabrao Maharaj Virachit Prashnottarattmak Sukti Ratnavali. Ashtamayashti, Pg. 24. Publisher : Shri Dnyaneshvar Madhuradvait Sampradayik Mandal, Dahisath, Amravati.