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The might to remain silent

Recently when one of my friends was being exhorted by his wife about what not to tell some visitors expected home, remarked, “Saraswati has given me the gift of keeping my mouth shut”. I found that rather remarkable. We attribute Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge bestowing on us wisdom, knowledge, learning etc. Often children who sing very well at an early age are considered blessed by Saraswati. “Saraswati is on her tongue” is a remark I have come across often. But does Saraswati give you the wisdom to keep your mouth shut?

When you think about it, it only seems logical. If she can give you the gift of gab, she should also give you the gift of silence. Having the ability not to speak or speak in a measured way is a gift in itself. How many times have we said something and regretted it? On countless occasions, we got into trouble by opening our mouths. We did not have to say anything positive or negative, just keeping the gob shut would have been enough. No, we opened it, let out our opinions, caused disruptions all around, an embarrassment to self and family and countless other woes.

If you have Saraswati on your side, then you will not only know when and how to talk, you will know more importantly when to keep the mouth zipped. The world, in general, is biased in favour of people who can talk and considers people who remain silent as lesser mortals. People who are silent may have their own very valid reasons to be silent. They may not like to talk (that should be a fundamental right), they may talk only after reflection, they may not like to be in the spotlight, they may have nothing much to contribute, they may find you a bore, or simply they prefer silence.

Children who remain silent are constantly egged to talk even if it is some nonsense. We are taught to talk but not when not to talk, where not to talk, how not to talk, and why not to talk. Some of us stumble around and learn this as we enter adulthood. We learn discretion, we learn when not to voice opinions, and we learn when just to listen. But some of us don’t learn this even as adults, we keep expressing opinions to anyone willing or even unwilling to hear, we don’t look around and see who is there and who is not there before opening our mouths, and we don’t notice where we are (public place, auditoriums, temples) before we loudly discuss something that is private.

It is an easy temptation to tell people what we think all the time, give it back to them or say things which we will regret later. It takes a great amount of wisdom, willpower, resolve and might to remain silent and not talk impetuously and hurt others or hurt self.

If we are truly blessed by Saraswati, we should have the ability to talk and the ability to remain silent otherwise we are only half blessed by her, aren't we? Discretion is an important life skill to be learned.

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