Words are sharper than the two-edged sword
The Pandavas had built a beautiful crystal palace in Hastinapur; and the Kaurava prince Duryodhana along with Sakuni was taking a round of the palace. As they came across a crystal surface, Duryodhana, out of ignorance, mistook it for a pool of water, and drew up his clothes. Sometime after, he mistook a lake of crystal water, adorned with lotuses of crystal petals, for crystal surface and fell into it with all his clothes on. The Pandava queen Draupadi ridiculed Duryodhana quipping, ‘Blind son of a Blind Father ‘. Duryodhana felt humiliated and decided to take revenge. He sought it later by trying to strip Draupadi after having won her in a game of dice. This enraged the Pandavas and soon the Mahabharatha war started between the Kauravas and Pandavas.
This story from Mahabahrata reminds us of the power of words. If we don’t use our words carefully, we may hurt people and make them our enemies. However, if we use the words appropriately, we can reap rich dividend from it. It is said that when Alexander attacked India more than two thousand years ago, the Indian king Porus fought until the end, but he was defeated and captured. When Porus was brought before Alexander, he asked, ‘How would you like to be treated?’ Porus was unafraid and said, ‘As a king treats another king.’ Alexander was so impressed with his brave words that he not only forgave him, but also he made him an ally.
Words are truly sharper than the two-edged sword. They can make or mar our life. Words are even compared with God. Bible says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”. We human beings communicate with words. Words communicate not only knowledge from one person to another, but also, emotions. Right words can make us happy while wrong words can make us miserable. Sant Kabirdas advised people, “Aisi vani boliye, man ka aapa khoye, auran ko shital kare, aapahu sheetal hoye”. (Speak in such words that connect hearts; and make others as well as you happy and calm.)
The power of words had been recognized by man in the very beginning of human civilization. In India, Vedic mantras and hymns have been used in all rituals for invoking Nature and Gods. According to Hindu scriptures, the single word ‘Om’ depicts the eternal sound of the universe. It signifies the essence of the ultimate reality, consciousness or Atman. ‘Om’ is used extensively for meditation and spiritual practices. It was the power of words that created religions, scriptures and mythologies in different parts of the world that connected millions of people in one thread due to their common beliefs and practices.
All the scientific, philosophical and spiritual knowledge is conveyed using words. It is the power of words that develops the imagination of writers and poets and binds a reader to their works. Words also convey the writer or speaker’s emotions and at the same time, generate orevoke emotions in others. Therefore, the choice of right words is necessary when dealing with people. For example, when we use strong emotive words like ‘hatred’ we tend to generate high degree of negative emotions. However, when we use a milder word ‘dislike’, the negativity is considerably reduced. We also have the choice of positive words more often like ‘feeling great’, ‘thank you’, ‘obliged’, ‘delighted’, etc. to create positivity in us as well as in other people. If we learn to choose the right words, we can create positive emotions in ourselves and the people around us which would create a better world.
Who knows the power of words better than the politicians? Good leaders use the power of words to unite people. During independence movement, Gandhi ji used the power of words to unite millions of people to fight against the British and give India freedom. However, the words of Mohammad Ali Jinnah created the Hindu-Muslim divide, which eventually led to the creation of Pakistan. In the modern times, many politicians use the power of words to play with the emotions of people and sway their loyalty and opinion. Extreme statements made by political leaders create distrust and communal divide among the people. It is also common for the political parties to make false promises to win an election. However, when they fail to fulfill their promises, they lose the trust of the people who then vote them out of power.
The inappropriate use of words by many political leaders of India in recent times has caused damage to their reputation and has spread hatred. For example, Rajeev Gandhi’s statement: “When a big tree falls, the earth shakes” during the ‘Sikh riots’ still haunts the Congress party during elections. During 2007, Sonia Gandhi used the word “Maut ke Saudagar” in an election rally for Narendra Modi, which still embarrasses her and her party. In the same way, Mr Narendra Modi’s reputation was undermined when he in appropriately described Sunanda Pushkar, wife of Shashi Tharoor as‘50 crore ki girlfriend’. A tweet by Meghalaya Governor Tathagata Royto “Boycott everything Kashmiri” hogged the limelight in the national and international media for its inappropriate reference to an integral part of India. We must follow the words of the author Rachel Wolchin “Be mindful when it comes to your words. A string of some that don’t mean much to you, may stick with someone else for a lifetime.”
“The pen is mightier than the sword,” says a famous English proverb. Like a sword, words also cut both ways. Words can have both favorable and unfavorable consequences. We must understand the power of words and learn to use words carefully. We can never heal the wounds inflicted on a person’s soul your hurtful words. The American author Jessamyn West rightly said, “A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.” Let us develop the habit of thinking before speaking or writing. We must weigh all the pros and cons of using every word and choose the best word for the occasion to create positivity, love and compassion in the society.
We can manage our emotions and achieve success by using the right words at the right time. We must use positive words to motivate people and make them happy. We must never lose our temper nor should we utter words that can damage relationships with our loved ones and others. We must learn to use words to build relationships and not break them. Someone has wisely said, “One kind word can change someone’s entire day.” Let us learn to use the power of words to make someone’s day.