The varieties of human expressions are almost infinite. There are the bodily expressions through face, eyes, limbs, fingers etc. There are also the expressions through voice such as talking, shouting, crying, singing etc. There is another whole range of expressions through dancing , writing, drawing, painting, sculpting, etching, weaving, building, crafting; and through various types of instruments and also through light and shades etc. In addition, there is the complex and exaggerated forms of expressions that combine a variety of these art forms, in an ingenious manner, to produce a sensitive or a stunningly spectacular , mammoth art or a commercial expression, whichever way you choose to look at it.
I am talking about theater or opera productions and films.
Each of these carries its sub-forms. It is virtually impossible to enumerate all the modes of human expressions. Most of these expressions have flowered into valid art forms. What I do not know of each of those can fill several Universities
As one who had to produce words to make a living, I strived at writing a passably good prose in order to make myself understood. I am aware my prose does not measure up to “industry” standards. Poetry interested me a great deal, though I was incapable of writing any sort of poetry. Poetry appealed to the other side of my mind that longed to be lost amidst the flights of fantasy or loved to scale the peaks of idealism or to caress the tender graces of love. Listening to music was of course an experience of wandering in the land of delight. It is an art and an entertainment; closer to my heart.
As the years progressed, I realized there was another form of sublime expression that I had not meaningfully cultivated ; and , it was ideally suited to exploring the Self. I am talking about silence. It is the silence of a kind I had not known before.
I realize Prose is the language of the mind, while poetry is the heart speaking through the medium of mind. The music, on the other hand, is the language of the heart. It emanates from heart and reaches the heart of the listener. These forms of expressions relate to the instruments of mind and heart. There is the human mind; the earth bound mind; ever judging and doubting the reality in others. But, we have also the loving and the aspiring heart; free from insecurity, eager to establish oneness with the rest of the world. Both of these – head and the heart – explore the known and the unknown, in their own way.
Silence of course is the most sublime and the ultimate form of expression. It transcends the limitations of the mind, thought, voice and the heart. It encompasses in itself all other forms of expressions. It is the language of the Soul.
Let us briefly talk about forms of expressions in prose, poetry, music and silence.
Here is the essence of mankind’s creative genius:
Prose is the lifeblood of the day to day living. It has the ability to produce concise descriptive expressions, to make life possible among our fellow beings. With the use of language and prose we grope toward understanding; and to , some degree , intelligently respond to what meets us in the lived world. But since we live more deeply than we can think, we are always short of appropriate expressions. That forces us to improvise,to innovate and to coin, each day, a new term to keep pace with the world streaking past us at breakneck speed. Keeping pace with the times is surely a true sign of a living and a dynamic language.
The growth of the language , however , is always regulated and governed by its grammar. The rigidity of grammar, the orderly structure and its disciplines are essential to preserve the identity and the purity of a language and its form.
A good prose aims at full expression within the limitations set by the grammar. Within that approved format a sentence is born of two elements: a thought and then a structure chosen out of an infinite number of possibilities which express the thought. It tries to present the ideas with lucidity and with slight ornamentation; to say it clearly and to make it beautiful, no matter what.
The test of a good prose is its ease and its readability; leading you on from each sentence, paragraph and page to the next; not letting your interest wane. It not merely expresses a thought or a feeling that captivates you; but, it also succeeds in evoking a cascade of thoughts and emotions.
For that reason, a good prose is comparable to music. A good book is worth reading not merely for the thought it contains but also for the thought which it inspires; just as the charm of music dwells not in the tones but in the echoes of our hearts. Inspire (from the Latin inspirare) means to breathe life into another. As Gass once said, “Language serves not only to express thought but also to make possible thoughts which could not exist without it.”
Once you have learned to trust your own voice and allowed that creative force inside you to come out, you can direct it to write short stories, novels, and essays and so on.
A good prose is essentially giving a lucid expression to a well composed mind. Prose is the language of the mind.
Poetry is a more liberated form of expression, as compared to prose. One cannot easily define poetry. As Dr. Johnson exclaimed “Sir, what is poetry? Why, Sir, it is much easier to say what it is not. We all know what light is; but it is not easy to tell what it is.”
Poetry discards the rigidity, the disciplines and the correctness of the structure prescribed by the grammar. Poetry enjoys the voluptuous malleability and freedom with words and sounds; it bends and twists them in any number of ways. Its concern is not so much with the correctness of form than with the sensitivity, refinement and brevity in expression of a range of thoughts, feelings as also human emotions of joy, sorrow, grief, hope, despair, anger and fulfillment.
Poetry has the soft power to compress lengthy passages of prose into a few lines of wit and wisdom. That is the reason why some call poetry, life distilled.
Poetry can be subtle and suggestive. The imagery that poetry evokes can hardly be captured in words. What is unsaid in poetry is more evocative than the explicit. “Poetry is the opening and closing of a door leaving those who look through to guess about what is seen during a moment” as Carl Sandburg said.
[ Poetry, in the Indian traditions, is often called ‘vyakaranasya puccham’ – the tail piece or the appendix of Grammar. The Grammar determines the correctness of the words and their arrangement within a sentence. The poetry is however more concerned with the appropriateness and mutual relations among the words. The poetry, as far as possible, follows Grammar. But , when it finds that the rules of Grammar are too constrained or suffocating , it switches over to other means of expressions that are more appropriate or conducive to its natural flow; or , it invents its own means. At times, when those inventive expressions of poetic suggestions are so charming and become so popular, they walk into Grammar per se. Scholars like Nagesha Bhatta say that Grammarians must necessarily accept (svikara avashyakah) the power of suggestion (Dhvani) that poetry alone can display – vyakarananamapi etat svikara avashyakah).
It is, therefore, often said that the poets enjoy a rare privilege; and a certain liberty that others cannot claim. They seem to have the license to wield the language in any manner they choose, appropriate to their work. In a way of speaking; a poet can typically write ‘against the natural language’; breaking conventions, transgressing grammatical rules, and saying what could not have been said ordinarily.]
Poetry , thus, has the power to set us free from the limited confines of our regimen, existence and personality. It is the language in which man explores his own amazement. Poetry represents the world as a man chooses to sees it, while science represents the world as he looks at it. It is the difference between seeing with the heart, and looking at the world unfeelingly. Poetry is Truth, but not necessarily reality.
Poetry is a search for syllables to express an unknown. It is direct and universal. It appeals to the heart. It finds its echo in another heart. Poetry is the heart talking through the mind.
Music is surely the most basic of human expressions and predates the written word. The melodic and rhythmic patterns are natural to humans and are tied to the unique expression of their various cultures. Music and man have influenced each other in a variety of ways, over the ages. Music and sound have infiltrated society on many levels, from sinister use in propaganda to simple listening pleasure. Our actions and emotional responses are greatly influenced by what we hear.
Music does not need a specific language ; and, its sounds need not carry meanings to be enjoyed as such. Music is the language of languages; and, is the universal language of mankind. Music is the vernacular of the heart.
It can be internal and personal, or uniting and widespread. Everyone can and does participate in music; whether it is creating, listening, or simply singing or humming a tune. From an entire orchestra to a single whisper, memories, new ideas and a whole spectrum of feelings can be roused. Music may produce expressions of various emotions – peaceful, relaxing, exciting, festive, boring, unsettling, unstimulating, invigorating … and so on. We can close our eyes to escape from the visual world; even in silence we can hear breathing and the heartbeat, keeping the sense of rhythm that marks the progression of time.
Music is an extremely versatile medium of human expression. It is capable of exploring all the features that are used in verbal communication; and can go beyond. Its sounds carry no meaning; yet, give expression to sorrow, joy, peace and prayer in a manner the words are incapable of achieving.
Music can express itself directly and does not need the aid of explanations to reach the listener. For instance, when one writes the most often repeated set of words ”I love you”, it carries with it an infinite shades of meanings. The author has to, each time, prop this term with additional words to provide explanations to clarify which one of those meanings, his set of three famous words meant to say. The mere words “I love you” when written could mean: I like you, I desire you, I want you sexually, or even to mean I hate you. It could be a barely audible murmur full of surrender; a wish for emotional gratification; a heartfelt admiration; a hope for love relationship; a request for intimacy; a submissiveness, a begging to be accepted; a longing for comfort and tenderness; a conquest; a dry meaningless repetition; a mockery or charade; a whiplash of cruelty; or it could a deceit or anything else.
Music can expresses all these and more, spontaneously, without external aid. When words fail to express the sentiments and finer emotions of the human heart, music takes the place of the sublimated language. Moreover, it does so in an explicit and structured way, which makes it an interesting window into human understanding, in general. There is none that more powerfully moves and touches consciousness, than music.
Music is so ideally suited to express the worlds beyond petty human concerns. It can say that which cannot be said and that on which it is impossible to be silent.. It emanates from the heart and the success of it is ultimately in the heart of the listener. Music is such an experience. It is the language of the heart.
After silence that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.
Silence is sublime; and is the ultimate form of human expression. It envelops within itself all other forms of expressions. Every thought and every word is born out of silence, dies back into silence; and, during its life span is surrounded by silence. Silence lends the voice a space for it to reverberate. In silence resounds a voice;and , in voice silence finds its existence. Silence endows identity to thought and sound. Poetry consists in turning the invisible silence into perception and voice.
One cannot understand the value of silence unless one respects the validity of language, for the reality that waits to be expressed in language resides in silence. It would be impossible to think of a voice without thinking of silence; the two are inseparable. Voice and silence coexist in ones heart. If noise is the inner chaos , silence is the inner peace. That peace cannot be attained by letting one fight against the other. Peace and silence has to be attained gradually through continuous self discipline. The purpose of silence is to be able to see and hear clearly.
The silence we are talking about is not just the absence of sound; but it is the very space of our being and is with us every moment of our life. It transcends speech and thought. Silence also means silence from thoughts. There is something beyond mind that abides in silence. Silence is a quality; it is an experience. A silent mind, freed from slashing waves of thought and thought patterns is a more potent medium of understanding than words.
All religious traditions therefore stress the importance of being quiet and still in mind .They tell us that when mind is still , the Truth gets a chance to be heard in the purity of silence. They ask us to let-go all attachments, rather than fight noise. We are asked to let go of our thoughts, emotions and everything; and see what is left. We are asked to watch for that imperceptible interval of infinitesimal duration between thoughts; and seize that silence, hold on to that minute fraction in space and time and let the mind stay open. If we could do that, we are told, we are awake, at last.
Silence stabilized is fulfillment. That inner silence brings us in contact with the reality. It is that state of silence, stability and openness which transcends speech and thought, which we call meditation. Zen Masters tell us that the essence of living dwells in visiting that infinitesimal zone of stillness and silence again and again; and enlarging it. “Silence is the essential condition of happiness” said a Zen Master.
At the core of Sri Ramana’s teachings is silence. He said the inner silence is ever speaking, it is the everlasting eloquence punctured by thoughts and words; and it is the best language (Para Vac). What exists in truth is Self which resides where there is no “I” ; and that is silence, he said.
Our sages’ right from Sri Dakshinamurthi to Sri Ramana Maharsi; and, from the Buddha to the Zen Masters imparted knowledge through silence. Their silence underlined the limitations of rational knowledge, futilities of the blind alleys of metaphysical queries and the frailty hollowness of words. Where silence reigns supreme, words are rendered redundant. The language of their silence helped dispel the doubts, the confusion and uncertainties in the minds of those around them sitting in silence. Silence flows from the transcendent Self and speaks best for the enlightened.
Silence is the language of the soul
March 21, 2015 at 7:19 pm
a truly perceptive write. of all forms of expression, silence is the most eloquent
in silence resounds a voice, in voice silence finds its existence.
the reality that waits to be expressed in language resides in silence.
beautiful thoughts these…
where silence reigns supreme, words are rendered redundant…
March 21, 2015 at 7:24 pm
music is the langugae of heart created from heart and going deep into heart..
but silence is the language by itself which reaches the soul..
that was a good article..
March 21, 2015 at 7:24 pm
thank you for the comment.
the basic idea was to build a progression from word to silence, through prose, poetry and music; by discussing the strengths and limitations of each of those three mediums. the working concept was that a good prose was the language of a well-composed mind while the poetry was the heart speaking through the mind. the music on the other hand is the language of the heart. it emanates from the heart and finds fulfillment in the heart of the listener. it was thus meant to follow a movement from intellect to intuition.
silence of course is sublime and transcends the limitation of head and heart. the silence i referred to was not just the absence of sound but the stillness and silence from thoughts. a silent mind, freed from slashing waves of thought and thought patterns is a more potent medium of understanding than words.
i am not certain if that has come through.
thanks for reading
July 31, 2018 at 5:29 am
Ehsaas / / 11 yrs agoEhsaas
that was an excellent write up summarising the prose, poetry, music and silence. i luved reading the music and silence part as may b i relate to those better in my own way.
once i read a quote,”if u do not understand my silence u will never understand my words” and that so truly relates to the last sentence of ur blog..
March 21, 2015 at 7:26 pm
dear sreenivasa rao,
it is remarkable as to how you evaluated the different ways of communiation between human beings.
i believe in learning from every moment of my living, therfore often intrigue upon the nuances of life.
“it is not easy also not impossible to make a sense
through the treasure of prose, poetry and music
besides all the five senses, diire need of sixth sense
to understand the silence as it tries to speak”
silence is the language of soul, therefore necessitating the existence of an awakened soul …..
needs humaneness which further means optimal usage of our five senses and our “inner voice”..simply known as understanding body language
March 21, 2015 at 7:28 pm
thanks dear sreenivas rao.
“it is not easy also not impossible to make a sense
through the treasure of prose, poetry and music
besides all the five senses, dire need of sixth sense
to understand the silence as it tries to speak”
if you were referring to these lines, i wrote these verses as continuum to various thoughts you presented in the article.
i strongly agree with most of the thoughts regarding various modes of communications and i was merely presenting my interpretation of “silence as the language of soul”
March 21, 2015 at 7:31 pm
dear shri.yeshwant sane,
thank you for breathing life in to an old and a forgotten blog.
i understand your comments are not about the issues discussed in the blog, but about nada.
what i wrote about word in the blog, was in a general way. it did not refer to origin of nada as per the indian traditions.
i had earlier posted about sabda – the spoken word. but, i had presented sabda from the grammarian’s point view; and not through tantra and other schools of thought .please visit sabda- the spoken word – grammarians’ view . please also visit the links provided at the bottom of the page. they might be of some help.
i did incidentally discuss of sphota theory of bhartrhari in another post .please visit who was upavarsa ..? and the links
as regards siddhartha kumaudi, i have not read it; and it is a very scholarly text. i have read about the text.
as far as i know, the great grammarian panini authored ashtadhyayi a well constructed grammar of sanskrit , spread over about 8,000 sutras . in addition it had five appendices too. after a considerable period kathyayana effected certain amendments to panini’s grammar pathanjali (not sure whether or not he was the sutrakara of yoga school) wrote his maha_bashya, a magnificent commentary on both the texts .these three remarkable texts are regarded the pillars of classical sanskrit language.
in the meantime, a few other grammars too became popular.
around 14th century a precocious scholar from the maharashtra region, studying in varanasi, pandit bhattoji dikshitha rearranged the traditional sutra_patha and the later innovations; and compiled his monumental vaiyakarana siddhanta kaumudi. since bhattoji dikshitha’s work was too huge, a certain varadaraja bhatta abridged it – in three volumes: madhyama, laghu and sara.
let me admit, i have not read any of these texts. i am no scholar of any sort. my familiarity with sanskrit is very limited. these texts are beyond my ken.
i understand mothilal banarsidass have published english translation of siddantha kaumudi by james ballantyne . kindly enquire.
as regards the fourteen sounds that emanated from shiva’s damaru and inspired panini to construct his ashtadhyayi – the celebrated grammar of sanskrit,- please check the following links. they might perhaps help.
an introduction to sanskrit- sivasootrani
Click to access sanskrit.pdf
grammar and siva
panini the grammarian par excellence
i am sorry; i have not been of much help to you in your research work.
thanks for asking.
July 31, 2018 at 5:26 am
Yrsane@Eth.Net / / 10 yrs firstname.lastname@example.org
i fumbled on your blog today first time.i am impressed.
yet, i would expect basic comments on the origin of divine words from nada .the vedic sound emanating from shivas damaru.siddhanta kaumudi deals with a part of it for subsequent transformation in human language through sanskrit as we got it from panini and patanjali.would you like to elaborate ?i am attempting to revive these lost connections and seek help.?
i would like you to please intimate when and where you are going to comment through my e-mail address :email@example.com
March 21, 2015 at 7:34 pm
You are a greater writer.
So, lively, so charming and so convincing !!!
You have written from your heart feeling every word of the article.
Keep it up !!!
March 21, 2015 at 7:34 pm
Dear Swagata, I wonder how you unearthed this old and a forgotten blog. Thank you for breathing fresh life into it. I am glad you found it lively. Its subjects have such immense potential that they can be expanded in any numbers of ways. Btw, I reckon I have kept up.
July 31, 2018 at 5:28 am
Bijaya Ghosh / / 11 yrs agoBijaya Ghosh
beautiful and profound. you seemed to have lived every word of this one.
i doubt whether anyone else would express it any better than you
July 31, 2018 at 5:28 am
dear bijaya ghosh and dear ehsaas,
thank you both for your appreciation. excuse me for the delay in responding.
this is one of my very few posts that i like to visit . i still find each of its segments has in it a potential for expansion. much more could be said . i did in fact try out a few other versions , but desisted from posting on sulekha, for the reason that it is already fairly long and has hardly any readers.