Tirukkural talks in depth about the value of speaking and the manner of speaking in a King’s court. In the present world, we may not always walk into a King’s court. But, we do come across many instances of Assemblies. These Assemblies may look like Offices, Clubs, Gatherings, Classrooms and such. Such gatherings have a Dharma of their own and a quality of people who attend. The first step of any person who walks into a crowd is to realise the behaviour of that crowd. Is it a knowledgeable crowd or one who is not interested in knowledge at all? Before uttering the first word, gauge the level of the crowd.
(Image Credit: Håkan Dahlström)
Clarity of Speech
The Being who realises the value of words should speak only after thinking very well. Completely realise who is in the crowd first. Speak with good clarity of words and purity of grammar. One of the most important dharma of education is to instill the practice of expressing oneself clearly. Jnanis never speak words without meaning. They do engage in small talk. But, small talk is never extended just for the sake of mouthing words. We experience small talk to such an extent today that it is painful to bear the sheer waste of time and energy.
Respect the Assembly
The one who speaks without knowing the court does not understand the dharma of speaking. They do not have any insights whatsoever. People who speak without understanding the Assembly will face insult. The court does not gain anything as well. Such people are ignorant about the world as well. It is unfortunate that we come across people who enter the highest of Assemblies like Political Parliaments who fail to respect such Assemblies. In the olden times, no one would have dared to speak a wrong word in front of the King.
In front of knowledgeable beings, show your insights. However, Tirukkural says it is best to act unintelligent in front of people who lack insights themselves. Some beings are just not fit to receive any true knowledge. We can see teachers and preachers trying to speak to people who are too violent or worldly about detachment and such principles. But, such words of quality falls like grain on rocks. Such grains will not sprout. It is sad, but true.
When faced with jnanis, it is best not to speak before they speak. Do not speak between their words as well. It takes a lot of good karma to reach a jnani first of all. When we come across the good fortune where the jnani communicates with us, respect that and relish that with silence.
Recognising a Jnani
Only a jnani can recognise another jnani. The words of a being who realises the truth will be appreciated only a jnani. Talking to an Assembly of jnanis and those who aspires to reach jnana is like watering a plant that is growing on its own. There is a lot of good that can come out of that exercise. But. talking to a crowd of fools about high values is like watering a rocky barren land. You may only waste that water without reaping those benefits. The discrimination to recognise a jnani and a fool is vital for those who wishes to grow.
It is best to speak only to those who share your values or are much above you. Else, shame and insult will be the only result.