Dakshinamurthy taught His disciples by His silence. Yes, what He did was to make the disciples rely on their own intelligence. Do not demean your talents, when you dive deep into yourselves, you can discover the source of all strength.
(Sathya Sai Baba, SSS. Vol. 4 p. 155)
Many true seekers visit Sathya Sai Baba but he does not speak to them often. In the case of some devotees, he speaks not at all! Those seekers can visit year after years and yet never receive an interview or even a word at darshan. Why is it so? The truth is that physical speech is on a lower level of communication. According to Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, no words are necessary. Words reduce, limit, harden, take away the subtleness and true strength – the life of the true teaching. Here is a sweet story about the importance of silence from Sai Baba.
“The highest form of grace is silence. It is also the highest upadesa (teaching).”
-Sri Ramana Maharshi
Question: Can the Guru’s silence really bring about advanced states of spiritual awareness?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: There is an old story, which demonstrates the power of the Guru’s silence. Tattvaraya composed a Bharani, a kind of poetic composition in Tamil, in honour of his Guru Swarupananda, and convened an assembly of learned Pandits (pundits) to hear the work and assess its value. The Pandits raised the objection that a Bharani was only composed in honour of great heroes capable of killing a thousand elephants in battle and that it was not in order to compose such a work in honour of an ascetic.
Thereupon the author said, “Let us all go to my Guru and we shall have this matter settled there.”
They went to the Guru and, after they had all taken their seats, the author told his Guru the purpose of their visit. The Guru sat silent and all the others also remained in mouna (silence). The whole day passed, the night came, and some more days and nights, and yet all sat there silently, no thought at all occurring to any of them and nobody thinking or asking why they had come there. After three or four days like this, the Guru moved his mind a bit, and the people assembled immediately regained their thought activity. They then declared, ‘Conquering a thousand elephants is nothing beside this Guru’s power to conquer the rutting elephants of all our egos put together. So certainly he deserves the Bharani in his honour!
Question: How does this silent power work?
Sri Ramana Maharshi: Language is only a medium for communicating one’s thoughts to another. It is called in only after thoughts arise. Other thoughts arise after the “I”-thought rises and so the “I”-thought is the root of all conversation. When one remains without thinking one understands another by means of the universal language of silence.
Silence is ever speaking. It is a perennial flow of language, which is interrupted by speaking. These words I am speaking obstruct that mute language. For example, there is electricity flowing in a wire. With resistance to its passage, it glows as a lamp or revolves as a fan. In the wire it remains as electric energy. Similarly also, silence is the eternal flow of language, obstructed by words.
What one fails to know by conversation extending to several years can be known instantly in silence, or in front of silence. Dakshinamurti and his four disciples are a good example of this. This is the highest and most effective language.