“Salutations to Sri Dakshinamurti, who is ever in youth, who is surrounded by aged disciples, the most enlightened among Masters, whose hand signals the ultimate end of knowledge, who ever appears in bliss, who is ever established in Self and who conveys the eternal truth, the Brahma Jnana through silence.” (Mouna Vyakya prakatitha Para Brahma Tatvam…Adi Sankara’s Dakshinamurti Ashtakam)
According to legend, Brahma, the creator, has mentally created four sons, Sanaka, Sanandana, Sanatsujathar and Sanatkumara. He said since he wanted to do Tapas, he had brought them into being for doing the work of creation on his behalf, but this idea was not favored by the sons. Rather than doing the work of creation, Sanaka and his brothers looked for a Master who would lead them to the path of Self-realization. They pursued their quest for Jnana with so much vigour and dedication that Lord Siva Himself appeared before them as young Dakshinamurti; the Yogiraja, the Silent Guru. Sitting in Samadhi state under the sacred banyan tree, Sri Dakshinamurti exuded an aura of divine silence and peace all over. The four rishis prostrated before Yogiraja, sat at his feet and soon went into Samadhi. As Guru Yogiraja, conveyed the advice (Upadesa) by means of silence, the Sanakadi rishis reached their natural state of realization. Adi Sankara’s Dakshinamurti Ashtagam begins with the above hymn.
Sri T.K. Sundaresa Iyer has narrated an event that revealed the traces of Sri Guru Dakshinamurti in Bhagavan. “It was a Sivaratri day. After the worship at Mother’s shrine and dinner, the devotees gathered around Bhagavan, paid obeisance to him and requested him to explain the meaning of the hymn to Dakshinamurti. Bhagavan has agreed. They took their seat and continued sitting but no word came from Bhagavan who continued to remain in silence. The clock struck nine, then ten and went on till three in the morning. The devotees remained beyond time, beyond body and beyond mind. Soon, the listener and the act of listening have ceased and only peace, serenity and stillness prevailed. “Now you have heard the essence of Dakshinamurti Hymn”, Bhagavan said.
Most of the time, Bhagavan remained in silence and even when he had to use the medium of words, he used very few words. He guided the devotees and taught them in silence. There is an additional line in Dakshinamurti Ashtakam which says: “What a wonder under the banyan tree! While all the disciples are old and grey haired, the teacher with his thick locks of black hair, exuding an aura of youth and charm, clears all doubts through the simple means of silence”. (“Sitram Vadatharor Moole Vrutha Sishya Gururyuva, Krosthu Mounam Vyakyanam, Sishyasthu Sinnasamsaya”). Smt. Kanakammal draws parallel to this line and cites the divine relationship between Sri Dakshinamurti and Sri Ramana Maharshi thus: “That Acharya Ramana is but an avatar of Lord Dakshinamurti can be proved by recalling many incidents from his life. Most of the time, Bhagavan remained seated in the hall facing south. He always remained in silence and conveyed the advice (upadesa) in silence. As a 16 year youth, exuding an aura of beauty, giving the advice in silence to aged disciples like Sri B.V. Narasimha Swami and Gambhiram Seshaya, he was described as a Young Guru (Gurur Yuva)
Though our scriptures have explained the doctrine of truth in elaborate details, they could not conclusively say “this is the truth”. They have only indicated the direction towards it because truth is beyond words and truth is beyond expression. In reply to a devotee who sought his advice, Bhagavan said: “Silence is the true upadesa. It is the perfect upadesa. It is suited only for the most advanced seeker. Others are unable to draw full inspiration from it as they require words to explain the truth, but truth is beyond words. It does not admit of explanation. What is possible is only to indicate it” Words give expression only to thoughts which come from mind and therefore always colored by ego. Bhagavan said: “Speech is only the function of the mind, whereas silence is the source and origin of all thoughts and speeches. If speech is effective, silence which is the origin and source of all thoughts must be more powerful. Silence speaks volumes. It is unceasing eloquence.” Silence is peace, silence is truth, silence is our true nature and silence is abiding in Self.
When a person remains thoughtless and speechless, he understands the other by means of the universal language of silence. When souls find harmony, they express themselves in their own language of silence. When Sri Narayana Guru, the enlightened sage from Kerala came to Kandasramam and met Bhagavan, no words were spoken and they communicated through silence. When true silence is observed, the mind is dissolved; the world of illusion ceases to exist and one remains in perfect identification with the supreme ‘Self’. Emerson said that “Soul understands another soul by its own power without the need of any word”. Silence conveys a message eloquently and is understood by one who too knows the value of silence. It is the words which obstruct the silent communication. No word or language can convey the message of truth as effectively and eloquently as silence.
When Guru remains in silence, peace prevails everywhere. “The Guru is quiet and in his presence peace prevails in all. His silence is more emphatic than all the sastras put together,” said Bhagavan. According to Kunju Swami, the silence that emanated from Maharshi was a Dhara, the perennial flow of an under-current. Devotees came from distant countries, sat before Maharshi in silence and went back with a sense of fulfillment because they experienced having communicated with Bhagavan through silence. He was continuously communicating without the use of words and devotees who did not look for words received the message of truth in clear and eloquent terms.
Thayumanavar said: “For those enlightened devotees, who ever remains in a state of blissful silence, words and their meaning will be a burden.” (Allum Pakalum Arivu Aki Ninravarkke Sollum Porulum sumai kaan Para parame). He added that his aspiration was to overcome the obstacle of words and remain, day and night in silence. (Sollum Porulum Atru Summa Iruppatharke Allum Pakalum Enakku Asai Paraparame) Robert Adams who came to Bhagavan and became his ardent disciple said: “The highest teaching in the world is silence. A devotee who sits in the company of the sage purifies his mind just by being with him. No words are necessary. Silence is the ultimate reality and everything in this world exists through silence. Silence means going deep inside yourself, the state of nothingness, the state that transcends time and space, the state where we actually belong.
Swami Tapovanam, the Guru of Swami Chinmayananda, said: “Silence is Truth. Silence is Bliss. Silence is Peace. Hence, Silence is Atman. To live in this Silence should be the Goal. It is Moksha. Sri Ramana Maharshi was an embodiment of such a Silence. He was the Silence itself. I had the good fortune of having darshan of the Maharshi at Tiruvannamalai when he was living in a cave along with his mother and brother. A young Brahmachari at that time, I climbed the hill and saw the Maharshi there. The Maharshi looked lovingly into my face. That was all. He spoke in Silence. Not a word passed between us. A supreme, dynamic and divine Silence prevailed. An hour passed by, all in Silence. He rose for his meals. I too rose from my seat, bowed again and walked down the hill. The divine Silence sank deeper and deeper into me.”(5) In verse 36 of Aksharamana Malai, Bhagavan says: “Oh! Arunachala, quiet you remained, not uttering any word, as if signaling the message of silence” (Sollathu Solli Nee Sol Ara Nillenru Summa Irundhai Arunachala.