The power of human speech and mental health

Sushant Singh Rajput‘s suicide has hit me to the core. 

Normally an emotional person anyway, untimely death creates havoc in my mental state, at least for a few days. Suicides top the list as the worst offenders because the reason for death is such abyss depth of helplessness that one decides to fight against God’s created natural course of life and death. 

There are many reasons which could prompt people to commit suicide –  some reasons that come to mind are unable to meet monetary commitments, dowry demands, domestic and sexual abuses, drug abuse, excessive suffering from a variety of discrimination including sex and gender, post-partum depression etc. 

However, Sushant Singh’s suicide has not been because of any of these issues. Only 34-year-old, well-known, handsome, ever-smiling Bollywood actor whose acting skills made a huge impact on TV and then in movies, his reasons for suicide will resonate with all of us. Each one of us at some point or the other have felt the same way like him, just not taken an action as drastic as him. The reason for his suicide originates from failing to feel accepted. We all desire to feel belonged – to belong in our communities, in our workplace, in our family and in our friend’s circle. To stretch it, we desire to feel appreciated for our existence and our contribution. 

Sushant’s suicide highlights this hidden desire that all of us have. It reveals how we neglect mental health and let it build up in us only to then end up taking such a drastic step. It highlights how such a step leaves all those who love us and care for us bereaved and be in the lookout for answers of how they could have helped to enable a different outcome.

Sushant’s suicide reminds us that our actions and most importantly our words matter. None of us should have a callous attitude about how we speak and what we speak as that can leave a lasting impression on somebody else. It reminds us to try to be as cognizant as possible to how our spoken words are perceived by the one listening to them. We should avoid hurting others feelings as that could create a deep dent – something that no open-heart surgeries can fix. 

Going forward as we move on with life, issues related to mental health would much more demand our attention than physical health. How and what we speak impacts others mental health directly. Human speech is a special gift of God which we have to learn to treasure and use sensibly. 
And our glorious history already lays the secrets for the path ahead. Kabir Das was a 15th-century Indian mystic poet and saint, whose writings influenced Hinduism’s Bhakti movement and his verses are found in Sikhism’s scripture Guru Granth Sahib. Enjoy reading below some of Kabir’s beautiful couplets about the impact of human speech and hence the thoughtfulness and calibration needed before speaking.

#1.

ऐसी बानी बोलिए, मन का आपा खोय |
औरन को शीतल करे, आपहु शीतल होय |

Meaning in Hindi

कबीर कहते हैं कि ऐसी वाणी में बात कीजिये, जिससे सब का मन भाव विभोर हो जाए। आपकी मधुर वाणी सुनकर आप स्वयं भी शीतल हो और जो सुने वो भि प्रसन्न हो जाए।

Meaning in English

Kabir Das says in this couplet that one should speak in such sweet language which makes everyone happy, not just yourself but also others who listen to you.

# 2.

अति का भला न बोलना, अति की भली न चूप,
अति का भला न बरसना, अति की भली न धूप।

Meaning in Hindi

कबीर कहते हैं कि न तो अधिक बोलना अच्छा है, न ही अधिक चुप रहना ही ठीक है. जैसे बहुत अधिक वर्षा भी अच्छी नहीं और बहुत अधिक धूप भी अच्छी नहीं है. अतः हमें संयम के साथ रहना चाहिए।

Meaning in English

Sant Kabir Das says in this couplet that too much of anything is bad, so one must exercise control and be moderate in everything. Too much talking is not good, neither is too much quietness. Just like how too much rain is not good and neither is too much sunshine.

#3.

बोली एक अनमोल है, जो कोई बोलै जानि,
हिये तराजू तौलि के, तब मुख बाहर आनि।

Meaning in Hindi

कबीर कहते हैं कि वाणी एक अमूल्य रत्न के समान है। इसलिए वह ह्रदय के तराजू में तोलकर अर्थात सोच समझ कर ही उसे मुंह से बाहर आने देना चाहिए.

Meaning in English

Sant Kabir Das says that speech is like a priceless jewel. So, when someone speaks, one must think many times and then speak.

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