It is Guru Sahib's Hukam to stay quiet if speaking would result in a defeat.
ਜਿਥੈ ਬੋਲਣਿ ਹਾਰੀਐ ਤਿਥੈ ਚੰਗੀ ਚੁਪ ॥੨॥
A very funny Punjabi folk tale has come to mind. There was once a traveller who arrived at a village on his way. He was very hungry and knocked at a door. An old woman opened the door and he requested her, "O Mayee, I am a traveller and very hungry; could you please cook these rice for me?
The good old lady without hesitation welcomed him in and placed his rice in a pateela with water to boil. The traveller had a bad habit of talking too much and when he did not have anything meaningful to say, he talked nonsense. He sat quietly for a short while but the silence was killing him. He started the conversation as follows:
"Mayee, I notice that the main door of your house is kind of narrow and your buffalo is quite big. I am wondering, how would you get the dead body of the buffalo out, in case she died."
People who have rural background know that cows and buffaloes are the most prized possessions of people from villages. The old lady was naturally very perturbed and irritatingly replied, "Son say good and don't speak evil. Why should my buffalo die?"
There was some silence for some time and now again the traveller could no longer restrain himself. He asked the old lady, "Mayee, where is your husband? I don't see him anywhere."
The old lady sadly replied, "son he died a short while ago."
The stupid traveller jokingly said, "it is good that the old man died; otherwise he would have given you hard time" (ਚੰਗਾ ਹੋਇਆ ਕਿ ਬੁੱਢਾ ਮਰ ਗਿਆ। ਜੀਊਂਦਾ ਹੁੰਦਾ ਤਾਂ ਉਸਨੇ ਤੈਨੂੰ ਤੰਗ ਹੀ ਕਰਨਾ ਸੀ।) This traveller said so because he had always seen his father and mother fighting and thought that all couples fought like that.
Naturally, the old lady was very disturbed but she kept quiet. With difficulty she controlled her anger. Because of anger, she started stirring rice vigorously but the stupid traveller still did not get the message.
After a short while he again asked the old lady, "Mayee, don't you have any children?"
"Of course I do. My son has gone to a far off land on a business trip. He will be coming soon."
"Mayee, what would happen if your son died in foreign land? What would become of you?"
This was too much for the old lady to take. She took hold of the utensil with half cooked rice and poured it in his palla (a piece of cloth like hazooria, around the neck) and ordered him to get out of her house.
While he was walking on the street, water from half-cooked rice was dripping down. Someone asked him what was it that was dripping down his palla. The traveller replied saying that it was the Rass of his tongue that he failed to control, that was dripping down.
The moral of the story is to speak good and speak after thinking.
Gurbani has several references about thinking before speaking. It is Gurbani Hukam to speak good as opposed to speaking bad.
ਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੀਐ ਭਲਾ ਕਹੀਐ ਝੋਲਿ ਅੰਮ੍ਰਿਤੁ ਪੀਜੈ ॥
Where ever a Gursikh goes, he says only good and by effort he japps Naam and drinks Amrit.
ਮੰਦਾ ਕਿਸੈ ਨ ਆਖਿ ਝਗੜਾ ਪਾਵਣਾ ॥
Dont create a conflict by calling anyone bad. In Sri Asa ki Vaar too there is a Hukam that instructs us to not call anyone bad.
ਜਿਥੈ ਜਾਇ ਬਹੀਐ ਭਲਾ ਕਹੀਐ ਸੁਰਤਿ ਸਬਦੁ ਲਿਖਾਈਐ ॥
Where ever a Gursikh goes, he says only good and in his Surthee he only writes Shabad i.e. his Surthee stays merged in Shabad.
These Hukams instruct us to not indulge ourselves in unnecessary conflicts by speaking rudely or by speaking such words that instigate conflict. This does not mean that a Sikh should be unconcerned about injustice or atrocities and should be quiet about them. Of course a Khalsa would speak up against injustice and would act to stop injustice. The above Hukams are relevant to everyday personal situations that prompt us to become bitter about others and slander others. So long as we don't stop getting into conflicts, we would not be able to concentrate on Naam.
Below is a beautiful Kabit of Bhai Gurdaas Ji on this topic:
ਜੈਸੇ ਬਾਨ ਧਨੁਖ ਸਹਿਤ ਹ੍ਵੈ ਨਿਜ ਬਸ
ਛੂਟਤਿ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਫੁਨ ਜਤਨ ਸੈ ਹਾਥ ਜੀ ॥
ਜੈਸੇ ਬਾਘ ਬੰਧਸਾਲਾ ਬਿਖੈ ਬਾਧ੍ਯੋ ਰਹੈ, ਪੁਨ
ਖੁਲੈ ਤੋ ਨ ਆਵੈ ਬਸ , ਬਸਹਿ ਨ ਸਾਥ ਜੀ ॥
ਜੈਸੇ ਦੀਪ ਦਿਪਤ ਨ ਜਾਨੀਐ ਭਵਨ ਬਿਖੈ
ਦਾਵਾਨਲ ਭਏ ਨ ਦੁਰਾਏ ਦੁਰੈ ਨਾਥ ਜੀ ॥
ਤੈਸੇ ਮੁਖ ਮਧ ਬਾਣੀ ਬਸਤ ਨ ਕੋਊ ਲਖੈ
ਬੋਲੀਐ ਬਿਚਾਰ, ਗੁਰਮਤਿ, ਗੁਨ ਗਾਥ ਜੀ ॥630॥
1. So long as the arrow is in the bow, it is under control but once it leaves the bow, it no longer stays under control .
2. So long as a tiger is in cage, it is under control but once it leaves the cage it does not stay under control and does not reside in a domestic setting.
3. So long as the lamp (deeva) is in the house, it is not even noticeable from the outside but once this Deepak (lamp) lights a forest and becomes a form of forest fire, it cannot be hidden even if one tries to hide it.
4. So long as our thoughts remain within our mind or mouth, they are fine but once our thoughts come out in form of words, they cant be controlled, so speak after thinking, speak according to Gurmat and speak only good qualities (of others).
Giving many examples, Bhai Sahib Gurdaas Ji has concluded that a Gursikh should speak after thinking, speak according to Gurmat i.e. speak sweetly and speak such thoughts that bring happiness for the speaker and the listener. A very good verse from Bhagat Kabir Ji's baani that is not in Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji and this Daas learned in school, goes as follows:
ਐਸੀ ਬਾਣੀ ਬੋਲੀਏ, ਮਨ ਕਾ ਆਪਾ ਖੋਏ। ਔਰਨ ਕੋ ਸ਼ੀਤਲ ਕਰੇ, ਆਪੋਂ ਸ਼ੀਤਲ ਹੋਏ।
It basically says that we should speak such speech that gives us peace and others peace as well.
Some Gursikh advocate speaking rudely based on couple of Pankitis from Gurbani. Presented below are the two pankitis that many individuals quote when justifying their rude speech:
1. ਜੇ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਭੁਲਿ ਚੁਕਿ ਬੋਲਦੇ ਭੀ ਖਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਣੇ ॥
2. ਜਿਨ੍ ਪਟੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਗੁਦੜੁ ਤੇ ਭਲੇ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥
About first pankiti they say that it means that even if Gursikhs speak rudely, still they are acceptable to Waheguru. Second pankiti is interpreted as ones who are like silk from inside and like rough cotton from outside, are good people in this world i.e. ones who are sweet from inside and are rude from outside are good.
Now let`s do Vichaar of these Pankitis in the light of Gurmat:
ਜੇ ਬਾਹਰਹੁ ਭੁਲਿ ਚੁਕਿ ਬੋਲਦੇ ਭੀ ਖਰੇ ਹਰਿ ਭਾਣੇ ॥
The idea behind this Pankiti is that only Waheguru and Guru Sahib are perfect. The Gurmukhs who have love from Naam, are very wise individuals but even if they unwittingly make a mistake while speaking, they are still acceptable to Waheguru. Speaking Bhul Chuk should not be interpreted as speaking rudely. To speak rudely, one has to have some Krodh or Haume and these are the Vikaars that Gursikhs of high level don`t possess.
ਜਿਨ੍ ਪਟੁ ਅੰਦਰਿ ਬਾਹਰਿ ਗੁਦੜੁ ਤੇ ਭਲੇ ਸੰਸਾਰਿ ॥
Being silk from inside and rough cotton from outside does not mean to be sweet from inside and rude from outside. Silk represents riches and rough cotton represents simplicity. This Pankiti actually means that Gurmukhs are rich (kings) from inside but outwardly they stay simple. A Gursikh is wise from inside but acts Bhola from outside. A Gursikh is strong from inside but acts humble from outside. This is what this pankiti actually means as opposed to being rude from outside and sweet from inside.
Gursikhs are sweeter than honey and they follow the Guru`s Hukam of sweet and good talk.
May we always speak according to Gurmat.
Gurmat Gyan (Knowledge)
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