Sadhana for Week 34

Body Level: Mouna

Fix a time for silence and do not speak during that time. Observe mouna for atleast 1 hour in a day. Avoid technological distractions


The highest form of grace is silence.


Silence is the Reality,

Not the sound that comes over it.

Let us not forget that the greatest forces in nature are all ever silent. Electricity has no noise. Heat is dumb. Flood creeps up silently in the night and sweeps away the sleeping villages, against which at that time man is helpless. The earthquake itself has only a frequency but no noise. The effects are noisy, but the force behind is ever silent. The silent power of Truth, in irresistible efficiency, is constantly at work – without strife, sound or confusion. As devotees of Truth when we work in the society, let us make use of this silent might of the ever-conquering Truth. We must learn to be cheerfully silent, gracefully silent and powerfully silent.


Every year on MahashivratiPoojyaGurudev would maintain mauna for the entire day and spend it in solitude by meditating in the basement of his kutia at SandeepanySadhanlaya at Powai. He would give strict instructions that no one is to disturb him on that day. In the evening after sundown he would come out of his kutia and go directly to Jagdeshwara temple and sit with everyone.

During this time no one was allowed to touch him. He would be shimmering and appearing to have a glow all around him. That was due to the immense heat produced by his meditation. Devotees recall that the people who placed their footsteps on the same spot that PoojyaGurudev had walked on, could feel the warmth.

That is the power of mauna.

What is Mauna?

Mauna means silence.

Mounamchaivaasmiguhyaanaamjnaanamjnaanavataamaham.  I am the silence of the Deep ones and I am the wisdom of the wise.  – Geeta Chapter 10.v.38

A Muni is one who is silent and contemplative.

Why Silence?

A seed in the womb of mother earth lies in silence absorbing nourishment and other natural blessings until its expanded soul bursts forth into blossom. 

The spirit of genius nurtured in the bosom of quiet contemplation, awaits patiently its appointed hour of awakening. 

In Spiritual life, silence creates an atmosphere and enables the seeker to find access to an inner sanctuary entirely hidden from the restless and turbulent material world.  Whenever we are listening to fine music, if someone speaks or makes a noise we are distracted and often lose the subtle beauty of the music. 

Similarly in spiritual study if our attention is diverted, we receive little or no benefit.  That’s why the idea of complete silence before spiritual study begins. Hence the Invocation begins and it ends with Om Shanti Shanti Shantih…..(Peace from cosmic forces, beings around and internal agitations).

Silence aids concentration, absorption.  These are necessary to experience our Higher Nature as Self. 

Silence brings about surrender.  That’s why many places of worship maintain silence to aid prayer, meditation and surrender. 

“We can never hear the language of the soul if our ears are filled with the loud noises of the world”.  – Swami Paramananda, Ramakrishna Mission.

Those who have obtained the direct vision of Truth are not inclined to make their own voice heard. 

A sufi mystic says – “Be silent that the Lord who gave Thee language may speak, for as He fashioned a door and lock, He has also made a key…..I am silent.  Speak Thou, O Soul of Soul of Soul.”

One of the earliest practices for a spiritual seeker is silence.  They never speak before their teachers unless they are asked to do so.  It is to make their mind receptive.  Even in our secular education this is necessary. 

Vedic revelations, scientific discoveries, creative compositions etc. have also happened in Silence.  They can happen to a person even today.

If water derives lucidity from stillness, how much more the faculties of the mind!  The mind of the sage being in repose becomes the mirror of the universe. – Chuang Tzu.

Beware of the fool whose volumes of words is as that of ten men like a hundred arrows shot and each one wide, off the target.  If thou art wise, shoot one and that one straight to the target.

With our modern life and habits there are many who feel a strong aversion to silence.  They confuse silence with dullness and inaction. 

Is not speaking called mauna?

No, not merely speaking is not mauna. Mauna which leads to silence is maunasadhana. The objective of this sadhana is to abide in silence. This sadhana is done to keep the senses steady and silent - steady in work and silent in meditation. This sadhana appears to be very difficult, but it is the most vital and at the same time most beneficial one, especially for a sadhak.

Let your hands and legs function;

But let a part of your mind steadily hold on to the idea of the divine essence in you.

-       Swami Chinmayananda

Other than not doing anything and keeping still even our thoughts have to be stopped, we have to be blank?

That again is a misconception. In meditation the thoughts are transcended but at other times during mauna the thoughts have to be concentrated in a single point and channelized in the right direction. Thoughts can never be stopped for the mind is a continuous flow of thoughts. To forcefully stop all thoughts only leads to suppression which will ultimately only harm us, as they will burst forth with greater vigor at some point later like a dam bursting.

Silence means co-ordination of the BMI to such an extent that every particle moves in one rhythm.  All our aspirations and ideals work in harmony. There is no friction.  No letting guilt of not having done or pride of having done, affect us.  We do the action as simply as we comb our hair. 

Even in machinery, that which avoids friction makes the least noise and endures the longest.  The life that moves without disharmony and friction is the most efficient life. 

For most people to maintain silence even for a short while is very difficult.

Does that mean only the very few evolved minds can do this sadhana, it is not for me?

The mind has to be raised step by step,

From the gross state to the subtle state;

Then to the casual state

And still further to the great cause,

And thus finally to Samadhi.

-       Swami Chinmayananda

This sadhana is for everyone and like all sadhanas it has different stages of evolution. Depending upon our stage there are different types of mauna sadhana:

At Sense Level:

This is called “Indriya Mauna”. Generally when we work our sense are not steady, they are fickle. Eyes are roaming everywhere, mouth talks whenever it wants, the leg keeps shaking, hands go to the hair, or eyes or nose, keep scratching, something or the other our sense organs keep on doing.It is very important to learn to keep the senses very still,especially if one wants to develop concentration. Restless senses cannot concentrate. There are many practices to develop this steadiness. Yoga is one of them. It trains the senses, body and mind to be still.

At Body Level:

Stillness of body – called “Kashta Mauna”. “Kashta” means body. Here the sadhana is to keep the body steady and still -no unnecessary swinging of the legs, or any other movement. Even in meditation people find it very difficult to be still at the body level. Stillness of the body is not just required by people on the spiritual path. It is necessary for everyone in our daily lives.eg. A tooth cannot be extracted from a patient who keeps on moving or fidgeting, stillness is required to be able to aim accurately while shooting or archery, etc. If our Mind is restless, the body is not going to be steady on its own. It has to be trained.

At Speech Level:

“Vaak Mauna”is silence of speech. We will go in detail about this sadhana later in the write up as is what we will be following this week.

At Mind Level:

“Mano Mauna” is practiced to make the mind quiet. In meditation it may go beyond thoughts. In daily life the mind which is positive, pure, and single pointed is a silent mind. Such a mind does not have agitations, negative thoughts, wander around. As discussed earlier it does not mean absolutely thoughtless.

Sushupti Mauna – is the silence experienced in deep sleep where there are no dreams.Only when we wake up do we realize we were sleeping. This is nature’s way of silencing all our senses, mind and intellect, it is forced upon us to refresh us, a blessing.

Until this silence is not experienced there is no refreshment of the body, no rejuvenation of the mind. That is why deep sleep is very necessary, the amount is directly proportional to how we feel the next day.

Maha Mauna – is the silencing of the ego – the state of Realization. In this stage the ego is destroyed completely. This is the highest mauna.

From silence, ego arises in the form of I, from the I arises thought and from thought arises words. So the spoken word is the great-grandson of silence.  – Ramana Maharshi. 

It is the ego that manifests our thoughts in the mind, words at speech level and actions at the body level. Once the ego has become silent, even if the person talks he is in mauna.

Once a devotee asked another, “What did PoojyaGurudev talk about today?” The devotee replied, “I don’t know, I was more absorbed in his silence”.

The master is speaking out of silence, he may be even roaring but it is borne out of silence for He is abiding in silence.

Swami Tapovan Maharaj and Raman Maharishi, two great masters, both established in the Self. Once when they met at Thiuvannamalai, this was before Swami Tapovan Maharaj went to the Himalayas. Swami Tapovan Maharaj had gone to meet him at Arunachala Hill. Raman Maharishi was sitting in silence. Swami Tapovan Maharaj  sat down too. Both of themwere sitting down facing each other for about half an hour but not a word was exchanged between them. After that Swami Tapovan Maharaj left. That was the highest form of communication. At that level words are an obstacle, an encumbrance and not necessary.

Lord Shiva is the epitome,the symbol of Silence. In his Dakshinamurtyavataar  there is a story about four sages visiting him. These sages were very old and had done sadhana for many, many years. Dakshinamurty was young and wise, they had come to him to clarify their doubts. They sat before him and even before they could voice their queries, the Lord answered all their questions through silence. The only form of visible communication going on between them was when at the end Daksinamurty showed the gyaan mudra to the sages. The sages understood everything and Realized. Not a word was spoken between them.

Buddha said, “Do not speak until you can practice silence”.

Thus the power of silence is immense. If we can practice silence even for an hour a lot of conflicts and fights will get resolved.

Out of purity and silence come the words of power.

-       Swami Chinmayananda


What are its benefits?

1.    Conserves pranic energy.

Every movement that we make, we spend our pranic energy. Speech is the second largest consumer of energy after carnal pleasure. When we indulge in idle talk, gossip, unnecessary talk for long hours we are draining pranic energy from our body.Our endeavor should be to conserve our pranic energy for higher purposes like meditation, contemplation, and introspection. If we have less pranic energy the brain gets heated up. That is why some people get headaches during meditation.

Yogasaprathmadvaarahavak-nirodho’parigrahaha- The first step in practice of yoga is control of speech. Vivekachoodamani Verse 368. 

2.    To transform that energy into spiritual energy

Ojas is the physical vitality which gets transformed into tejas (spiritual energy) which is brilliance of thoughts, loving nature, positive attitude. A lot of dissipation of energy is due to stress, worry and anxiety and most of it is through speech. The energy that is converted into spiritual energy will make the life that much more peaceful and productive.

To dissipate our energies through the sense organs is the vulgar hobby of the thoughtless mortals.

-       Swami Chinmayananda

3.    Antidote to distractions in our minds, attachments, aversions, etc.

Speech is tejomaya according to chaandogya Upanishad.  The gross portion of fire goes to constitute bones, the middle portion to form marrow and the subtle portion to form speech.  So speech is a very powerful energy.  Fire is the presiding deity of speech. That is why we sometimes say fiery speech, heated argument, hot-head. Intense speech destroys pranic energy in the body and creates heat in the body and brain.

4.    Develops tremendous amount of will power & checks impulsiveness.

Control over speech – what to talk, when to talk, all that control comes when we practice silence. Learning to hold back through this sadhana helps to restrain the speech. When one is angry and feels like shouting, one can hold back, refrain

5.    Makes speech measured:

One learns to speak to the point. What can be said in one sentence, does not need to be said in long speeches. This makes it more effective and saves energy.

6.    Purifies the speech:

Words we use to speak.The same speech is used to take the name of the Lord. Over a period of time mauna will purify our speech. What kind of words we use, what kind of vocabulary we use,maunasadhana will automatically keep a check on our choice of words. Our speech will become more positive, we will use more encouraging words, our speech will not be demeaning.

7.    Brings out creativity:

When we are in a creative mood we don’t want to talk. EgWhile composing a poem or painting, a person is in silence, one does not indulge in talking. Where there is  creative there is silence and when there is silence there is creativity.

A quiet mind produces a more brilliant intellect.

-       Swami Chinmayananda

8.    Silence of speech leads to silence of the mind:

When there is speech silence, automatically the mind gets restrained.It is through the eyes, ears and speech that maximum extrovertedness happens.Only in a silent mind we can experience divinity. Only in still water is the reflection clear.Mind which is steady, sharp, single pointed and subtle to gain Self Knowledge.

He is the Mahatma

Who keeps the tongue,

The reproductive organ,

Word and the mind

Perfectly under control

And patiently withstands all provocations.

-       Swami Chinmayananda


How to?

1.    Set aside a few moments or an hour(s) for mauna. Do not choose a time when you are likely to be silent anyways like taking a nap – sushuptimauna.

2.    Choose the time intelligently – when you have many responsibilities do not choose that time. Again don’t chose a time when you don’t have to interact with anybody eg when no one is at home. Select a moderate time.

3.    Sit still for a few minutes in complete stillness – body speech, mind for 5 to 10 minutes daily. Abidance in silence is the practice.  To do this one may use any support like japa or prayer or breath observation.

4.    Then for the rest of the hour continue doing your work without speaking. For this there are a few instructions as to how to direct the energy otherwise it will not be a peaceful silence, it will make one more restless and even cause frustration.

a.    One can either do japa, or contemplation or do something creative like write a poem, essay, read an inspiring book. Best is to do japa or contemplation. or

b.    Rest of the things you can do as per your temperament but it should be creative. Things which are very dear to you, in which you find joy and can lose yourself in.

c.    Some things that should not be done during mauna: do not show any signs or gestures, do not make any sounds, do not point with the finger. If there is an emergency then take a paper and write on it.

d.    Inform the people so that they know you are in mauna during that time and will be able to communicate either before or after your designated mauna time.

e.    No other forms of communication must be used during mauna. The idea is to conserve the energy and to channelize it.

5.    Slowly you can increase the time for mauna for that day of the week. Gandhiji used to been in mauna for one full day every week.

6.    Another way to practice is to eat food silently especially if you are alone. Most of the times we sit in front of the television and eat not even knowing how the food is really tasting. The sadhana is to sit quietly and eat without any distractions. Express gratitude to the Lord and eat slowly, mindfully tasting every bite and feel it go into your body.

7.    When you are sick definitely take up mauna. It conserves energy and aids in healing faster. It also helps in overcoming irritability. Follow this even if you have a cold or slight fever.

8.    Another time to practice mauna is to be silent 5 minutes before going to bed.

Talk less.

Think more.

Act wisely.

-       Swami Chinmayananda


Beginners and Advanced:


Do are advised above.

Advanced seeker:

1.    Do as advised above.

2.    Apart from Vak-Mauna or silence of speech, try and practice other forms of Mauna.

Vedanta is not merely to be read and understood –

It is to be practiced and lived.

-       Swami Chinmayananda