Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How to Speak Well - A Piece of Advice from Ramayana

As a member of a Toastmasters club I am on a constant look out for interesting material on how to speak better. A very interesting story from Ramayana that I heard from my Sanskrit teacher at high school came to my mind recently. However, I did not recollect much of the story. Thanks to the internet. I could find the original Valmiki Ramayana online. Then based on the situation explained in the story, I dug through the right chapters, and hunted the material in full.

The story goes like this:

Rama and Lakshmana enter Sugreeva’s territory on their way to Lanka. One of Sugreeva’s spies notifies Sugreeva about the two young men dressed as ascetics, but appearing to be of royal heritage, roaming in the area. Sugreeva immediately dispatches Hanuman to find out who the two men were.

Hanuman disguises as a Brahmin. He encounters the two men and requests their introduction. Lakshmana introduces Rama as the Emperor of Ayodhya, narrates the story about how Ravana kidnapped Sita, and that they are on their way to Lanka to rescue Sita. Learning that the two men are none other than Rama and Lakshmana, Hanuman discards his disguise and gives his real introduction. He then invites the duo to meet with his lord – Sugreeva. Lakshmana, at this point grows suspicious about Hanuman. He warns Rama that this could be a trap by the cunning demon associates of Ravana. Rama disagrees with Lakshmana and explains:

नूनम् व्याकरणम् कृत्स्नमनेन बहुधा श्रुतम् |
बहु व्याहरतानेन न किंचितपशब्दितम् ||

“This young man is indeed a learned person (bahudha shrutam). He speaks correct grammar. He does not mis-pronounce even a single word.”

न मुखे नेत्रयोयोश्चापि ललाटे च भ्रुवोस्तथा |
अन्येष्वपिपि च सर्वेषु दोषस्संविदितो क्वचित् ||

“I can find no defect in his gestures. His mouth, eyes, forehead, eyebrows, and all other parts are free from any fault”

अविस्तरमसंदिग्धमविलम्बितमव्यथम् |
उरःस्थम् कण्ठगम् वाक्यम् वर्तते मध्यमे स्वरम् ||

“His sentences are short and crisp. He does not prolong his sentences where it is not necessary. He utters his words with confidence. His voice comes from his throat, and resonates with his chest. Therefore it is free of any dissonant notes. His pitch is at the medium level (madhyama) – neither high, nor low.”

संस्कार क्रम संपन्नामद्भुतामविलम्बिताम् |
उच्चारयति कल्याणीम् वाचम् हृदय हर्षिणीम् ||

“His speaking style is remarkable. It shows his rich culture. He speaks nice things, and his words please my heart.”

अनया चित्रया वाचा त्रिस्थान व्यंजनस्थयाः |
कस्य नाराध्यते चित्तम् उद्यत् असे अरेः अपि ||

“How could even an enemy not get disillusioned by listening to him?”

Thus Rama concludes Hanuman to be a noble man. He immediately accepts Hanuman’s invitation to meet with his king

This episode not only sets an example of how one should speak, but also tells us what one could achieve by emulating good spoken skills.

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