I was feeling a bit down in the dumps that day, like many others during the course of the pandemic. Just out of curiosity, I decided to look up the word depression and it’s synonyms on the internet. Here are some of the words that I found.

Depression, dejection, deprivation, disturbance, disenchantment, disappointment, disinterest.

When I looked closely at these words, I found something very striking:  they all began with the letter ‘d’. Of course not all ‘d’ words are depressing; there are also a few like ‘divine’ and ‘devotion.’ However, in general, ‘d’ words are depressing, and if we take them out of our thoughts and speech, we can uplift our spirits.

There is a parallel to this in the world of Sanskrit and Hindi poetry. Alliterations are used very often to evoke a particular mood or feeling. We can find a good example of this in the ever-popular Hanuman Chalisa:

“Kanan kundal kunchit kesha “

The constant repetition of the ‘k’ sound induces a powerful feeling of devotion, and it is this feeling that makes Hanuman Chalisa such a great work of poetry and music. This form of alliteration is found in many other Sanskrit compositions such as the Durga Saptashati and the ever-popular Vishnu Sahastra Nama.

My all-time favourite poet in the English language is TS Eliot, author of The Wasteland. A very learned man, he was well-versed in  the philosophies of the East and the West. His poems sound a little obscure, at first reading, but the words have a hypnotic effect on the mind. He uses alliteration with great effect. In the final lines of ‘The Wasteland’ he uses these Sanskrit words to complete the poem.

Datta  Dayadhwam. Damayatta.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

Here is my understanding of these words; it is, by no means, a literal translation.

What have you given (datta) in your life?

Has your life been full of compassion (Dayadhwam)?

Have you led a disciplined life (damyatta)?

If  your answer yes  to all of the above, then you deserve to be at peace (shanti) in the three worlds of existence: the past, the present and the future.

Note that Eliot used the ‘d’ letters to great poetic effect. This fits very well with the theme of ‘The Wasteland’, that describes a ‘dysfunctional’  Western world following  the end of the first world war.

Continuing my journey a little further, I found many other depressing words and phrases using the ‘d’ letter. If a soldier ‘deserts’ his post, he could be accused of ‘dereliction of duty.’ This could lead to ‘demotion’ or, in some cases, to ‘dismissal’ from service -a very ‘disturbing’ state of affairs. The soldier could also be accused of ‘disorderly’ conduct before his ‘departure’ from the army.

Descriptions of war are replete with ‘d’ words. There is ‘death’ and there is massive ‘destruction’ and ‘demolition.’  War, inevitably, leads to a ‘depletion’ of natural resources. War leads to ‘defiance’, and very often, it is instigated by ‘dictatorships.’ When the war finally ends, many soldiers are ‘decommissioned,’ or let go. Many of them feel ‘disoriented’ as they have no place to go. They become ‘destructive’ and respond to situations with ‘disproportionate’ anger. They are filled with ‘dismay’ and ‘despair.’ Most of them find it very hard to adjust to civilian life; this is the human price of war.

Are you feeling ‘de-energized’ or ‘deflated’ reading this?

There is no need to worry. Just go to the next letter of the alphabet and start looking at ‘e’ words; you will feel ‘energized ‘ once again. If it doesn’t quite work for you, take a dose of ‘espresso’ coffee to feel more ‘exuberant.’ ‘E; words are ‘exciting’ and they will fill you up with ‘enthusiasm.’ You will feel ‘elevated’ and filled with ‘exhilaration.’ 

They might even lead to a state of ‘enlightenment’, the highest human goal on planet ‘earth.’ 

One powerful ‘e’ word is ’emancipation.’ It has been used very effectively by Bob Marley in his freedom song:

“Emancipate yourself from mental slavery.

None but ourselves can free our minds.”

This, my friends, is my own  journey from depression to enlightenment,  using the power of words. But wait, there is even more.

There are so many other letters in the alphabet, each with its distinctive quality. 

Let us jump to another powerful letter. This is the letter  ‘o’, perhaps the most powerful of them all. The word ‘Om’ begins with this letter.  The variants of this word are found in almost every culture. In Christianity, we say Amen, the Muslims say Amin. Many power words in the English language begin with this letter: ‘omniscient’, or all knowing; ‘Omnipotent’ or all powerful; ‘Omnivore’, or one who can eat anything. The word ‘OMG,’ or Oh My God, is a staple of many forms of social media.

The word ‘omerta’ means silence in the Italian language. Sometimes, silence is more powerful than any sound that we can make.

Most powerful of all, the name of our beloved Om Swami ji begins with the  letter ‘o.’ 

What could be more powerful than this?

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Niraj Chandra

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