In English there is a word for it. it is “Semantics” – The emotional effect of your words and phrases. I guess it applies to both Spoken and unspoken word, when you give a cross look but don’t utter a word!!. Many years back, when I read it for the first time in the book  Word Power made easy by Norman Lewis, it occupied my mind for a long long time!! So much so that I could not read the book further. It consumed my mind space.  

“No!! you are lying. You were not there!!”  the contractor, a  painter was now getting personal with the work which he had messed up.  It was the badminton court being repainted to correct the earlier paint job which had wrong boundary markings.  Best Defence is Offence, so he thought, i guess. I have seen quite a few of these, sometimes missed the plot for a late realisation. My reaction could have been “who the hell do  you think you are? you ……” . Being aware of the emotional effect of his words on me and not wanting my emotions to be in his control, I responded “When I was standing there taking pictures of the painting being done at the badminton court, you were not there,. I can share them with you and you assistant at the court can verify.”  He was firm to call it a bluff and checked with the worker on the court . After verifying he knew the truth, called me back and said , “you were there when i had gone to buy the scrubber and had left before I came back.” The tone of his voice had changed , the direction of the conversation was back at the work to be done and he had surrendered without any battle. Ego’s didn’t fly and battle wasn’t fought, bitterness didn’t prevail. 

Right from my childhood, I have been told that the essence of being a Jain is the practice of Non violence of Thoughts , Words and Actions. Non Violence of action is prevalent and limited to not hurting the animals, avoiding non-veg but we never really pay attention to the violence of words we do in our interactions with people like maid or driver or neighbour or peers. The emotional impact can have devastating effects worst than eating non-veg.  After all we express through words  and language is universal medium of expression. My friends wife suffers from an irreversible dementia because of a emotional scar created by a negative marking on her performance by her superior. She, a brilliant IAS officer in her times couldn’t take that emotional beating and has retarded to loosing her identity.  Imagine the pain of her lovely daughter growing up without her mothers support and a husband who has lost a partner’s emotional and mental companionship. It saddens me to see him sad and hiding his pain. That is the emotional effect of spoken words and we may never get to know what we have done! 

Another time in a gathering of few business owners, one of the directors comes over steaming and shouts “How could you manipulate data, it was not expected out of you?” loud enough for others to fall quiet. It was embarrassing and was in  contradiction to his speech a few minutes back. As a equal , I could have snapped and put him in place but all I did was to ask “since this data is two months old, I will check and correct it if its wrong!” After verification, data was correct and in one day everyone knew the truth and the bluff. The power play had shifted its course!! Another worthless war of words, not bought, not fought.

My son came up to me and said “Pa!! you told me that through my efforts i had changed my stars and i can achieve anything i want to!! That gave me the confidence to….. !!”  My son right from his birth was dyslexic and not as brilliant as his brother, a fat kid who didn’t utter a word for first 2 years but he had a smile to die for and a cuteness that could lighten up the darkest moments!! Around the age of 5, he began to sit regularly for a 10 minute chanting and sometimes he would open up one eye to check if i was still monitoring him, smiling all the time. Some good changes began to happen, guru’s blessing!! And I happen to tell him that his thinking was unique , out of the box, that he could achieving anything and I was proud of him already!! I meant it deeply, genuinely and He took it to his heart. Year after year this dyslexic kid has earned straight A grade, B’s made their guest appearances and we almost always have lost the hunt for C’s. He has beaten district level Badminton players without taking any coaching ever, in informal games. Now at the age of 15, his friends fondly call him a “gym body”. Its not fiction,  its my life’s story and the emotional effect of words spoken!!

One wrong word can destroy many life. Remember the famous Mahabharata Dialogue of Drupadi “Andhe ka putra Andha” and  Mahabharath happened!!
One right word can make some life. In Ramayana, Jambvanth reminded Hanuman of what he is capable of at the sea shore and off he flew across the ocean.

We have ample opportunity everyday , every time we open our mouth to Choose the words we speak, to create the world we want!! 

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Vejay Mehta

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