707 – Do the words we use affect us?

Hindu Scriptures emphasize the importance of using respectful language. The use of bad words or profanity in reference to the gods is seen as a form of blasphemy and is considered a serious offence.

Dear ones, why am I writing about usage of swear words and verbal abuse? I am observing that people are using very foul language in their daily lives. Words which were said by hiding one’s lips with one’s hands are used freely. I thought about it and decided to share my thoughts with you.

I remember when my mother was angry, she would clutch her breast and say the name of God, Hey Bhagwan, or she would call us by the names of the Goddesses, who were fierce like Chandika or Bhavani when we were rude or Rakshas which is monster when we behaved badly. In Ireland, they exclaim, Mother Mary. This was the repertoire of our parents and grandparents.

Now in literature also swear words are used and no film is free of these expletives. Is it because we are losing our sensitivity and are letting our sympathetic system take over? We are in the mode of fight-flight-freeze. Our helplessness in the situation is taken over by these words.

Expressing one’s emotions and feelings through the use of swear words and their euphemisms loudly, makes an impact on us. It was observed in a study by J.S Bower (Psychologist) that participants who uttered offensive words, showed higher stress levels than when asked to state the common euphemism.

It is said that euphemisms are effective because they replace the trigger—the offending word form, with another word form that is similarly conceptually.

Taboo words can create a physiological effect, and his study highlights how two words that mean the same thing can provoke a different response from us, and he says in terms of human relationships, how “subtle differences can make all the differences in the world.” Swearing produces effects that are not observed with other forms of language use. Swearing results in a range of outcomes: physiological, cognitive, emotional, pain relieving, interactional and rhetorical.

I sought references and I found this in the Vedas on verbal abuse.

Some are praises, some are abuses, the wise one does not discriminate and accepts both equally. Only one quarter of the speech is passed on and three quarter remains with the speaker. – Atharva Veda, Kanda 7, suktam 4 and 3

Speech has four components – Para (higher), Pashyanti (it is the first, visible manifestation of speech, it cannot be heard and can only be seen with the inner gaze), Madhyama (it is in the process of manifestation, the boundary between the area of audible and inaudible) and Vaikhari (the usual sound, speech).

Para originates from Muladhara and develops through Pashyanti and Madhyama stages into Vaikhari, the spoken and heard speech. When a person abuses or uses foul language, only one quarter is passed on to the victim. Three quarter remains within the abuser himself. The abuser is harmed three times more than the victim. Feel pity for the abuser.

These are sad times and if we paused and thought about the usage of foul words and how it impacted us and the cosmos, we could change ourselves and our environment.

Aim Hrim Klim

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

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