A noted scholar is featured in a weekend evening programme on Kannada Channel of DD providing convincing and simplistic explanations to a wide-ranging doubts and myths lay persons experience on either listening to discourses by scholars or reading verses found in various ancient texts of the land, most of them not credited to any well-identified authors. In fact, the text of the four Vedas is a noted example of an author-less scripture. So also the entire cornucopia of subhaashitas (words of wisdom) and many of the more than 100 Upanishads that are known to have scripted later than the Vedas. In addition, we have a rich legacy of shanti mantras, which don’t pose any difficulty to understand for people who have been initiated to Sanskrit at elementary level. Many later philosophers who are credited with prescriptions to society on the ground rules of orderly life, including mutual respect among its members and co-existence with nature without hurting animal species and plants in their entirety. Occasionally, some among the scholarly writers remind us about the foregoing guidelines which constitute a rich legacy of the past.
One of the gems of the words of wisdom we rarely hear refers to speaking the truth with some helpful riders. The verse has the message stated succinctly that truth shall be spoken that is pleasant. An equally valuable prescription in the verse is that truth that is unpleasant shall be scrupulously avoided. According to the scholar referred above, truth that is unpleasant and hurtful to others, when spoken, shall qualify to be untruth.
Scholars of our times who are conversant with the land’s past literary works are of help to lay persons in unearthing the do’s and don’ts of public speaking taking care not to disturb the hornet’s nest, just to derive vicarious pleasure or seek to get noticed in society for all wrong reasons. We have amidst us such persons, many of them self-styled litterateurs, who are invited to be guests of honour indulging in raising points that hurt people with various backgrounds. Such an episode has happened in the city this week, as reported by the media, where people’s representatives and writers exchanged expletives hurdled at each other which has left bad taste in the moderates, although amused others. Both parties, obviously accorded very low premium on the value of pleasant-speaking.
Even as opinions have been expressed in many informed circles that writers in Kannada are adrift in producing literature of lasting value, unlike many Kannada writers of the past, it behoves well present-day public speakers to exercise care and caution during their participation in public functions.