In Hindu philosophy, Mauna means silence, taciturnity, silence of the mind, inner quietude, Samadhi and the Absolute Reality. The Hindu texts insist upon proper understanding of silence by experiencing it through control of speech and practice. the Dictionary gives the meaning of the word, Silence, as absence of sound; abstention from sounding, speech, mention, or communication; a time of such absence or abstention, taciturnity.
Human knowledge suffers from the limitation of incompleteness but the Vedantic view of knowledge is rooted in self-revelation or self-luminosity. The truth of knowledge consists in its non-contradictedness and novelty, and not in mere correspondence or coherence. Truthfulness in speech leads to truthfulness in spirit because in truth is initiation based. Truth is based on the heart, and reason is the true abode of truth.
Control of speech is not forced silence. Meditation is the practice of silence. The state of Samadhi is the boundless ocean of silence.
You see, what happens is this, then: that an individual who, all his life long, has played the social game, then says, ‘Well now I have done that. I have assumed this role. I have become identified with tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor, whatever it was; but now – who am I, really?’ In order to find that out I have to go off by myself.
Why? Because you have a role-conception, a mask-conception of yourself, because other people tell you who you are. We are constantly – in every social interchange, in the most common remarks – telling other people who they are. Everything leads up to that. The way I act towards you, the way you act towards me, tells me who I am and tells you who you are.
For example, you come and sit here and listen to me talk. You are, by doing that, telling me I am some kind of a teacher. And you are telling yourselves that you are some kind of students. And that is only one thing, you see? One little incident. In business, everyday, in your housework, and everything you do, everybody around you is telling you what you are and who you are by expecting certain behavior from you, which – if you are a reasonable and socially inclined person – you perform, because that is what is expected of you. So you are told who you are.
So when we come – we have had enough of that, you see? This is daft, let us not listen to this anymore. That is why the śramaṇa on the vanaprastha –one of the first things he practices is silence. It is called Mauna. And he may take a vow not to speak for a month, or a year. And after about a month of Mauna you do not only stop talking, but you stop thinking in words.
And that is a very curious experience when it happens, because all the senses take on a tremendous intensity. You see things which you have never seen before, because you stop codifying and classifying the World by thinking. Sunsets appear incredibly more vivid and flowers are enchanting; the whole World comes alive to the Mauna.