Words are not just vehicles of thought, but also engines of thought

We often think of words as tools for expressing our thoughts. When we expand our vocabulary by memorizing new words, we usually desire to express ourselves better. In this understanding, we see words as vehicles for carrying our thoughts from us to others. 

Simultaneously however, words serve another important purpose: they are also engines that animate our thinking process. This role of words can help us appreciate the importance of memorizing and reciting verses, which is recommended as an austerity of speech in the Bhagavad-gita (17.15).

When we recite verses, such recitation doesn’t have to remain just a verbal activity – it can also become an intellectual activity and even a spiritual activity. Our thoughts may be wandering, but verse recitation focuses our thought-energy on the meaning of the verses, thereby triggering intellectual activity. And when the verses are filled with spiritual import, especially when they describe the supreme spiritual reality, Krishna, then verse recitation doesn’t just trigger spiritual activity; it is intrinsically a spiritual activity. Habitual verse recitation brings scriptural words on our lips and into our ears. From there, those words gain entrance into our consciousness and gradually entrance our consciousness. 

Indeed, words are readymade templates for sublimating our thoughts. Once we appreciate this potency of scriptural words, we not only look forward to reciting verses but also take the necessary efforts to memorize them. Why memorize? Because memorization makes these templates constantly accessible to us, serving as ever-ready engines for propelling our consciousness away from worldly illusion toward divine illumination. Therefore, words that convey deep intellectual or spiritual truths are eminently worth churning and cherishing. 

When we experience how easily and effectively words sublimate our thoughts, we re-envision verse memorization and recitation as not a religious chore, but as a powerful spiritual engine for elevating our consciousness. 


Think it over:

  • How are words engines for thought?
  • How can verse recitation be an intellectual and spiritual activity?
  • How is verse memorization helpful?



17.15 Austerity of speech consists in speaking words that are truthful, pleasing, beneficial, and not agitating to others, and also in regularly reciting Vedic literature.

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  1. Words are source of thought

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