Should You Argue? – Swami Vivekananda


We come across arguments, and debates multiple times in our lives. Swami Vivekananda in Raja Yoga while deciphering the 52nd Yoga Sutra (aphorism) of Patanjali talks about arguments (should we engage/not in them).

Vada and Siddhanta — these are the two sorts of scriptural knowledge — vada (the argumentative) and Siddhanta (the decisive). When a man is entirely ignorant he takes up the first of these, the argumentative fighting, and reasoning pro and con; and when he has finished that he takes up the Siddhanta, the decisive, arriving at a conclusion. Simply arriving at this conclusion will not do. It must be intensified. Books are infinite in number, and time is short; therefore the secret of knowledge is to take what is essential. Take that and try to live up to it.

There is an old Indian legend that if you place a cup of milk and water before a Raja Hamsa (swan), he will take all the milk and leave the water. In that way, we should take what is of value in knowledge, and leave the gross. Intellectual gymnastics are necessary at first. We must not go blindly into anything.

The Yogi has passed the argumentative state, and has come to a Raja Yoga conclusion, which is, like the rocks, immovable. The only thing he now seeks to do is to intensify that conclusion. Do not argue, he says; if one forces arguments upon you, be silent. Do not answer any argument, but go away calmly, because arguments only disturb the mind. The only thing necessary is to train the intellect, what is the use of disturbing it for nothing?

The intellect is but a weak instrument, and can give us only knowledge limited by the senses. The Yogi wants to go beyond the senses, therefore intellect is of no use to him. He is certain of this and, therefore, is silent, and does not argue. Every argument throws his mind out of balance, creates a disturbance in the Chitta, and a disturbance is a drawback. Argumentations and searchings of the reason are only by the way. There are much higher things beyond them.

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