Monday, March 01, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 193 (Vol #3) Dated 28 Feb 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 193 (Vol #3) Dated 28 Feb 2010.
(These e-mails are translations of talks given by Periyaval of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. To day we are proceeding from page No 878 of Vol 3 of the Tamil original. The readers are reminded that herein 'man/he' includes 'woman/she' too, mostly. These e-mails are all available at http://Advaitam. blogspot. com constantly updated.)

72. Dharma and Artha Saastraa-s had kept the punishments rather harsh for absolutely logical reasons. A crime is in some way injurious to some individual or the society at large. The punishment by the king has to be exemplary enough to deter recurrence by the self same offender and emulation by other would be offenders! So it has to be more hurting than the offence itself. You cannot afford to be lenient here. For a theft of ten rupees, if he is going to be incarcerated for four months in hard labour, the punishment will be deterring enough. It is the fear of misusing these powers by the police and bureaucracy, that is the reason for trying not to be too draconian. In the case of the erstwhile kings no such fear of misuse of powers was there, as they were ‘dharmic to the core‘!

73. There was another reason for keeping these punishments at the harsher level. The king had a responsibility to keep his subjects on the straight and narrow path of Dharma. It was his job to keep them from sinning as a ‘good shepherd’. So his punishment for the offences of commission and omission were as a matter of ‘praayaschittam’ that is, as an expiation too. Having already been punished by the king, the offender is saved from a later day comeuppance in Naraka that is, Hell. Compared to that, what the Raja metes out is rather linient only!

74. It is here that I have to tell you an important matter. The king did not have the jurisdiction to punish the Brahmins. The principle of 'equality before the law', was just not there seemingly. In an area where there should not be any deviation and or partiality, there seems to be some more equal than others! But one should try and understand the logic of this, to know that there is no partiality. The principle of ''praayaschittam' that I just mentioned, is the logic.

75. For a convict, 'Raja Dhandam', that is the punishment by the king itself becomes an act of expiation. Brahmin's life is centred around the protection and practice of Veda Mantraa-s. Not a single day should he give up his aachaaraa-s. If he does so, that very thing will become an error of omission, a sin! If the brahmin is put in jail, it is his 'nitya karma anushtaana' which will be negatively affected. It is the six duties (‘shat karma nirata:’) that the brahmin normally does that will go undone. So for the errors of omission and commission that the brahmin does, he has a schedule of self imposed punishments of abnegation and 'praayaschittam' that he is required to observe, as given in the saastraa-s. Then for very serious offences, he can be banished from the caste, known as 'jaati brashtam'!

76. Thus the brahmin is deterred from even sinful thoughts, let alone sinful actions! So, to a major extent, the brahmin was mostly excused from what was known as 'Raja Dhandam'! Thus till very recent times, they were not undisciplined drunkards or dacoits but, were highly respected by all the other castes, as being 'friend, guide and philosophers', mostly! That justifies the way Artha Saastra treated them. Let this matter be aside.

77. Generally looking at all the people, Raja Dhandam itself was meant to become an expiation of his errors and thus cancellation of the individual's demerits. Then there was the additional point that, to let go a criminal unpunished was considered an error of omission on the part of the king! There was the dictum, 'yataa raja thathaa praja', meaning, 'people behave as the king does', he had to be an ideal worthy of emulation! Then there was another compulsion that the sins of the masses will accrue to the king! So he had to be extra careful and diligent in ensuring the good attitude and behaviour of his citizens!

78. While on this point of Raja Dhandam that acts as a process of draining out the demerit 'paapa' of the masses, let me tell you one more thing. To die in the battle field is a coveted and highly cherished 'punyam' the exact opposite of 'paapam', for the king and his soldiers! This is one of the main reasons that the king and his soldiers are given certain special privileges.

79. On the point of the powers of the king to punish, let us dwell a little more. The whole of the thrust in our religion is to remove the very criminal urge from ones minds. The karma anushtaanaa-s, aachaaraa-s, the various paths of Karma, Bhakti, Gyana and Yoga are all meant to raise the human being from his natural tendency to err! Prevention is better than cure in this too! When these restrictions are ignored and go by default, it is then that, 'the lure of the forbidden apple' becomes more pronounced!

80. The religious leaders of the society such as Aachaaryaa-s, Gnani-s, Pouranik-s and devotees using the power of suggestion guide and canalise the people's minds in the morally acceptable sinless ways. Despite all this when some deviation takes place, the king has to have extra-ordinary powers to deal with such situations. After all, the king is responsible to maintain the law and order state in the country that the common man may live without the fear of criminals and thugs. Because of the importance of the subject, Artha Saastra has a synonym as 'Dhanda Needhi', which can be translated as 'judicious punishments'.

81. The king supported people of high moral integrity so that they could spread awareness of moral values through talks, pravachanam-s and personal examples. That was the condition then, unlike now when the government has completely delinked itself from any responsibility for morality, as though if they did so, they will not be considered as being secularistic enough! So despite the apparent ambience of law abidance by most of the populace, if some were keen on leading a life of crime, the punishment for it had to be strong enough.

82. Though there is a ground swell against too harsh punishments now-a-days, what we see practically is yearly increase in the number of police units, courts of justice and pending criminal cases in them. The dictum 'Justice delayed is justice denied ' seems to have been completely forgotten! Due to the king's direct support of morally upright people, police and courts were the barest minimum. The kings main pre-occupation was construction of temples.

(To be continued.)




At 7:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank u........................................


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