Friday, February 26, 2010

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 192 (Vol #3) Dated 26 Feb 2010.

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 192 (Vol #3) Dated 26 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 the second para on page No 872 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.)

61. ‘Sakuntalam’ is another of Kalidasa’s dramas, in which it is clearly brought out as to how a king should empathise with all life forms. When informed of the fact that someone has come from Kanva Maharishi’s ashram, King Dushyant wonders as to what could have gone wrong, since normally people living in ashrams would not be visiting the royal presence for flimsy reasons! He thinks to himself, “What could have happened? I hope those living in the ashram have not been disturbed from conduct of their rituals! Could it be that some one has hunted the harmless animals in the forest? May be due to my some errors trees’ or plants’ flowers may not have bloomed or fruitioned!” (5th Angam of the drama.)

62. During ‘Ram Rajya’ when there was death of an infant in a family, Sri Rama investigated and found that it was due to not strictly observing ’varna ashrama dharma-s’ and punished the culprit. At the start of ‘Sakuntalam’ too there is a scene which, confirms this deep rooted belief of the kings in ‘varna ashrama dharma’. Dushyant goes for a hunt in the forest. There he meets Sakuntala with her friends. He feels an instant attraction towards her. From the talk of her friends, he realizes that she is unwed. He feels that this love of his cannot be against ‘varna ashrama dharma’. But if she is the daughter of Kanva Maharishi, she may be a Brahmin girl, in which case, his love for her is an aberration! Then he also thinks that as he is the type of person not prone to inner conflicts and since he has mentally wished for her company, she must be a Kshatriya girl and not a brahmin girl!

63. In actual fact she is the daughter of Vishwamitra and Apsara Menaka, who is abandoned by the parents and so an adopted daughter of Kanva Maharishi! Here the poet indirectly points out that even in passing, kings do not have lascivious tendencies that go against the ‘varna ashrama dharma’! The kings had such high level of responsibility and sense of propriety that, in their actions and follow up, they tried to remain true to the dictates of dharma and artha saastraa-s very diligently. They were not out to fill up the royal coffers by hook or crook! This point is amply brought out by Kalidasa's Sakuntalam, 6th Angam.

64. There was a rich merchant who went overseas. News is received that his ship was wrecked and that the merchant had died in the accident. As he had died without any issues, the minister sends a note to the king that all the traders property would accrue to the royal coffers. The king considers that, as the trader was quite rich, he was likely to have more than one wife. He gives instructions to find out if any of the trader's wives is in the family way. It is then revealed that one of them is actually in the family way. Dushyant gives a ruling that the property will accrue to the yet to be born child and not to the royal coffers!

65. Then Dushyant makes a proclamation, which clearly shows the king's deep conviction in fairness, justice, humaneness and lack of greed. His royal decree states that, "... for all those who are grieved, he will take the role of that relative as 'next of kin' and adds so that his decree may not be misunderstood, "...without prejudice to dharma and moral laws of the land!..." Chanakya too adds the responsibilities of taking care of 'orphans, poor people, pregnant women, sick and old' as that of the king. Modern day politicians who talk about Welfare State cannot come anywhere near conceptually and in practice!

66. Thus the king and the government are entrusted with many important qualitative requirements, two points are deeply emphasised by the Artha Saastra. So far I have described the protective measures to be taken by the king and or government. These two are punitive and corrective actions. If you want to grow plants, you have to weed out the unwanted growths periodically and protect the field with a fence against trespass! Exactly similarly, maintenance of law and order internally and preparedness against outside interference, are both the king's and his government's responsibilities!

67. Internal. Punitive action alone is not the first point of emphasis. In to-days set up, there does not seem to be any moral responsibility of the government to guide people in the right direction whatsoever! It was not so in the olden times. The king had the responsibility to actively involve in guiding people in the right direction and encourage law abidance, in all possible ways. He made use of the 'Pouranik-s' and their 'kathaa kaalakshepam' to give discourses about dharmic matters of venerable behaviour worthy of emulation. For such activities the Temples were the community halls of the society. At each village level, there was the Panchayat of responsible citizens. There was the 'Nattaanmai' with some local powers to maintain order. Then beyond this, for errant behaviour, the punishment was rather harsh.

68. To show extra care and consideration for convicted criminals will only be construed as encouraging errant behaviour! It is only these days that people are making it a big issue about persuasion and corrective action. These are all ok as points for a doctorate thesis. In practice I wonder if there is any single case of convicted criminal who has been corrected to mend his ways! In a high unemployment scenario coupled with a so called persuasive policies of the government towards criminals, will only end up in encouraging the tendency to consider the period in custody as, 'sarkari mehmaan' that is, 'guests of the government'!

69. The conditions existing to-day is that the governments have totally washed off their hands, as far as the responsibility of guiding and encouraging morally correct behaviour of its citizens. Politicians have impressed on the minds of people about the need to treat the criminals with 'kid's gloves'! The power of Dharmic institutions have completely diminished to nullity almost! People have lost the fear of social ostracization too. That can be one of the reasons for criminals to be left without too harsh a treatment! But in olden times, the government of the erstwhile kings was very supportive for people to move in the correct path of justice. The society was mostly well behaved. So there was no logic to treat confirmed criminals with a liberal attitude of commiseration!

70. Our country was an example for all the countries to emulate, in morally upright social ethos. This was essentially due to the fact that 'Raja Dhandam' was an effective power in being, the fear of which kept people from going astray! Whether it was 'Meghasthanes' or 'Paahiyan', all foreign visitors have whole heartedly praised the Indian country, culture and system. The King's power to punish was one of the reasons for the state of affairs existing those days. Now we do know all of us as to how bad is the situation existing! Still we shamelessly criticize and find faults with the Saastraa-s on this issue of punishing the criminals! (KTSV adds:- Periyaval is being too soft on this. Criminals and Politicians have become synonyms in present day India, to say the least!)

71. It is alright to talk of persuasion and application of correction for the criminals' to turn the corner. But when there is a war on or economic or political crisis, they declare 'Emergency' and the first action taken is to bring in draconian laws of punitive action against offenders. Does this not indicate that better than measures of correction, the law should be seen as an effective Power in Being, for it to be abided with and meticulously observed?

(To be continued.)




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