Crime and punishment
A judicious mix of aid to the needy and increase in the quantum of punishment appears to be the need of the hour when the crime rate seems to be on the increase.
IN THIS universe, everything changes with time. If something remains stationary or if something is changeless then it is dead. Change is the essence of life. The changes in one's life are brought about by himself/herself or each one is responsible for his/her actions and enjoys the results of such actions.
"Every country is my country; everyone is my kin" is a much publicised line from a Tamil Sangam poem a poem written over 2000 years ago. But the rest of this poem is not so well known. The second line states Good and Bad are not the result of others' actions. It goes on to say that "Everyone leads a preordained life. Therefore we do not wonder at the success of great men; much less, we talk ill of smaller men."
This poem yields the following important postulates of life:
* Change is the essence of life or growth.
* Everyone has a place and a duty to perform.
* Everyone enjoys the results of his/her own actions; nobody else is responsible for good or bad that one enjoys.
Consequently one may derive the postulate that as the universe is finite everything takes place in a cycle.
When it is stated that each is born to perform a particular duty and he performs that duty, it is said in the sense that each has a role to play in the universal drama and all are players in that drama. In Tamil it is said Nadagame Ulagam.
The concept that each is born to perform a particular duty has been vulgarised during the 18th and 19th centuries (most probably the western historians had an important role in the vulgarisation process) that each is born in a caste and he/she has to perform that work or practise that vocation/profession ordained for that community. No, this is not what was postulated by our forefathers. One just plays one's role. Even if someone is harming another, it is because it is what he was required to do by virtue of the principles of natural justice. Villainy is not an accepted concept in Tamil. Therefore in Tamil there is no word equivalent to the English word `Villain.' It is translated as enemy or opposite of the hero, or reciprocal or inverse of the hero.
In the entire Sangam literature and even in the literature till the advent of the westerners there are no villains in the stories of Tamil literature. There is no villain in the famous Silapathikaram which tells the story of Kannagi. Even Kamban does not describe Vali or Ravanan as villains; they are described as persons in responsible positions not performing their duties. Thus it is seen that everything takes place as per the laws of nature and each reaps the consequences of his/her actions.
Further, it is known that everyone is born with a particular nature. A man may be born in a family of merchants. But he may be a person with a research bent of mind. Then even if he is led to practise commercial activities, he will undertake research in them. On the other hand a person born in a family of teachers with a commercial bent of mind, even if he is forced to be a teacher, he will commercialise his teaching and research activities.
"What one is, is known from what he leaves behind," said Thiruvalluvar (Kural 114). One accumulates what one likes and therefore leaves behind an accumulation of what he/she liked. Thus, the real nature of the individual and his role in the universe is known by looking at his actions and what he left behind.
Cycle and finiteness
The universe is finite and there are only a finite number of alternatives. This was known to the people of the Sangam age. They have actually stipulated the possible incidents in the external or the vocational world and in the domestic life. One may realise the finiteness of the number of available alternatives if one sees a number of serials on the TV or reads a number of stories in the journals. Very soon he/she will be able to predict what will happen next in the serial story or TV programme.
The following cycle of events is quite common in many living rooms of houses in the midst of lush growth of vegetation. In the evenings just after sunset a large number of all types of insects get attracted by the tube light in the living room. Soon a lizard will appear to catch the insects. Initially there will be a large number of insects and a very few lizards. The lizards will grow in size and number during the course of the next few days. A stage will come when the insect population starts decreasing in size; consequently the lizard population depending upon these insects will also start diminishing. The cycle will be complete when the lizard population is at its least and the insect population has reached its zenith.
The human population also varies in the same fashion. This is not the first time when the world human population was as high as 600 crores. It grows when the climate is conducive for the growth of human beings. The same is true of every other living being.
Let us next take the example of crimes and criminal behaviour. At a given point of time in the history there may be a minimum incidence of crimes. The government may stipulate the quantum of punishment for each type of crime. Some criminals may consider the punishment for a given crime is not deterrent enough and therefore may engage themselves more often in criminal activities. Then, the police may take tough attitude. For instance, in Chennai, the Commissioner of Police has issued orders that the police may shoot, if necessary, to catch the criminals. The courts may decide to award the maximum punishment as per law. When this was found inadequate the government may amend the statutes and provide for more stringent punishment. This may lead to a reduction in criminal activities. And after a time, the amount of criminal activity may reach the minimum level. Or the cycle would be complete.
Once it is realised that the punishment for a certain crime will necessarily change with time and environment, one can appreciate that it is perhaps a necessary evil that laws are becoming more stringent in recent years.
To sum up, if one realises the basic truths about life, then he/she will lead a happy life. If a society realises the truths then it will have a perpetual succession. If Indian civilisation has existed longer than many other civilisations it is because our forefathers have realised the basic truths of the existence of life.
Changes are inevitable if one wishes to grow. Every action leads to good or bad consequence, depending upon the action. One's future is decided by his/her actions in the past and the present. The whole world is a stage in which each has a predetermined part to play. The duties of the part that one is ordained to play are referred to as dharma in Sanskrit. It is not giving alms but doing one's duty. If one does his/her duties sincerely then that person will be led to higher levels of existence. This is the essence of the philosophy of our forefathers.
In the cycle of events, the present is perhaps a stage of increasing violence and fight for rights rather than the call for doing one's duty. In such a situation, the right thing to do may be to increase the punishment as a deterrent. But at the same time the activities meant to help those in need will have to continue. A judicious mix of aid to the needy and increase in the quantum of punishment appears to be the need of the hour when the crime rate appears to be on the increase.
Send this article to Friends by