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Thread: Death as Punishment?

  1. #1
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    Death as Punishment?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté

    Have you considered the notion of death as punishment? An individual that is perhaps of wicked character is put to death for his or her acts.
    Where is the punishment? That individual is now beyond his/her transgressions outside the field of pain; the remembrance of the acts that got them into the bind or the jail cell have fallen.

    There could be the thought that those that were transgressed, the victim of the crime has settled the score and all is even. Yet isn't it a function of living that one pays for their transgressions? That this ruffian, or perpetrator of vice , or thief gets punished in life not outside of it?

    How does this ruffian feel death as punishment then when he/she no longer (physically) exists? The rules of karma suggest -' as you sew so shall you reap' . The punishment for wrongful living is another life, and then another and another, till one gets it right. Till one wakes up and realizes how their actions impact their life.


    Yet something occurs in the present life, and there is no rhyme or reason for a specific action or response to take place. Most likely this has been from actions of the past. Where one's actions did not get worked out, and the fruit ( the responsibility) of that action now follows that being along till its completion.

    This perhaps is why Kṛṣṇa said¹ 'unfathomable is the course of action'. We at times are bewildered at the events of life; What was the audit trail back to this action? We hear often 'Why did it happen to me or to us?'
    What then is punishment and what is relief ?

    praṇām

    words and references
    Bhāgavad gītā - Chapter 4, 17th śloka - gahanā karmaṇaḥ gathiḥ -
    • gahana गहन - inexplicable , hard to be understood ~ unfathomable
    • karmaṇaḥ or karman कर्मन् - act , action , performance
    • gati गति - path , way , course , method
    Last edited by yajvan; 02 February 2009 at 10:53 AM. Reason: sentence structure
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  2. #2

    Thumbs Down Re: Death as Punishment?

    Om Shanti,
    Sometimes the death penalty is given so that the person doesn't hurt anyone else. Also, just locking someone up seems to punish those who have to support the crimminal. Here in USA some crimminals are treated better than regular people.

    I think it is best to take the position of Arjun.

    Om Shanti,

  3. #3

    Re: Death as Punishment?

    Quote Originally Posted by Hiwaunis View Post
    Om Shanti,
    Sometimes the death penalty is given so that the person doesn't hurt anyone else. Also, just locking someone up seems to punish those who have to support the crimminal. Here in USA some crimminals are treated better than regular people.

    I think it is best to take the position of Arjun.

    Om Shanti,
    True. Capital punishment is for the society not the criminal in question. It wud hardly matter in terms of his fate.

    The king and other people who dedicate their life to the preservation of society knowlingly incurs the sin associated with killing a person, since the sin incurred by not doing their dirty duty is much larger. Killing the evil may incur some temporal sin for the danda karta, but any other action will ruin everybody.

    In this age, it has become a rare to think from collective angle. Ego and individual well being seems to dominate our mind.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

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    Re: Death as Punishment?

    Namaste.

    Punishment by death is almost invariably the legal consequence for a person who earlier took a human life before its time was due. Ironically, punishment by death also takes the life of the murderer before its time. There may be two opinions on this: one may be that it's the murderer's fate to suffer death by punishment, and the other that such capital punishment indeed takes away the murderer's life before its time, as he would definitely have lived longer had he not been punished by death. Ironically, again, these two opinions may also be applied to the murder victim.

    Here is an exposition on what the Manu Smriti says about murder and punishment, among other human sins, from the book Dharma: The Global Ethic by Justice M.Rama Jois. Incidentally, Manu Smriti was used by the British to administer law for the Hindus in their judicial system.

    Manu Smriti analyses the causes of human action in these words:

    Action which springs from the mind, from speech and from the body produces either good or evil results. By action are caused various conditions of men. Mind is the instigator for all actions which are connected with and performed by the body. They are of three kinds and fall under ten heads. Manu XII 3-7

    Three sinful mental actions

    A sin takes its origin in the mind in three ways:

    • Coveting the property of others;
    • Thinking what is undesirable; and
    • Adherence to evil doctrines.

    These three types of sinful mental actions give rise to four types of evil verbal actions or three types of wicked bodily actions:

    The four evil verbal actions

    • Speaking an untruth;
    • Attacking another in abusive or strong language
    • Carrying tales against another person; and
    • Talking ill of others.

    The three wicked bodily actions

    • Taking what is not given;
    • Injuring living beings; and
    • Illicit intercourse with another man's wife.

    The aforesaid analysis of the various evil mental and bodily actions cover the whole field of civil or criminal injury that an individual causes to another. The instigation comes from the mind.

    Thus, the sin first takes root in the form of mental action and thereafter expresses itself in the form of verbal or bodily evil actions which inflict civil or criminal injury as the case may be on others against whom they are directed.

    All the civil and criminal injuries which an individual may cause to others, such as appropriating the property belonging to others or denying what is due to others, or defamation, assault, theft, cheating, robbery, causing hurt, murder, rape, adultery, which are covered by the modern civil and criminal laws under various systems of law, fall under anyone or more of the four evil verbal actions or three wicked bodily actions as analysed by Manu.

    Before laying down the code of conduct for implicit obedience by individuals and the penalty for disobedience at the hands of the king (the State), Manu cautions everyone to have self-control, so that his mind does not act as the instigator for committing any sinful mental action which would inevitably lead to one or the other type of evil verbal actions or wicked bodily actions.

    That man is called 'Tridandin' who has established three controls, on his mind viz., (i) Manodanda--control over his thoughts, (ii) Vakdanda--control over his speech and (iii) Kayadanda--control over his body.

    He who exercises these three controls with respect to all created beings and wholly subdues desire and wrath, assuredly gains complete success in his life.


    The root cause of all civil and criminal wrongs and the essence of the philosophy necessary for the safety and happiness of individuals and the society are incorporated in Manu Smriti in the above verses.

    The above elucidation indicates that training of the mind through proper education is essential for, it is only through such education and training that it is possible to inculcate a sense of self imposed discipline in an individual which in turn enables him to exercise control over the mind, and through it speech and physical actions can be controlled.

    Every individual should, by constant effort, regulate his mind, speech and action so that he does not inflict any physical or mental injury or any pecuniary loss or damage on other individuals.

    It is a matter of common knowledge that in day-to-day life on account of greed and being actuated one or more of the six enemies inherent in man namely: Kama (love/desire), Krodha (anger), Lobha (greed), Moha (Passion), Mada (Infatuation) and Matsarya (enmity), a man indulges in wrongs. To illustrate, a man commits theft to acquire money or any other moveable property for gain. He indulges in cheating others or in corruption to acquire more money.

    Manu Smriti Ch. 12-35 expounds this aspect thus

    If a man in his conscience, feels ashamed/guilty to do an act, or while doing an act, or after doing an act, it is the clearest indication of Tamasa Quality -viz, the act is a sin.

    Therefore, the soul always tells the man who has committed the offence, that he has committed a sin. If a person commits theft, his soul will always be telling him "You are a thief. you have committed theft". Similarly, if a person commits murder, his soul will always be saying "You are a murderer". Similarly if a man commits rape on a woman, his soul tells him "You are a rapist". If a minister or officer is corrupt and receives bribe, his soul will always be telling him "You are corrupt" and so on. To outward view, he might pose to be honest, and tell people that he has not committed any offence and all that happened was on account of a "System Failure", but his soul cannot be fooled. It does not allow him to have peace of mind. It constantly reminds him of his misdemeanours. Thus, he loses mental happiness.

    Manu Ch. viii-84 rouses the conscience of an individual in a verse which is intended to be part of an exhortation to witness, It reads:

    The Soul itself is the witness of the Soul and the Soul is the refuge of the soul. Despise not thy own Soul the supreme witness to the acts of men.

    A man with good samskara immediately yields to the advice. But a man who is unable to control his desire, falls a prey to sinful desire. But at the same time after committing a sin he feels ashamed of himself for his sinful acts, though not witnessed by any outsiders, and suffers through out life. This is the fate of those who commit murder, rape, who indulge in corruption and who are ultimately caught and punished. Those who are not caught and prosecuted and punished might not go to jail, but they suffer without fail and go to hell, here and now, not after death. They may not be caught by the police, or even if caught and prosecuted for want of evidence in the Courts, they may not go to jail, but they are bound to suffer by losing mental peace and by loss of reputation for themselves and members of their families. That is why it is said that death is preferable to loss of reputation. Manu again warns every individual in the following words:

    Those who indulge in adhanna attain immediate success and secure fulfillment of their desires. They overpower their opponents. But ultimately their ruin down to the roots is certain.

    **********

    Although this book is listed in our HDF Library, I chanced to pick it up only now; this instructive book can be downloaded at: http://www.esnips.com/doc/ba54c21d-6...2dc2e1c/DHARMA (500 KB).
    रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
    ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥

    To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.

    --viShNu purANam

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    Re: Death as Punishment?

    Here is a Website devoted to the information and discussions on the capital punishment, with the Hindu view in this link:

    http://deathpenalty.procon.org/viewa...uestionID=1011
    रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
    ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥

    To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.

    --viShNu purANam

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    Re: Death as Punishment?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté saidevo


    Quote Originally Posted by saidevo View Post

    If a man in his conscience, feels ashamed/guilty to do an act, or while doing an act, or after doing an act, it is the clearest indication of Tamasa Quality -viz, the act is a sin.
    Thank you for this in-depth post. My teacher always said, we know what is right and what is wrong'. It is by this internal compass we possess.
    I for one have found myself feeling this discomfort many times in my life. I then yielded accordingly - but not each time. Hence I learned if it does not feel right, then avoid this issue or action or opportunity.

    I also have been corrected many times and have taken good council as needed. The ability to yield to a higer value or insight is a blessing. To not consider it only lengthens the learning process. Then the 'tools' to correct one's behaviors get more intense or direct.

    We know 'just a look' from Father is enough to correct a unwanted behavior. Yet if this does not work, we know what follows.
    Like that - corrections in life may take on a nodd from wise, a word or two from another, or perhaps a more weighty action from another to get your full attention. I think we all have these experiences. It's to learn from them that is the blessing , the key to move forward.

    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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    Re: Death as Punishment?

    The issue of Capital punishment is very dear to me. I guess I did post my views in the past. In a real civilized world there can be No capital punishment Period.

    This is absolutely nothing to do with Ahimsa or nonviolence concept. Gandhi humoursly once said an eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth will make the whole world blind and toothless. I realize the gravity of the crime committed by a murderer, but it is very animalistic instinct in humans to square him off by hanging him. This is “You kill me and I kill you” attitude, so both will be at the same footing. In reality it is lowering yourself to the person who committed the crime, by that we are no different from the murderer.
    The way I see in BG is, the author Vyasa makes it very clear, we can kill a body not his soul. Speaking about Karma, if you believe in, we humans cannot change a criminal’s Karma, only God can change. So why bothering? Did Arujuna change Duryodana’s Karma? In Mahabarata the lesson is not to get even at the enemy but to understand the individual Dharma. (I consider Kurukshetra is a myth but True, a huge metaphor to explain our own daily battle with our own lives).

    Having said that I do not condone the crime. Let the criminal be put away. People can argue that it is lot cheaper to terminate than to incarcerate a person. Well, we in civilized world have to support Jail system and yes, it does cost some money. It would be wonderful we make efforts to visit the prisoners in the jail. That will be a huge reconciliation and healing. That is Love. Love does not kill people but it transforms. If you do not believe read the history of South Africa after apartheid or check out what is happening in Texas penitentiary.

    In USA abortion is a big political issue. I am very much Prolife, no human has the right take away another human life whether an innocent fetus yet to be born or a hard core criminal. I tell some of the prolife people to have the same stand on capital punishment. Here, some of these people have double standard. I do think it would do good to take a uniform stand on this Pro Life issue but this should not be legislated. Morality cannot be forced at a gun point. Love disappears when the law is forced.


    Love......................VC

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    Re: Death as Punishment?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namasté


    I think of 3 things regarding the conversations above. Let me post 2 of the 3 for now:

    In the Mahabharata, King Santanu watched as each of his sons we thrown in the river by Sri Ganga. His was heart broken. How can his wife take his sons and throw them to their demise into the river.

    Little did the king know these children were the 8 vasus. Sri Ganga, the kings wife, was in fact fulfilling the agreement made to these vasus before they decended to earth... to spend the least amount of time on earth in a human form. So, as they were born and within the first year they were given to the river.

    Yet, when the king married Sri Ganga the stipulation was, you cannot not question my actions, or me, otherwise we will not wed. And if you do, I will leave you. He agreed.

    Yet watching this action of deporting his children to death overcame him. He then gave Sri Ganga his mind and wrath. She then told the King the story of her actions. Only one child remained and that was Dyu vasu. He was Devavrata , or Bishma.

    So , this explanation and the kings wrath to Sri Ganga broke the agreement they had ' don't ask , don't tell', and Sri Ganga then left him, taking Dyu with her for the time being. The king meets Dyu later in the story.

    That said, we do not know how things all play out. It is our compassion that we want all people to be of perfect health, abundance, long life, and the like. Yet we are not privy to their past which brought them to this present condition.

    What are the lessons I have learned from this:

    • Make the best of the time we have while in this body and in this condition.
    • We are blessed to know and comprehend that our current actions will yield future results - act wisely.
    • Have compassion for others that may have a different lot in life. Help when you can, understand their lot in life the best you can.

    From Vasistha's Yoga
    He says,
    'there is no power greater than right action in the present. Hence, one should take recourse to self-effort, grinding one's teeth, and one should overcome evil by good and fate by present effort'

    What is he sayinig? Right action = dharma, and this dharma has at its root the power to overcome evil. One should make the resolve ( my favorite as you folks know) to do so. We can banter all day on what is evil, yet for me , it's those influences, forces, and impulses that impedes ones progress to moksha.

    praṇām

    Last edited by yajvan; 02 February 2009 at 02:20 PM.
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

  9. #9
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    Re: Death as Punishment?

    Interesting discussions. Let me add more to them.

    Quote Originally Posted by vcindiana View Post
    Well, we in civilized world have to support Jail system and yes, it does cost some money.
    O.Henry wrote a short story titled 'The Cop and the Anthem'. Soapy, a homeless criminal of petty thefts, who usually spends the three months of winter in the cozy comforts of a prison, is out this winter and desperately wants to get back to his 'home'. So he goes on trying something that would get a policeman arrest him.

    Soapy crashes a showroom window of a shop with a stone and waits on the scene, his hands in his pockets. A policeman who comes by ignores him and proceeds to catch a man who is running for a bus. Soapy asks him why the officer could not consider him as the person who did it, but "the policeman's mind refuses to accept Soapy even as a clue", because men who smash windows don't stand there and watch but take to their heels.

    He enters a restaurant, eats to his heart's content and then betrays he has no money to pay the bill, so why don't they call the police? They beat him black and blue and throw him out on the street. Soapy gets up, "joint by joint, as a carpenter's rule opens".

    Then Soapy behaves like a drunkard on the street, dancing and yelling gibberishly at the top of his voice. The policeman at the corner just turns his back on Soapy, and remarks to a nearby citizen: "Tis one of them Yale lads celebratin' the goose egg they give to the Hartford college. Noisy; but no harm. We've instructions to leave them be."

    Soapy snatches a silk umbrella from a man, who argues with him to get back his umbrella. Soapy argues back that it is his umbrella so why don't they call the police. The man relents and says, "Well sir, if you recognize so. I took it in a shop this morning."

    Soapy walks on thinking, and finally reaches a place far away from the glitter and turmoil. The air is cool and silent, the moon is shining lustrous and serene, music issues forth from a church in sight ahead. The anthem that the organist plays cements Soapy to the iron fence and works a change in him; and Soapy decides to turn over a new leaf from the morrow of his life. "He would be somebody in the world. He would--"

    Soapy feels a hand on his arm and turns his head to see the face of a policeman, who takes him away for 'doing nothing'. "Three months on the Island" says the Magistrate in the police court the next morning.

    (Read the story here: http://www.classicreader.com/book/1757/1/)

    **********

    Today's Soapys have come a long way in the wrong direction. They are no longer petty but sophisticated, cold-blooded criminals who commit well-planned, premeditated crimes which include torture, rape and murder of innocent victims. What church and what anthem can reform them?

    I have some issues on the abolition of the capital punishment:

    • The crime world of today goes on as a parellel government, generating massive amounts of black money, with its rules and ambitions and punishments. The people involved in serious crimes such as murder today no longer do it on the old-fashioned motto of greed or passion, but do it in cold blood, with detailed planning and sophisticated weaponry, very often under the orders of a boss with vested interests, who takes care of the law if the criminal is caught, or where this is not possible, takes care of the criminal's family. Does the corrupt systems of law and justice administration we have today have the ability or even the willingness to catch and reform such hardcore criminals, irrespective of his/her position in the society?

    • When voicing our concern for abolition of capital punishment, we often ignore the murdered victim, taking sides only with the murderer. It is not the question of 'You kill me and I kill you' attitude, but the dharmic/karmic situation that would/should invariably arise that 'if you kill me, I cannot kill you back but somebody else or the state will'.

    • In situations of murders committed out of passion, the system already provides for imprisonment for life, with provision to commute death sentences. The organized crime world often takes advantage of this provision and gets the criminal released on parole earlier. So where is the scope for complete reform of the criminal?

    • The percentage of criminals on whom the death sentence is actually carried out vis-a-vis the total number of prisioners with grave offense, or even the number of victims of the murders is usually minimum. In a situation of terrorism, hundreds of innocent people are killed by one or just a few terrorists, so what's wrong in executing the terrorists for their act?

    • Definitely, the jail system and the system to administrate law and justice costs heavily on the nation--not 'just some money'--, and this cost could be justified only when the prisoners are reformed to the extent that they do not return to crime on release. To what extent has the prison system reformed the prisoner today? In reality, because of corruption and vice, the prison world itself has become a breeding ground for more crime.

    Capital punishment has been in vogue throughout the history in all civilizations, including the Hindu civilization, despite the teachings of the religions. Until we have proven and effective systems of reformation, it would be prudent not to abolish it.
    रत्नाकरधौतपदां हिमालयकिरीटिनीम् ।
    ब्रह्मराजर्षिररत्नाढ्यां वन्दे भारतमातरम् ॥

    To her whose feet are washed by the ocean, who wears the Himalayas as her crown, and is adorned with the gems of rishis and kings, to Mother India, do I bow down in respect.

    --viShNu purANam

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    Re: Death as Punishment?

    hariḥ oṁ
    ~~~~~~

    Namast

    Quote Originally Posted by saidevo View Post
    Today's Soapys have come a long way in the wrong direction. They are no longer petty but sophisticated, cold-blooded criminals who commit well-planned, premeditated crimes which include torture, rape and murder of innocent victims. What church and what anthem can reform them?
    Wisdom given to Śrī Rām by Vaśiṣṭha muni:
    "He who fights a battle which is in accord with scriptural injunctions on behalf of a righteous king of unblemished conduct, whether he dies or lives, is a hero.
    Yet he who fights for an unrighteous monarch, who tortures people and mutilates their bodies, even if he dies fighting in battle he is a beast or criminal and goes to hell.
    He who fights for a king that delights in harassing others (whether a king or not) they too go to hell. Yet the one who fights to protect the cattle, holymen, friends, or those that have taken his asylum, he is an ornament of heaven."

    This tells us much about intent... The 'king' can be the Prime Minister, the CEO, the President, and the thug of ill-intent working for his 'boss'.


    praṇām
    यतस्त्वं शिवसमोऽसि
    yatastvaṁ śivasamo'si
    because you are identical with śiva

    _

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