Sinners could be divine too

Can punishment reform a criminal? To my mind, it only reinforces the feeling in him that he is a criminal. If a person is a criminal to begin with, punishment keeps him a criminal. At times, it makes him more of a criminal. While discussing the spate of sexual crimes in the country, people say they have been committed by persons with grossly perverted minds. The objective of punishment for a crime should be to reform the criminal and prevent further crimes. But will a harsh jail term or even capital punishment achieve that? Do people have answers to some basic questions: What is the mind? How does it function? How does it become perverted? Even the best psychiatrists and psychologists don’t have final answers to these questions. Modern psychology has not yielded conclusive answers to these elementary questions. Its research on the mind is still continuing. The answers it has found till now may all prove to be totally wrong as this research proceeds. It would be a travesty of truth and a huge mistake if action taken to reform and cure sick and perverted minds is found to be totally wrong in the light of fresh findings about the mind in the future.

Spirituality also offers understanding of the mind. I think it is time the mainstream modern world gave alternative views on the mind and its working provided by spirituality a chance. Swami Vivekanand said that the law of gravity existed before it was discovered by Newton and would continue to exist if all humanity forgot it. He said it is the same with spiritual laws. Is it not possible that because of some reason humanity has forgotten spiritual laws and does not acknowledge and realise the way they operate in the realm of the mind? Is it not possible that all of us, including the worst kinds of criminals, are actually sinless souls, children of immortal bliss, as the Vedas, the Gita and many other spiritual texts declare? What a tragedy would it be if the Vedas are actually right about who human beings really are and humanity has become ignorant of its real nature.

Numerous streams of study have been accorded recognition in the modern world for centuries as legitimate sources of knowledge. There’s physics, chemistry, mathematics, medical science, engineering, psychology, sociology, history, economics ... it’s a huge list. In the cause of secular education, they have all been embraced by modern education systems around the world and the spiritual sciences have been excluded from the curriculum. The still incomplete findings of these secular streams of study are lapped up as gospel. And the spiritual streams of understanding have been dismissed as unscientific, irrational and untrue.

In many spiritual traditions, it is said that the material world is ephemeral and unreal and the spirit is real. They say ignorance makes the world real and human beings unaware of their spiritual reality. They further say that the lower forces in human beings fiercely attached to materialism try to prevent the higher forces in them from making them aware of their spiritual reality. I don’t say all this is true but I am ready to accept it might be. It might also be true that the lower forces hooked to materialism have conspired over centuries to lower human understanding.  Commerce is a fond pursuit of materialism. It is possible that human weaknesses like fear, greed, lust and violence are the result of an incorrect understanding of the universe and all that it has. These weaknesses feed a lot of commerce.

Fear, greed, lust, violence and a whole lot of other human frailties are huge industries. Many things can be sold to a person to seemingly dispel his fear, satisfy his greed and lust, and enable him to be violent. The commerce that thrives on human frailties has a vested interest in making human beings frailer and frailer. If human beings have a spiritual identity whose realisation can make them free of weaknesses, the survival of the forces that feed on human weaknesses will hinge on keeping humanity forgetful and ignorant of that identity. It will be in the interest of these forces to make humanity believe that modern secular education, which supplies a lot of information and knowledge but does nothing to make people aware of their real, weakness-proof spiritual nature, is immensely superior to spiritual education. In reality, awareness and not ignorance is bliss. But there seems to be a global drive to prevent humanity from making efforts to become aware of its real self.

I wish the world does not forsake spiritual disciplines of enquiry without examining and testing their declarations to the hilt. It is possible that the words of spiritual texts like the Gita and Vedas are true. It is possible that all of us, including criminals with the most perverted minds, are actually pure, incorruptible spirit. And if it is so, sinners are as divine as saints. If it is so, awareness about who human beings and their world are is all that is needed.

The author is a senior journalist and columnist.
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