Removing the Thorns


Sant Tukaram , a 17th century spiritual poet of the Varkari tradition in Maharashtra, declared

 “दया तिचे नाव भूतांचे पालन, आणिक निर्दालन कण्टकांचे|”

Compassion (दया) means protecting all creatures, sustaining them (भूतांचे पालन).

Compassion is not just sympathising with someone who is suffering. It is rather doing something positive to assist them, to alleviate their suffering.

But Compassion has another aspect, too. That is destroying the evil in society. ‘निर्दालन कण्टकांचे’ literally means splitting the thorns.

Those thorns which inflict pain on the innocent.


Protecting those who cannot protect themselves, has been of great importance in our culture from ancient times.

In an earlier post, “What is Faster Than the Wind?” I had mentioned the questions posed to Yudhishthira by the Yaksha.

One of the questions that he asked was, “What constitutes mercy?”

And Yudhishthira answered, “Mercy consists in wishing happiness to all.”

The Yaksha later asked, “What is the highest duty in the world?”

The answer was, “The highest of duties is to refrain from doing  injury.”


Looking around in Indian society today, one cannot help but wonder if we have been hit by collective amnesia. There can be no other explanation for the situation we see around us.

The principle that we should protect those who cannot protect themselves, has been totally forgotten. Anyone that is physically , monetarily, or socially weak in our society,  is sure to be exploited.

And at the forefront of those who exploit them, are those in authority, in the government or police force.

The horrible Rohtak Shelter case is a sad example of how those in authority exploit the weak. So much for ‘भूतांचे पालन’ (protecting all creatures).


And what about  ‘निर्दालन कण्टकांचे’ (destroying the evil in society)?

That is also nowhere to be found.

For our Justice System is almost non-existent. Either the guilty are not identified, or they are not arrested, or they are allowed to go free on bail.

The trial goes on for years and years, perhaps in the hope that everyone will forget about the crime that was committed. The victims/ their families often do not have the means to carry on with court cases for extended periods of time. The guilty grow old and even if convicted, get a lenient sentence owing to their age.

Wrongdoers in our society are often those with political clout and they successfully resist any attempt to bring them to justice.


So again one wonders, what can be done in such a situation where we cannot rely on those in power?

Of course, we can act with compassion towards others, in our personal lives. But that would have only a very limited effect.

What is needed is a more comprehensive solution.

Perhaps if the wrong-doers were socially ostracised, would that would have a deterrent effect?

Any other ideas? 




  1. फुलांचा राजा गुलाब
    देवांना प्रिय,
    ललनांच्या केशभारात पहुडलेला ,
    पंतप्रधानांच्या अंगरख्यात खिश्यावर ,
    आणि कुठल्याही गुच्छात अग्रभागी ;
    इतक्या मोठ्या पदावर असून
    स्वताहाच्या संरक्षणासाठी काटे पाळतो .

    म्हणून समाज्यातील खर्या
    इतर लहान कळ्यांसाठी
    संरक्षक काटे उरलेच नाहीत .

    आता फक्त लालचभुताचे पालन ,
    जो कोणी मध्ये पडेल
    त्याचा काटा काढला जातो …….
    तुका म्हणे
    देवा, लवकर अवतरावे ….


    1. True indeed, Suranga!

      “जो कोणी मध्ये पडेल
      त्याचा काटा काढला जातो …….”

      This is truly the situation today. Which is why so few have the courage to do so. But that will only make the villians even bolder… 😦


  2. the problems is the wrong doers are in majority and hence they make the society , so how do we ostracise them .. the bad element is more then the good one …

    and I will include myself in that too as sometimes I also dont do anything about it like the majority


    1. Bikram, surely the wrongdoers are not yet in the majority. At least I hope not!

      And it is quite obvious from your posts that you are socially aware and sensitive- I don’t think you should include youself in the above category! 🙂


  3. People are running blinded in the heat of materialism. The role of deterrence can be argued endlessly but never its effectiveness. Unfortunately, we have lynched the poor tool itself to death.


    1. Yes, I agree that materialism is the cause of much of this mess our society is in. If only people valued non-material things as well. And I’m not referring only to spirituality.

      There are the Arts, Literature, Sports, etc. But people collect works of Art not because they like them, but because an expensive painting/scupture has snob value. And they want their kids to play cricket and not other games because ‘there’s money in cricket’.

      It’s a sad state….


  4. In today’s world, things have blurred at the edges making it hard to separate the grain from the chaff. But if we were to look carefully, it all looks suspiciously like chaff. But I am sure grains are hiding somewhere. If only a gust of wind were to blow away all the chaff, we will find the elusive grains. Will Lord Krishna come to deliver us as promised?


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