541 – Delivering Justice

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

541 – Delivering Justice

Manu Needi Cholan is the name of king In Tamil literature which is used as a metaphor for fairness and justice.

Legend has it that the King hung a giant bell in front of his Palace for anyone needing justice to ring. One day, he came out on hearing the ringing of the bell. He saw a Cow ringing the bell. Upon enquiry he found that the Calf of that Cow was killed under the wheels of his chariot.

The King was not aware of the above incident. He felt extremely guilty about the same. He did not plead ignorance or try to defend himself, even though he could have and nobody would have been bold enough to question him. He consulted his Counsels about the justice to be delivered. As a King, he had the responsibility of offering a punishment to the perpetrator of the crime. He felt, that any form of compensation to the Cow cannot assuage its grief, as its loss is irretrievable. Upholding the spirit of justice, he decided that, as the perpetrator of the incident, he would also suffer the same grief that the Cow would be undergoing for the rest of its lifetime. He killed his own son under his chariot as a punishment to himself.

The above narrative also finds mention in the great epic Silappathikaaram. The following aspects stand out in the above narrative:

  • The King was approachable to all including animals and could air their grievance
  • The King was impartial and never exempt anybody including himself from the justice
  • The justice delivery did not stop with a mere acknowledgement of the problem and token gestures but inflicted realistic pain to the perpetrator which to an extent can assuage the grief of the victim.

Thiruvalluvar in Couplet 541 emphasizes the rules of delivering justice by a King.

ஓர்ந்துகண் ணோடாது இறைபுரிந்து யார்மாட்டும்
தேர்ந்துசெய் வஃதே முறை.

Oarndhu-kan-nodaadhu Irai-purindhu Yaar-maattum
Therndhu-sey Vaqdhe Murai

பரிமேலழகர் உரை:

ஓர்ந்து – தன்கீழ் வாழ்வார் குற்றம் செய்தால் அக்குற்றத்தை நாடி: யார்மாட்டும் கண்ணோடாது, இறை புரிந்து – நடுவு நிலைமையைப் பொருந்தி, தேர்ந்து – அக்குற்றத்திற்குச் சொல்லிய தண்டத்தை நூலோரோடும் ஆராய்ந்து, செய்வஃதே முறை – அவ்வளவிற்றாகச் செய்வதே முறையாம். (நடுவு நிற்றல் இறைக்கு இயல்பு ஆகலின், அதனை இறை என்றும் உயிரினும் சிறந்தார் கண்ணும் என்பார் ‘யார் மாட்டும்’ என்றும் கூறினார். இறைமை ‘இறை’ எனவும் , செய்வது ‘செய்வஃது’ எனவும் நின்றன. இதனான் செங்கோன்மையது இலக்கணம் கூறப்பட்டது.).

The fairness of a ruler consists in taking cognizance of the offence committed by his own people, investigating it without fear or favour, consulting with the experts in fields relevant to the offence and then finally pronouncing the judgement in line with the laws governing the country.

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

பக்ஷபாதம் வினா ராஜ்ஞா மாத்⁴யஸ்த்²ய-மவலம்ப³தா |
யதா²ஸா²ஸ்த்ரம் த³ண்ட³தா³னம்  நீதிபாலன-முச்யதே ||