872 – Pen Vs Sword

National Integration Through Thirukkural And Sanskrit

Pen is mightier than the sword

French emperor Napoleon, known to history for his military conquests, remarked that “Four hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.” He also said:  There are only two powers in the world, sword and mind; at the end, sword is always defeated by mind.

The power of a pen is mightier than a Sword. What a sharp edged sword can’t achieve can be achieved by the help of a minute tip of a pen. Many great writers had inspired revolutions. The French revolution for example was the result of the writings of great French writers like Rousseau. Writings can evoke different emotions as love, hatred, sympathy etc. It is something that is to be regarded with awe and respect.

History is replete with instances where Governments have successfully handled armed rebellion but have failed in suppressing public dissent. For the same reason, Governments resort to censorship of media, whenever it engages in criticizing the government functioning and its policies. In India, in 1975, after the promulgation of Emergency, censorship was imposed on newspapers. The freedom of press was severely curtailed. This was done by both filtering/ reducing access to news, and by squeezing the newspapers. The squeeze was applied by reducing or eliminating Government advertisements in papers with dissenting opinion, and by restricting the supply of newsprint to them. The Government implemented a stealthy censorship policy in which publications had to tow the government line or they would be shut down for minor regulatory reasons.

The print and electronic media is stronger today but business houses owning them can be managed. In those days it was overt censorship and today it is covert censorship. The increasing consolidation of media ownership in a few powerful hands, and the nexus between some of these owners and the people in power, gives an entirely different spin to the concept of a “free” media.

With the advent of social media, there is unlimited media space for writing on any issues like economics, politics, literature, social and its outreach is phenomenal.  The limitations of print and electronic media, which are dictated by economic viability/political correctness of publishing or not publishing a news item, is overcome by social media. Of course, there are a lot of instances of prejudiced, false and malafide news and opinions floated in the forum. But over a time period, they get fizzled out.

The recent Social unrest in Middle East Countries has been mainly due writings in social media. Social media facilitates dialogue amongst a network of activists which slowly gathers momentum and leads to demonstrations and protest attracting both national and international attention to the cause. Demonstrations evolve into movements resulting in the changes like overthrow/change of governments.

The last few years have seen the proliferation of social media activity, thanks to Internet penetration rates, mobile phone usage and social media tools like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube, Messaging, WhatsApp etc.

The Governments of the day understand the crucial role played by the Social media. It monitors the views expressed in the Social media to understand the pulse of its citizens and responds to them.

Thiruvalluvar in his couplet 872 opines that, person with sword is likely to cause damage to only one person at a time, while a person with a pen can make an impact, lasting generations through his writings. A king should never antagonize such people.

வில்ஏர் உழவர் பகைகொளினும் கொள்ளற்க 
சொல்ஏர் உழவர் பகை.

Vill-Yer Uzhavar Pagai-kolinum Kollarka
Soll-Yer Uzhavar Pagai

பரிமேலழகர் உரை:

வில் ஏர் உழவர் பகை கொளினும் – ஒருவன் வில்லை ஏராகவுடைய உழவரோடு பகை கொண்டானாயினும்; சொல் ஏர் உழவர் பகை கொள்ளற்க – சொல்லை ஏராகவுடைய உழவரோடு பகை கொள்ளாதொழிக. (‘சொல்’ ஆகுபெயரான் நீதிநூல் மேல் நின்றது. வீரம் சூழ்ச்சி என்னும் ஆற்றல்களுள் வீரமே உடையாரோடு பகை கொண்டால் கேடு வருதல் ஒருதலையன்று, வந்ததாயினும், தனக்கேயாம். ஏனைச் சூழ்ச்சி உடையாரோடாயின் தன் வழியினுள்ளார்க்கும் தப்பாது வருதலின், அது கொள்ளினும் இது கொள்ளற்க என்றார். உம்மையான் அதுவும் ஆகாமை பெறுதும், இரண்டும் உடையாரோடு கொள்ளலாகாமை சொல்ல வேண்டாவாயிற்று. உருவக விசேடம்.).

Sanskrit Translation by Shri S.N. Srirama Desikan

சாபாக்²யலாங்க³லகரை: வீரைர்வைரம்  ந து³:க²த³ம் |
வாகா³க்²யலாங்க³லகரைர்பு³தை⁴ர்வைரம் ந ஸாம்ப்ரதம் ||