Why Forgiveness is Important?

Sometime back, I was moved to read in a leading English broadsheet that the widow of a slain police commissioner chose to forgive her servant who stole jewelleries worth Rs. 50 lacs from her house. " We brought him up like a son, " said the calm and composed lady. This is indeed laudable. Forgiveness is a quality, an individual is born with. It's innate, intrinsic and integral to a person. Agreed, any quality can be cultivated with the passage of time, but humane qualities cannot be developed in a vacuous heart. It needs oceanic compassion to forgive someone for his transgression, that too sans any rancour.

Only by forgiving, do we give a person yet another opportunity to redeem himself / herself. It's very easy to send a man behind the bars, but correspondingly difficult to forgive him. Why shouldn't he get a proper punishment? After all, he deserves it. It's what we lesser mortals think. But punishment leaves a permanent scar. An act of forgiveness alters the heart. You embarrass  an offender more by forgiving him than punishing. Kabir said tellingly,' Jo toko kaanta boye tohe boye tu phool/Tohe phool ko phool hain, waako hain tirshool' (Those who sow thorns for you, sow flowers for them/ They'll remain flowers to you, but tridents to them). Punishment has a sadistic and sardonic streak. It degrades the culprit and also demeans all those, involved in punishing him. It has a vindictive bent and is soaked in a revengeful spirit. 

Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr. became greats because they could forgive unconditionally. Gandhi bore no ill-will against the English and said that once they left, they must leave like friends and not as enemies. "So long enmity rankles in heart to grow / The fountain of love will not start to flow." Remember, no offence is so great that it cannot be pardoned. Almost every human being in his limited span of life on earth, lives and keeps nurturing and harbouring those perceived wounds and scars, he thinks he's got from the people around him. Do we ever pause and think that we too have hurt many a person? Yet, if we deserve to be pardoned, why can't others have the same privilege? Until we forgive, hatred will continue to rankle and resentment will not let us sleep peacefully. Forgiving is giving away bitterness forever. It's a feeling of bliss, experienced by those who've forgiven. It's the culmination of all that's good and desirable in an individual. 

We may condemn the public beheadings in Saudi Arabia but we conveniently ignore a provision in the Shariyat  that if the transgressor is pardoned by the folks of the victims, he's not decapitated, not even the king or the kazi can promulgate the order of execution after that. And there have been instances in Saudi Arabia when the victim was saved from the scaffold at the nick of the time. In 1989 in Oman, a young man was saved by the mother of the victim, who he brutally killed. "Spare his life, he too has a mother like me, " said the victim's mother. 

When we forgive, we not only free the wrong-doer but also emancipate ourselves from the unbearable pressure of nagging and niggling ill-feeling. Forgiveness is the greatest act of spirituality. That's why, it (forgiveness) is called ' a continuous process of self-purification' (Kshama avirat vidhiyetam aatm-prakshalan asti: Vachaspati Mishra's 'Brahmasutra'). It's all-encompassing compassion and the most liberating attribute. It emancipates an individual and brings about his salvation even when he's alive! Follow it, though I myself have not been able to imbibe its spirit comprehensively. And I'm ashamed of myself.                                                                      
                                                            ---Sumit Paul