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Should Dara Sigh be Executed?
A view on Capital Punishment
By H.G. Dr. Geevarghese Mar Osthathios, Indian Orthodox Church

[Editor's Note: Once in a while the question of appropriateness of capital punishment comes up when one faces a heinous crime. Such was the case in India recently when a ruthless criminal Dara Singh was convicted and sentenced to die for killing an Australian missionary and his two sons in North India. The author, a well known bishop of Indian Orthodox Church, who many believe to be a modern day living saint, offers his viewpoint on this topic drawing up on his vast knowledge of all religions in India.]

Almost all the readers of newspapers (23rd Sept. 2003) are unanimous in saying that the judgment of judge Mahendranath Patnaik was very apt. If any body is worthy to receive a capital punishment in India, it is Dara Singh. The execution of Australian Missionary Graham Stanes and his two sons (Timothy and Philip), while they were sleeping in a van on September 22nd, 1999 was most cruel. "Mangalam" (a newspaper in Kerala, India) reported that he was "an embodiment of devil" 'Deshabhimani' (another newspaper in India) reported that the judgement was a "Worthy retort to Sangh Parivar", Possibly Sangh Parivar made Dara singh, a real fanatic, who wanted to save Hinduism by killing Muslim and Christians, belonging to minority community. Those who studies Hinduism in depth will agree that Hinduism believes in 'Advaita'. It does not teach to kill anyone to save sanatana Hinduism.

Only two persons said that Dara Singh should not be executed. One was John Stanes, the elder brother of Graham Stanes, the other person was Dara Singh's mother, who said that "he didn't kill even an ant while a boy" and he could never be a murderer. Gladys Stanes said that she had forgiven Dara Singh and did not file any suit against him, but the court judgment should be honored in any democracy, and she wouldn't interfere in it.

There are many countries where capital punishment is forbidden. Some States in U.S.A. also do not allow capital punishment. In Africa there are countries, which allow capital punishment and others, which permit it. It is argued that where ever capital punishment is forbidden there are more murders than the states where it is allowed.

Hinduism which teaches "Kama, Karma, Karmaphala and Punarjanma" also teaches grace. Jesus Christ-who revealed the love of God asontological is the only one who taught and practiced the love of enemies in life and death. "You have heard that of old time, thou shalt not kill and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you that whosoever is angry his brother shall be in danger of the judgment and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca shall be in danger of the council, but whosoever shall say, thou fool shall be in danger of the hell fire" (St. Mathew 5: 21- 22). Again Christ taught, "ye have heard thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate your enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you" (St. Mathew: 5,43-44).

If Jesus Christ is alive today he is likely to forbid capital punishment. We can never predict that Dara Singh will repent and start a new life by loving enemies, if execution is changed to life imprisonment. But real lovers don't think of the consequences but forgive seventy times seven for the joy of forgiving. Hence though Dara Singh was the worst criminal who misunderstood Hinduism like Bin Laden who misunderstood the real teachings of Islam and destroyed the double trade centers of New York due to his religious fundamentalism.

Terrorism can't be defeated by terrorism but love alone can defeat terrorism. Matha Amruthanandhamayi (a saintly Hindu from South India) has a message of universal love, which was taught by Christ two thousand years ago. All religions teach love and do not ask to commit murder. Political world powers also should use the weapon of love instead of bombs and should save the money of nuclear warfare to show the divine love to the poor of the world. The third millennium needs one religion of love uniting may religions of many faiths into one loving fellowship.

If capital punishment is forbidden in India, Dara Singh will not be executed. This suggestion may seem utopian idealism. But the alternative makes the present world a hell. All nations including U.S.A. and U.K. should strengthen U.N.O. and allow it to have a police force to prevent war in any part of the world. This writer's small book 'ONE RELIGION OF LOVE' ask for a United Religious Organization to share love without giving up their own faith as Kumaranasan, the famous Malayalam poet sang 'love is the one essence of the earth' (Snehamanu Akhila Saramoozhiyil).

Should Dara Singh be executed? The answer of Gladys Stanes also must be same as that of John Stanes. The Christian Churches also must say that the Supreme Court of India reduce his execution to life imprisonment. All must pray his repentance and new life. Let the will of God be done.

Source: Nov 2003 issue of `Malankara Sabha,' a monthly publication of Indian Orthodox Church.

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