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105. Compensation for Murder
I have been asked whether the brother or other near relatives of the late Bhai Rajabali should demand compensation in money from Government for his murder. The deceased himself would not have counted such a death as loss. As a matter of fact, it is murders such as this which, if wholly unavenged, will ultimately put an end to murder. The moment any compensation or revenge is sought, the good of the willing sacrifice is wiped out. And how then could the spirit of the deceased rest in peace?
Murder can never be avenged by either murder or taking compensation. The only way to avenge murder is to offer oneself as a willing sacrifice, with no desire for retaliation. Those who believe in this premise will never dream of demanding or taking any compensation for the loss of their dear ones. The principle of taking of life for life will, on the contrary, only lead to an increase of murders. This is apparent to all today. Revenge or compensation may furnish some satisfaction to the individual, but I am quite definite that it can never restore peace to or uplift society.
The question arises as to what the individual should do in a society where revenge is the rule. The answer lies not in precept but in example. And those alone can set the examples who have been wronged. Therefore, the final decision must rest with Bhai Rajabali's relatives. My duty lay in pointing them the way of Ahimsa as I know it.
Sevagram, 9-8-'46
Harijan, 18-8-1946