Corporal Punishment and Hinduism

Corporal punishment or physical punishment is a punishment intended to cause physical pain on a person. It is most often practiced on minors, especially in home and school settings. Common methods include spanking or paddling.(Wikipedia) Corporal punishment is widely practiced in today’s world and present in every culture. Here, I will be persuading a Hindu parent who uses corporal punishment to discipline their child. I believe that corporal punishment is totally needless and should not be practiced disciplining a child or anyone.

Most of us are exposed to corporal punishment from a very young age. A child’s growth begins with positive interaction between him/her and the parents. This period is also crucial for education. A child learns mostly from the example set by their parents. When a parent uses corporal punishment to punish their child, they become very aggressive, it gives the child a message that violence solves problems and one should use it. An August 1997 study by Dr. Murray Strauss in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine reported that the more children are spanked, the more likely they will be aggressive or engage in other anti-social behavior. Violence is not supported by any religion including Hinduism. The Vedas, holy book of Hindus, teaches one to practice ahimsa: noninjury, not harming others by word, thought or deed, even in one’s dreams. It also teaches one to let go of insecurity and fear, the source of abuse. Knowing that harm caused to others unfailingly returns to oneself, live peacefully with God’s creation. Never be a source of dread, pain or injury. – Vedic Yama 1

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Corporal punishment also affects a person later in life. Adults who have been punished physically as child are more likely to abuse their own spouse, child and to develop criminal behavior. ( https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/great-kids-great-parents/201508/physical-punishment-and-violence ) A 1996 survey of university students in India found 91% of boys and 86% of girls were physically punished as children. Respected astrologer of Chakrapani Ullal, Los Angeles mentions, If the tendency of the child is to be mischievous, then you must teach him dharma by giving him a good training in how to be a better person. If you beat him, then you will only cause those karmas indicated by his astrological chart to develop. Punishing children makes them hide their feelings, tell lies, manipulate their parents and develop poor associations outside the family. ( https://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4621 Hinduism believes that the soul is immortal, that it never dies, but inhabits one body after another during its evolutionary journey on earth. Hindus also believe in karma: the things that a person does in one life will affect him and his family in the next life. Those who beat, hurt, slap or whip their children are the enemies to religion because they are pushing the next generation into lower consciousness. Corporal punishment creates a circle of violence and bad karma. Swami Sahajananda from the Divine Life Society in South Africa offered his insight: Any kind of violence on children is sure to affect their nerves and mind and even damage their psyche. The scars left on their psyche may be carried over to the next birth.” (https://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4621)

When a parent practices corporal punishment they get so used to it that they get out of control or slap their kinds for silly reasons. Constant practice of this creates stress and makes children prone to mental illness like depression, anxiety etc. This also brings in suicidal thoughts for children. It is estimated that suicides claim approximately 1 million lives worldwide every year, and as many as 60% occur in Asia. (https://academic.oup.com/epirev/article/34/1/129/498617)

To discipline a child, there are better measures and corporal punishment is not something that should be practiced. Children are very innocent and learn better by reward and praise. Kind words should be used with children to teach them how to do things. A parent should be friendly, firm, and fair with their child. If a child ever indulges in bad behavior one should be polite and teach in a positive way. Self-inflicted punishment as practiced by Mahatma Ghandi can also be used. External punishments cannot change internal habits, temperaments and natural tendencies of a child. Communication between children and parents is key and should be free and sincere. Parents should observe the child’s actions silently. If parents follow the right path and self-discipline, children will follow what their parent have taught. Swami Sivananda, a Hindu spiritual teacher compares a child to a plant: The soul is the root, the mind the trunk and the body constitutes the leaves. If we don’t water and feed the soul of a child as well as the body and the mind, he or she will have difficulty in surviving. According to Hinduism’s law of reincarnation, a child is born with their past samskaras (a purificatory ceremony). If one knows how to guide them, they can discover their secret themselves. The power of love is stronger than the power of a rod (https://www.hinduismtoday.com/modules/smartsection/item.php?itemid=4668) . Hindu culture is a culture of kindness. Hindu culture teaches ahimsa; the principle of non-violence towards all living creature physically, mentally or emotionally. It preaches against himsa; to injure or harm others. So corporal punishment should not be practiced.

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