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Inheritance and Revenge


Revenge is a common theme in movies, books or any other form of storytelling but, most do not give a justification to the act.  They either take it to be the natural course of action or condemn it.  The fact that some condemn it, means there is scope for a discussion.  I think most people would have an issue with revenge when it is exacted not on the perpetrator, but on someone related to the perpetrator.  In the 2010 Telugu movie "Maryada Ramanna", which was later remade into Hindi as "Son of Sardar" and Malayalam as "Maryadaraman", they pose a question which can be translated as "If a son can get the property earned by one's father why cannot he receive punishments for his father's action?"   The surprising thing is, even after thinking for quite some while, I was unable to find a satisfactory answer.

Apparently, this stance is inspired by our scriptures.  In the 35th shlokam of the 64th chapter in the 10th skandham of Srimad Bhagavatham, Bhagavan says

brahma-svaḿ duranujñātaḿ
bhuktaḿ hanti tri-pūruṣam
prasahya tu balād bhuktaḿ
daśa pūrvān daśāparān

Which can be translated as "If a person enjoys a brāhmaṇa's property without receiving due permission, that property destroys three generations of his family. But if he takes it by force or gets the government or other outsiders to help him usurp it, then ten generations of his ancestors and ten generations of his descendants are all destroyed." (Courtesy http://vedabase.net/sb/10/64/35/en).

In short, it is said that one will reap the bad effects of his ancestors' wrongful acts.  Do not be dejected there is hope of redemption.  In the famous story of Prahladan, seven generations of predecessors and descendants were given moksham because of his actions.  So one can redeem not just himself but his predecessors and his descendants.

This being the case, I do not feel this is a valid justification for revenge.  It does not appeal to me that one should be condemned for someone else's misdeeds.  At the same time, I see the double standards in the eagerness to inherit property, but the unwillingness to inherit liabilities or responsibilities.  Maybe we can turn the statement around and see it more as a critic of inheritance than a justification of revenge, which I find extremely valid.

On the other hand, I find it extremely noble if a son takes responsibility for his father's misdeeds and tries to rectify them.  Such a person is undoubtedly entitled to his father's property.  This is the plot of the 2004 Malayalam movie Natturajavu and to some extent the basis of medieval morality.


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