By Periyava
Translation from Tamil By V. Krishnaraj

குற்றமும் குணமும் : தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (முதல் பகுதி)
If people want to run their lives according to Dharma, all actions must follow the rules. It is important these rules of conduct must be explained to them. But they must pursue the rules on their own accord without external compulsion. There is no beauty and pride to force a person to follow the rules. Sampradayam or tradition was passed down the line over generations. People followed the tradition with no external pressure. Sastras did not write down all the personal and societal Sampradaya or tradition as judicial rules. If it were law, there is an element of compulsion. Say it in words a thousand instructions but don’t put them down on paper. That was the advice of our elders. Written word implies compulsion: Placards and posters read, “Don’t talk. Don’t wear shirts inside the sanctum.’ Please do not post these written instructions anymore.
I myself broke my own rules by imposing rules, levelling admonition and making something akin to judicial rules.
‘Don’t do it.’ When I say that, I made it with a compulsion and a rule. Yes, it is wrong. If I said, ‘Should your write things like this? Give it a thought.’ That is the correct attitude.
When faced with a plethora of faults in a person, do not exaggerate them. The advice by the elders is to celebrate even a small good behavior in the next person. I myself make your faults public. Do not divulge the bad qualities of others. Reveal their good qualities. Take for example the crescent moon perched on the head of Siva. It is cool and bright. Siva to celebrate those qualities wears it on his head. The same Siva drank the most dangerous Halāhala poison and keeps it hidden for the eyes of others in his throat. Poet Thandi says that.
Nowadays, fault-finding and exaggeration by words have increased. The most educated find more faults. Fault-finding is their avocation. They may argue saying Vidvān means ‘Dosajña’ meaning a critic. It does not mean he exaggerates the faults. He should know the faults and deficiencies. Knowing them we should avoid the faults. We should tell the faulty his faults in an amicable manner. We should not make it our avocation and engage in publicity and denigration.
To bring one’s faults to his attention, we should be above reproach. A faulty person advising others is of no use. They may become adamant and expose their own faults flagrantly. They may even go the other way: ‘I have the fitness and position. My words carry weight.’ They may even give advice to others.
When we celebrate one’s good qualities, he becomes jubilant and fosters them more. We should curb our own penchant to praise others. By Praising a person to the heavens, we may make him a candidate for ego. Praise is a subtle thing. The elders say we can praise Guru and God in person. Friends and relatives, we can praise before others. We praise the servants after the work is done satisfactorily, as the horse gets a pat after the ride. We should never praise our son.
Pratyakṣē guravaḥ stutyāḥ Parōkṣē mitrabāndhavāḥ| Kāryāntē dāsabhrtyāsca Na svaputrāḥ kadācana||

Dear Children, I read your rap sheet of faults and foibles. The above quote is the reconciliation. We should never praise our children. Sastras tell we can criticize them. I’m not guilty for finding fault with you.