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Living up to expectations

Abuse of authority makes one guilty on two counts: Committing a wrong act and breaching trust.

india Updated: Jan 01, 2007 17:42 IST

When A male teacher misbehaves with a girl student, a policeman robs a helpless citizen or a man in the garb of a saint assaults a woman it raises more than indignation. And rightly so, because they have broken the trust placed in them which they enjoy by virtue of their position. They are guilty on two counts, one of committing a horrendous act and the other of breach of trust.

There is a piece of Sufi lore that explains it better. A famous Sufi of his time was on a long journey along with his disciples. When tired and hungry, they decided to halt under a tree. The tree that gave them shade also gave shelter to a flock of birds in that barren landscape. One of the disciples wanted to supplement their meagre fare by adding a dish of peafowl. He took out his bow and arrow and managed to bring down a bird.

His elation was suddenly disrupted by the frantic behaviour of the birds. Their persistent ruckus drew the attention of the Sufi, who called out to the leader of the birds. He asked the reason for their hue and cry The head bird said that . one of his disciples had killed their kin and they wanted justice.

The Sufi summoned the accused. He admitted to the killing but said that he had committed no crime as hunting was permitted. The Sufi’s other followers saw reason in the argument and waited anxiously for a reply from the head bird. After consulting his flock, the head bird said firmly and sorrowfully, “Sufis are supposed to be harmless and you are dressed like Sufis, therefore we took no safety measures. If you were dressed like ordinary people we would have flown away You have deceived us.” .

The Sufis huddled together and deliberated. They agreed that even if hunting was permitted the disciple was guilty because he had breached the unsuspecting birds’ trust in the Sufis. He was given a severe punishment for his crime and asked to atone for his sin.

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