Execution by Injection

A recent L.A. Times article discussed the confusion in the field of penal execution. Prison wards and medics as well as doctors and Phds. were interviewed. They were asked if the new form of execution by poisonous injection is inhumane. The subject of whether or not capital punishment is just was also in the article.

Many views were presented. Injection is now considered much more humane than gas chambers which cause severe pain in the lungs and electric chairs which sometimes malfunction.

However, the new `clinical’ version has it’s drawbacks, too, evidently. While some say that sodium penathol, an anesthetic given before the administration of the more lethal poisons, makes for a virtually painless death, others claim to be witnessing agony in the bodies of the inmates
What is the Vedic version?

First of all, the terms death sentence and inhumane are somewhat incompatible terms in Vedic literature. While just and appropriate, the Vedic culture is not anemic and sentimental.

"A person who knows the principles of religion does not kill an enemy who is careless, intoxicated insane, asleep, afraid, or devoid of his chariot. Nor does he kill a boy, a woman, a foolish creature or a surrendered soul. A cruel and wretched person who maintains his existence at the cost of other’s lives deserves to be killed for his own well-being; otherwise he will go down by his own actions."
-Srimad-Bhagavatam 1.7.36-37

The scriptures of the Vedic culture such as the Srimad-Bhagavatam recommend the death sentence as the only means by which a murderer may be absolved from his sin.

Whether his crime goes unnoticed or the state fails to punish him, by the law of karma he will be murdered or killed in a way that befits him, either in this life or a future lifetime
The Vedas recommend the threat of severe punishment by any king or head of state who wishes to insure the safety and protection of his innocent citizens. Capital punishment makes null and void the karmic reactions coming to the murderer and puts aside the chance of any further karmic entanglement between him and the rest of the citizens.
The L.A. Times asked the professionals who had witnessed executions just what they saw and whether or not there was much suffering by the method of injection. One report from an Oklahoma newspaper described: "He was strapped down to the table, and as much as he could his back arched and he was breathing out very heavily. It may have been perfectly humane to the inmate. We’ll never know. For appearance’s sake, it looked painful and inhumane."

Michael Radalet, a University of Florida sociology professor, compiled a widely publicized list of 11 problem injections in Texas, Arkansas, and other states, stating, "the method is the most commonly botched form of execution in the U.S." Some reasons for this is insufficient amounts of poison in relation to the inmate’s body size as well as prison medics with insufficient training to administer them.

On another note, one Texas prison spokesman said he had seen 16 executions and every one of them "has just been bam, bam, bam."

Not one could actually give definitive details of the experience of death, for none had ever died or been executed. In truth, the arrangements for one’s death, whether by execution or otherwise, are pre-destined by God, not physicians and scientists who are simply standing on the outside looking down at you, in death’s spell on the gurney.

Every detail, right down to how you will die, what pain will be experienced and even what thoughts will pass through your mind, is all by the laws of material energy.

We are all to be penalized by death, so in Bhagavad Gita, As It Is, by A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, God gives directions for those who want to get free from the experience of death. The Gita explains that we are not the immortal perishable body but pure eternal spiritual souls in temporary bodily dress. Krsna (a special name for God) wants to help us to die in accordance with His divine will, with our minds fixed in loving devotion to Him. Then our souls become free from matter and reinstated in their position of association with Krsna.

"Whatever state of being one remembers when he quits this body, O son of Kunti, that state he will attain without fail."
-Bhagavad-Gita, As It Is, 8.6

Srila Prabhupada, who wrote vast commentaries on Vedic literature, gives this purport on the verse:
"How can one die in the proper state of mind? Of course one’s thoughts during one’s lifetime accumulate to influence one’s thoughts at the moment of death, so this life creates one’s next life. If in one’s present life one lives in the mode of goodness and always thinks of Krsna, it is possible for one to remember Krsna at the end of one’s life. That will help one to be transferred to the transcendental nature of Krsna. If one is transcendentally absorbed in Krsna’s service, then his next body will be transcendental.(spiritual,) not material. Therefore the chanting of Hare Krsna, Hare Krsna, Krsna Krsna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama, Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare is the best process for successfully changing one’s state of being at the end of one’s life."

It’s best to take up the process as soon as possible and not have to be born and then die even one more time. The best way to help others is to help them take up the process, too. Then we can do away with the death penalty.

Vedic Version