Does the end justify the mean? Or does the means justify the end?
My reaction to this question has been like that of a pendulum oscillating form one end to the other. Though predominantly I believe in ‘means justifying the ends’ principle and try following it to the maximum possible extent, there have been plenty of instances when the temptations of what lies yonder has lured me to achieve my goal in any way possible.
One thing I have learned is not to make a value judgment – neither on myself nor on others. I would rather view each and every action on a case by case basis with more weightage on the intentions than on means or end.
Rama and Krishna, the two incarnations of Vishnu offer an interesting contrast. While Rama never swayed from the path of righteousness regardless of what he had to endure, Krishna was the foremost proponent of dealing with scenarios as the circumstances demanded out of him.
In this context, was Rama’s slaying of Vali in line with his principle (as we see it) of means justifying ends? I don’t know. Frankly it is beyond my comprehension.
Anyway one thing I do believe is that, following ‘end justifying means’ is much tougher and requires a far greater deal of moral courage. I say this because firstly we need to be doubly sure of what our end is, because if the end goal is flawed, we are in danger of falling into a bottomless pit of wrong doings.
Also one needs courage to stand by what he is doing since his true judgment may only happen sometime in the future when the goal is achieved and till then he has to bear the cross of ‘Guilty till pronounced innocent’