What is the theme of Premchand's story "Panch Parmeshwar or Holy Panchayat?"
The theme of "Holy Panchayat" is the importance of putting justice above one's own interest. The story deals with two friends, Jumman and Algu. Jumman first has to appear before the panchayat when his elderly aunt, who had willed him her land in return for being cared for, decides she is not being treated well. Algu, Jumman's old friend, serves on the panchayat, or the local court, and decides in favor of the aunt. Jumman is surprised, and he feels that his old friend betrayed him, while Algu feels that he did his duty to administer justice according to his conscience. Later, Algu must turn to the panchayat when a merchant buys his ox and kills it from overwork and then refuses to play Algu for it. Jumman serves on the panchayat, and, while he wants to make a judgment against his former friend, his conscience leads him to decide in favor of Algu. At this point, the friends are reunited, as they understand that they must put their conscience before their friendship when serving on the panchayat.
As was mentioned in the previous post, the central themes throughout the short story examine justice, responsibility, discernment, and friendship. Both characters, Jumman Shaikh and Algu Chowdhry, exercise discernment when they are given the responsibility of being Sarpanch, which is the head of the village council meeting. Despite being close friends with Jumman, Algu places justice above friendship by deciding in Khala's favor. Jumman is initially upset at Algu's decision and plans to seek revenge for losing his case. However, when Algu is taken to Panchayat by a deceitful and callous man named Samjhu Sahu, Jumman has his chance at revenge by being named Sarpanch. However, Jumman cannot resist his duty to enact justice and rightfully rules in favor of Algu. After the Panchayat, Algu and Jumman become friends again. Throughout the short story, both characters understand their responsibility to excuse friendships and bias in order to enact justice during the Panchayat.