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Euthanasia in Hinduism – Ancient Hindus Had Practiced It

Oxford dictionary gives the meaning of Euthanasia as the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma. Ancient Hindus had practiced euthanasia and even today, many realized Hindus perform it without making a fuss about it. You will find Hindus who have retired to the Himalayas and dense forest for the purpose but they do not advertise it. Euthanasia in Hinduism should be interpreted on two levels.

Four Stages of Life in Hinduism

  • Brahmacharya
  • Grihastha
  • Vanaprastha
  • Sanyasa
Euthanasia in Hinduism – Ancient Hindus Had Practiced It

When Does a Hindu Willingly Give Away Life

In Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism), when a healthy person feels that the person has done with the purpose of life in society, they walk into a forest or secluded area to let go of the body. This is known as Vanaprastha.

Vanaprastha was practiced by the Pandavas, Dhritarashtra, Kunti, Gandhari and Vidura in the Mahabharata.

Bhagavan Sri Ram and Lakshman had performed Jal Samadhi (death through water) when they realized that the purpose of their avatar was fulfilled and they had no further role in the society.

Sanatana Dharma firmly believes that as one has the right to determine the course of life, one has the right to determine one’s exit.

Sanatana Dharma Does Not Support Escapism

Do not equate this with suicide. Arjuna in the Mahabharata was on the verge of running away or committing suicide. But Bhagavan Krishna reminded him about his responsibilities.

Vanaprastha and Sanyasa Ashrama in Sanatana Dharma should not be employed to run away from problems in life. Ending life because of some temporary physical pain is not advised in Sanatana Dharma.

Euthanasia When The Body Is No Longer Functioning

All living beings are Kshetra (temple) in which Bhagavan resides. It is for us to make sure that that body is healthy.

But due to some reason our body becomes totally worthless, then there is no point in stretching the suffering.

In such rare cases, the person has the right to ask to terminate the life.

Bhishma Pitamaha who was wounded in the battlefield chose to terminate his life. Pandavas and Sri Krishna witnessed and helped Bhishma Pitamaha exit the world in dignity.

Numerous soldiers who were mortally wounded in wars were allowed to end their life.

As per Sanatana Dharma, death is not the end. It is just a transformation. The body sheds one form to take another.

The cycle of life continues. There is no end to it.

Modern Day Attachment to the Body

Today, there is too much attachment to the body. We want to prolong our life. Nature loses interest in the human body after a particular age. Nature always wants that which is fresh, young and with vigor. Nature is concerned more about procreation. Everything in nature undergoes transformation. Old leaves give way to fresh green leaves.

Prolonging Life With No Purpose

But we humans have interfered with nature. We attempt to prolong our stay on earth even after the expiry date. We all know what happens when we use a product whose expiry date is over.

The medical industry thrives on prolonging life. They want to make maximum profit from a well-off individual. They convert the individual into a vegetative state. The person continues to pump in the money to remain alive as a vegetable.

Those who cannot afford the costly treatment are mercilessly thrown out of the hospitals or are ignored. This clearly shows that it is money, which is keeping a person alive. If the same person has no money then the person will be conveniently ignored by hospitals, society and even by family members and relatives.

Do not fall into the trap of the medical industry. Read scriptures, understand them and practice detachment. Lead a healthy natural life and when it is time to go, go boldly with a smile. Give a dignified end to the body - which is only a temporary abode.

Euthanasia in Hinduism

As per Hinduism, a person can practice Euthanasia if the person feels the purpose of life is completed. This is the decision of an individual. The person should not take the help of another individual in such matters. It is a personal decision. Walk away from society without advertising.

Running away from life and problems in life is not acceptable in Hinduism. This was condemned in Gita by Sri Krishna. Euthanasia should not be used for that purpose.

A person suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma should be allowed to put an end to the body with dignity. The soul of the person is trapped in the painful body and it needs a release so that it can take a new form.