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Religious Studies

Hinduism: euthanasia

Hindu attitudes towards euthanasia

Hinduism teaches that people should be cared for until they die. Although Hindus have no religious objection to life-support machines, death is seen as a door into the next rebirth.

And as a goldsmith takes the gold from an old piece of jewellery and shapes it into a more modern piece, so the Self forgets the old body, takes hold of another body, whether like that of the fathers, or of the celestial singers, or of the gods, or of the begetter, or of any other creature.

Brihadaranyaka Upanishad

Old age and wisdom command the greatest respect in Hinduism and it is considered to be part of Dharma (duty) to honour, respect and care for elderly relatives.

A man commands respect through his education, religious action, age, friends and wealth.

Yajnavalkya 1:116

Life is sacred

Most Hindus would say that a doctor should not accept a patient's request for euthanasia since this will cause the soul and body to be separated at an unnatural time. The result will change the karma of both doctor and patient.

Other Hindus believe that euthanasia cannot be allowed because it breaches the teaching of ahimsa (doing no harm).

However, some Hindus say that by helping to end a painful life a person is performing a good deed and so fulfilling their moral obligations.

Back to Sanctity of life index

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