Hindu Ethics: Purity, Abortion, and Euthanasia

By Harold G. Coward; Julius J. Lipner et al. | Go to book overview
various kingdoms. They head south, southwest, west, and finally north. Their circumambulation of the earth completed, they behold the Himālayas and finally the grand peak of Mount Meru. The first to fall is the princess Yajñasenī, then Sahadeva, Nakula, followed by Arjuna, Bhīma, and finally Yudhiṣṭhira.
17.
Perhaps the sword figures prominently here because Buddhism appealed to warriors. In Buddhism, the sword symbolizes the idea of cutting out desire and ignorance, thereby achieving wisdom.
18.
For a Western theory of supererogation see David Heyd Supererogation: Its Status in Ethical Theory ( 1982) and for a critique see Joel Feinberg Doing and Deserving: Essays in the Theory of Responsibility ( 1970), 22.
19.
It is thought that the Chinese practise is based on the account in the Saddarmapuṇḍarīka of Bhaiṣajyarāja, who set himself on fire, so dissatisfied was he with his previous worship.
20.
Sallekhanā, for the laity, is legitimized in the Upāsakadaāaḥ. ( Ten Lectures on the Religious Profession of a Layman) wherein is described the death of Ananda, a lay disciple of Mahāvīra. He undertakes sallekhanā, is reborn as a celestial being in the first heaven, and will be reborn in human form one last time for liberation. According to the SāgaradharmāmU+1ESBta (i. 12), the lay discipline is to be completed by sallekhanā.
21.
"It is questionable if today the young comatose patient is the prototype for the discussion of issues of death and dying. A more probable crucial issue is that of the elderly: a reservoir of relatively defenseless persons, perceived, through bigoted 'ageism,' as unproductive and pejoratively dependent. In them, modernization has created a population stratum that, in a state of nature or conditions of scare economic, 'ought' to be dead." ( Gruman 1978), 267.
22.
Our discussion has focused only on the dying person who is competent to make decisions and to will death. It has been rightly recognized that the truly difficult problems arise when one is unable to express wishes or make an informed decision. Without going into the details of this aspect of the contemporary debate, let it suffice to point to the report of the Law Reform Commission of Canada: "The law should recognize that the incapacity of a person to express his wishes is not sufficient a reason to oblige a physician to administer useless treatment for the purpose of prolonging his life; the law should recognize that in the case of an unconscious or incompetent patient, a physician incurs no criminal responsibility by terminating treatment which has become useless". ( Law Reform Commission of Canada 1982, 66)

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Amarakoūa. ed. by A. A. Ramanathan. Madras: The Adyar Library and Research Centre, 1971.

Arunachalam, Thiru M. The Sati Cult in Tamil Nadu. Madras: Bulletin of the Institute of Traditional Cultures, 1978.

-125-

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Hindu Ethics: Purity, Abortion, and Euthanasia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Contents *
  • Introduction 1
  • Notes 7
  • 1 - Purity in Hinduism: with Particular Reference to Patañjali's Yoga Sūtras 9
  • Notes 34
  • 2 - The Classical Hindu View on Abortion and the Moral Status of the Unborn 41
  • Notes 61
  • 3. Euthanasia: Traditional Hindu Views and the Contemporary Debate 71
  • Notes 121
  • Bibliography 125
  • About the Authors 131
  • Index 133
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