Hinduism Term Paper

Free sample term paper on Hinduism:

This term paper project is about how Hinduism responds to medical ethics; it will consist of issues about euthanasia, abortion, suicide and animal research. It will have many facts with some opinions and hopefully won’t be bias.

Euthanasia is ending a person’s life deliberately, but for compassionate reasons. Euthanasia is illegal in Britain, but the Voluntary Euthanasia Society campaigns for the law to be changed to allow it within a strictly controlled legal framework. This is the situation in the Netherlands, where euthanasia remains illegal, but provided certain procedures are carefully followed, a doctor who administers euthanasia will not be prosecuted in the courts.

But even in the Netherlands it is not as simple as some think, here are the guidelines:

  • There must be persistent, informed and voluntary requests by a patient who is aware of all the alternative treatments.
  • There must be relentless suffering.
  • There must be an independent medical appraisal by at least one other doctor supporting the decision.
  • After death, the doctor must complete an exhaustive questionnaire and inform the coroner, who will visit to view the body and to verify the facts. The Ministry of Justice decides on the basis of this report whether or not to prosecute the doctor.

Hinduism believes that euthanasia is wrong and should be totally abolished. A must perform their dharma (their duty) in order to achieve freedom for the soul. Since the quality of life in one lifetime depends very much on the actions of a previous life, suffering is seen as the consequence of wrong actions. If the soul has acquired bad karma through doing wrong actions in a previous existence, then the person will suffer in the present. If euthanasia is performed, the pain has come t-o a quicker end. Then the person will carry on suffering in his next life.

People who are care for the suffering people should help them feel more comfortable, but not help them to die. Euthanasia would be seen as a great sin, since this is interfering with dharma of the sufferer. Death is another stage in the cycle of life, and people are to be cared for and respected until that stage. Some Hindus may say that euthanasia in some cases would be acceptable if it fits comfortably with the principle of Ahimsa (respect for life). To do this, the motive for euthanasia would have to be totally selfless and bring about some spiritual belief.

Understanding the nature of God and the eternity of the soul are the keys to wisdom and giving up the world is just one step further than to become a sannyasin, or holy man. Who gives up all his family and possessions and goes and lives alone. This way of bringing death more quickly is not seen as wrong, but is often admired as a sign of holiness. It is not the same as euthanasia because it does not involve anyone apart from the person who wishes to die. No one else is asked to help with the death or to make any decisions about it.

We cannot discuss abortion without knowing, when life actually begins? When a lady becomes pregnant till four weeks time, the sperm and egg join together to form an embryo, this is called conception. At four weeks the embryo’s heart begins to beat, at five weeks the legs and arms begin to form. At six weeks, bones begin to form and the embryo gradually increases in size. At nine weeks the baby begins to look more human and is now called a fetus (or foetus). At week twelve all organs of the body are formed. After week fourteen, the baby forms eyelashes and eyebrows. Now the baby can survive outside its mother with medical support. After a while the baby is ready to be born naturally.

People argue that the baby is only human when it becomes a foetus, but Hinduism believes that since the day the sperm meets the egg, the baby has a soul. Having a soul basically means that you have come alive. Having an abortion no matter how early or late in the birth cycle is a great sin, it’s a murder. To take a life deliberately will have an effect on their dharma and karma of the people involved.

Hindus have respect for life because cycle of birth, death and rebirth, it is possible to be born as an animal, a tree or even a flower. All creation is made by God and is part of God. This influences the way they view the sanctity of life. To destroy life is in direct conflict with the principle of ahimsa (not causing harm to any living thing) and is also an attack on God’s creation.

Unfortunately abortion in India and Britain is legal, if it is carried out in government clinics. In the past many Hindus have supported abortion, mainly due to crime-rape. Also in many circumstances under aged pregnancy and critical conditions lead to abortion.

Although Hinduism is strictly against abortion, if the mother’s life is at risk, then abortion is acceptable. In Hinduism, there is no single central authority. There are a wide range of sacred texts that offer guidance, but ultimately the decision a Hindu makes will depend very much on their circumstances and the advice they are given by family, friends or the pundit (Hindu priest). It will also depend on their belief about the importance of their dharma (religious duty) and rebirth.

Suicide is deliberately ending your own life. Sometimes it is called ‘self-murder’. In the past in many countries suicide was treated as a crime and if someone tried but failed to commit suicide then they would be severely punished. Today, most people recognise that if someone wants to commit suicide, this is often because they are very depressed or suffering from another kind of mental illness. Religious teaching about suicide often dates to times when people understood a lot less about mental illness than they do today.

Suicide accounts for less than one percent of total deaths in Britain every year. Suicide rates among young people went up by thirty percent between 1985 and 1996. Men, on average are three times as likely to commit suicide as women. The suicide rate amongst alcoholics is eighty times greater than for the rest of the population. Up to 1961, it was a criminal offence to commit suicide or attempt to do so. In 1961, the Suicide Act was passed, but it still remains a criminal act, punishable by up to fourteen-years imprisonment, to aid or advise suicide. Attempted suicides are probably running at about 200,000 a year. Everyday through out the world at least 1,100 people commit suicide- one every eighty seconds.

There are many reasons why people commit suicide. Here are some of them. Bereavement, when there has been a death of a loved one. Insecurity, when someone has been stemming from childhood. Loneliness, when someone does not have anyone close to talk to. When someone loses faith in the future. When someone has been threatened about a nuclear war (in 1985 a man killed himself and his family after seeing Threads, a film about nuclear war). When someone loses his or her self-confidence. When someone has deep depression caused by mental illness. An attempted suicide can be a cry for help. When someone is suffering from old age or a disease (terminal illness or a long drawn out illness). When someone is worrying about money or is having problems with drink and drugs. When someone has pressure from work or even at school. When someone is having family problems (e.g. Divorce or affairs). When someone does not want to be defeated (e.g. in 73 CE, 960 Jews committed suicide at Masada, rather than surrender to the Romans). When someone wants to sacrifice him or herself.

Suicide is not acceptable in Hinduism, when it involves when it involves people taking their own lives because of hopelessness and depression. However, when people take their lives as self-sacrifice or because they cannot bear to be parted from someone who has just died, this is accepted and even approved of by Hindus. Suttee, sometimes spelt sati is an example of this kind of suicide; it is the name given to a custom in which Hindu widows used to throw themselves onto the flames of their husbands’ funeral pyres as a way of showing their faithfulness and devotion. It was believed that this death would earn the women great karma and so bring about good fortune in the next life. The custom was made illegal in 1829 because of its cruelty and because sometimes women were forced into suicide by their relatives, who made it clear that they did not want to have responsibility of looking after a widow.

For a long time, animals were used in all kinds of experiments: for cosmetics, for cleaning products, for food additives and in many other ways. This still goes on, although people are made more aware of it today from people who support animal rights and some make an effort to avoid buying products that have used animal testing. There are strict government guidelines about how the animals should be treated and how different companies should share the results of their experiments so that the number of animals used can be reduced.

Testing on animals is an important part of medical research. Many of the drugs people use today have been tested on animals. Also many medical and surgical procedures, such as the use of artificial feeding tubes and heart surgery, have been tested on animals before they have been used to save human life.

Most medical scientists argue that, unless these tests had taken place, we would not have the safe and essential medicines that we now rely on. We can now diagnose and treat illnesses that once killed thousands of people. Animal experiments were used in the discovery of vitamins, in the understanding of how embryos develop, in the development of anaesthetics and in the understanding of how diabetes can be treated. Tests on animals have helped to produce a vaccine polio, drugs for the treatment of asthma and new ways of helping very premature babies to survive. These are just a few examples. Today, experiments using animals continue, in the hope of discovering ways of curing cancers and finding treatments to prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

Some people believe, however, that it is wrong to use animals in this way. Many of the tests are painful for the animals. Some people argue that an animal has just as much of a right to life as humans do and that we should not treat them in this way.

Unlike many other religious believers, Hindus do not often believe that people are much more important than other kinds of animals. Hindu beliefs include respect for all living things and a recognition of how all the different elements of nature work together to form a whole. Some animals are frequently used in Hindu images of the deities, as an aid to worship. For example, the bull is often associated with the god Siva, the tiger with the goddess Durga, the money with the god Hanuman and the elephant with the god Ganesha. The cow is especially important in Hinduism, as a sacred animal. Animals are treated with great care and respect and many Hindus will not eat meat or meat products because of their respect for animals.

The Hindu principle of ahimsa involves doing no harm to other living creatures. Hurting or destroying animal life leads to bad karma and the person who has done the damage can expect that, in the future, something similar will happen to them.

For all of these reasons, Hindus are opposed to any kind of cruelty to animals. Using animals unnecessarily in experiments is completely against Hindu teaching. However, some Hindus do accept that there are times when experiments on animals are essential for human health and therefore some might agree that when absolutely necessary, animals could be used in medical research. In India, medical research involving animals does take place, but not on the same scale as on the West. Many people are without even the most basic health care and the question of testing medicine and other procedures on animals does not arise except in the largest cities. People cannot afford to buy any medicines of any kind, whether they have been tested on animals or not.


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