Hindu Council’s FAQ on Hinduism

FAQs : Answers to frequently asked questions


What is Hindu stance on animal abuse?

Ahimsa – non-violence or non-killing is one of the basic tenets of Hinduism. Hindus believe in the Unity of all existence – “Sarvam Khalu Idam Brahma” proclaim the Vedas – all this universe is pervaded by Brahman, the Supreme Consciousness. Hindus revere life in all forms. A majority of Hindus are vegetarians to avoid cruelty to animals, especially a number of industrialized farming practices are very cruel, e.g. de-beaking of chickens, killing of male
calves for veal meat etc. It is not at all ethical to abuse animals for human use.

Hindus treat all animals with respect and care and do not kill them for
meat. In majority that is the case. Hindus even worship some animals e.g. cows are treated as mothers as they give us their milk. There are Goshalas (homes for cows), where cows, especially older cows who have stopped giving milk are taken care of in India.

In Australia, Hindu Council of Australia, with the support of ARRCC (Australian Religious Response to Climate Change) was first in Australia to launch “Meat Free Day” campaign on 2 nd October, 2008. Since then the campaign was taken to ARRCC and renamed as “Eat Less Meat” to appeal to meat eaters to reduce their consumption of meat. It is good for the  environment, good for our own health and good for the animals. Since then a number of similar organisations have come up, e.g. Meat-Free Mondays, Meatless Mondays, Meatless Fridays, Meat-free Week, No Meat May, Less Meat=Less Heat etc. The emphasis of these organisations has been more from the Climate Change point of view but there are a number of organisations like Animals Australia, RSPCA, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Voiceless etc. who have been campaigning for the ethical treatment of animals.

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Has Hinduism’s values and ethics on Euthanasia shaped contemporary society into become a better place?

Hindu ethics on euthanasia encourages us to live an ethical and moral life. There are times when we have to undergo hardships and if we are not morally strong in our beliefs we tend to breakdown and seek easy way out and commit suicide, which is not allowed in Hinduism. The practice of Prayopavesa provides a proper way out for the person who has fulfilled his responsibilities and may be suffering from a terminal disease and may not be in a position to perform the normal bodily purification function.

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What is the Hindu beliefs on euthanasia?

Euthanasia is the practice of intentionally ending a life to relieve pain and suffering by administering lethal dose to the person on his/her own request, who is suffering from an incurable and painful disease or is in an irreversible coma. It is only allowed in a very few countries. Australia does not allow it legally.

Hinduism does not support active euthanasia or “assisted killing”. Hindus believe in the Karma principle and rebirth. Hindus believe that we are not the body. We are the Atman, which never dies. It takes many births according to its Karmas. The ultimate aim of life is Moksha, freedom from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth. If the life is intentionally ended one takes those Karmas to his/her next life. Thus prolonging that cycle.

However, there is a practice in Hinduism called Prayopavesa (in Sanskrit), which allows a person to end his/her own life by fasting to death. Such a person has no desires or ambitions left and has no responsibilities remaining in life. The decision to undertake this practice has to be declared by the person well in advance. There are examples of such practice undertaken in recent times. In 1982, Acharya  Vinoba Bhave  (spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi) died by prayopavesa. In November 2001, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami of Himalayan Hindu Academy, Hawaii USA subjected himself to prayopavesa. He was diagnosed to be suffering from terminal intestinal cancer. He later died on the 32nd day of his fast.

The mention of such a practice is found in the Hindu Scripture of Bhagavat Puran. It is mentioned that when the king Parikshit was observing  prayopavesa, sage Suka, son of sage Vyasa narrated Bhagvat Puran to him. When one is fasting one should do prayers and listen to holy scriptures.

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Hindu View on Capital Punishment

As an individual a Hindu’s conduct is to always forgive even the worst enemy or not to judge another human being and leave the judgement to the Lord. 
As a government the Hindu view is that at times there is no option but to end a life to protect the society from within or from without. This is based on a higher principle that death and rebirth are necessary for the soul to grow and know its own Divinity.
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What do Hindus believe about judgement and what is the process of salvation?

We believe in a law of karma that is in operation all the time. There is not the judgement day in our way of thinking. There are multiple ways of achieving salvation and we do believe that accepting Jesus as the Savior could be one of them.

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What do Hindus believe about Jesus and his role in Hindu faith?

We believe in Jesus as Divine. We Hindus believe that Jesus added to the capacity of the human flesh to experience love. This is based on the Hindu concept that every incarnation enhances the ability for the matter that makes up humans to evolve higher. 

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How do you think Christians perceive God and his relationship to humanity?

Christians perceive God as someone in heaven who is the ruler of this world. He loves each of His subjects but he is also bound by the law that he has laid down for humanity.

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What is the nature of God and HIS relationship to humanity

The nature of God cannot be described in words completely but we are all manifestations of God in different forms. God is present in all of us but we also worship God in a form external to us and in that form God is our protector and God loves us much more than we can love God.

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Hindu perspective on euthanasia

Hinduism does permit Prayopavesa or renouncing of food and water which is actually euthanasia.
Prayopavesa literally resolving to die through fasting is a practice in Hinduism that denotes the suicide by fasting of a person, who has no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining in life.  It is also allowed in cases of terminal disease or great disability. A similar practice exists in Jainism.

Committing Prayopavesa is bound by very strict regulations. Only a person who has no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining in life is entitled to perform it. The decision to do so must be publicly declared well in advance.  Ancient times law makers stipulated the conditions that allow Prayopavesa. They are one’s inability to perform normal bodily purification, death appears imminent or the condition is so bad that life’s pleasures are nil and the action is done under community regulation.   eg King Parikshit in ancient time had observed prayopavesa and in current time, in 1982 Acharya Vinoba Bhave ( spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi) died by prayopavesa. In Nov 2001 Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami subjected himself to prayopavesa. Subramuniyaswami was diagnosed to be suffering from terminal intestinal cancer. He later died on the 32nd day of his fast.

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