Regarding Euthanasia

Leaders of faith communities in NSW have been asked to express their position to the Voluntary Assisted Dying Bill 2021. While major faiths of Australia unequivocally reject euthanasia and assisted suicide, same is not the case with the Hindu faith. It allows unassisted and assisted ending of life in some special circumstances. Hindu Council therefore would not be able to support a blanket ban on assisted dying or euthanasia. 

The ancient and medieval scholars of Indian religions discussed suicide, and a person’s right to voluntarily choose death. Suicide is approved by Buddhist, Hindu and Jaina texts.[67][68] For those who have renounced the world (sannyasi, sadhu, yati, bhikshu), the Indian texts discuss when ritual choice of death is appropriate and what means of voluntarily ending one’s life are appropriate.[69] The Sannyasa Upanishads, for example, discuss many methods of religious death, such as slowing then stopping consumption of foods and drinks to death (similar to sallekhana), walking into a river and drowning, entering fire, path of the heroes, and the Great Journey.[70][note 3] (wikipedia)

The chamber for the ascetics to observe Sallekhana at Udayagiri hills, Odisha, India

Prayopavesa (literally resolving to die through fasting)[1][2] 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.[3] It is also allowed in cases of terminal disease or great disability.[4][5] A similar practice exists in Jainism, termed Santhara. In Tamil culture, it is called Vatakkiruttal and  Sokushinbutsu in Buddhism.[66]

However in a plural society, parliament must provide space for religious believers to act in accordance with their beliefs, both individually and in association with others.

While Hindus should be allowed to practice euthanasia in accordance with the law and as per their religious scriptures, the law should make provisions for other faiths who do not want to be forced to offer or carry out euthanasia practices.

Hindu Council of Australia would, for this reason, support amendments that will allow faith-based hospitals and aged care facilities to continue to serve the community in accordance with their ethos.

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