Bioethics – a Hindu Perspective

By : Dr Raj Maheshwari.

(The following is an abstract of the talk delivered by the author at the conference on “Core Ethical Teachings” at NSW Parliament House on 4 March 2011).

Dr Raj Maheshwari
Forensic Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist at St John of God Health Care
Sydney, Australia

Bioethics addresses specific ethical issues relating to science and medicine. With the advancement in technology, we are constantly faced with new scientific scenarios where ethical decisions need to be made. The principals of ethical decision making in Hinduism is informed by some of the ancient texts, namely Vedas, Upanishads, and two main epics: Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Core Philosophy

Cycle of rebirth is one of the core concepts in Hinduism, based on the belief that the body is just a carrier for the soul, which passes on through the repeated cycles of birth-life-death-rebirth until the soul has been purified and can ultimately join the divine cosmic consciousness, also called as Moksha.

Hindu View of Life and Suffering

Contrary to the western view of health, Hinduism doesn’t view health as mere absence of disability; instead it is assessed as a product of sound mind and body, which off course is one of the goals of a Dharmic life. Likewise illness is accepted as part of ordinary life experience, which is instigated as a consequence of a bad past karma or a test from god to assess your commitment to a dharmic life.

Hindu views death as not opposite to life, rather, it is opposite to birth, and life is a journey between birth and death. Hinduism accepts suffering as inevitable even in death, so discomfort is accepted over drugs, while a conscious dying process is seen as a good death that would determine the properties of your rebirth. Thus death is seen as just another step in this cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.

Hindu View on Organ Transplant

Cremation in Hinduism is considered as both a destructive process and a course of creation; physical body and mind reunites with the earth, while atman wanders for about 12 days before continuing again the cycle of rebirth. Although in short no religious law prohibits organ transplant or donation in Hinduism, however there are contrary views. Some argue it to be a charitable act which is likely to attract karmic benefits; while others argue that if the body is incomplete during reuniting with the earth, the atman of the dead is suspended in a “state of animation” risking a karmic burden for family members. However, it is commonly insisted that the permission should be explicit.

Hindu view on contraception and abortion

Hindu bioethics agrees that there are two meanings of the conjugal act: the unitive meaning that brings husband and wife together, and the procreative meaning that capacitates them for the generation of new lives; and each and every sexual act need not be valued for its procreativity.

On abortion, the Hindu ethical decision making is based on the belief that the foetus is not just a foetus but a complete soul advancing into the next cycle of rebirth, so abortion is akin to murder; however, if mother’s welfare is in danger then the dharmic principle of duty to oneself takes precedence and abortion is permissible.

Hindu View on Biotechnology

Hinduism supports the idea of somatic cell genetic engineering which can address issues like sickle cell anaemia, haemophilia, or AIDS, on the principle of obligation to ensure survival of the present and future generations. However, it does not supports the idea of using genetic engineering for mere achieving perfection in body or bodily functions, again because Hinduism’s focus is on perfection of the soul rather the carrier body.

Regarding Cloning there are complex arguments in absence of any direct scriptural reference. The decision-making is guided by the principles of nonmaleficence (anyone’s well-being must not be sacrificed on some high altar of promoting a greater social and scientific good), beneficence (someone with leukaemia needing a compatible source of bone marrow), and autonomy (procreative or recreative rights along with rights to self-replicate).

Hindu View on Fertility Related Matters  

In ordinary cases, Hindu bioethics would want to limit IVF to married couples, using their own gametes in order to maximize the chance of both physical and emotional success for the child. However, there is provision for use of other person’s sperm in exceptional circumstances. One of the UpanishadsNiyoga, supports it if its purpose was the impregnation of a wife of an impotent or dead man so that his family may be preserved, and he may have sons to offer oblations for the welfare of his soul in the next world.

In summary, Hindu bioethics is philosophically pluralistic and ethically contextual, giving it the conceptual flexibility demanded by today’s complex moral problems. It is based on a multi-legged ethical decision making model involving the laws of Karma (good and bad actions), Dharma (righteousness), life after death, and Moksha (eternal freedom).

References and Advanced Readings

– Crawford, S. C. Hindu bioethics for the Twenty-first Century 2003; Albany, NY: State University of New York Press.

– Lakhan, S. E. Hinduism: life and death. Student BMJ2008;16:294-336

– Coward, H. and Sidhu, T. Bioethics for clinicians: Hinduism and Sikhism. CMAJ, October 31, 2000; 163 (9)

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Dalai Lama endorses Hinduism as most tolerant

Muslim nations must learn about religion from India : Dalai Lama

There are various religions and traditions in India having population of over 125 crore. Muslim countries should learn from India. so that there is peace. There is coordination among all the religions here and due to non-violence principle, modern India is developing,” the Dalai Lama said.

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Hey, Do you speak Hindu? #IAMHINDUAMERICAN

By : American Hindu Foundation.

#IAMHINDUAMERICAN

We’re teachers and parents, politicians and artists, cab drivers and entrepreneurs, doctors and lawyers, small business owners and engineers.

We give back to our communities every day in innumerable ways.

Yet the general American public knows very little about us and our traditions.

We want to change that. And we need your help.

Why now?

Knowledge about Hindus and Hinduism is very low among the general public in the US. This is despite the fact that Hindus are one of the most successful minority communities here and one with growing influence in politics.

#IAmHinduAmerican seeks to address this gap in a positive way by normalizing and celebrating Hindu Americans and how we contribute to our respective communities.

Here’s How.

You’re invited to be a part of an exciting campaign the Hindu American Foundation (HAF) will be launching TOMORROW 12/4 called #IAmHinduAmerican.

Click on the image above for a teaser of the video!

#IAmHinduAmerican is an online campaign that aims to raise awareness about Hindu Americans — who we are, what we believe, and what motivates and inspires us about Hindu teachings. The multi-platform initiative includes a social-media campaign, a 30-second public service announcement video, and a companion website to provide valuable resources about Hinduism and Hindu Americans.  

We will later expand the campaign with more in-depth stories to both inform and inspire all Americans.

Where you fit into this project.

STEP ONE: Participate and invite all the Hindu Americans in your life to also participate.  

All you have to do is upload a high resolution headshot and your story at www.IamHinduAmerican.org — starting tomorrow 12/4 at 9am ET. 

We want to make the #IAmHinduAmerican site a place where eventually thousands of Hindu Americans can share their stories with the rest of America, so we need Hindu Americans from across the country to join.  
 

The website will be updated frequently, so visit often to see your story go live.  Once your story is live…

STEP TWO: Share your participation in #IAmHinduAmerican  

We’re counting on YOU to help create a groundswell of support and excitement for the campaign.  

To do so, promote the campaign online with everyone you know — your families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, and social networks.  

Encourage them to invite the Hindu Americans in their lives to participate too!

Share on your social networks —that’s Facebook, Twitter, What’s App, and whatever else — on launch day and beyond.
 

Here’s some sample social networking language:

  • Hinduism inspires me to [fill in the blank]. @HinduAmerican wants to know how it inspires you. Help raise awareness and dispel myths. #IAMHINDUAMERICAN

  • There are many misperceptions about Hinduism. Let’s dispel them together. Will you join @HinduAmerican today? #IAMHINDUAMERICAN www.IAmHinduAmerican.org

  • With hate crimes and religious intolerance on the rise, now more than ever, it’s important to dispel misperceptions about what it means to be a Hindu American. How does Hinduism inspire you? Share your story with @HinduAmerican at www.IAmHinduAmerican.org #IAMHINDUAMERICAN

  • From yoga and meditation to karma and the decimal system, Hindu contributions are visible in everyday life. But do Americans understand what it really means to be a Hindu? Today, @Hindu-American-Foundation is launching the #IAMHINDUAMERICAN campaign to help raise awareness and clarify misperceptions. Learn more and share your story here:  www.IAmHinduAmerican.org

It’s that SIMPLE!

Be on the lookout TOMORROW and be ready to share your story and share #IAmHinduAmerican far and wide.  

Thanks in advance!

The HAF Team

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Meat produced from plants – is it OK for Hindus?

By : Surinder Jain.

Hindus are vegetarians primarily because of cruelty involved in producing meat which is done by killing a live animal. Inflicting pain on a living beings binds negative karma and continues our cycle of death and rebirth.

Pain inflicted on a being in killing it increases with the number of senses possessed by the being. Plants can only feel touch and have one sense and thus feel less pain than a being like a cow with five (touch, taste, hearing, vision and smell) senses. To reduce the cruelty for their taste, many devout vegetarians shun all life forms but plants. Others shun plant food which requires the plant to be killed in order to obtain the food, like root plants potatoes. They limit their diet to fruits and pulses etc which can be obtained without killing the plant.

As technology advances, meat (or what looks and tastes like meat) is being produced from plant based sources.

Also, some labs are doing genetic engineering to grow particualr type of meat in a laboratory dish from cells of an animal.

How would you as a Hindu respond to such food, is it OK or should it be avoided?

Here is an article about meat produced from plants :


A new generation of meat

(sunfedfoods.com)

Sunfed meats are made from premium yellow pea protein, they cook, feel and taste just like animal meat but are healthier, both for you and the planet.

Good Clean Food

With just a handful of all natural wholesome ingredients, and clean water-based proprietary techniques, we turn protein-packed pulses into delicious meaty goodness. That’s it! 

INGREDIENTS
Water, Pea Protein, Rice Bran Oil, Pea Fibre, NZ Pumpkin, Natural Yeast Extract, NZ Maize Starch.

Soy Free. Gluten Free.
Preservative Free. GMO Free.

Good Health

HIGH PROTEIN   HIGH IRON   HIGH ZINC
(62% more protein than fresh lean skinless chicken breast)

HIGH PHOSPHORUS     HIGH POTASSIUM
SOURCE OF FIBRE   SOURCE OF MAGNESIUM
SOURCE OF B VITAMINS
LOW CARB

Cholesterol Free. Trans Fat Free.

Read more about their meat free meat with the following links :

https://www.foodprocessing.com.au/content/ingredients/news/chicken-made-of-pea-protein-selling-out-in-supermarkets-211625223

https://idealog.co.nz/venture/2018/02/if-you-plant-it-they-will-come-sunfeds-shama-lee-tackling-meat-industry-new-zealand

AUSTRALIA

Meat of the future: from lab to plate

 

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SRE Teacher Training 2019 starting in a big way

By : Madya Lila.

It’s great to see Hindu Council of Australia has finally been added to the Department of Education’s web page https://education.nsw.gov.au/teaching-and-learning/curriculum/learning-across-the-curriculum/religion-and-ethics/approved-sre-providers#letterH as a provider of Hinduism teachers to state schools for teaching Hinduism.

We held a very successful training day on Saturday and 15 new volunteer teachers are now trained and ready to go into schools to teach SRE next year.  

 

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Survey of school going children’s parents on SRE

Hindu Council of Australia is conducting an SRE survey pf parents who have school going children and live in NSW.

Name of the school where your children are studying?


Suburb of the school where your children are studying?


Year in which your children are studying?

Does the school offer Hinduism SRE classes?

YesNoNot Sure

Does your child attend the SRE class?

YesNoNot Sure

If your child does not attend SRE, why?

I dont want my child to attend any SREI want my child to attend but school said NoI dont know that SRE is being taughtThe school never told me about SREMy child does not like SRE classesAlternative to SRE is more attractiveOther

Would you like to be informed when Hinduism SRE is offered at your school?

YesNo

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Karwachauth celebration at Darwin

By : Shashi Khanna.

Karwa chauth – ( The Mother in-law & Daughter in law day ) – the festival of Wife, Husband & mother in law!! surprised!! Yes dear, that’s the beauty and core of India. India lies in its family bonding and relationships. The care ,warmth, sacrifices, compromises, support is integral part of the love and compassion flowing within big family system of India’. World is surprised to still see the big joint families living togather, working togather as a united family. 

India ,the land of vibrant festivals and celebrations , celebrate each relationship brothers – sister,wife-husband, mother in law-daughter in law with a purpose and a particular flavour. Special rituals are followed, gifts are exchanged, Puja is performed and celebrated with great adoration and blessings for family. 
 
Karwa means the eathern pot of water and chauth means the fourth day after the full moon , Purnima. It is celebrated from sunrise to moon rise. Mother-in-law gives ‘Sargi’- the fruits,nuts,sweets, savoury ( mathi- the crisp chapati made of flour) along with jewellery, dresses in colours of red, bangles, Bindis, Henna ( things worn as symbols by the married Indian women) and lots of blessings and love for a happy married life.
 
 Fast is observed after eating sargi before the sunrise. Fasting women do not eat or drink till moonrise and Puja in the evening. Difficult! Yes! though, it’s been observed by every age of women. Now some husbands have also started giving company to their wives. The fast is observed for the long, healthy and prosperous life of the husband. Puja is performed in the evening with all ladies dressed to their beautiful best. On the moon rise , it is watched through a seive brightened by a lamp and then wife looks at her husband through that seive. Husband offers water from the karwa to his wife and the fast ends. Delicious meals are enjoyed with family. Now the daughter in-law gives gifts and sweets to her Mother in-law . 
 
This beautiful day is celebrated in all parts of  India with difference in rituals. The history says that this was celebrated by women whose husbands were far away, fighting for their country. 
 
The beautiful women of Darwin also celebrated this festival. Again I’m elated to mention a Fiji Indian lady Mrs Savita bhuwal Aryan Valadian organised the karwa chauth Puja at her place . Beautifully dressed ladies performed Puja with all rituals and blessings from Almighty. A big Puja was organised at Malak temple by the Hindu society of NT where many pretty ladies participated.
 
Celestial sea shores and water fronts of Darwin saw loving couples watching moon through the seives.The nature’s wonder at Nightcliff beach had the silvery moon light dancing on the waves of the sea and the beautiful stretch of the sea shore echoing with laughter of the nuptials struck by cupid. 
 
The amazing blend of modern and contemporary is seen during the Indian festivals on this biggest island – Australia. Laurels to the zeal of Indian culture whose unmatched charisma captivates all in its festivity.

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Significance of Sri Sitarama Bhadrachalam

रामो रामो राम इति प्रजनामभवन् कथााः | रामभूिं जिभूद्रमे राज्यं प्रशासति ।
तनत्यपश्ु पा तनत्यफलास्िरवस्र तनर्व्नर ााः | कामवशी च पजन्र याः सखु स्पशश्र च मारुिाः ।
Sri Vaalmeeki Ramayana – Yuddha Kanda – CXXVIII. 103, 104

Under Sri Rama’s rule, people rejoiced everywhere hailing Rama ! Rama! Rama! in jubilation
and recounting his deeds; it looked as if the entire universe was infused with Sri Rama naama;
nature was always in full blossom; rains were plenty and timely; weather was pleasant with
soothing wind breeze .
***
It is of great joy and delight to let everyone know that the utsava moortis Lord Sri Rama along
with Sita Devi, and Lakshamana are, for the first time, coming to Sydney from the ancient and
famous Sri SitaRama temple of Sri Bhadrachalam which is on the banks of mighty Godavari
river. On this festive occasion two significant events are planned – SitaRama Kalyanam and
SriRama Pattabhishekam. While Sri SitaRama Kalyanam is a blessing for every household, Sri
Rama Pattatbhishekam is a blessing for entire world. Please do participate in large numbers
along with your family and your friends, praise, pray, sing and dance in the name of Sri
SitaRama and get filled with joy and happiness.

To better appreciate the significance of the event we bring you a brief blurb on the temple
town of Bhadrachalam,rom where the moortis are coming, and the significance of utsava
moortis.

About Bhadrachalam

Bhadrachalam has a unique history. The mountain Bhadra-Adri or Bhadra-achalam, from
which the place derives its name, is part of India’s gigantic mountain range popularly eastern
ghats. In treta yuga Sri Sita Rama along with Lakshmana stayed in the jungles of Dandakranya
( part of eastern ghats) as part of their eleven year vanavaasa. The mighty Godavari river and
the beautiful and bountiful dandakaranya served as his abode during the period. The
parnashala where Sita was abducted is also on the same hills. The mountains were also home
of Rishi Bhadra who worshipped Lord Rama and conducted an intense penance. Rama pleased
with Bhadra promised he would visit on the way back to Ayodhya. However this visit was not
materialized in Rama avatara’s time. However, Rishi Bhadra continued his tapas and his prayers
reminded Lord Vishnu of his promise to Rishi Bhadra. True to his nature, Lord Vishnu rushed
to his devotee in the form of Vaikuntha Rama along with Sita and Lakshmana and blessed Rishi
Bhadra and manifested themselves as moortis on the mountain. The mountain got to be known
as Bhadraachalam after the Rishi Bhadra since.

These moortis, per legend, were revealed themselves to a tribal woman named Pokala
Dammakka who was an ardent devotee of Rama. She preserved the idols and waited for the
blessed one to construct a proper temple.

That blessed was Kancharla Gopanna(1621-1680) popularly known as Bhakta Ramadasu. When
Ramadasu, an ardent devotee of Lord Rama, found out about the Sri Rama moortis in the
remote tribal lands he moved heaven and earth to build temple at the Bhadrachalam temple
in 1674 AD. His devotion on Lord Rama was outpoured in 300 odd exquisite devotional songs
set in Carnatic style. Later in the century these compositions inspired in Sri Thyagaraja and
improvised on the krithi form introduced by Ramadasu.

Thus the Bhadrachalam was home to three spiritual gaints – Rishi Bhadra, Pokala Dammakka,
and Bhakta Ramadaasu. It is from this sacred site that the utsava moortis are coming to Sydney.
Significance of Utsava Moortis

According to the Shilpa Shastra ( the engineering principles of sculptures ) the moorthis in
temples are broadly classified into two – achala ( immoveable) and chala (movable). The moorti
of the principal diety is usually acahala (immovable) and is called Dhruva bera. Dhruva bera
resides in the sanctum ( garbha gruha) and is the recipient of the main worship. The chala –
bera ( movable moorthis) are of five types hence the name pancha bera. These five chala-beras
moortis are used in various ceremonial forms of worship in and around the temple.

These are:
• Kautuka (कौिकु ) bera is a miniature replica of the dhruva bera and is used in nitya (
daily) pooja
• Snapana (स्नपन) bera receives the naimittika (special occasion) poojas and
adbhishekams
• Shayana (शायन) bera receives the resting upacharas
• Utsava (उत्सव) bera receives the pooja when taken out in procession
• Bali (बतल) bera is taken out when offerings are made to gods and to the pancha bhoota
( elements)

All the above pancha bera are considered as an integral part of the main moorti – dhruva bera
and are deemed as emanating from it. These chala bera moortis in the temple that are
worshipped each day during the ritual sequences are but the variations of the adi murti. As
per shashtras each of the pancha bera map to five types of sacred vedic agnis and also
correspond to the five primordial elements – aakasha, vaayu, agni, aapah, pruthivi.

Therefore these different moortis represent unique aspects of the dhruva moorti, in various forms. The tejas of the main moorti steps into each of the chala moorti during various stages of worship. Though When worship sequences are conducted the tejas moves into kautuka and snapana and so on. The tejas takes a symbolic stride into utsava moorti and reaches us all when they are taken out in procession. On a lighter note it is said, because we are so mired in our daily vocations and have no time to time to go the temple, Lord himself comes out in procession and enquires about our well being.

All of us may not be fortune enough visit Lord Rama at Bhardrachalam, therefore make use of this splendid opportunity to pray, rejoice and submit ourselves at the feet of Sri Bhadrachala Rama who is coming for us all the way from Bharata Varsha. His mere presence is ‘jagadananda karaka’.

JAI SREE RAM

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Vasudhaiv Kutumbakam explained to Youth Parliament of World Religions

The Youth PoWR conference was organized by the Columban Centre for Christian-Muslim Relations to bring young representatives of different religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, and Sikh) to one platform in order to share how each of these religions are contributing towards peace in the society.

Vincy Jain represented the Hindu faith and explained the concept of “VasudhaivaKutumbakam” – the whole world is a family to foster living in harmony by the people of different faiths. The members of the audience also participated in the breakout sessions to discuss a number of current issues. The facilitators of these groups collated all the responses which were published on their website.The conference was a great step towards bringing the different ethnic communities, especially the youth together to foster mutual understanding.

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“witch hunt” against a wholly innocent and fully integrated British Hindu community?

 

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  26th July 2018
 DISSOLVING CASTE CONSCIOUSNESS
  “The Governments announces its Caste Consultation conclusion  confirming that this is NOT “a real life issue”.
Hindus & Non Hindus must now consider theoverwhelming evidence pointing to institutionalised

“Hindu-odium” the colonialists hatred for Hindus. 

The EHRC, The House of Lords, the Labour & LibDem leadership  must be asked to clarify and substantiate their prejudiced actions.”  

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We have already established beyond doubt that:-ccc download
 
  • The  current manifestation of the “Caste System” structure in India was  consciously constructed by the Christian Anglican rulers of Colonial India
    • The Dalits as a crushed community were deliberately created by the Criminal Tribes Act of 1871.

… and many other hitherto conveniently overlooked inconvenient historical facts, all of which are available for download in our report . 

 

The British Government has now agreed that the evidence for the existence of caste discrimation presented was woefully inadequate and wholly unreliable. 

So the question remains … Why did Lord Harries and other peers initiate what can only be described as a “witch hunt” against a wholly innocent and fully integrated British Hindu community?

If such a “hate speech” motivated pogram can find broad institutional support in this day and age, what hope is there for community cohesion and integration?

The NCHT(UK)’s initial response can be found here

Sincere thanks to all who helped challenge and defeat this assault on British Hindus, Sikhs,  Jains and Buddhists ie on the minority Dharmic religious traditions.

NCHT(UK) executive.


Social Media Update –  NCHT(UK) Website reaches 5.5 million hits and our Caste Documentary has been viewed by over 750,000 people since launch! Thank you to all of our followers for your support !!

 
 
 
   

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