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)

Hits: 4

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

Hits: 1

Vandalized Temple takes first step to rebuild by Murti Visarjan

By : Pandit Paras Ram Maharaj.

The Bhartiye Temple in Sydney Australia which was vandalized a few weeks ago is gathering itself to get on with the reconstruction job abd restarting temple and prayers. The first step is to do Murti Visarjana (immersion of idols) in deep ocean where they will not be trampeled upon and rest in peace without being disturbed for all time to come.

Temple Priest collecting broken Godheads with mantra recitation

The broken statues of the Godheads were duly dispersed in the ocean floor outside Sydney harbor on Saturday 27th. October, 2018. The procession started with prayer ceremony at the Temple and dispersing the statues with flow of milk in the ocean at Sydney Heads. We hired a boat from Balmoral Beach and went to Sydney Heads in open seas and dispersed all the Moortis in accordance with our religious culture in the Ocean.

Temple executive driving Godheads to deep ocean off Sydney

In the team were Mr. Indarjit Rai, Parveen Singh and Pundit Paras Ram Maharaj who went to disperse the moortis.

Rituals and Murti Visarjana at Sea

Now the Temple building is cleared and ready for reconstruction.

Hits: 0

Indian cultural society celebrates Dandia at Darwin Australia

By : Shashi Khanna.

Indian culture celebrates life with seasons, festivals and many events celebrated all across Indian states. Dandia and Garbha the divine dance to worship during Navratri is special from western states of Gujarat and Rajasthan. Women and men clad in bright coloured traditional attire dance to the rhythmic tunes of worship. 
 

Dandiya NT Australia

 
Indian cultural society has been known to celebrate all festivals with great devotion and zeal. October 20,2018 ,Dandia night was organised at Harmony Hall ,Malak in Darwin. The vibrant event saw group of people from all religions and all faiths gathered to participate in dandia. Women clad in bright flowing dresses banged the divine atmosphere with dandia sticks, dancing on high beats of Indian music in circle. Dandiya form of dance uses sticks during the dance while Garbha has use of clapping hands while swaying the bodies in circular movements. 
 
 
It was wonderful to see people of age groups dancing in excitement. Aged and children all were equal participants with young people in dance. Beautifully decorated hall with flowers and bright glittering decorations added to the holy spirit of Dandiya. 
 
The mixed group of Punjabis, Gujaratis , south Indian and Fiji Indian gave a beautiful charm to the evening. A sumptuous elaborate dinner awaited all. After the zeal full dance dinner was enjoyed by all participants.
 
 
Team of Indian cultural society deserves congratulations and an applause for their beautifully organised event of Dandiya night which gathered all the Indian community together. 
It was indeed a beautiful display of love harmony and acceptance of all cultures, religions and faiths in the celestial natural background of Darwin at Northern Territory which has embraced all on this beautiful land of beaches and water fronts in Australia. 
 
 
I’m still awestruck by the feeling of unity and compassion in such vast diversities of language,culture,colour, lifestyle and faiths. My belief that God supreme is one but to reach him through various paths has found further strong deposition in my heart and mind.

Hits: 1

Ramnavami celebrated in Darwin Australia

By : Shashi Khanna.

Multi cultural community celebrate Ramnavmi & Ashtami at Malak temple , Darwin NT

Ramnavmi,birth of Lord Rama who is incarnation of God Vishnu(the creator) as said beautifully in Hindu scripture ‘Ramayana’.Its also the ninth day of Navratri – the 9 auspicious days of Puja and celebrations in India. All the regions and states in India celebrate these days in various forms and different styles.
Malak temple at Darwin at Northern Territory in Australia had crowd of chirpy devotees who gathered to celebrate this day. Durga Puja in Harmony hall which is adjoining the temple was continuing for past eight days. The Malak temple also known as Sri Sai temple is constructed in South India architectural design, beautiful colourfully carved tomb had idols of many deities over the Shivalinga. Idols of Lord Krishna , Nataraj , Ganesh ji adorn the temple room along with Goddess Lakshmi ( prosperity), Saraswati (wisdom & knowledge) and Durga ( power & strength) pictures hung on the ‘ parikarma’ ( the circular path around the main deity also  to look & bow before every form of God ). 
 
 
Many Lamps were lighted with Prasad offered by devotees layed on the huge table in front. The fragrance of flowers added to the pious atmosphere. 
 
The evening started with recital of Mantras from Vedas, all singing rhythmically with the temple priest and devotees. Singing in praise of Lord Shiva and applauding his grace in different forms mesmerized every one. Love and God’s praise doesn’t know any language or words but yes the emotions and feelings of every one present was connected to Almighty. Devotional bhajans followed, sung by devotees who sang with great zeal and enthusiasm. 
 
Hawan was performed in the temple compound with all rituals and blessings for everyone present and their families. 
 
It was really wonderful to see people from different states of India who have their roots there but still celebrate their values and beliefs as a united family in this foreign land. It seemed like a big joint family calling for God’s blessings togather. The importance of Yagya and hawan in this age of awareness of environmental pollution is scientifically proven. 
 
Community meals followed with food volunteered by members. A big feast of different tastes and delicacies further flavoured the divine and cultural atmosphere. 
 
I can’t hold myself to share my personal emotions to participate in these celebrations. India may be divided in various states but here I found ‘ a strong Indianness’ where all gathered to celebrate and be a part of everybody’s happiness and joy. All communities celebrate each and every festival giving regard and respect to every culture. I find myself awestruck to see the Fiji Indian community participating in the Vedic rituals. It is surely to be acknowledged how this group has been able to pass that cultural heritage to their generations who follows our spiritual heritage of Vedic times with all the perfection and zeal.
 
The vibrant support , participation and contribution Fiji Indian community is doing to save gaurd the prosperous and enriched Indian spirituality and philosophy is commendable. They are for sure an example for Individuals who have lost track, faith and trust in our Indian culture and pride of our oldest History of Hinduism. 
 
I salute and bow to their unmonitored and untaught zeal of religious heritage and their ancestors who were blessed with this vow. This will always have special place in my heart and mind followed in my writings. 
 
 
 

Hits: 0

Exhibition on Vietnam Hindu Cham Brahman Community Opens

An exhibition featuring the 2018 Kate Festival, the most important annual celebration of the ethnic Cham Brahman community, opened in the central province of Ninh Thuan on October 8.

On the occasion, Mukha Linga and Po Long Girai statues, along with Nandin, Patil, and Banal sacred bulls, costumes, and musical instruments were introduced to the public, contributing to maintaining, preserving, and upholding values of national cultural heritage. 

Le Xuan Loi, Director of the Research Centre for Cham Culture in Ninh Thuan, said the display aims to popularise the unique culture of the Cham ethnic group in Ninh Thuan amongst domestic and foreign visitors. 

On the occasion of Kate festival 2018, antique collectors from across the nation and abroad donated 14 valuable objects of different materials and dates to the centre, which offer visitors an insight into the iron casting, pottery making, and fabric weaving of the Cham people. 

Since 2010, the centre has received over 900 valuable artifacts from antique collectors.

Source: vietnamtourism.com

Hits: 0

Australian Hindu wins Noble prize of Mathematics

Professor Venkatesh, who graduated from the University of Western Australia aged 16 with honours in pure mathematics, has achieved his subject’s highest honour. He has been awarded the Fields Medal, known as the “Nobel Prize for mathematics” — awarded once every four years to between two and four people under the age of 40. It is an amazing achievement for the 36-year-old, who was described as a “prodigy” and a “genius” during his teenage years in Perth.

Venkatesh was born in Delhi, India, to a Tamil family who moved to Perth in Western Australia when he was two years old. He attended Scotch College. His mother, Svetha, is a computer science professor at Deakin University. Venkatesh attended extracurricular training classes for gifted students in the state mathematical olympiad program,[8] and in 1993, whilst aged only 11, he competed at the 24th International Physics Olympiad in Williamsburg, Virginia, winning a bronze medal.[9] The following year, he switched his attention to mathematics and, after placing second in the Australian Mathematical Olympiad,[10] he won a silver medal in the 6th Asian Pacific Mathematics Olympiad,[11] before winning a bronze medal at the 1994 International Mathematical Olympiad held in Hong Kong.[2] He completed his secondary education the same year, turning 13 before entering the University of Western Australia as its youngest ever student. Venkatesh completed the four year course in three years and became, at 16, the youngest person to earn of First Class Honours in pure mathematics from the University.[2] He was awarded the J. A. Woods Memorial Prize as the most outstanding graduand of the year from the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Dentistry, or Medical Science.[12][13]

The Fields Medal,[4][23] is commonly described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics,[24] and Akshay is becoming the second Australian (after Terence Tao)[6] and the second person of Indian descent (after Manjul Bhargava)[7] to be so honoured. The short citation for the medal declared that Venkatesh was being honoured for “his synthesis of analytic number theory, homogeneous dynamics, topology, and representation theory, which has resolved long-standing problems in areas such as the equidistribution of arithmetic objects.”[5] University of Western Australia Professor Michael Giudici said of his former classmate’s work that “[i]f it was easy for me to explain, then he wouldn’t have received the Fields Medal”.[24] Australian mathematician and media personality Adam Spencer said that “[t]his century will be built by mathematicians, whether it’s computer coding, algorithms, machine learning, artificial intelligence, app design and the like” and that “we should acknowledge the magnificence of the mathematical mind.”[23] Director of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute Professor Geoff Prince said “Akshay is an exciting and innovative leader in his field whose work will continue to have wide-ranging implications for mathematics” and a worthy recipient of the Fields medal “given his contribution to improving mathematicians’ understanding of analytic number theory, algebraic number theory, and representation theory”.[25]

 

You can read more about by [Clicking here]  or [Click here]  or [Click here]

 

Hits: 0

Gerald Barr – Interviews with non-Indian Hindus

I think Hinduism is an alive tradition that is not frozen in ancient times. It adjusts to the time and place. However, the source must always be preserved. 

I became immensely inspired by Indian Classical Music, and began learning from Ustad Zakir Hussain in 1995. He teaches not just tabla, but also how the music is connected to Hinduism. For example, he traces Indian percussion to Lord Ganesha. He once taught a tabla composition that ‘narrates’ a story of Radha and Krishna. Thus, the music and Hindu spirituality are directly linked.

Hits: 0

Take a Poll on Dowry – Have your say

Hits: 1

Hindus are the most employed group in Australia

Hindus have the highest overall workforce participation rate among all religious groups in Australia, according to RMIT-ABC Fact Check.

Hits: 0