Does religion permit mercy killing?

Euthanasia is a term that has been globally misinterpreted and has been the subject of many social and psychological studies. Today for this blog post , I have attempted to look at Euthanasia or mercy killing through the lens of religion. The word Euthanasia originates from Greece. According to Philosopher Helga Kuhse: “‘Euthanasia’ is a compound of two Greek words — “eu” and “thanatos” meaning, literally, ‘a good death’. Today, ‘euthanasia’ is generally understood to mean the bringing about of a good death — ‘mercy killing,’ where one person, A, ends the life of another person, B, for the sake of B.” Euthanasia can be divided into three categories — voluntary, non-voluntary, or involuntary.

  • Voluntary euthanasia is legal in a growing number of countries.
  • Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient’s consent unavailable) is legal in some countries under certain limited conditions, in both active and passive forms.
  • Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient’s will) is illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder.

Ramayan is a widely read Hindu text which we often grow up listening to our grandparents telling us in a blissful summer afternoon or as a bedtime story.

According to Wikipedia, The epic Ramayana dated variously from the 5th century BCE to the first century BCE. The story revolves around the life of prince Ram a prince of Ayodha ( a province in India ). Among Hindus, Ram is perceived to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu the creator of the world. Sita was the wife of Ram and the daughter of Bhūmi (the earth) and the adopted daughter of King Janaka of Videha and his wife, Queen Sunayana.

Did Ram and Sita both actively participate in what we call the modern-day practice of Euthanasia?

Well as the history and records suggest. Everyone who is slightly familiar with the plot of the Epic might know that the story concludes with Sita returning to her mother Bhumi ( the earth ) by willingly descending underground ( might be a form of self burial ). She faces a lot of issues with her conjugal life with Ram due to her abduction by the demon King Ravana which leads her to go back to her mother ( this might connote to her taking her own life from her will ). Ram on the other hand drowns himself in River Sarayu after the incident. His devout follower and worshiper Lord Hanuman received a parting gift which gave him the power to chose his time of death.

Through these aforementioned incidences, we can comprehend how subtly one may assume that Religion may not condemn practices of euthanasia. Euthanasiathrough correct practices or measures may benefit a lot of people for whom living is an eternal purgatory. Patients who are terminally ill or suffering from major illnesses should be given a right to end their lives just like everyone has the right to live.

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