Hinduism and Buddhist Perspective of Suicide and Euthanasia

The principle of ahimsa, or no violence, is fervently held in Hinduism and is reflective in followers’ everyday lives. This concept extends to oneself as well as others.

For one, suicide is condemned in this religion because all life is considered sacred. Humans life is perceived as precious because only through one of the three human realms can liberation be achieved. Other living things, such as insects and animals, do not receive the same opportunity, so it is crucial followers within this realm take advantage of this. By committing suicide, followers are ignoring the good fortune they have received and are behaving in a way that is sinful.

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Also, suicide is unacceptable because it results in the failure to fulfill the unique role given to each individual by God’s creation. Similar to the traditional view of the caste system, each human being is a necessary participant in the society as a whole. Regardless of this designation, it is that person’s responsibility to behave in a way that does not comprise the overall good. When a follower decides to commit suicide for selfish reasons, the cosmic progression of events is affected as well as disrupting the family lineage, the birth of progeny, nourishment of gods, and the proper function of society (Jayaram, n.d.). Overall, committing suicide as a willful act is seen as disobedience to God and His laws(Jayaram, n.d.).

In the sixteenth teaching of The Bhagavad-Gita, Lord Krishna differentiates between the divine and the demonic in man. The demonic man is characterized as being, subject to insatiable desire, / drunk with hypocrisy and pride, / holding false notions from delusion, / they act with impure vows (The Bhagavad-Gita 16:10). Since committing suicide is viewed as an impure act, followers that submit to this form of self-harm are included within this description. Lord Krishna then states, these hateful, cruel, vile / men of misfortune, I cast / into demonic wombs through cycles of rebirth (The Bhagavad-Gita 16:19).

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