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Thread: Abortion

  1. #1

    Abortion

    Offshoot from VC's thread. This is a big issue in Christian countries. In India, this is a very common practice. The position of our religion is not widely known and not taken into consideration ...

    Definitely in Hindu view ~ abortion is not as grave a sin as killing, but it definitely carries karmic consequences as a process of birth has been altered.

    I would like to know what dharma shastras indicate on this, or if there is any indication. Position of Acharyas are also welcome.

    Quote Originally Posted by subramuniyaswami
    The question of when human life begins is often asked with the modern-day controversy over abortion in mind. In speaking of this delicate subject with my devotees, I have explained that conceiving a child is like planting a seed in the ground. Although you may not see anything for a while, there are life forces building which will one day appear before your physical eyes, emerging out of the microcosm into the macrocosm, or First World. If you interrupt or cut off that process, for whatever reason, the consequences fall to you, according to the law of karma propounded by our Saiva faith.

    Abortion is definitely a concern, not only to wives and daughters but to husbands as well. The aborted child, if allowed to live, may have become the husband's heir, a preeminent member of society, and tenderly cared for him and his wife in their elder years. But they will never know and will always wonder, wonder.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

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    Re: Abortion

    Quote Originally Posted by sm78 View Post
    Offshoot from VC's thread. This is a big issue in Christian countries. In India, this is a very common practice. The position of our religion is not widely known and not taken into consideration ...

    Definitely in Hindu view ~ abortion is not as grave a sin as killing, but it definitely carries karmic consequences as a process of birth has been altered.

    I would like to know what dharma shastras indicate on this, or if there is any indication. Position of Acharyas are also welcome.

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    Following response may not be appropriate to this thread, please let me know.
    Abortion is a big issue in US. As you know it is highly politicized. I do value human lives. Prolife position has to touch across the board from unborn to age worn including the enemies. In US its position is frighteningly selective. The rights of the unborn and the dignity of the age worn are pieces of the same pro-life fabric. People weep at the unjustified destruction of the unborn. Did they also weep when the evening news reported from Arkansas that a black family had been shot gunned out of a white neighborhood or about people who were killed at the abortion clinics? How can this country be civil or moral when it permits capital punishment?
    Every human being is precious.

    Love..........................VC

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    Re: Abortion

    Abortion Facts

    - 54 countries allow abortion, which is about 61 percent of the world population. 97 countries, about 39 percent of the population, have abortion laws that make it illegal.

    - The number of abortions worldwide is estimated between 36 and 53 million; this includes legal, illegal and clandestine abortions.

    - Abortion kills much more people than the total deaths in all the wars that our planet has known so far.

    - Abortion worldwide kills more people in 42 days than the Holocaust did in 12 years.

    - 40% of all abortions are performed on college aged women.

    - 1 out of every 4 Americans babies are aborted. This number is greater than the current populations of Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, Ireland, Iceland, Finland, Estonia, and Denmark COMBINED.

    - Abortion shortens the life of the mother. Studies indicate that there is 270% increase in breast cancer risk among women who've had one or more abortions. Aborting mothers are often kept in the dark about this risk.

    - Estrogen produced in the mother during her early stages of pregnancy creates new cells in the breast. When the pregnancy is not completed naturally, then follow-up developments in the woman's body do not leave those new cells in the proper condition. Years later they turn cancerous.

    - Physical problems from abortion can include hemorrhage, infection, sterility and even death.

    - The psychological effects of an abortion are so well documented, that psychologists have grouped them under one name: post-abortion syndrome (PAS). Women may experience symptoms of PAS right after the abortion, but oftentimes PAS does not manifest itself until many months or years after the abortion.

    - Symptoms of PAS are: recurrent memories, dreams of the abortion experience, avoidance of emotional attachment, relationship problems, sleep disturbance, guilt, memory impairment, hostile outbursts, and substance abuse.

    - Fathers, grandparents, and siblings can also experience the psychological effects of abortion.

    Sources:
    http://www.abortionfacts.com/statist...statistics.asp
    http://jfa.org.ohio-state.edu/Facts.htm
    http://www.blavatsky.net/features/ne...5/abortion.htm
    http://www.healthiernews.com/

    Theosophists and occultists say that the population of souls in the astral world which is much larger than the surface of the physical earth is less, so it is not inconveniently crowded; but the staggering numbers of worldwise abortion would increase this population and might delay the rebirth of souls!

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    Re: Abortion

    Hindu Texts on Abortion

    Hindu scriptures and tradition from the earliest times have condemned the practice of abortion, except when the life of the mother is in danger. Hindu scriptures refer to abortion with the terms garbha batta (womb killing) and bhrUNaghna (killing the undeveloped soul or embryo slayer).

    Hinduism has traditionally taught that a soul is reincarnated and enters the embryo at the time the embryo is conceived. According to the Caraka Samhita, a Hindu medical text, the soul is already joined with matter in the act of conception. The soul is described as descending "...into the union of semen and (menstrual) blood in the womb in keeping with the (karmically produced) psychic disposition (of the embryonic matter)." In Rig Veda Samhita Visnu is called "protector of the child-to-be", implying that the fetus was deserving of even divine reverence.

    The Garbha Upanishad, however, claims that ensoulment takes place in the seventh month, but this view is not generally part of mainstream Hindu thought.

    In the Hindu context, the purpose of life as a human being is to make progress toward liberation from rebirth. The most important thing for each soul is the unfolding of its karmic destiny toward this goal. Abortion can obstruct this unfolding, and therefore it is condemned.

    One of the seven legendary immortals or Chiranjeevin in Hinduism, Ashwatthama, was cursed by Lord Krishna, avatar of Vishnu to immortality and eternal suffering partly for killing the fetus, later born as Parikshit, grandson of Arjuna when he was in his mother's womb. Parakashit was born stillborn but was raised from the dead by Shri Krishna.

    A compilation of what Hindu scriptures say on abortion may include:

    Vedas

    The Satapatha Brahmana compares the reputation of those who eat beef with those who perform abortions, while in the Upanisads they are placed in a category with thieves and outcastes.

    A Rig Vedic hymn [7.36.9, RvP, 2469] begs for protection of fetuses:

    "May this our song of praise reach you, O Maruts, and Visnu guardian of the future infant. May they vouchsafe the singer strength for offspring. Preserve us evermore, ye Gods, with blessings.

    Atharva Veda

    The Atharva Veda (6.113.2 HE, 43) lists the fetus slayer, bhrUNaghna, among the greatest of sinners (6.113.2).

    "Enter thou after the beams, the smokes, O evil; go unto the mists or also the fogs; disappear along those foams of the rivers: wipe off difficulties, O Pushan, on the embryo slayer." VI-113.2

    "With what bonds the overslaughed one is bound apart, applied and tied up on each limb - let them be released, for they are releasers; wipe off difficulties, O Pushan, on the embryo slayer." VI-112.3

    Upanishads

    The Kaushitaki Upanishad (1.2 UpR, 774) describes abortion as equivalent to killing one's parents.

    Puranas

    The later smrti texts also contain injunctions against abortion, as well as protections for pregnant women. In the Visnudharmasutra, killing either fetus or mother is equated to the worst crime possible in Hindu society, killing a Brahman:

    "Killing a Kshatriya [knight] or a Vaishya [Merchant] engaged in sacrifice, a menstrating woman, a pregnant women...[and]..the embryo (even) of a stranger is tantamount to killing a Brahmin [Priest]."

    Ferrymen and toll-collectors are prescribed punishment for collection from pregnant women. The Mahabharata, likewise, lists expectant mothers among a group that one must "give way to" that includes Brahmin, cows, and kings.

    The Visnu Purana describes consciousness in the womb:

    "An individual soul (jantu), possessing a subtle body (sukumaratanu), resides in his mother's womb (garbha), which is imbued with various sorts of impurity (mala). He stays there being folded in the membrane surrounding the foetus (ulba). . . He experiences severe pains. . . tormented immensely by the foods his mother takes. . . incapable of extending (prasarana) or contracting (akuncana) his own limbs and reposing amidst a mud of faeces and urine, he is in every way incommoded. He is unable to breathe. Yet, being endowed with consciousness (sacaitanya) and thus calling to memory many hundreds (of previous) births, he resides in his mother's womb with great pains, being bound by his previous deeds."

    The Puranas' prophecy for Kali Yuga states, "Everyone will be miserable owing to the dominance of vice and Tamoguna; people will freely commit abortion. Earth will be valued only for her mineral treasures. Money alone will confer nobility. Power will be the sole definition of virtue. Pleasure will be the only reason for marriage. Lust will be the only reason for womanhood. Falsehood will win out in disputes."

    Other Texts

    In the Apastamba dharma sutra ("Sacred-Law-Book of Apastamba)--written by a successor-prophet of Krishna--it reads:

    "Now these lead to a fall from caste: stealing...murder...abortion, sexual union with women with whom one is related maternally or paternally..."

    The Gautama Dharma Shastra (3.3.9 HD, 214) considers such participants to have lost caste.

    The Sushruta Samhita, a medical treatise (ca 100), stipulates what is to be done in case of serious problems during delivery (Chikitsasthana Chapter, Mudhagarbha), describing first the various steps to be taken to attempt to save both mother and child. "If the fetus is alive, one should attempt to remove it from the womb of the mother alive..." (sutra 5). If it is dead, it may be removed. In case the fetus is alive but cannot be safely delivered, surgical removal is forbidden for "one would harm both mother and offspring. In an irredeemable situation, it is best to cause the miscarriage of the fetus, for no means must be neglected which can prevent the loss of the mother" (sutras 10-11).

    Sources:
    http://www.fnsa.org/fall98/murti1.html
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_and_abortion
    http://www.eubios.info/EJ144/ej144j.htm
    http://worldlibrary.net/eBooks/Himal...lexicon/a.html
    http://www.angelfire.com/mo/baha/hinduism.html

  5. #5

    Re: Abortion

    Quote Originally Posted by vcindiana View Post
    Following response may not be appropriate to this thread, please let me know.
    Abortion is a big issue in US. As you know it is highly politicized. I do value human lives. Prolife position has to touch across the board from unborn to age worn including the enemies. In US its position is frighteningly selective. The rights of the unborn and the dignity of the age worn are pieces of the same pro-life fabric. People weep at the unjustified destruction of the unborn. Did they also weep when the evening news reported from Arkansas that a black family had been shot gunned out of a white neighborhood or about people who were killed at the abortion clinics? How can this country be civil or moral when it permits capital punishment?
    Every human being is precious.

    Love..........................VC
    Thanks for your response. I am not a US resident, so won't understand the full scope of what you said, but I fully appreciate your view which is rational.

    However can we place, taking the life of one yet to be born and that of a criminal in the same plate??

    Moral position will surely vary on this. Hindu Dandaniti does permit capital punishment.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

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    Re: Abortion

    Abortion Issues

    The issue of abortion must be looked at from many angles. Spiritually, it adds to the karma of the mother and deprives the aborted foetus from going through its Karmic destiny. In addition, it violates the laws of Nature, so Nature fights back to restore the 'disturbed equilibrium' by 'violently throwing back' the life in the astral form back on earth life, according to H.P.Blavatsky. Generally on death the 'gross matter' of the body is 'dispersed' but not so in the case of 'abortion' (HPB).

    Legally, abortion is allowed or not allowed or allowed in select cases in many countries, based on their abortion laws. Vatican City is the only country in the world that legally says no to abortion under any circumstance: woman's life, her mental and physical health, rape, fetal defects, socio-economic factors or on request. And Russia is one country that legally permits abortion under all circumstances, though the trimester time periods prescribed for certain circumstances are restricted.

    Socially and morally, birth control and abortion have opposite effects on the society: while birth control lessens the burden on the society and its resources, abortion deprives the would-be infant of its very right to life.

    Another issue that confronts the medical profession is when actually life begins. Hindu doctors and nurses face this personal trauma when asked to perform abortions. Despite their training and clinical detachment, one Hindu physician notes, staff members grow increasingly uneasy with repeated exposure to the cruel reality of a dying fetus. One strategy among veterans is: 'Don't Look.' A bolder one is: 'Don't Take Part.' Every U.S. hospital allows its staff to refuse abortion duty out of conscience.

    Since most religions and religious sects believe that a soul enters at the time of conception, they either strongly oppose or generally disfavour abortion.

    Hindu Gurus on Abortion

    The Brahma Kumaris view the body as a physical vehicle for the immortal soul, and therefore the issue is not "pro-life" or "anti-life" but a choice between the amount of suffering caused to the souls of the parents and child in either course, abortion or motherhood. They view existing legislation in America as fair and reasonable, with the proviso that abortion after the 4th month should be avoided except in medical emergencies, since in their view the soul enters the fetus in the 4th to 5th month.

    ISKCON calls the 1.3 million abortions done in America last year "a kind of doublethink," whereby people deny the status of humanity to the fetus. "According to Vedic literature an eternal individual soul inhabits the body of every living creature...The soul enters the womb at the time of conception, and this makes the fetus a living, individual person." All forms of contraceptives, says ISKCON, and the act of abortion, "interfere with nature's arrangement to provide a soul with a new body and are therefore bound to result in unfavorable karmic reaction...If you don't want to suffer the reactions...then don't have sex unless you want to have a child."

    Swami Bhashyananda, President of the Vivekananda Vedanta Society of Chicago, says that "under no circumstances the jiva should be destroyed. That is uniformly stated, from the point of conception onward. When such questions are asked, we advise them not to perform abortions...One has to try one's level best to save mother and child both. And beyond these efforts, whatever happens is God's will. But we do not have any opinion on this matter in this country, nor do we get involved in it in India. If people seek our advice, we give our advice."

    Swami Prakashananda Ma of the Integral Yoga Institute says they always advise against abortion, although they do not involve themselves in any political action to change the laws. She said they view the fetus as a life form from the moment of conception. "Of course, we follow the very basic teaching of Ahimsa which just doesn't allow killing in any way."

    (http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...85-09-07.shtml)

    Sivaya Subramuniyaswami of the Kauai Hindu Monastery, USA has an entire chapter devoted to 'Birth, Abortion And Suicide' in his book Living with Shiva where he also prescribes the penance for these sins. (http://www.himalayanacademy.com/reso...lws_ch-33.html, http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...93-01-05.shtml)

    Every saint who commented on the issue condemned abortion. Mahant Ganga Puri of Mahanirvani Akhara said, "Due to the ultrasound machine, hundreds of thousands of girls are being aborted. I have read that eight out of ten children are killed through abortion in India--the highest rate in the world. Abortion is like killing a soul. People even come to the sadhus and tell them that they had the child aborted because it was a girl. This is a very big sin taking place in our country, a very inhuman act." Santoshi Ma agreed, "Today's man is so much influenced by the Western thought and so immersed in materialism that he has no time to understand his ancient scriptures. The result is doing this deplorable crime of abortion in such an easy manner. We do not approve." (http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...998-9-10.shtml)

    A Chat with Swami Satchidananda
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...86-10-06.shtml

    Q: How do you perceive the abortion issue and what practical advice do you give to those seeking your help on this mater?

    A: This often comes up. Under most circumstances the abortion should not be done. Only when the mother's life is in danger - not for any other reason. Not for any social reason such as, "How can we take care of this boy?" All those reasons are not good. But there is an old Tamil saying: "Even the cow, if it comes to kill you, must be killed." But that is the only time. Some say, "Oh, after six months the life is there, after six weeks the life is there." No, even the sperm has life. So, at no point is it not living matter. You are not destroying the soul but you are destroying the body of the soul. So we don't want to do that.

    'Hinduism Today' on Abortion

    The famous Hindu magazine Hinduism Today published by the Kauai Monastery has several issues devoted to discussions on abortion:

    American Hindus speak out on abortion issues -
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...85-09-07.shtml

    Doctors and abortion -
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...993-8-10.shtml

    Hindu Scriptures are Clear on Abortion: Vedantham, T. R.
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...86-08-01.shtml

    Let's Talk About Abortion: Subramuniyaswami, Sivaya
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...93-01-05.shtml

    My Turn: Abortion: A Mad and Bloody River Of Lost Life
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...993-9-08.shtml

    Will India's Ban on Prenatal Sex Determination Slow Abortion of Girls?
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...996-4-04.shtml

    Other Sources:
    http://www.blavatsky.net/features/ne...5/abortion.htm
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion_law
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_and_abortion

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    Re: Abortion

    Hindu Texts on Abortion: More Quotes

    A slayer of an embryo is like the slayer of a priest.
    -- Krishna Yajur Veda 6.5.10

    Prajathanthum Ma Vyavathchethsehi
    Do not cut the thread of progeny!
    -- Taittreya Upanishad I-xi-1

    The mother is the first letter. The father is the last letter. The progeny is the focal point. Procreation is the link.
    -- Taittreya Upanishad I-iii-2-4

    From The Mahabharata
    Anusasana Parva, Section LXI
    Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

    Addressing King Yudhishthira, Bhishma said:
    There are no men more sinful than those upon whose food children look with wistfulness without being able to eat them duly. If within thy kingdom any learned Brahman languishes with hunger like any of those children, thou shalt then incur the sin of foeticide for having allowed such an act.

    From The Mahabharata
    Santi Parva, Section CLXV
    Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

    Addressing King Yudhishthira, Bhishma said:
    One guilty of foeticide becomes cleansed if he dies of wounds received in battle fought for the sake of kine (cow) and Brahmanas. He may also be cleansed by casting his person on a blazing fire.

    From the Mahabharata
    Santi Parva, Section XV
    Translated by Sri Kisari Mohan Ganguli

    There is no act that is wholly meritorious, nor any that is
    wholly wicked. Right or wrong, in all acts, something of both is seen.

    Arjuna said: He that takes up a weapon and slays an armed foe advancing against him, does not incur the sin of killing a foetus, for it is the wrath of the advancing foe that provokes the wrath of the slayer.

    Rabindranath Tagore in his poem 'Crescent Moon'

    There are many more beautiful ideas about fatherhood, motherhood and childhood in our religious literature. The emotional attachment of the mother to the child is a gigantic phenomena commensurate with the heavens. There is a beautiful poem of Rabindranath Tagore in Crescent Moon in which the child asks the mother, "Where did I come from? Where did you pick me up?" Half sobbing and half laughing the mother replies: "You were hidden in my heart as its desire my darling. In the lap of the deathless spirit that rules our home you have been nursed for ages. When in girlhood my heart was opening its petals, you hovered as a fragrance over it. Your tender softness bloomed in my youthful limbs like a glow in the east before sunrise. Heaven's first darling twin born with the morning light, you have floated down the stream of life and at last you have been stranded on my heart. For fear of losing you I hold you tight to my breast. When I look on thy face, mystery overwhelms me. You who belong to all have become mine. What magic has snared this world's treasure in these slender arms of mine!"

    Sources:
    http://www.hinduismtoday.com/archive...86-08-01.shtml
    http://www.hinduism.co.za/sin.htm

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    Re: Abortion

    Quote Originally Posted by saidevo View Post
    The Garbha Upanishad, however, claims that ensoulment takes place in the seventh month, but this view is not generally part of mainstream Hindu thought.
    Namaste,

    However Garbhopanishad is one of 108 "orthodox" Upanishads included in Vedanta's Prasthanatraya and not a "sectarian" one. I doubt Charaka-samhita is to be regarded as higher authority than Upanishad - which is part of Shruti.

    In ancient times abortion was 1) unsafe for woman's health and 2) not good for society (people were less those days). But nowadays to prohibit abortions is a social crime which leads to more sufferings. Of course some political and religious leaders may have reasons to stop abortions - but these have nothing to do with spirituality at all.

  9. #9

    Re: Abortion

    Quote Originally Posted by Arjuna View Post
    Namaste,

    However Garbhopanishad is one of 108 "orthodox" Upanishads included in Vedanta's Prasthanatraya and not a "sectarian" one. I doubt Charaka-samhita is to be regarded as higher authority than Upanishad - which is part of Shruti.

    In ancient times abortion was 1) unsafe for woman's health and 2) not good for society (people were less those days). But nowadays to prohibit abortions is a social crime which leads to more sufferings. Of course some political and religious leaders may have reasons to stop abortions - but these have nothing to do with spirituality at all.
    Namaste,

    Saidevo's posts carry many quotes from sruti about the issue which are of higher authority than garbhopanisad.

    Banning abortion is not the Hindu way, but certainly neither is misuse.
    What is Here, is Elsewhere. What is not Here, is Nowhere.

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    Re: Abortion

    We do have free will. Choosing an adharmic action is also part of the dance. The more you know about the dharma, the more karma you get. It is much easier for me to accept meat eating amongst tribals who depend on it for their survival, than it is for a fat American gorging himself on a dead pig barbecue, just to be nasty to his friendly neighbourhood vegetarian. If you truly understand the karmic consequences of abortion, and then still go ahead, then its a bigger karma to work out. What the aborters need to develop is more of a spiritual understanding through education, certainly not intolerance. Just my thoughts. Aum Namasivaya

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