Euthanasia (Mercy Killing) is a controversial subject and there are several opinions for and against it. The word Euthanasia is derived from the Greek word ‘EU’ which means good and ‘THANATOS’ which means death. Euthanasia is legalized in some Scandinavian countries under strict medico-legal supervision in terminally ill patients. In India too, there have been several debates to legalize Euthanasia, but the majority of the Indian medical fraternity are opposed to it.
The Vedanta approach to disease is Holistic. Vedanta believes that diseases are caused by wrong living, like abusing the body with wrong life styles and also wrong thinking or inability to calm the restless mind. Vedanta also believes that there are deeper causes for diseases like ‘past life karma’. These ‘Karmic diseases’ do not respond even when handled the right way in keeping with the systems of Medicine known to man. Unfortunately these incurable diseases cause tremendous suffering to the patient and the patient often yearns for death as a release from suffering.
Vedanta strongly believes that this suffering should be welcomed and accepted as a ‘cleansing of the Karma’ and no attempt should be made to interfere with the karma and a true cure in the spiritual sense can be only possible through the elimination of the past causations.
In cases of incurable diseases, the soul is cleansed, so that it can go into a higher realm, while there may be suffering in the body and the mind. It is for this reason, Spiritual masters like Ramana Maharishi and Swami Ramakrishna never interfered with their cancers and were blissfully ignorant of the pain, because their self realized state permitted their minds to receive the light of the soul and they were merged in the Cosmic bliss despite the tremendous suffering their bodies underwent. Vedanta is against Euthanasia because it is a hindrance to the progress of the soul. Vedanta believes that tender loving care must be given to the sufferers and they must be reminded of the eternal spiritual values for the liberation of the soul in the terminal stages of their disease.