Is Euthanasia considered morally right?

Is it acceptable under certain conditions, for example, if a person is in extreme pain?

  • 4
    Related not duplicate Is painless killing a form of himsa?
    – The Destroyer
    Aug 4, 2016 at 5:10
  • 2
    no, it is not considered morally right in Hinduism. Aug 5, 2016 at 5:27
  • This is the problem." Hinduism doesn't consider Euthanasia as moral". If that is so, Sati practice by great pativratas, even Voluntary ones in Scriptures should also be considered immoral and they should be punished. One has to come out these colossal bigotry practices.. I have seen people just lying in pain without any support and who yearn to leave their body. but depending on bogus claims from scriptures we still have archaic laws. What is moral also has to be defined , first?
    – user808
    Aug 14, 2016 at 8:41
  • @user808, your inference "If that is so, sati should also be immoral" is not based on scriptures. Shastras allow sati by pativratas. Shastras also allow suicide as a prayaschitta for grave sins. "Bogus claims from scriptures" - as opposed to the highly valid "bogus claims from laymen" ? Who are we to decide when a soul should stay or leave the body ? You don't need to keep people on life-support, but you don't get to decide when to end their life. If your goal is to prevent suffering, give them painkillers, and if they're conscious, teach them how to end the biggest suffering of all - samsara.
    – ram
    Dec 31, 2017 at 5:08
  • @Sarah - is the goal to end suffering, or to end life ? painkillers can treat extreme pain. ending life does not guarantee an end to suffering, it could make it worse. nobody wants to see people close to them suffer, but in matters that lie beyond the realm of understanding by mortal humans, we need to consult higher sources - shastras & acharyas.
    – ram
    Dec 31, 2017 at 5:11

2 Answers 2


Euthanasia (voluntary or assisted suicide) is "quite desirable" says Medhātithi commenting on Manusmṛti 5.88:

‘Those who have abandoned themselves;’—i.e ., those who, even before their life’s span has been run out, give up their bodies (by committing suicide). [It is only such suicide that is reprehensible]. It is considered quite desirable in the case of old men suffering from incurable diseases given up by the physicians; as has been thus declared:—‘If an old man,—incapable of purification and memory, who has passed beyond the reach of the physician’s art,—kills himself by falling down from a precipice, or entering into fire, or by fasting, or by drowning in water,—in his case there is impurity for three days; his bones being collected on the second day, on the third day the water offering-should be made, and on the fourth day the Śrāddha should be performed’. Suicide is regarded as desirable also in the case of persons suffering from leprosy and such other diseases; as has been said in connection with men who, though still in the Householder’s state, have lost all energy,—‘Bent upon entering the Great Path, they do not wish to live on uselessly.’ That man is called ‘devoid of energy’ who is incapable of doing purificatory acts, as also saying the Twilight Prayers &c. Then again, in texts deprecating suicide, the words used are—‘if one whose body has not been emaciated, or who has not lost all energy, should kill himself &c. &c.’; which implies that it is permitted for those who are not such as here described.

  • 1
    Suicide and euthanasia are different. Suicide is where you kill yourself. Euthanasia is where someone else kills you to put you out of your misery. Sometimes euthanasia is done with the patient's consent, in which case it's called assisted suicide, but euthanasia also refers to cases where the patient is unable to consent due to being unconscious and the like and the doctor makes the decision to kill them, or where the patient wants to live but the doctor kills them anyway. May 7, 2018 at 20:21
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    Don't get lost in semantics but try to understand Medhātithi's intent (voluntary suicide). According to Wikipedia: "Voluntary euthanasia is legal in some countries. Non-voluntary euthanasia (patient's consent unavailable) is illegal in all countries. Involuntary euthanasia (without asking consent or against the patient's will) is also illegal in all countries and is usually considered murder." So I don't think OP was talking about involuntary suicide. As for non-voluntary (consent unavailable), I'd think Manu or Medhātithi would have no problem with it. Anyway, I updated the answer. May 8, 2018 at 3:03
  • But Medhatithi doesn't even talk about assisted suicide. He talks about throwing yourself off a cliff and the like, not getting someone else to kill you. May 8, 2018 at 3:17
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    "He talks about throwing yourself off a cliff" - what if the person is too weak to go to the top of the cliff himself? Can he take someone's help to reach the top? If yes, is the person assisting responsible for the death? Did he kill the person? I'd think no. It was still a suicide and a voluntary one. Feel free to disagree but that is how I interpret it. "quite desirable in the case of old men suffering from incurable diseases" - for current times, I interpret this to mean assisted suicide with consent. Needn't even pull the plug himself. A simple gesture is all that is needed. May 8, 2018 at 4:35
  • I think there may be a moral difference between taking someone to the top of the cliff and pushing them off the cliff. May 8, 2018 at 5:04

No, violence against any living being whether self or another being draws sins for self/soul where extremity of sin increases from evolution scale starting from an insect and ending in Man, highest for killing a Brahm Gyani. The negative impacts are suffering for next births. This thing was learnt by Totapuri, guru of Ramakrishna Paramhansa

About this time Totapuri was suddenly laid up with a severe attack of dysentery. On account of this miserable illness he found it impossible to meditate. One night the pain became excruciating. He could no longer concentrate on Brahman. The body stood in the way. He became incensed with its demands. A free soul, he did not at all care for the body. So he determined to drown it in the Ganges. Thereupon he walked into the river. But, lo! He walks to the other bank." (This version of the incident is taken from the biography of Sri Ramakrishna by Swami Saradananda, one of the Master's direct disciples.) Is there not enough water in the Ganges? Standing dumbfounded on the other bank he looks back across the water. The trees, the temples, the houses, are silhouetted against the sky. Suddenly, in one dazzling moment, he sees on all sides the presence of the Divine Mother. She is in everything; She is everything. She is in the water; She is on land. She is the body; She is the mind. She is pain; She is comfort. She is knowledge; She is ignorance. She is life; She is death. She is everything that one sees, hears, or imagines. She turns "yea" into "nay", and "nay" into "yea". Without Her grace no embodied being can go beyond Her realm. Man has no free will. He is not even free to die. Yet, again, beyond the body and mind She resides in Her Transcendental, Absolute aspect. She is the Brahman that Totapuri had been worshipping all his life.

When you are not born on earth on your own will, how can you go from it on own will. Only a yogi, Brahm Gyani can leave their body at will, because they identify themselves with soul, not the body. What one thinks one become. The difference between a yogi taking Mahasamadhi and a bhogi committing suicide is difference in mindset. A yogi is just leaving his body and is in Satva(knows what he is doing as he is in Yoga) but a bhogi is trying to destroy someone out of anger or fear born out of Tamas/ignorance. Yogis like Shankaracharya and Swami Vivekananda took mahasamadhi or left their body at will. Patanjali Yoga Sutras

बन्धकारणशैथिल्यात् प्रचारसंवेदनाच्च चित्तस्य परशरीरावेशः ॥३९ ॥

  1. When the cause of bondage of the Chitta has become loosened, the Yogi, by his knowledge of its channels of activity (the nerves), enters another's body.

The Yogi can enter a dead body and make it get up and move, even while he himself is working in another body. Or he can enter a living body and hold that man's mind and organs in check, and for the time being act through the body of that man. That is done by the Yogi coming to this discrimination of Purusha and nature. If he wants to enter another's body, he makes a Samyama on that body and enters it, because, not only is his soul omnipresent, but his mind also, as the Yogi teaches. It is one bit of the universal mind. Now, however, it can only work through the nerve currents in this body, but when the Yogi has loosened himself from these nerve currents, he can work through other things.

Suffering like diseases, mishaps in life usually comes from past wrong doings and bad Karmas, because its the sign of a weak soul(strong ego) who strays away from Dharma and collapse against its negative fruits later.

This is what Buddha explained to Angulimala, a forest barbarian about needless violence.

Angulimal had murdered numerous people and he had vowed to kill one thousand men.Whenever people learned that Angulimal was hiding nearby they would leave that place. Even the king was afraid of Angulimal. The soldiers were unable to catch Angulimal. Buddha was through the forest and people prayed to Buddha not to go through the path as Angulimal was there.They warned Buddha," Please don't go through this path, Angulimal would kill you,he is a cruel monster." Buddha told them,"There is nothing to fear.Once I have chosen my path, I will surely go through this.I will see to it that Angulimal kills me or I kill Angulimal." Gautama went ahead in the forest. Angulimal was waiting for somebody to come his way.He saw Gautama from a distance,an unarmed monk in a peaceful mood with aura around him coming towards him. Angulimal warned Buddha ," Don't come here, don't proceed further.You are a monk, I take pity on you go back and don't come back here again.I will kill you."

Gautam Buddha replied," I am not used to taking sympathy from anybody.I am coming to you and you can come to me."Angulimal was astonished to see a fearless man like Buddha.Angulimal wondered every person who comes near me,pleads for mercy and shivers with fear but this man knows no fear,he is coming towards me without a hint of fear. Angulimal took his sword and ran towards Buddha," You are going to be dead soon."Buddha said" Before you kill me, just do one little thing for me.Go and fetch four leaves from the tree." Angulimal went and brought a branch of leaves to Buddha and said,"You can take as many leaves as you want."Lord Buddha then said," Now do one more thing, before you kill me.Please attach the leaves back to the trees." Angulimal said," That is impossible." Buddha replied,"Plucking leaves is the easy part even a child can do this.One who can attach life to these leaves is a real man with character.You are a weak person .You only know how to take life.You must leave this misconception that you are a strong man.You can't even put a leaf back to the tree." For once Angulimal thought for awhile,"Is there a way to join a leaf back."Buddha replied,"Yes,there is a way.We are following that path only." Angulimal for the first time in life felt guilt in his mind,"Killing somebody doesn't symbolizes strength .Murdering is an act of weakness.I am not weak .Now what should I do." Angulimal fell on the feet of Buddha who guided him to follow the path of Dhamma.Angulimal became a monk and followed Lord Buddha.

Only who is connected to Brahman/God alone has the right to take life like Krishna, a Brahmgyani instructed Arjuna to fight war and kill adharma, because one who can give life alone can take it, not any normal jeeva. Anyways killing the body doesnot kill the real self and a person end up in worse situation in next life than current situation.

Gospels of Ramakrishna Paramhansa

The body and the soul! The body was born and it will die. But for the soul there is no death. It is like the betel-nut. When the nut is ripe it does not stick to the shell. But when it is green it is difficult to separate it from the shell. After realizing God, one does not identify oneself any more with the body. Then one knows that body and soul are two different things.

By unnatural death (referring to suicide attempts) one becomes an evil spirit. Beware. Make it clear to your mind. Is this what you have come to after hearing and seeing so much?

Even inferior animals dont commit suicide, its only with humans with intellect who thinks of killing themselves. Both animals and men have common thing that is mind, but its the intellect(long term memory) that leads to problems like depression and suicides within people of Kaliyuga, because their soul's evolution level is weaker than body's evolution level as they dont know how to use the power of intellect properly and stray away from Dharma easily in the current materialistic way of life portrayed by current elites leading to sufferings later.

Bhagavad Gita 2.22 As a person sheds worn-out garments and wears new ones, likewise, at the time of death, the soul casts off its worn-out body and enters a new one.

Bhagavad Gita 3.27 All activities are carried out by the three modes of material nature. But in ignorance, the soul, deluded by false identification with the body, thinks itself to be the doer.

So, euthanasia or leaving body at will is valid for only monks or Sanyassis and they dont even need some external material thing to attain mahasamadhi.

  • It's wrong to say inferior animals don't commit suicide. Many will for mating, having children, defending the colony, etc. Oct 9, 2021 at 9:14

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