According to some religions, donating the human organs (especially after one's death) is considered a good practice.
So is it a good thing to do according to Hindu scripture?
Have any Hindu acharyas commented on this practice one way or other?
Organ donation yes may be done for the welfare of others' in the view of service to human is service to god. But physical organs, beauty, 64 kalas are based on punya & pap earned by oneself through the life cycles. Afaik there are no references of such donations in Hindu mythology! After one's death, the ash of vital organs would be collected and is poured into holy rivers which will liberate soul from pap(salvation) & give them better life or mukthi(liberation). If the organs are donated, the ash from such parts can't be collected.
king Shibi donated his organs to save life of a pigeon from an eagle as kshatra dharma!
I believe, organ donation is not a bad practice. Its a religion of Humanity where we can help someone even after your death. Its one way you can help someone after your death. As per my knowledge every religion encourage or support blood donation and its similar to organ donation after your death.
Interestingly, reports about the use of body parts to benefit others are also deeply embedded in Hindi mythology. In fact, the earliest depiction of Xenotransplantation is the case of Ganesha, one of the best known and most widely worshiped deities in the Hindu pantheon, who is pictured with an elephant head. Various Hindu scholars have endorsed organ donation publicly. Hasmukh Velji Shah of the World Council of Hindus stated that
The important issue for a Hindu is that which sustains life should be accepted and promoted as Dharma (righteous living). Organ donation is an integral part of our living from http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/741267_7
Of all the things that it is possible to donate, to donate your own body is infinitely more worthwhile. — The Manusmruti
"In the joys of others lies our own." His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha
Life after death is a strong belief of Hindus and is an ongoing process of rebirth. The law of Karma decides which way the soul will go in the next life. The Bhagavad Gita describes the mortal body and the immortal soul in a simple way like the relationship of clothes to a body:
vasamsi jirnani yatha vihaya
navani grhnati naro 'parani
tatha sarirani vihaya jirnany
anyani samyati navandi dehi.
As a person puts on new garments
giving up the old ones
the soul similarly accepts new material bodies
giving up the old and useless ones.
Bhagavad Gita chapter 2:22
Scientific and medical treatises (Charaka and Sushruta Samhita) form an important part of the Vedas. Sage Charaka deals with internal medicine while Sage Sushruta includes features of organ and limb transplants.
"I always carry my donor card with me. It says that my whole body can be used for organ donation and medical purposes after my death. I would like to encourage as many people as possible to do the same." The Late Dr Bal Mukund Bhala, Co-ordinator Hindu International Medical Mission, Former President Hindu Council UK
I am posting an excerpt from Mahabharata that supports organ donation:
The Deities said,-…The Asuras are being aggrandised, while we are being weakened. It behoveth thee, therefore, to ordain what is for our good. –After the deities ceased, the Grandsire replied, - The great Rishi Dadhichi of Bhrigu’s race is now engaged in performing severe austerities. Go, ye deities, unto him and solicit a boon from him. Do ye so arrange that he may cast off his body. With his bones let a new weapon be created called the Thunderbolt. Thus instructed by the Grandsire, the deities proceeded to that place where the holy Rishi Dadhichi was engaged in his austerities. The deities with Indra at their head addressed the sage, saying,- O holy one, your austerities, we hope, are being well performed and uninterrupted. – Unto them the sage Dadhichi said, - Welcome to all of you. Tell me what I should do for you. I shall certainly do what you will say. They then told him, - It behoveth thee to cast off thy body for benefiting all the worlds. Thus solicited, the sage Dadhichi who was a great Yogin and who regarded happiness and misery in the same light, without being all cheerless, concentrated his Soul by his Yoga power and cast off his body. When his Soul left its temporary tenement of clay, Dhatri taking his bones, created an irresistible weapon called the Thunder-Bolt. With the Thunder-Bolt thus made with the bones of a Brahmana, which was impenetrable by other weapons and irresistible and pervaded by the energy of Vishnu, Indra struck Vishwarupa the son of Tashtri….
[Mahabharata Santi Parva Section CCCXLIII]
Donation and Charity are considered as Good Karma in Hinduism and it is full of stories and myths where people put their duty to donate the highest.
Some examples are: Mahabali, Karna etc.
Out of all you can donate, donating your body/self is considered the highest form of donation. So in Hinduism not only organ donation is allowed but it is revered as highest.
Let me give you an example of Dadhichi
Dadhichi gave up his life and his bones for the greater good of society. Reading his story and watching acts based on his story since childhood instills the importance of donation & sacrifice.
You should not only donate your organs to save/help other individual but also you should sacrifice your life for greater good if the need be.
An example of this age Dadhichi could be http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1259627/Man-golden-arm-James-Harrison-saves-2million-babies-half-century-donating-rare-blood.html
It's the example I wish to live by, as an Hindu.
I am going to give an answer to this based on what I have read and also heard from a vidwan (sorry, I don't know his name) affiliated with Kanchi mutt.
1) There are instances of organ donation in the scriptures. Dadichi, who gave his backbone to be the Vajra for Indra. Karna gave away his kavacha which was part of his body to Indra. In the Tamil saivaite tradition, there is the story of Kannappa Nayanar who donated his eye to Lord Shiva.
Narration of how Dadhichi gave his body - https://www.vedabase.com/en/sb/6/10 (verses 6.10.2 to 6.10.14)
2) The vidwan also mentions that in Soma yaga, it is the yajamana who offers up his body parts one by one as dakshina. The mantra referred to is below, where the yajamana starts offering up his praana as dakshina to the ritviks.
adhvaryo praanam te dadaami
But then, the yajamana also prays that he will be unable to complete the yaga if he gives up his entire body and therefore requests that the dakshina be accepted in the form of gold.
3) The conditions for donating organs is that one should do it knowingly. While alive, the jivatma "owns" the body and so can consciously decide whether to give a part of his body away. BUT, after the jivatma has left the body, the body belongs to the Agni that was kept by the person, either via samidhadaanam or aupAsanam.
4) So, after a person dies, organs cannot be donated like it is becoming popular nowadays. The vidwan mentions that one who cuts out such organs, one who consents to or requests such an act and all other involved will face doshas and accompanying sufferings. The reference given was "Karma vipaka Adhyaya in Garuda Purana" but I am unable to trace that section as of now.
So, we can conclude that organ donation is allowed while one is alive. It is not allowed after a person dies.
Just another observation: That said, in general such things are also discouraged by many vedic scholars since they are of the opinion that they basically consider it as interfering with a person's karma.
Technically not donating the organs could be argued a sin. This is because the soul is alive long after its body is unable to get up or work its brain. Thus, not donating the organs speeds up the death of the individual, technically making it murder.
तमोऽयं तु समाश्रित्य चिरं तिष्ठति सैन्द्रियः । न च स्वं कुरुते कर्म तदोत्क्रामति मूर्तितः ॥ ५५ ॥
tamo'yaṃ tu samāśritya ciraṃ tiṣṭhati saindriyaḥ | na ca svaṃ kurute karma tadotkrāmati mūrtitaḥ || 55 ||
This (individual Soul), on entering into ‘Darkness,’ remains, for a long time, equipped with the sense-organs, but does not perform its functions; then it departs from the body.—(55)
This realization is supported by the Chandogya Upanishad (part of Sama Veda), which declares the "the chief prāṇa" (prāṇa is related to the soul) to be the support of all organs. Thus, a soul cannot have left the body until all organs are non-functional, which is impossible by nature for organ donation.
तं हाङ्गिरा उद्गीथमुपासांचक्र एतमु एवाङ्गिरसं मन्यन्तेऽङ्गानां यद्रसः ॥ १.२.१० ॥
taṃ hāṅgirā udgīthamupāsāṃcakra etamu evāṅgirasaṃ manyante'ṅgānāṃ yadrasaḥ || 1.2.10 ||
- The sage Aṅgirā worshipped the chief prāṇa as udgītha [i.e., Brahman, to whom the udgītha is addressed]. The chief prāṇa is referred to as āṅgirasa, for it is the rasa [i.e., the essence, or support] of all the aṅgas [organs].