On Abortion and Purification
Dear Aunty Shakun,
I have a couple of questions for you, which I have been struggling with recently.
First, somebody I know just had an abortion and she is really struggling with the moral issue. I have always been pro-choice and was wondering what Hinduism had to say about the concept of abortion.
On the concept of miscarriage, Hinduism believes that the soul decides that it is not ready for the lessons or to incarnate so soon after all.
So it decides to abort itself.
Or it could be that that the child owed the parents that amount in terms of emotional pain if they wanted to keep him/her.
Or it could be that the child owed medical fees, which had to be paid through the parents.
In the case of abortion, I personally think that the parents chicken out.
Maybe they will not burn in hell for their action but they would still have to go through a similar experience again until they decide to keep the child, despite not wanting to.
A certain amount of guilt almost always follow the parents as after all they are dealing with a child who they have not allowed to live.
There is a third school of thought that believes that the child has the right to be born if it is already conceived. They believe that it is more compassionate to give that child up for adoption to live out its karmas.
Unlike olden days today it is prevalently accepted that the mother who gave up her child for adoption loved the child so much that she wanted him/her to have a better life.
You give the options to your friend. Give her the ones that you think are most compassionate. I donít want her to go through life feeling miserable.
If she feels in her gut that she has done wrong, then let her ask for forgiveness, Then forgive herself and move on.
My second question has to do with the concept of purification. If we believe that we have to pay for our sins according to the karma theory then why do we feel that we are purified if we take a dip in the Ganga? It seems to me that you either pay for your sins with your karmas or you absolve them by taking a holy dip. I find this especially bothersome because the Christians believe that once they ask for forgiveness they are purified and can enter the gates of heaven and that they do not have to pay for their bad karmas if they simply ask for forgiveness. It seems too easy to me. I mean of course God has the power to forgive us if He feels our repentance is real, but how many of us are really truly repenting, and are we not responsible for our actions? Then how can Mother Ganga absolve us if we have not paid for our own actions? It is a dilemma for me and I would really like an explanation when you get a chance. Thanks.
I have always believed that the Hindus taking a dip in the Ganga is equivalent to the Christians ritual of confession.
But as you say the repentance has to be real. Only then would one be truly purified.
One cannot make a game of it.
Having said that, both rituals are beautiful because it allows a truly repentant person to be forgiven, not only by God but by himself/herself and move on with life.
I pray that I have been of some help to you and to your friend.
Dal Sabzi for the Aatman
ô is the sole property of Shakun Narain.