2 Main Legislations Relating To The Welfare Of Animals ‘DAYA-MARAN’ (Euthanasia) AND ‘ICHCHHA-MARAN’ (Willfully Embracing a Dignified Death)

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‘DAYA-MARAN’ (Euthanasia) AND ‘ICHCHHA-MARAN’ (Willfully Embracing a Dignified Death)

‘DAYA-MARAN’ (Euthanasia) AND ‘ICHCHHA-MARAN’ (Intentional Death)

[Note – March 2018 – Very recently the Supreme Court of India rendered a very important decision, whereby they have allowed Euthanasia on the basis of an earlier Will made by the patient. The Court has declared that ‘Right to have a dignified Death’ is a natural extension of the ‘Right to life’.

Though this decision of the Supreme Court is subject to certain conditions, it is still an important verdict. However, the subject of ‘Willfully embracing a Dignified Death even though a person is healthy’ is still to be tackled by the Supreme Court of India and / or the Indian Parliament.

On the subject of ‘Euthanasia’ & ‘Willfully embracing an honourable Death’, the present author had written an article in 2016, and had submitted it to a Ministry of the Govt. of India, who had asked for public opinion on the subject of Euthanasia. (Subsequently, the author also posted couple of articles in Marathi, an Indian language).

It will be interesting to read this 2016 article even now, as it discusses some important basic issues related to a ‘Dignified Death’.

It also should be noted that the basic issue raised in this article is applicable everywhere in the world, because whereas the Law may differ from country to country, the tenets of ‘Morality’ are the same world-over].

‘Euthanasia’ has been under great discussion recently, as Govt. of India plans to bring out a law on this subject. Family Welfare Department, Govt. of India has asked for public views on this topic. In connection, this brief monograph.

(1). Many people argue that, since birth is not done by a person, that person’s death should not be in their hands. But there is a mistake in such thinking. There is no doubt that it is true that human birth is not in hand. But, Man is an ‘animal’. Man has intelligence, thinking power, decision making power, and much more. Every man and woman would like to live a life of ‘Honour’. In the same way, he/she is entitled to an ‘Honorable’ death.

Before we proceed, let us understand the difference between ‘Illegal’ and ‘Irregular’. Let’s look at an example to make this point clear. Piracy and ‘Stealing other ships’ is clearly an immoral practice. But, in medieval times, such piracy was authorized by European monarchs, and therefore it was the ‘Law’ of the pirate nation. Today, the piracy of ships is not legal worldwide, so the actions of Somali pirates are not only unethical, but also illegal.

In the same way, a person choosing a dignified death for himself has not been legally approved, so it is illegal. But, is it immoral? Let’s give this poser some deep thought.

So the issue of Euthanasia arose. The definition of ‘Euthanasia’ is as follows:

‘The act or practice of killing (helpless sick or injured) individuals for compassionate reasons’.

We can call this word in action as ‘DAYAMARAN’. (Daya – Mercy. Maran – Death).

This is what the Govt. is now proposing a Law, by which the terminally ill may be allowed to die (ie an Honorable Death, instead of living a futile life).

Govt.nn calls this as ‘Passive Euthanasia’.

[For our discussion, let us call this type as ‘Category-A’].

Therefore, in many cases such a patient may be in Coma, and therefore, the consent of the patient’s close relatives, and the consent of the Doctors, will be necessary to implement that practice.

Naturally, Euthanasia is a moral act, and it will also become a Law once a Law is brought in.

Therefore, while bringing the Act, Govt. will have to ensure certain procedures, so that the law is not abused.

I wholeheartedly support the Law on Passive-Euthanasia, which must be passed & put into practice.

(2). However, I would like to take this discussion a little further.

The Govt. of India at present, discuss only the issue of ‘passive euthanasia’, for terminally ill patients and patients in Coma. But what about the incapacitated patients who are fully conscious, who are in their full consciousness and understanding, and who consciously prefer death rather than suffering such as excruciating, unbearable pain & other discomforts such as ‘ depend on others for their personal hygiene & toilet needs’? Do they have no control over their lives and deaths?

[Here, let us call this as ‘Category-B’].

If such patients give ‘correct’, substantiated, and legally valid information, they should be allowed to pass from this world with dignity.

This is not ‘DayaMaran’ (Euthanasia), but is ‘IchchhaMaran’ (Ichchha – Will, Desire. Maran – Death).

(3). The next category belongs to people who are healthy today, but who are worried what will happen to them if they get sick in the future and their status will be like ‘Category-B’ or ‘Category – A’?

[For the present discussion, let us call such persons as ‘Category-C’].

If such a person makes a ‘Health Will’, they should be allowed to have an honorable death if they fall into ‘B’ or ‘A’ categories in the future.

Generally ‘Love’ is done for financial matters. What is denoted by the English word ‘Will’, is called in Indian context as ‘Mrityuparta’ (Mrityu – Death. Patra – Letter / Document). However, it is now known as ‘IchchhaPatra’. (Ichchha- Will, Desire. Patra – Book).

The above-referred to ‘Health Will be’, will also be resurrected, no ‘DayaMaran’ (Euthanasia), but to ‘IchchhaMaran’ (Ichchha – Will, Desire. Maran – Death).

Here also, legal regulations can be brought out, such as Registration of ‘Health Will’, ie, ‘IchchhaMaranPatra’ (Ichchha -. Will, Will. Maran- Death. Patra – Document).

The ancient Indian epic Mahabharata mentions that Bheeshma (a main character) is ‘IchchhaMarani’ (He who will die by his own will only); and he died an honorable death, only when he wanted. Here is an interesting example from the Great Indian Mythology, and one must give such a choice.

(4). India has a great and noble tradition of ‘Honorable Death’. When people hear, some of them feel that they have fulfilled the purpose of their lives, and that they cannot contribute anything new to the Society. Therefore, they, out of their own desire, fasted (stopped eating) and stopped drinking water and any drink, and passed away from this world after a few days. Such an effort, in Hindu tradition, is called ‘Prayopveshan’; and in the Jain Tradition (Jain – An Indian sect), it is called ‘Santhara’.

(There may be small differences between the two; but, for our discussion here, we can treat them as similar).

[Here in our discussion, let us call this as ‘Category-D’ ].

Some notable examples of Prayopaveshan are, Veer Savarkar (a great Indian freedom fighter) & and Acharya Vinoba Bhave (a great Indian intellectual of the modern Era, and disciple of Mahatma Gandhi).

Similarly there are examples of Santhara from the Jains, especially the Jain Munis (Muni – An ascetic).

Also, it is not only ‘special people’ who choose ‘Prayopaveshan’ or ‘Santhara’. Even some common people, jansadharan (common men), choose the path of Prayopaveshan or Santhara. In India, this is an age & noble Tradition for Honorable Death.

It may be noted that ‘Category-D’ is the highest level among all the four categories.

This type of Death is at the highest Moral Level. Society also treats people who have done Santhara or Prayopaveshan, as people who are in a very high moral position.

Shall we reject this old and noble character, and teach people of very high status ‘IchchhaMaran’ (Honorable Death)?

This kind of Honorable & Honorable Death must also be legal.

A news article shows that the Jain Community has filed a case in the Supreme Court of India, that Santhara’s death should be treated as legal, (and, not treated as suicide). If that is the case, Prayopaveshan must also be properly treated with Santhara, and treated as Law. (Perhaps some NGOs can do something similar [public-interest-application).

Be that as it may, the fact remains that such willful choosing of Death is of the highest Moral Order. And, it ought to be recognized as such. (just as ‘Seppuku’ had been in medieval Japan).

(5). Suicide is, however, outside the purview of the present discussion. In any case, it is illegal.

[Author’s Note of March 2018 – The Govt. of India has informed the Supreme Court that it is planning to bring in a law, whereby suicide will no more be treated as criminal act].

End:

Above, we have discussed four aspects of humanity, in connection with ‘Honorable Death’, (‘DayaMaran’ or ‘IchchhaMaran’).

None of the Four categories are impure; and all four categories should be legal.

In any event, ‘Passive-Euthanasia’ must be outlawed immediately. We owe that debt to our fellow citizens who suffered.

[Author’s Note of March 2018 – As mentioned at the beginning of this article, the Supreme Court of India has now declared this to be legal, subject to some conditions].

I appeal to every citizen on this, I am not only a student, a serious thinker, a ‘Buddhiwadi’ (ironically thought) Citizen, but one who has seen the death of a family member very close. , my wife Dr. Snehalata , from very close quarters. Even during the last stages of terminal illness caused by cancer, he, a social scientist, was intellectually discussing Euthanasia & ‘IchchaMaran’ with Dr. Oncologist. He wholeheartedly supports ‘Ichchha-Maran’ (lovingly clinging to a dignified and dignified Death). So that made us both support ‘Ichchha-Maran’.

We want everyone to get the legal option of an ‘Honorable Death’.

– Subhash S. Naik.

Mumbai, India

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