Hindu Ethics

Purity, Abortion, and Euthanasia

Edited by Harold Coward, Julius Lipner, and Katherine K. Young

Subjects: Ethics
Series: SUNY series, McGill Studies in the History of Religions, A Series Devoted to International Scholarship
Paperback : 9780887067648, 139 pages, December 1988
Hardcover : 9780887067631, 139 pages, July 1988

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Table of contents


1. Purity in Hinduism: With Particular Reference to Patanjali's YOGA SUTRAS
Harold G. Coward

2. The Classical Hindu View on Abortion and the Moral Status of the Unborn
Julius J. Lipner

3. Euthanasia: Traditional Hindu Views and the Contemporary Debate
Katherine K. Young

About the Authors


Modern Western approaches to India often have focused on metaphysics at the expense of ethics, leading many to see Hinduism as only concerned with the esoteric and the otherworldly. The chapters of this book offer case study explorations that are selected and presented to invite comparisons with the modern West. Such comparisons will help to remove the apparent otherworldly nature of Hindu thought from the minds of Western readers, as well as give depth and new significance to Indian ideas in the areas of medical ethics, social ethics, and human rights. The case studies demonstrate that Indian thought has not ignored deep reflection on ethical problems that are presenting serious challenges to the modern world. They demonstrate that Hinduism has a firm grounding in ethics, even when the most difficult questions are raised.

Harold G. Coward is Professor and Director of Religious Studies and Director of the Humanities Institute at the University of Calgary. In addition to Jung and Eastern Thought, also published by SUNY Press, Coward's books include Bhartrhari, Sphota Theory of Language, Studies in Indian Thought, and Pluralism: Challenge to World Religions. Julius J. Lipner is University Lecturer in the Comparative Study of Religion in the University of Cambridge; he is also Fellow of St. Edmund's College, Cambridge. He is the author of The Face of Truth: A Study of Meaning and Metaphysics in the Vedantic Theology of Ramanuja, also published by SUNY Press. Katherine K. Young is Chair of the Faculty of Religious Studies at McGill University.


"Much attention has been given to the topic of duties in the Indian tradition. This work includes rights as well, as any competent ethical discussion must. The topic is highly significant for ethical dialogue, East and West, and for our closer understanding of the Indian religious tradition. " — Harold W. French, University of South Carolina

"The book takes specific moral issues and traces the response of specific texts and thinkers to the issues rather than making the usual generalizations about 'the Hindu view. ' It is not superficial but sound, and deals with issues that are a part of contemporary ethical discussions. This makes it unique and a valuable work. " — Robert N. Minor, University of Kansas