By Asha Prasad

In many countries around the world, religious principles sometimes clash with scientific advancement. Spiritual concerns often keep people from donating organs, and sometimes from receiving them.

This is not the case in India, however, contrary to what many believe. An article that outlines what different religions have to say about organ donation notes that various Hindu texts recognize the donation of organs as a good thing. Spiritual teacher Ravi Shankar offers in support of this a verse from the Bhagavad Gita. In Chapter 18, Verse 63, Lord Krishna tells Arjuna: “If you are faced with a challenge or doubt, think over it. If your logic accepts it, accept it. Ponder over it fully, then do as you like.”

In other words, if you can help someone or do something for a good cause, then you should do so. Among Hindus, organ donation is recognized as a worthy and charitable act. This is similar to the stance taken by Christianity, where organ donation is seen not only as commendable but also as a moral deed.

In contrast, controversy still exists among Talmudic scholars and the Jewish people about whether and when organ donation/transplantation may be performed. At one point, organ donation and transplantation were strictly prohibited under Jewish law. Today, live donation is seen as a praiseworthy act, but the ethics of cadaveric donation are less clear. These murky guidelines have resulted in a number of bioethical issues, including Israel’s outsized role in the illegal organ market.

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