Misplaced religious beliefs often come in the way of a family's decision to donate organs and save lives.While proponents say a lot of these barriers are breaking down, several myths continue to surround death and after life that deter people from donating organs.
On Saturday , the Times of India in collaboration with Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital invited leaders from various religious communities to dispel some of the misconceptions. At the end of the two-hour meet, it was clear that almost every faith considers organ donation to be a noble act and the best deed one can do to enhance the life of another."There are many forms of charity but the biggest of all is donating organs," said Rajyogini Kamlesh from Brahma Kumaris. "There is no spiritual hindrance in donating organs. If religion doesn't come in the way of donating worldly processions why would it object to organ donation," she said.
Swami Durgananda from Ramkrishna Math and Mission said organ donation was not a new concept as Indian scriptures have mentioned several instances from times immemorial. "The idea has been conveyed more clearly through Rishi Dadhichi's life, the saint who sacrificed his limbs and bones for moral accomplishment and to triumph over vice," he said. In mythology textbooks, Dadhichi's spine was used as a weapon to defeat `asuras' when they were driving away Gods from the heaven.
Christianity thinks no differently. Father Stephen Fernandes, a professor of Moral Theology and patrology said, "Pope John Paul-II affirmed that every transplant has its source in a decision of great ethical value. The nobility of the act lies in the decision to offer without reward a part of one's own body for the well-being of another person," he said. He told followers of Christianity that taking organs from the living are morally good so long as the dangers incurred by the donor is proportionate to the good sought for the recipient.
Yogacharya Surakshit Goswami said the spirit of organ donation even works for the benefit of the donor. "If you want to donate the gift of life, you start taking care of yourself and your health so that the organs are in good shape," he said. Busting myths which say that organ donation and liberation after death are inter-connected, he said, "They are not.Who says every person who has not donated organs achieved liberation or moksha.".
Sadhvi Riddhimaji maharaj reiterated that peace after death has nothing to do with organ donation. "Whatever humans offer god is materialistic but organs are the only thing we can call our own. "In Jainism, Lord Mahavir has shown that the only way to get moksha is through giving," she said.
Representing Islam, Maria Khan, a member of Centre for Peace and Spirituality International said Quran regards saving a life as having saved the mankind. "Organ donation is a unique way of honouring the sanctity of life.This is why it is undoubtedly an Islamic act," she said. Judaism that had reservations in the past about organ donation has evolved with rabbis world over now talking in its favour. "Every jewish child is taught about `tikkun olam' which means heal the world.We can take it a step forward by continuing good deeds after we are dead," said Hannah Akiv Judah, representative of the Jewish community .
Talking about the Baha'i viewpoint, Sherier Nooreyezdan said the community is clear that no greater service can be rendered than organ donation. "Baha'i scriptures approve, support and promote every activity that is legal, and conducive to the physical and spiritual progress of humanity ," he said. Reshma Budhia, cofounder of Gift Your Organ Foundation said the beauty of organ donation lies in the feeling of the donor family who no longer consider their loved one as a victim of loss but looks at himher one as a hero who saved lives.