Whose Life Is It Anyway

Aruna Shanbhag passed away. Raped, and left to die by wrapping an iron chain around her neck, by a ward boy, Aruna remained in coma from 1973 till her last breath. All through, nurses of KEM hospital, Mumbai had taken care of her. Many said, even supreme court observed, better than any loving family member could. Nurses, her colleagues, had opposed mercy killing of Aruna. 

Aruna had finally left her body. Was she lucky that she had her colleagues who took care of her? She could have been in a much worse state in a normal home. Or was Aruna unlucky to be trapped in a body that did not respond to her commands. Was Aruna aware of her predicament? Her colleagues would say that Aruna was with them. She would enjoy certain food, enjoy bhajans and respond to sound. But she could not talk. She could not see. Was she happy with her life? No body knows. Now that she had been finally released from her body, may God have mercy on her soul. May she live more peacefully in a different world. God bless her.

Aruna Shanbhag case brings to forefront, do we have right to take our lives? Many religions believe it is ultimately god that gives and takes life, so who are we humans to decide. Practioners of medicine will always believe that till the last breath, every patient is potentially curable. Legal experts would argue that the provision of voluntary death may be misused by people who are more materialistic by nature. Many wealthy but ageing and/or ailing people will be eliminated to fulfil selfish desire.

A few developed democracies in the world allow euthanasia or painless death for terminally ill patients. Even today, in certain religions, ascetics chose when to end their lives by slowly withdrawing food. In traditional Hindu dharma, “banaprastha ashrama” used to be one of the four stations of lives. In “banaprastha ashrama“, after citizens have completed their duties and responsibilities in society, they would move to forest to lead the life of an ascetic and wait to end their lives.  In modern day, citizens who are undergoing suffering and pain due to intractable ailments, why should they not be allowed to end their misery? 

Tags: Aruna Shanbhag, Banaprastha Ashrama, Euthanasia, KEM Hospital, Nurse, Rape, Right to Death, Supreme Court

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