• Summary
  • Contents
  • Subject index

Aging and dying are inevitable. However, coming to terms with this truth can be difficult, especially in the modern context with an excessive dependence and faith in biomedicine. Advances in biomedicine and life-prolongation strategies along with changes in social-cultural structures pose a different kind of predicament – the percentage of aging population is on the rise and, at the same time, traditional strategies for taking care of the elderly and their problems are being replaced by more impersonal state-driven methods. India, with its large population, poor biomedical facilities for the average person, and widespread poverty, yet fast changing attitudes towards family and the aged, faces a great crisis today.

The collection of essays in this volume addresses different aspects of this issue. The first section is both philosophical and prescriptive. It explores our rich religious and philosophical tradition to probe the very concepts of life and death and then suggests strategies - age old and time-tested - for coping with the inevitability of aging and dying. Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic perspectives on aging, dying, euthanasia, and related concepts are explored and coping strategies suggested.

The second section deals with socio-ethical issues related to aging and dying in the Indian context, in light of the existing state of affairs and possible directions for the future. The third and final section looks at the most pressing problems that confront both Indian society and medicine – end-of-life care.

Culture-Specific and Culture-Sensitive End-of-Life Care: A Case Study Based on Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan, Banaras
Culture-specific and culture-sensitive end-of-life care: A case study based on Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan, Banaras

In all the major civilizations of the world, death, dying, the disposal of dead body and rituals related with death have been of a major concern to the society. ‘Death’ is a socially constructed idea. The fears, hopes and orientations that people have towards it are not instinctive but rather, are learned from such symbols as language, art, and the religious and funerary rituals of their culture. Every culture has a coherent mortality thesis whose explanations of death are so thoroughly ingrained that they are believed to be right by its members (Kearl 1989).

Following Toynbee (1976), ...

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