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.
Chapter 9: Views on Aging and Dying among the Middle-Class Bengali Hindu Elderly Residents of Kolkata
Views on Aging and Dying among the Middle-Class Bengali Hindu Elderly Residents of Kolkata
The 2001 Census reveals that more than 7 per cent of the Indian people are over 60 years of age. The proportion may be low but India being a populous country, the absolute number is quite high. According to Rajan et al. (1999), the Indian elderly can be divided into two groups, the young old (60–69 years) and the old old (over 70 years).
Hindu Views on Aging and Dying
In the early Vedic age, the lifespan of individuals was divided into four Asramas (stages of life): (i) Brahmacharya—the chaste life of a vedic student, (ii) Garhasthya—the life ...