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Asiaweek. 1993 Oct 27:59.

A part of life. The Hindu view.



A leading social anthropologist and founder of the Center for Advanced Studies in Sociology at Delhi University presents a Hindu view on teachings about birth and population control. The article states that Hinduism accepts the sacred scriptures of the "shruti" whom are respected authorities revealed by God to man and the "smrities" which are divine recollections of revealed truth. Shruti have greater authority, and divine works include the vedas or hymns of the Indo-Aryans to their gods. Dharma shastras are smriti and provide legal opinion on religion and social matters. Learned men interpret these scriptures for the common people. The Hindu scriptures do not mention anything contrary to birth control. Sex is an accepted way of life without prudery. Householdership is said to be one of the universal stages of life. The Kama Sutra, written by Vatsyayana in the early fourth century, and other works digress on the celebration of love. Human lovemaking is celebrated in panels appearing in the Khajuraho temples in Madhya Pradesh and in temple chariots in south India. Ayurvedic medicine and literature on erotics explains many devices for preventing conception. High Hindu castes are reported in this article as placing great emphasis on patrilineage and the need for sons to continue the male line. Adoption or limiting family size to 1-2 children is resorted to when there is no apparent male heir. This emphasis on sons contributes to female infanticide and neglect of daughters. The belief in "karma" or reincarnation was once considered to be antagonistic to the practice of contraception and birth control. Education and literacy have increased the acceptance of modern contraception. Awareness of population growth as a potential problem is prevalent among educated Hindus. The government of Mysore was the first in the world to establish a birth control clinic. The National Planning Committee of the Indian National Congress advocated family planning and birth limiting since 1935.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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