Is self harming/suicide a sin in Hinduism?

hinduismSelf-harm is directly against the very important Hindu doctrine of ahimsa. Ahimsa, or non-harm towards all living beings, includes the self and especially the self. Self-harm can be induced by cutting, bruising or beating the body and is usually brought about by extreme passionate feelings of sadness, anger, confusion or frustration. Hinduism teaches that these feelings must be conquered due to their very life-threatening effects. Self-harm can even be brought about by harming the body in seemingly non-painful ways that unknowingly cause great internal damage such as alcohol consumption, over-eating, inhaling smoke or injecting non-medical substances.

In an extreme sense, suicide only accelerates the intensity of (bad) karma, bringing a series of immediate lesser births and requiring several lives for the soul to return to the exact evolutionary point that existed at the moment of suicide, at which time the still-existing karmic entanglement must again be faced and resolved. Thus turns the slow wheel of samsara. To gain a fine birth, one must live according to the natural laws of dharma and live out the karma in this life positively and fully.

Hinduism is not absolutely black and white. Rather, it takes into account the broader picture: How will this affect the soul? How will it affect humanity? How will it affect future incarnations? All that must be taken into account if a wise and compassionate, a right, decision is to be made on so serious a matter.

Suicide, or pranatyaga, “abandoning life force” is intentionally ending one’s own life through poisoning, drowning, burning, jumping, shooting, etc. Suicide has traditionally been condemned in Hindu scripture because, being an abrupt escape from life, it creates unseemly karma to face in the future. However, in cases of terminal disease or great disability, religious self-willed death through fasting – prayopavesa – is permitted. The person making such a decision declares it publicly, which allows for community regulation and distinguishes the act from suicide performed privately in traumatic emotional states of anguish and despair.

When loved ones leave, a divorce is imminent or any other emotional traumas occur, killing the body is not the way. Actually, it is against the law of most lands to even try. If you are young and not at all ill, then Hinduism does not permit it either. Just realize that what you are experiencing is what you justly deserve because you gave it out abundantly in a former birth. Live on. Don’t die.