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Magical Progeny, Modern Technology

A Hindu Bioethics of Assisted Reproductive Technology

Swasti Bhattacharyya

Publication Year: 2006

Magical Progeny, Modern Technology examines Hindu perspectives on assisted reproductive technology through an exploration of birth narratives in the great Indian epic the Mahaµbhaµrata. Reproductive technology is at the forefront of contemporary bioethical debates, and in the United States often centers on ethical issues framed by conflicts among legal, scientific, and religious perspectives. Author Swasti Bhattacharyya weaves together elements from South Asian studies, religion, literature, law, and bioethics, as well as experiences from her previous career as a nurse, to construct a Hindu response to the debate. Through analysis of the mythic stories in the Mahaµbhaµrata, specifically the birth narratives of the five Paµn|d|ava brothers and their Kaurava cousins, she draws out principles and characteristics of Hindu thought. She broadens the bioethical discussions by applying Hindu perspectives to a California court case over the parentage of a child conceived through reproductive technology and compares specific Hindu and Roman Catholic attitudes toward assisted reproductive technology. Magical Progeny, Modern Technology provides insightful ways to explore ethical issues and highlights concerns often overlooked in contemporary discussions occurring within the United States.

Published by: State University of New York Press


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Cover and Front Matter

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pp. ix-x

Ideas for this book began in a discussion over coffee, developed into a disseration, and now fill the pages that follow. This project would not have proceeded without the critique, support, and encouragement of a great number of people...

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pp. 1-6

People throughout history have struggled with the challenges of infertility and with the issues that naturally arise when considering the implementation of means to circumvent it. New and sophisticated techniques designed to overcome human infertility are at the cutting edge of modern medical science, bringing with them a host of controversial bioethical issues. North American...

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1. Medicine, Bioethics, and Religious Voices

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pp. 7-27

In recent years, the demographics of the population of the United States have been changing throughout the entire country. Though diversity is not new to the United States, the change is in the degree of he diversity, both in terms of numbers of people and variety of traditions, cultures, and religions. The increase in diversity comes from immigrants who establish...

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2. Voices from Hinduism's Past

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pp. 29-47

Setting a context for a dialogue on infertility and assisted reproductive technology, the previous chapter demonstrated the relevance, benefits, and necessity of examining diverse religious positions concerning bioethical issues. We now turn our attention to voices from Hinduism's past by focusing on the narratives within the...

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3. Narrative as a Source of Ethics

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pp. 49-62

In the previous chapter we discussed the stories of how Kuntī, Mādrī, and Gāndhārī dealt with the challenges of conceiving. We saw how these ancient narratives preserve creative attitudes toward conception and child birth. This epic contains more than simply fascinating or entertaining stories; it preserves key elements of Hindu thought that informed the past and that may provide...

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4. Characteristics of Hindu Thought

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pp. 63-75

From our discussion of attitudes regarding assisted reproductive technology preserved within the Mahābhārata, we can uncover some underlying characteristics of Hinduism. Prior to constructing a Hindu ethic regarding assisted reproductive technology, it is necessary to ensure a basic understanding of some of the underlying themes and key principles operating within Hindu religious traditions. As already ...

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5. Application of Hindu Thought

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pp. 77-97

Although principles and characteristics extracted from the Mahābhārata are foundational for many Hindu traditions, we need to reemphasize that Hinduism, like other religious traditions, is not monolithic. It is a conglomeration of religious traditions that cherish their multivalent natures. Sharma remarks that ...

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pp. 99-108

Through an examination of narratives within the Mahābhārata, we found that its characters reflect a creativity and moral openness that is common to many within Hindu traditions. As we explored this influential Indian epic, we discovered principles, ideas, and characteristics of thought that together distinguish...


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pp. 109-141


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pp. 143-156


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pp. 157-161

E-ISBN-13: 9780791481547
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791467916
Print-ISBN-10: 0791467910

Page Count: 171
Publication Year: 2006

OCLC Number: 70869469
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Magical Progeny, Modern Technology

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Bioethics -- Religious aspects -- Hinduism.
  • Hinduism -- Doctrines.
  • Reproductive technology -- Moral and ethical aspects.
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