Barriers and Enablers Provided by Hindu Beliefs and Practices for People with Disabilities in India
Background: Faith beliefs, and associated cultural beliefs, play an important role in affecting response to disability. There is no systematic review of how Hindu beliefs affect approaches to people with disabilities. The majority of the world’s Hindus live in India, as do a large number of people with disabilities. Therefore, this article seeks to explore the positive and negative ways that Hindu beliefs affect people with disabilities in India.
Methods: We undertook a scoping review of the available literature aiming to explore the barriers and enablers for people with disabilities provided by Hindu beliefs and practices. The databases PubMed, Scopus and PsycInfo were systematically searched and several additional articles from other sources were included from searching the grey literature.
Results: Historically, the literature indicates that Indian Hindu karmic beliefs have advanced the view that people with disabilities are deserving of their condition. This literature suggests that this view continues into the present and can lead to stigmatisation of both people with disabilities and their families. In turn, this karmic understanding of disability can discourage people with disabilities from accessing medical treatment. Additionally, certain Hindu tribal remedies for disability may cause bodily harm and prevent the person concerned from receiving allopathic treatment. It was also documented that the attitude of Indian doctors toward people with disabilities are negatively affected by Hindu beliefs. One research study suggested karmic beliefs can benefit families of people with disabilities by providing them with a context for suffering.
Conclusion: The study shows that Hindu religious belief effects, mostly negatively, the response to disability. This is important to consider when undertaking disability and inclusive development activities in India.
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