How would one suggest an orthodox practitioner of Hinduism would respond to the sight of a classmate's crushing of a cockroach crawling across the floor and the professor's queries regarding the Hindu individual's reaction?
Hinduism is an enormously complex religion or faith, practiced by over one billion people, mostly in the Indian subcontinent. A central tenet of that faith is the belief that all living things have souls and represent the reincarnated form of individuals who have lived before. The process of transmigration, in which the living soul departs one body for another, is at the core of how practicing Hindus view the world around them. Only when one’s soul achieves a sort of liberation, or Moksha, in which it unites with the Supreme Being, does it escape from the otherwise endless cycle of death and rebirth.
Because of this belief that all living beings possess the souls of the deceased, an orthodox Hindu witnessing the crushing of an insect, even a cockroach, would view the act as representing the inevitable transmigration of a soul from the cockroach to another living being. The soul that had inhabited the cockroach would appear in another living form, possibly human.
The reaction of an orthodox Hindu student witnessing a fellow student killing a cockroach would depend in part on how exposed that student has been to the world around him or her. Many orthodox or serious practitioners of Hinduism have engaged in bloodshed, especially against Muslims, but, also, in the myriad internal conflicts to which the nation of India has been subjected over the years (the Maoist guerrilla insurgency that operates inside India, the Naxalites, has involved much killing by Hindus of fellow Indians, as has the conflict involving the large population of Sikhs in that country), and Hindus have committed their share of murders in ordinary criminal acts. The orthodox student, unless he or she has been living a very sheltered existence prior to enrolling in college, would not be particularly shocked at the wanton destruction of the aforementioned cockroach.
For purposes of academic argument, however, the orthodox Hindu student would see a living being killed and might feel, deep inside, that some transgression has occurred. Should the dismay in that act of violence manifest itself in some outward manner, the student would simply explain to the professor the Hindu belief in the sanctity of all living things and might note that a lost soul is now in search of another body to inhabit. It is, however, unrealistic to suggest that a Hindu student would be terribly surprised by the killing of a cockroach by another student.