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Thursday, June 14, 2018


(First Published on Volume 01 Issue 03, November 2016)

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May death be Auspicious!
-Acarya Vidhyananda Muni[1]
History of Jainism can be traced back to 2,500 years ago and it still prevails in India. It is mainly represented by nonviolence (ahimsa). Jainism proscribes violence against all living things. It necessitates mendicants as well as laymen to be veracious vegetarians. The practice of fasting unto death i.e., santhara is celebrated as pious-ritual in Jainism though they are strictly against violence.
Emile Durkheim, a renowned French sociologist pertains this type of ritual in his work (Theory of Suicide). This research report agitates the ritual of santhara, based on its historical commentaries. Firstly, it contours the division of death in Jainism. Death in Jainism is mainly divided into two main categories i.e., “pandiyamarana or death of a wise man” and “balamarana or death of a fool”. This division tries to clarify that how santhara corresponds to “death of a wise man”. Next, it outlines the definition and meaning of santhara. This study tries to interpret the broader aspect of santhara and why it is not restricted to “thinning the passions and the body properly”. Also, it highlights santhara in Jain scripts. From the eyes of legal fraternity, santhara is often misinterpreted as suicide. Hence, this research tries to differentiate between santhara and suicide. This report also states why in Jainism intentions are given more importance than results. Jainism preaches this principle to differentiate santhara from suicide.
Recently a public interest litigation was filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, where, the petitioner, has prayed to treat the practice of santhara as illegal and punishable under the lex terrae and also prayed to treat the alleged abetment as criminal act.[2] The Rajasthan High Court entertained this PIL which lead to huge protest by the Jain community. This resulted in a huge turmoil. This paper uses a doctrinal method in analyzing the concept of santhara and how we can empower it through law. A through discussion will go on throughout this paper and at the end recommendations will be proposed on what should be embraced or what should be freezed out.

Jainism is a venerable Indian religion that preaches way to liberation, harmlessness and renunciation. They are disunited into two major sects, viz, sky clad sect (Digambara) and the white clad sect (Shvetambara). According to Jainism animals and plants contains living souls. Each soul is deliberated of equal value and is treated with compassion and respect. They tries to embrace worldly resources in a minimal and necessary amount. Their belief holds in reincarnation and in attaining supreme liberation, i.e., absconding the perpetual cycle of birth, death and rebirth so that the eternal spirit lives permanently in a state of happiness.This can be attained by eliminating karma from the soul.
Jainism is a cult which practices self-help, i.e., there is no concept of god and priest in it. Instead, there is a concept of Tirthankaras. According to Jain mythology, over a long period of time, their religious teachings are gradually forgotten, which are again disseminated by a rare individual who renounce the world to conquer the continuous cycle of death and rebirth. In each half of cosmic time cycle, exactly twenty four such individual or Tirthankaras are born. Latest of present cosmic time cycle being lord Mahavira whose teachings are mentioned in the sacred texts called Agamas.
Also, there are religious people viz. monks and nuns, who preaches simple, veracious, strict and austere lives.The 'three jewels' or the three main principles are right belief, right conductand right knowledge.There are fivegreat vows(mahavratas) in Jainism. They being-

S. No.
Not to hurt any living being by actions and thoughts
Not to lie or speak what is not commendable.
Not to take anything if not given.
Chastity / Celibacy in action, words & thoughts.
Aparigraha (Non-possession)
Detachment from material property.

One of the most seasoned canon Uttarajjhayahas chiefly classified death in two ways, one is akamamarana which is the demise of a wrongdoer (undesired passing) and the other is sakamamarana which is the death of the well-behaved (desired death). Another canon calls the previous "the death of a fool (balamarana)" and the latter "the demise of an astute man (pandiyamarana)." Santhara is incorporated into "the demise of an astute man" and suicide is incorporated into "the death of fool." This report fundamentally manages the previous part, i.e. "the demise of a wise or astute man".


Santharais an ancient and continuing fundamental spiritual practice. Sallekhana, sanyasa, samadhi, nirupadhi and viriyamarana are all equivalent words of Santhara. The other equivalent words of Santhara are Samadhimarana and Paṇḍitamaraa. The idea is that honorable demise ought to be in a condition of Samadhi, that is, in a state deprived of all interests and Kasayas (like indignation, conscience, connection and insatiability and so forth). The expression "Santhara" is initially utilized as a part of Acharang, the principal sutra, incorporating the main arrangement of saying of Mahavira, said to have been conveyed before 2500 years prior.
The fundamental idea hidden the practice of Santhara is that a man who is the expert of his own fate ought to determine himself to take after the best strategy for leaving the body. Jainism talks about death intensely and in a valiant tone. Santhara is a retreat to peace in genuine sense, to act naturally completely free from all diversions, for unadulterated examination and thoughtfulness.
The sacred men say that Santhara is surrendering the body (by fasting) when there is an unavoidable cataclysm, serious draught, seniority or hopeless illness, keeping in mind the end goal to watch the control of religion.[3]
Santhara truly implies a bed of hay: the practice infers the name Santhara in light of the fact that when the demise approaches, the wannabe or entertainer sits or rests a bed of hay, disavowing all interests, connection and admission. The other idea and term is Sallekhana. The word Sallekhana is gotten from the words – "Sat" and "Lekhana", "Sat" signifies "Samyak" i.e. a genuine and appropriate and "Lekhana" implies progressive debilitating of interests/wants. This is joined by progressive surrendering of sustenance and water.
While the Shvetambara custom uses both the words, i.e., Santhara (which is at the phase when one is confronting demise) and Sallekhana, (which is steady withdrawal of sustenance and water). In Digambara convention, the word Santhara is not utilized. Rather they utilize the term Sallekhana which has two structures specifically-
·         Niyama-Sallekhana (repudiating sustenance and water step by step for a repaired period which may go to 12 years) and
·         Yama-Sallekhana (which is undertaken when death is fast approaching)[4].
Santhara of Shvetambara convention is along these lines proportional to Yam-Sallekhana of Digambara custom. Further, the word Sallekhana utilized as a part of Shvetambara convention resembles Niyam-Sallekhana of Digambara custom.
Sarvarthasiddhi (the Digambara organization's most seasoned critique) clarifies that "Sallekhana" implies legitimately (sal) dispersing (lekhana) the body and the interests. To be specific, Sallekhana implies dispersing in due request the inside interests and the outer body by disavowing their cause.
Before acknowledging upon the legitimacy of Santhara practice one needs to comprehend the mystical moral and social ideas of Jainism which are unique in relation to other religion. Jain power isolates the Universe into interminably coinciding however autonomous, classifications, one Jiva-the spirit and second Ajiva-the non-soul. The body is the non-soul. Soul is the focal subject in Jain framework. A definitive objective of a human life in Jainism is the acknowledgment of the spirit viz. Atma Darshan after its liberation from the trap of non-soul of the body.
Every single living being realize that body and soul are distinctive and unmistakable, however from time everlasting, the conviction that body and soul are one has flourished. Since one is caught up with getting a charge out of the subjects of five senses and four passions (anger, deceit, greed and pride) and henceforth would never comprehend the genuine way of the spirit/self. Until one encounters the genuine way of unadulterated soul, he can't wipe out the connection and repugnance with other living and non-living creatures. By tolerating body and self as same, one can't comprehend the genuine way of self. In any case, he is a shrewd one who comprehends body, exotic organs as unmistakable from the self/soul.
The Ontology of Jainism is that there is a dualism of body or ajiva and soul or jiva. Further, Jainism trusts that body is subservient to soul. Insofar as body serves the spirit, it has its handiness. The minute body, due to maturity or terminal ailment, stops to help soul, a man may thoroughly get withdrew to the body to the degree that he doesn't bolster it.
Likewise, Jainism has confidence in resurrection thus the outcomes of our Karmas are needy upon our own great and terrible considerations, words and deeds. Each living being is in charge of its own exercises the results of which work out naturally. One can't escape from one's Karmas with the exception of by encountering their outcomes, great or terrible. The Karmas prove to be fruitful and are along these lines in charge of our Karmic bodies.

Ø  Disposing of Kasaya (anger, ego, attachment and greed so forth.) which gather karmas and which prevents one from liberation.
Ø  To be totally detached to the material world and body by not bolstering oneself in some additional conventional circumstances like fatal illness, maturity bringing on insufficiency and so forth.

[1] Acharya Vidhyanand Muni is one of the senior most principal philosopher and a versatile Jain monk who has dedicated his entire life in preaching and practicing the noble concept of nonviolence (Ahimsa) through Jainism.
[2] D.B.Civil Writ Petition No.7414/2006 (PIL), Nikhil Soni V/s Union of India & ors. Date of Order 10.8.2015.
[3]AcaryaSivakoti “when there is no rescue, when wild animals approach you, on proper conducive food is attained in famine, when no proper rules of conduct can be followed or when old age appears or when diseases are there, then in such a case it is necessary to take Sallekhana and abandon the body.”
[4] Sallekhana, by Ramesh Chandra Bazal, Flag-G, verses 19 and 20 of Samadhi MahotsavaDeepika.

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