Bhilai (Chattisgarh), August 13, 2015: An 87-year-old Jain monk embraced death at a Digambar Jain shrine near Gandhi Chowk at Durg in Chhattisgarh on Thursday after giving up food and water in keeping with the community tradition of ‘sallekhana’.
The monk, Adhyatma Sagar Maharaj of Tikamgarh district of Madhya Pradesh, died after five days and was cremated with hundreds of Digambar Jain community members accompanying his funeral procession. He began his fast on August 8, two days before Rajasthan high court declared the practice illegal.
Speaking to reporters, a relative of the monk, Sunil Jain, said, “Sagar Maharaj was on a four-month visit to Durg from July 27 for the ongoing ‘Chaturmas celebrations, where he decided to undertake ‘sallekhana’ following his illness.
Digambara Jain Panchayat & Chaturmas Vyavastha Samiti (DJPCVS) president Sandeep Jain said, “Adhyatma Sagar Maharaj is the first Jain saint in Durg city to embrace death through ritual fast in 15 years. Earlier, a women and a man died in Durg and Bhilai while performing the ritual, he said. In ‘sallekhana or santhara’, a devotee vows to stop taking food and water and awaits death.
Referring to Rajasthan high court order last Monday, declaring ‘santhara’ as illegal, DJPCVS coordinating secretary Sanjay Bohra, said the practice is not the same as suicide as it is a means to achieve salvation and the decision is taken with a calm mind. “It has nothing to do with law as it is based on religious belief and the court should have given an extra thought before calling it illegal,” he said. – News Courtesy: Times of India