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Jain bodies cry foul over Raj HC’s Santhara ruling

    Nagpur (Maharashtra), Aug 14, 2015: Digambar Jain muni Prasanna Sagarji Maharaj, one of the most revered in the community, on Friday termed the Rajasthan High Court’s outlawing the Jain practice of Santhara or Sallekhana (fast unto death) as unfortunate.

    Prasanna Sagarji, who is in the city for his four-month-long Chaturmaas, told reporters, “It has hurt the feelings of entire Jain community. There is a huge difference between suicide and Sallekhana. Suicide is committed amid depression and involves an intentional act of harm against oneself while Sallekhana is devoid of all passions and worldly attachments.”

    The court termed Santhara or Sallekhana, wherein a person starves to death within a few days by refusing food or water. It is prescribed both for the householder (sravakas) and ascetics and is allowed only when a person is nearing his natural end. The court has termed the practice as suicide. The ritual is marked by great social and religious fervour. The court made the practice and its promotion punishable under Sections 306 & 309 of the IPC.

    Prasanna Sagarji said like most religions, Jainism too forbade all forms of suicides. “The verdict has been taken in a hurry and the community will challenge it in Supreme Court. The practice is in force since ages. Even ‘Bhagwat Gita’ mentions it. Acharya Vinoba Bhave practised it,” he said.

    The court decision has drawn strong reactions and the Digambar Jain Mahasamiti has called for a ‘Bharat Bandh’ on August 17 against the decision. Maharashtra chief of the samiti Richa Jain has appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to move the Supreme Court against the order. Jain muni Piyush Sagarji, who was also present, said the community’s viewpoint was not properly argued before the court. Those who choose Santhara have no love for life and no fear of death. It is a decision taken with a sound mind. – News Courtesy: Times of India

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