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Jains held nationwide protests against ban on Santhara by Rajasthan High Court

Aug 25, 2015 09:08 IST

Santhara: Jain practice of facing death voluntarily at the end of one's life.

The term Santhara was in news in the month of August 2015 as Jains held protest against the ban imposed by the Rajasthan High Court against the practice of Santhara ritual on 10 August 2015.

The court termed it as a criminal offence under the Section 306 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

Santhara, an ancient ritual also called Sallekhana or Samadhi-marana or Sanyasana-marana, is the voluntary starvation to embrace death. Its purpose is to purge old karmas and prevent the creation of new ones. There is a similar Hindu practice known as Prayopavesa or sanjeevan samadhi.

Sallekhana, made up from two words sal (meaning 'properly') and lekhana, which means to thin out, is a highly respected practice among the members of the Jain community.

It is prescribed both for the householder (sravakas) and ascetics. It is allowed only when a person suffering from incurable disease or great disability or when a person is nearing his end. The Swetambar sect of the community practises this ritual.

Chandragupta Maurya, founder of the Maurya Empire, died by observing the vow of Sallekhana atop Chandragiri Hill at Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa in Karnataka in the third century BC.

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