Santhara not suicide, Jains tell apex court

Santhara not suicide, Jains tell apex court

A Jain community organisation on Tuesday approached the Supreme Court challenging Rajasthan HC order terming “Santhara” ritual as offence, contending it is not an act to terminate one’s life but a vow taken for spiritual purification.

Akhil Bharat Varshiya Digambar Jain Parishad said “Santhara or Sallekhana” is a vow intended to purify the soul from the karmas and it cannot be equated with suicide.

“Santhara or Sallekhana is different from suicide as this vow is not taken either in passion or in anger, deceit etc but it is a conscious process of spiritual purification where one does not desire death but seeks to live his life whatever is left of it in a manner so as to reduce the influx of karmas,” it said.

Instead, the petitioner said, suicide is an offence of passion, abhorred in the Jain religion. “Suicide is undertaken by a person in severe bouts of passion in anger, depression or hatred- antithetical to the concept of peaceful and joyous renunciation-which is the basis of sallekhana or santhara,” it said.

It challenged the HC August 10 verdict passed on a PIL, saying the order was unjustified in declaring Santhara by comparing it with suicide and making such practice punishable under Sections 306 and 309 of the IPC.

The plea said, Santhara is based on ancient traditions. True meaning and philosophy of this belief and practice could only be explained by references to the revered scriptures, which included Shloka and mantras, it added. 

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