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Jain priest undertaking Santhara passes away

A person who takes the vow of Santhara stops eating and drinking water and awaits death.

Written by Hamza Khan | Jaipur |
Updated: December 25, 2015 11:27:39 pm

A 92-year-old Jain priest, Sadhvi Rai Kumari, passed away in Jodhpur Wednesday after initiating the Jain ritual of Santhara 16 days ago.

She became the second person undertaking Santhara to pass away in the state since the Supreme Court stayed a Rajasthan High court order declaring the ritual a penal offence.

A person who takes the vow of Santhara stops eating and drinking water and awaits death.

“Even at 92, she was very much conscious and had decided to undertake Santhara in a chetan awastha (with a conscious mind). The passing away of her divine soul is a miracle for us. I have never witnessed such a divine act: she first calculated her time through jyotish (astrology/soothsaying) to leave the body and then left exactly at the right moment,” said Sadhvi Chandan Prabhaji, who had been with Sadhvi Rai at Jodhpur’s Padmavati Teerth in Salawas area for the past 37 years.

“People had been flocking by thousands to seek her blessings for the past 16 days. Hours before she renounced her body, she was blessing the people,” Prabhaji said. Sadhvi Rai passed away around 4.30 am Wednesday. “We cremated her within the temple premises and will now build a temple in her memory,” she said.

Padmavati Teerth’s chief patron Pradeep Kant said that Sadhvi Rai never used a vehicle and had travelled over a lakh kilometres “from Kashmir to Kanyakumari” on foot ever since she had taken ‘deeksha’ at the age of 11.

“For 80 years she touched many lives and was also a great scholar of Sanskrit, mathematics as well as astrology. She was also known as a Shatavdhani —- one who solves a 100 questions simultaneously,” he said.

On August 10, the Rajasthan High Court banned Santhara and made it an offence under Section 309 (attempt to suicide) of the Indian Penal Code.

It held that any person supporting the practice would be prosecuted for abetting suicide. However, the Supreme Court on August 31 stayed the high court order.

In mid-July, 82-year-old Bikaner resident Badni Devi Daga had undertaken Santhara. After the High Court order, she had to “suspend” Santhara but “resumed” it later, eventually passing away on September 5.

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