Fifty-year-old Sanjay Bhandari, a cancer patient who was on Santhara for the past 24 days, passed away at around 2 am on Tuesday. The funeral, which was held in the afternoon, was attended by around 2,000 people, who had flocked from Pune and surrounding areas at the crematorium ground in Wadgaon Sheri, his family members said.
Deepak Lunawat, a relative, said that Bhandari’s death was peaceful and family members were by his bedside when the end came. Meenatai Chordia, another relative, said, “The Jain community believes that moksha (salvation) can be achieved only through Santhara. Therefore, Sanjay Bandari achieved moksha.”
Chordia said that there no tears were shed as the Jain community takes death in its stride through the sacred Santhara practice. Lunawat said that Bhandari had taken to Santhara on his own. “After doctors told me that his cancer of the food pipe was not curable, Bhandari decided to go on Santhara. Actually, we do not call this a death of a human being. We believe that at the end of our sacred Santhara practice, the person is adopted by a living soul,” he said.