Updated: August 16, 2015 12:37:39 am
The Jain community is mobilising opinion through public meetings and marches as it prepares to challenge the Rajasthan High Court’s order declaring Sallekhana or Santhara (the practice of fasting unto death) illegal and akin to suicide.
Jains celebrated a Santhara death in Durg Thursday. Aadhyatma Sagar, 87, a monk from Tikamgarh in Madhya Pradesh, had undertaken Santhara a day before the court’s order on the practice, and did not eat anything till his death around 1 pm on Thursday. He was given Muni Deeksha by Aacharya Vibhav Sagar Maharaj.
As devotees turned up in large numbers, bids were called for different steps of the last rites, and the highest bidder won the right to give mukhagni.
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“I consider myself lucky that my father took Samadhi, as it is an honour,” his daughter Vidhya Jain told The Indian Express from Durg. Both she and her nephew Durgesh said comparing the practice with suicide was wrong.
Meanwhile, retired judge of Madhya Pradesh High Court, Justice Abhay Gohil, who is set to lead the legal challenge to the High Court order, said, “The entire community is unhappy with the order that violates basic religious tenets… Would the courts also declare the way the Parsis dispose their dead illegal? Will they ban animal sacrifice during Eid as Jains consider it violence?”
The community, which some years ago had to fight to preserve right of its monks to carry peacock feathers, and in May saw a case against a Digambar monk for walking around naked, has called the recent order yet another infringement of its religious beliefs.
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