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Santhara: The debate

A person needs permission of their guru to perform Santhara.

By: Express News Service |
Updated: September 6, 2015 6:55:01 am

The Jain Numbers: 45 lakh
0.4 per cent of the country’s population, most of them in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, MP

250+ A Year: The average number of santharas

What the Rajasthan HC said
“The right to freely profess, practise and propagate (religion) cannot include the right to take one’s life, on the ground that right to life includes the right to end the life… The respondents have failed to establish that ‘santhara’ is an essential religious practice, without which the following of the Jain religion is not permissible”.

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What Jain scriptures say
* Sallekhana, the other word for santhara, is made up of two words — sal, meaning ‘properly’, and lekhana, which means to ‘thin out’. It adds to the goodwill one has gathered and brings a person closer to moksha.

* Santhara can be of two types — Trivihar (giving up food but not water) and Chauvihar (giving up food as well as water).

* A person needs permission of their guru to perform it.

* A person in santhara gets a regular stream of visitors who come to seek his or her blessings.

* The person dying after santhara is carried in a sitting position, in a decorated palanquin, for his or her funeral. The procession is accompanied by playing of drums.

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