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Science In Jainism: [06.02] Santhara - An Auspicious Death - Santhara - Santhara And Suicide

Published: 07.02.2007
Updated: 06.08.2008

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Santhara

According to Jain scriptures, Santhara means to weaken the strength of body and passion for putting an end to the bodily existence without consciously coveting death by fasting. It is undertaken when one is faced with an unavoidable natural calamity, severe drought, old age or an incurable disease.

Prior to the adoption of the vow, one is required to give up all feelings of love, hatred, companionship and worldly attachments with a pure mind and obtain forgiveness of one's kinsmen and of others with all humanity at the same time forgiving them sincerely. It is also imperative that one should undertake the great vow of Santhara after discussing it thoroughly and frankly with one's guru (religious preceptor) and after confessing before him all the acts of sins either committed by oneself or committed with one's consent or at the instance of oneself.

Santhara And Suicide

Santhara in a sense is a voluntary death but the Jains do not consider it as equivalent to committing suicide. The Jains distinguish between a fool's (bala) way of self-killing and a wise man's (pandita) manner of liberation. He who kills himself by drowning or by means of fire, poison or lethal weapons being actuated and overpowered by strong passions is certainly guilty of suicide. This kind of suicide is unconditionally and strongly disapproved by Lord Mahavira. But a fast unto death for shaking off with abstinence the bondage of the material karmas is regarded as a wise man's (pandita) liberation. It is then not suicide.

Sources
  • Science In Jainism by Dr. M.R. Gelra ©
  • Edition 2002
  • Published by Jain Vishva Bharati

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Some texts contain  footnotes  and  glossary  entries. To distinguish between them, the links have different colors.
  1. Body
  2. Fasting
  3. Guru
  4. Karmas
  5. Mahavira
  6. Santhara
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