death with equanimity


Introduction (cont.):

0.2 Review Of The Work Done In Recent Times –

The present era, starting with the advent of the twentieth century can rightly be called as the age of information explosion. The human knowledge and intellectual endeavour have multiplied manifold in the last century and so has the literary work in the field of Jaina studies. Under such circumstances it is quite natural that the subject under scrutiny has also attracted the attention of a number of scholars and a lot of work has been done in this area of investigation as well. This part of this introductory essay is devoted to the review of the work done in the preceding fifty years if not more. This review is, by no means, exhaustive as the human effort has its limitations. However, it has been my endeavour to get hold of as many works from the Jaina and the Buddhist literature as possible. The subsequent paragraphs contain such a review.

0.2.01. The Ācārāṅgav

This most important work amongst the Jaina canonical literature and the very first of the Aṅga Āgamas is mainly devoted to the prescription of monastic conduct. The author “Sūtrakāra” has said that the fear of death is the greatest anxiety for any living being but the death is inevitable. Its eight chapter, Vimokṣa, describes, in great detail, the three types of end–practices by way of giving up all types of food for life – Fast unto death “Bhakta–pratyākhyāna”, Iṅginimaraṇa and Prāyopagamana. It also describes the minimal, maximal and medium types of body weakening preparatory fasts to be undertaken by an aspirant desirous of practising Samādhimaraṇa. Further it maintains that the aspirant practitioner must undertake the practice of Samādhimaraṇa with neither a desire to die nor with that to live on.

0.2.02. Sthānāṅgasūtravi

Sthānāṅga is the third Aṅga Āgama of the Jaina canonical works. Its ten chapters mention things according to their numbers starting from one each in the first chapter to those that are ten each in the tenth respectively. Samadhimaraṇa has been dealt with in the fourth section of the second chapter. Here besides various types of deaths, two types of enlightened deaths have been mentioned – 1. Bhaktapratyākhyāna and 2. Prāyopagamana.

0.2.03. Samavāyāṅgasūtravii

Samavāyāṅga is the fourth Aṅga Āgama. The subject matter of this treatise is divided into its one hundred samavāyas. The seventeenth samavāya describes seventeen types of deaths including three types of noble deaths that are voluntary and peaceful. They are – 1. Bhaktapratyākhyāna, 2. Ingini–maraṇa and 3. Prāyopagamana–maraṇa.

0.2.04. Anuttaropapātikadaśāṅgaviii

Anuttaropapātika is the ninth Aṅga Āgama. In its thirty–three chapters, divided into three sections each containing 10, 13 and 10 chapters respectively, contains vivid descriptions of the end–practices by way of voluntary peaceful deaths “Samādhimaraṇa” adopted by thirty–three of spiritual aspirants who attained the noble rebirths in the uppermost Anuttara vimāna heavens because of excellent spiritual practices undertaken by them.

0.2.05. Śrī Upāsakadaśāṅgasūtraix

This seventh primary canonical work “Saptama Aṅga Āgama” describes the lives and spiritual practices of ten of the most illustrious lay followers of the faith propounded and propagated by Lord Mahāvīra and, thereby, lays down the vows and practices to be observed by them. The sixth maxim in the very first chapter mentions fast unto death “with due preparation” and the flaws thereto. The end–practice to be undertaken when the death draws near and the body becomes incapable of performing its religious duties due to the ravages of old–age and diseases has been mentioned as ‘Apacchima–māraṇāntiya–saṁlehaṇā–jhūsaṇā–ārāhaṇā’ and five of its flaws as – 1. To desire high and prestigious mundane rebirth “Ihalogāsaṁsappaoge”, 2. To desire high and prestigious heavenly rebirth “Parlogasaṁsappaoge”, 3. Desire to live on even after accepting the vow of fast unto death “Jīviyāsaṁsappaoge”, 4. Desire to die soon “Maraṇāsaṁsappaoge” and 5. To desire various mundane pleasures as a result of this purely spiritual practice “Kāmabhogāsaṁsappaoge” “Tayāṇantaraṁ ca ṇaṁ apacchimamāraṇāntiya–saṁlehaṇā–jhūsaṇā–ārāhaṇāe pañca aiyārā jāṇiyavvā ṇa samāyariyavvā, taṁ jahā – Ihalogāsaṁsappaoge, Parlogasaṁsappaoge, Jīviyāsaṁsappaoge, Maraṇāsaṁsappaoge, Kāmabhogāsaṁsappaoge || 1.06 ||”

0.2.06. Bhagavatī Ārādhanāx

Almost the whole of this monumental work by Ācārya Śivakoṭi “Śivārya” is devoted to the subject of Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa. An introductory section covers the first forty–seven pages “out of a total of more than nine hundred”, then the author opens the subject by mentioning seventeen types of death. After explaining the forms of fourteen types that do not fall in the category of Samādhimaraṇa, the author embarks on the subject by taking up the concept and practice of Bhaktapratyākhyāna, the simple fast unto death. The detailed exposition of this form of Samādhimaraṇa that is available in this work can be gauged by the fact that it is covered in seven hundred and seventy–two pages “103–875”. Next fourteen pages are devoted to the study of the other two types namely the Inginimaraṇa and the Prāyopagamana–maraṇa types of Samādhimaraṇa. The treatise concludes with an exposition on the ascent of the aspirant practitioner of Samādhimaraṇa on to the ladder of spiritual ascendance as a consequence of this practice, a description of Mokṣa – the abode of the Siddhas, the ultimate accomplished liberated souls and the results of minimal, medium and maximal practice of Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa.

0.2.07. Mūlācāraxi

Mūlācāra is a monumental work by Ācārya Vaṭṭakera, of the first century AD, that encodes the monastic conduct of a Digambara monk, is the most authentic and well–known of the works of its genre. So much so that that it is popularly known as the Ācārāṅgasūtra of the Digambara tradition. The present work with Hindi translation and commentary by Āryikāratna Śrī Jñānamati Mātājī and edited by Siddhantacharya Pt. Kailashchandra Shastri and published by Bhartiya Jnanapeetha, Delhi is in two volumes and covers the subject of Voluntary Peaceful Death is covered in three different parts in its second chapter entitled ‘Vṛhatpratyākhyāna–sastarastavādhikāra’, the third chapter entitled ‘Saṅkṣepapratyākhyānādhikāra’ and the fifth chapter entitled ‘Pañcācāra’. The second chapter covers the process of attaining and maintaining equanimity, describes three types of deaths, the vow of Samādhimaraṇa by the aspirant practitioner, preparation for the ultimate practice, the eligibility conditions, etc. The third chapter throws light on forsaking five types of sins before setting out to take the ultimate vow, decision to accept the vow of Samādhi–maraṇa, giving up food and equipage for the entire duration of the remaining life, the praise of Samādhimaraṇa, retraction from all types of excesses to the accepted vows and ten types of tonsure, etc. The fifth chapter outlines various forms of fasting penance. I shall dwell on the relevant portions of this work in different sections of this thesis as we proceed.

0.2.08. Tattvārthasūtraxii

The seventh chapter of this exhaustive work on Jaina precepts and practices refers to Sallekhanā as a desirable observance for the devoted lay followers of the faith and says that they “the lay followers of the Jaina faith” are observers of the end–practice of Sallekhanā by way of undertaking fasts unto death. “Māraṇāntikīṁ Saṁlekhanāṁ joṣitā, 7.17”. The thirty–second verse of this chapter mentions five flaws that the practitioner of this practice may fall prey to. They are – 1. The desire to live on “Jīvitāśaṁsā”, 2. The desire to die soon “Maraṇāśaṁsā”, 3. The attachment towards friendly beings “Mitrānurāga”, 4. Attachment towards mundane pleasures “Sukhānubandha” and 5. Making a binding wish in return for the merits earned by undertaking this practice “Nidānakaraṇa“Jīvitamaraṇāśaṁsā–mitrānurāga–sukhānubandha–nidānakaraṇāni, 7.32” The commentator has also taken pains to distinguish Saṁlekhanā from suicide “p. 264”. Anaśana or fasting, both for limited time and for life, has been mentioned as the very first type of penance for any spiritual practitioner in the 19th verse of the ninth chapter “Anaśanāvamaudarya–vṛttiparisaṅkhyāna–rasaparityāga–viviktaśayyāsana–kāyakleśā bāhyaṁ tapah<, 9.19”.

0.2.09. Vinayapiṭakaxiii

Vinayapiṭaka, the treatise that regulates the conduct of the Buddhist clergy, does not deal with the question of voluntary death as a religious observance directly. However, amongst the rules of monastic conduct, there are those that are considered the severest and that call for the expulsion of a member of the clergy found guilty of some lapses are those that are called Pārājikas. The Pārājika common for the monks as well as the nuns is ‘Manuṣya–hatyā or slaying a human being. This Pārājika also includes self slaying or committing of suicide by a member of the clergy. It is plain from this enunciation that Lord Buddha did not approve of human killings as well as of committing of suicides and considered them as conduct–flaws severe enough to merit expulsion from the monastic order.

0.2.10. Saṁyuktanikāya Pali xiv

This work by Bhikkhu Jagadīsakassapo, an eminent scholar of Buddhist studies, contains references to voluntary deaths by Buddhist monks under various circumstances. The main instances are those of Bhikkhu Vakkali Kulaputra and Bhikkhu Channa contained in the 22ndVagga in Vol. II and 35thVagga in Vol. III respectively.

0.2.11. Saṁyuttanikāya Palixv

Saṁyuttanikāya is the third treatise of the Suttapiṭaka. The present work, edited and translated into Hindi by Svami Dvarikadas Shastri, that appears in four volumes contains the references to voluntary deaths undertaken by the Buddhist monks under various circumstances. The instances of Bhikkhu Vakkali Kulaputra and Bhikkhu Channa merit consideration.

0.2.12. Dhammapadaṁxvi

Dhammapada, a yet another important Buddhist work, supports the Jaina view that a short and spiritually productive life is better than a long but spiritually unproductive one. On studying various verses of this work we come to a conclusion that though it does not support the concept of voluntary peaceful death directly, it has certain elements that convey Lord Buddha’s views to the effect that a day’s righteous life devoted to the pursuit and practice of right conduct is better than a long but useless life that cannot perform the requisite spiritual duties due to illness or extreme old age and it may be pertinent for the aspirant monk “Bhikṣu” or the lay follower “Upāsaka” to take recourse to seek voluntary death. If such death can be in a state of mental equanimity “Citta–samādhi”, so much the better.

0.2.13. Visuddhimaggoxvii

Visuddhimaggo “Viśuddhimārga” is a very important Buddhist work that is primarily devoted to the subject of Yoga or mental, physical and vocal discipline. The eighth chapter of this work is, amongst other things, devoted to contemplation of death “Maraṇa–smṛti” and mentions eight ways in which it must be contemplated and maintains that such a contemplation allays the fear of death and makes it peaceful.

0.2.14. Vasunandi Śrāvakācāra xviii

This work on the subject of religious and spiritual practices by a lay follower of the faith as obtained in the Digambara tradition mentions the end practice of voluntary peaceful death as the fourth educational vow “Śikṣāvrata”. “Pp. 271–272”

0.2.15. Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāraxix

This work on the code of conduct for the lay followers of the Jaina faith by Ācārya Samatabhadra deals with the subject of Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa, as practised by the lay followers, in its sixth chapter entitled ‘Sallekhanā Adhikāra’. In this chapter the venerable master lays down the guidelines for the necessity of undertaking this ultimate practice, appropriate time for it, the procedure thereof, gradual giving up of passions, bodily preparation, flaws that mar this practice, the fruit of practising Sallekhanā, the form of Mokṣa, characteristics of the liberated beings and spiritual rise due to Sallekhanā.

0.2.16. Samādhimaraṇotsāha Dīpakaxx

This work, one of the thirty–seven works, by Sakalakīrti, a well known fifteenth century “VE” master of the Digambara tradition, who has variously been referred to as Sugaṇi “Good monastic master” Sakalakīrti, Gaṇadhararatna “Jewel amongst the monastic masters”, is one of the works that glorifies voluntary embracing of death by one, who has otherwise been rendered incapable of leading a religiously productive life. It falls in the same category as Mṛtyumahotsava, etc. The text, in 215 verses rendered in Śaurasenī Prākṛta, covers the subject of Samādhimaraṇa in its various dimensions such as motivation, benefits, its praise, its seven types, when and why, preparation, overcoming the afflictions during the practice of Samādhimaraṇa, where to accept the vow of Samādhimaraṇa, its procedure, purity of observance, emphasis on pious meditation including reflecting on ten monastic duties, twenty five reflections to ensure purity of five great vows, sixteen reflections towards attaining purity of faith, reflecting on the fundamental spiritual virtues, emphasising the need for attaining purest white meditation, the role of the supervising monk during the practice of Samadhimaraṇa by the aspirant practitioner and especially as the end draws near, etc. Finally, the venerated master concludes the work by delineating the best, medium and worst fruits to be gained by a practitioner of Samādhimaraṇa and by emphasising the need for supporting spiritual atmosphere for a successful conclusion of the practice of Samādhimaraṇa and, lastly, by wishing that he, himself, gains an opportunity to practice this noble practice. The preface to this work by Dr. Darbarilal Kothiya is an illuminating expose to the subject of Samādhimaraṇa.

0.2.17. Mokṣamārgaxxi – “1971”

In this work, by Pt. Ratanlal Doshi, that deals with the entire gamut of the liberating path, the subject of Sallekhanā and SanthārāSaṁstāraka meaning the death–bed” has been covered in two parts. The third part entitled ‘Agāra Dharma’ describes the practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death by the lay followers of the Jaina faith while the twenty–seventh monastic characteristic given in the fourth part entitled ‘Aṇagāra Dharma’ hints at the virtue of taking death, when it comes, calmly with equanimity of mind. The fifth part entitled ‘Tapa Dharma’ devotes some paragraphs to the subject of Samādhi–maraṇa under the heading ‘Yāvjjīvana Anaśana’, wherein it describes three types of fasts unto death, namely the Pādapopagamana, the Inginimaraṇa and the Bhaktapratyākhyāna.

0.2.18. Uttarādhyayana–sūtra : Eka Pariśīlanxxii – “1971”

This scholarly critical study of the Uttarādhyayana–sūtra covers the subject of Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa under the section on fasting in the fifth chapter on entitled ‘Viśeṣa Sādhvācāra “Advanced monastic practices”’. Here, the author opens the section with the definition of fixed duration fasting and then goes on to the subject of fasts unto death. At the very outset he distinguishes the voluntary fast unto death from Suicide and then goes on to examine the eligibility for such a fasting along with the appropriate time for the same. He then outlines the concept of Sallekhanā, the penance preparatory to Samādhimaraṇa with its duration under different circumstances. He, then, discusses the three types of fasts unto death and their procedures at some length. Under the success or otherwise of the practice the author concludes that it depends upon the mental disposition of the aspirant practitioner during the practice. To this end the author of the Uttarā–dhyayanasūtra has prescribed certain pious reflections and prohibited certain impious ones. The Uttarādhyayanasūtra concludes that the practice of Samādhimaraṇa is the culmination of spiritual journey aiming to attain final deliverance from the mundane existence.

0.2.19. Sallekhanā Is Not Suicidexxiii – “1976”

This scholarly work by Justice TK Tukol has conclusively put forth the result of a long study from various angles, including jurisprudence of various countries, that Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa as propounded in the Jaina scriptures is not suicide. In the first three chapters of this work the author has dwelled at length upon the precept and practice of Sallekhanā in the Jaina faith. While the fourth chapter deals with voluntary deaths under other religions, the fifth chapter is devoted to the study of suicide. The sixth chapter examines the legal aspects of suicide and the seventh concludes that Sallekhanā is not suicide.

0.2.20. Jain Sādhanā Paddhatti Meṅ Tapoyogaxxiv – “1979”

This work by Muni Śrīcand describes the concept and practice of Sallekhanā within the section headed as ‘Tapa Kā Vidhāna’. First it defines the Yāvatkathita Anaśana as the fast unto death and goes on to say, at some length, to clarify that even a fast unto death is not suicide. Munijī then proceeds to define the eligibility for anaśana and answers the questions as to who is entitled to undertake a fast unto death and when. According to the author of this exploratory work Sallekhanā is the long–term penance undertaken in preparation of accepting the fast unto death. “For giving up the ghost, voluntarily, it is essential that the aspirant practitioner weakens his body by undertaking such long–term penance”, he says. He describes the four means of weakening the body as – 1. Six types of external penance, 2. Fasting, 3. Twelve advanced monastic practices “Bhikṣu Pratimā”, and 4. Āyambila penance or living on food free of six types of nutritious ingredients that give strength to the body and weaken the soul “Vigai or flawed foods”. He mentions that the maximum duration of such preparatory penance is that of twelve years, the medium is of a period of one year and the minimum preparation is that of a period of six months. The Munijī then proceeds to mention various types of fasts unto death as specified in various scriptures and cites that according to the Aupapātikasūtra there are two types of fasts unto death – 1. Prāyopagamana and 2. Bhaktapratyākhyāna while according to the Samavāyā–ṅgasūtra there are those of three types namely – 1. Prāyopagamana, 2. Iṅginīmaraṇa and 3. Bhaktapratyākhyāna. And, then, he proceeds to give some details of the three types along with their sub–categories with respect to bodily movements “Savicāra and Avicāra”, preparation “Saparikarma and Aparikarma”, place “Nirhārī and Anirhārī” and circumstance of death “Vyāghāta and Avyāghāta”.

0.2.21. Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta Aura Svarūpaxxv – “1982”

The eleventh chapter of the fourth part of this scholarly work by one of the most erudite contemporary scholars of Jaina studies is entitled ‘Samādhimaraṇa Kī Kalā : Saṁlekhanā’ and examines the issues involved at length. Starting with inseparability of life and death and the fear associated with death the author proceeds to depict dying gracefully as an art. “The practitioners of this art”, the author says, “celebrate death as freedom of the soul from the confines of the body and do not, therefore, fear death. He then examines various types of deaths as given in various scriptures and studies the three types of fasts unto death that lead to peaceful death. Emphasising the importance of Sallekhanā in the scheme of overall spiritual practices, he hints at the eligibility of the aspirant for undertaking this practice and the right time for doing so. He has also examined the concept of voluntary fasting unto death as prevalent in the Vedic tradition. Outlining the various procedures and duration for this practice, he also mentions the flaws that mar it. He also compares Sallekhanā and suicide and concludes that Sallekhanā is not suicide. Finally, the author evaluates the precept and practice of Sallekhanā and Samādhi–maraṇa and concludes that its importance for the aspirant spiritual practitioner is obvious and that it is the touch–stone on which the life–long monastic or lay followers’ practices may be tested for their steadfastness and true spiritual achievements or otherwise. The aspirant, who comes out of this test successfully, gets nearer to the ultimate goal of human existence and the ultimate goal of liberation does not remain far from him.

0.2.22. Jaina Bauddha Aur Gītā Kā Sādhanā Mārgaxxvi – “1982”

The seventh chapter of this exploratory work is entitled ‘Samyak Tapa Tathā Yoga Mārga’. It examines the concept of penance “Tapa” and its importance as a means of spiritual purification, that of attainment of freedom from the karmic bondage and consequent liberation “Mokṣa or Nirvāṇa” from the mundane existence as obtained in Jaina, Buddhist and Vedic traditions. It goes on to describe various types of penance prescribed and practised in the Jaina tradition and mentions fast unto death “Yāvatjīvana Anaśana” as a sub category of fasting penance. About the classification of penance in the Buddhist tradition, it says that penance is of four types, namely 1. The type that hurts the self “Ātmantapa” but not the others, 2. That which hurts the others “Parantapa” but not the self, 3. That which hurts the self as well as the others, and 4. That which does not hurt the self as well as the others. In keeping with its pursuit of the middle path, it prescribes the fourth type of penance for its followers. Comparing the concepts of penance in the Jaina and the Buddhist traditions the author has brought out that the Buddhist thought is in conformity with the Jaina thought in respect of eleven out of twelve types “except fasting” of penance practised in the latter tradition.

0.2.23. Jiṇa Dhammoxxvii – “1984”

The eighty–first and the ninety–eighth chapters of this monumental work covering all aspects of the faith of the Jina, deal with the precept and practice of voluntary peaceful death by the lay followers of the faith and the ordained ascetics respectively. While the coverage in the former chapter is somewhat detailed, that in the latter one is rather cursory.

0.2.24. Mūlācār Kā Samīkṣātmaka Adhyayanaxxviii – “1987”

This work is an enhanced and enlarged version of the Doctoral thesis on a critical study of Ācārya Vaṭṭakera’s monumental work ‘Mūlācāra’ by Dr. Phoolacanda Premi, who is now a well–known scholar of Jaina studies. The importance of Mūlācāra for the spiritually inclined monks is well known, the fact that has been further highlighted by Dr. Jagdishcandra Jain in the preface to this work. In the third chapter entitled ‘Uttaraguṇa’ the author has brought out the form and importance of penance and mentioned Anaśana “fasting” amongst the external penance. According to ‘Mulacāra’ the practice of voluntary peaceful death or Samādhimaraṇa falls in the category of Yāvajjīvana Anaśana Tapa or fasting for life. The author, then, proceeds to describe and critically analyse the three types of fasts unto death – 1. Bhaktapratyākhyāna, 2. Inginimaraṇa and 3. PrāyopagamanaMaraṇa as per their descriptions contained in the Mūlācāra.

0.2.25. Upāsakadaśāṅga Aura Uskā Śrāvakācāraxxix – “1988”

This critical study on the religious and spiritual practices to be undertaken by faithful lay followers of the Jaina faith concludes that when a person becomes bodily too weak to carry on his religious duties and feels that his death is imminent, he ought to leave life support measures and embrace death calmly and peacefully. The author has also critically examined the five flaws of this end–practice as obtained in the Uapāsakadaśāṅga as well as in some other works. “Pp.171–173”

0.2.26. Sallekhanā Eka Anucintanxxx – “1989”

This is a short and concise exposition on the concept and practice of Sallekhanā, which presents the concept and practice of Sallekhanā as followed in the Digambara tradition of the Jainas. It dwells, at some length, on the issues of its definition, divisions and sub–divisions, peaceful and harmony in death, its contrast with suicide, its object, eligibility of an aspirant for its practice, the right mental disposition and thought process for its practice, its flaws, detailed procedure for its practice by the monks as well as the lay followers and the role of the supervising monk or elder. The treatise is concluded with stating the importance of Sallekhanā as a spiritual practice and gives various texts that are required to be recited by the aspirant undertaking the vow of Sallekhanā as appendices.

0.2.27. Jinavāṇīxxxi– “1991”

Part III of the special issue of Jinavāṇī “Ācārya Śrī Hastimalji Mahārāj Śraddhāñjali Viśśeṣāṅka, May–July, 1991”, entitled ‘Samādhimaraṇa’, is devoted to the subject of Samādhimaraṇa. It contains an essay on Samādhimaraṇa and Sallekhanā by Ācārya Hastimalji and thirteen more by various authors –

The essay by Ācārya Hastimalji mentions that all the living beings like to live and fear death; he defines death as the separation of the soul from the body. After classifying death as the death of the learned and that of the ignorant he proceeds to briefly describe the three “ṭhāṇaṅga, 3/222” or five types of deaths of the learned “Bhagavatīsūtra, 13/7/496” and twelve types of those of the ignorant “ṭhāṇaṅga, 2” and says that the living beings dying the deaths of the learned gain auspicious rebirths and shorten their worldly wandering while those dying the death of the ignorant get the inauspicious rebirths in hellish or sub–human categories and perpetuate their worldly wandering. He, then, describes the three types of deaths of the learned – Bhaktapratyākhyāna, Pādopagamana and Ingitamaraṇa in some detail. Then, he very briefly comments on the eligibility of the aspirants to embrace Panḍitamaraṇa and the procedure to adopt it. He also compares Samādhimaraṇa and suicide and concludes his essay by eulogising Samādhimaraṇa. However, for reasons of limitation of space, the treatment to the subject is very cursory in this essay.

Other essays are – ‘Santhārā Evaṁ Samādhimaraṇa’ by Shri Jnanendra Baphana, ‘Sallekhanā, Santhārā, Samādhimaraṇa’ by Shri Jashakarana Daga, Mṛtyu Mahotsava by Shri Lalchand Jain,Śarīra Se Asaṅga Ho Jāo’ by Svami Saranananda, ‘Jo Nija Man Dṛḍha Rākho’ by Acharya Shri Ratanchandji, Santhārā Aur Ātmahatyā Meiṅ Antar’ by Shri Kanhaiyalal Lodha, ‘Samādhi–varaṇa’ by Shri Ranjit Singh Kumat, ‘Santon Kā Ādarśa Santhārā’ by Dr. Mahendrasagar Pracandiya, ‘Maraṇa Kā Smaraṇa’ by Acharya Vinobā Bhave, ‘Jīvan Vikas Banam Jīvan Vināśa’ by Shri Kundan Surana, ‘Sallekhanā–Santhārā–Samādhimaraṇa’ by Shri PM Chordiya, ‘Maraṇa Varaṇa Hai Navajīvan Kā’ – Dr. Narendra Bhanavat, and ‘The Epic Voyage Towards Complete Liberation’ by Shri AL Sancheti.

All these essays are in the same vein and provide a bird’s eye view of the subject. Some of them also highlight the differences between Samādhimaraṇa and Suicide. The essays by Svami Saranananda and Acharya Vinoba Bhave, however, offer only general comments on the inevitability of death and emphasise the need for not forgetting it and need of facing death boldly.

0.2.28. Ātma–Muktixxxii – “1992”

This handbook, mainly devoted to the subject of Samādhimaraṇa, opens with a chapter entitled Ātmabodha or self revelation wherein it brings out the duality of the body and the soul and emphasises that the spiritual matters have the primacy as they have the permanent effect on the destiny of any living being. It then proceeds to define Sallekhanā and its two types Sāgāra “Conditional” Sallekhanā and Anāgāra “Unconditional” Sallekhanā and the procedure to be followed by the aspirant practitioner of voluntary peaceful death and includes the reflections and meditations to be undertaken by such an aspirant practitioner. The treatise is concluded by appending the poetic work on Samādhi–maraṇa entitled ‘Mṛtyu–Mahotsava’ that heralds death as a celebration of freedom of the soul from the confines of the body.

0.2.29. Samādhimaraṇaxxxiii – “1993”

This is yet another handbook, by Sadhvi Vijayashri, on the subject of Samādhi–maraṇa that touches upon various aspects of this noble practice such as reflection on the real form the self, begging forgiveness from all kinds of living beings for any known or unknown hurt caused to them in this life or the lives before, seeking spiritual protection of the four venerable paragons of spiritual life, the last practice, Samādhimaraṇa as such, Sallekhanā preparatory to accepting the final vow of fast unto death and the process thereof, five flaws of Sallekhanā, seventy–three recollections relating to Samādhimaraṇa, the reflections connected with Sallekhanā, etc.

0.2.30.Jīvan Kī Antim Muskānxxxiv – “1994”

In this short but comprehensive book on the subject of Samādhimaraṇa, Upadhyaya Kevalmuni ji has thrown sufficient light on as diverse issues connected with Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa as the concept of death, the science of death, The form of Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa, the difference between Sallekhanā and suicide. Towards the end of this work, the author has concluded that Samādhimaraṇa is nothing but selecting the best way to die when the death becomes imminent. He has also given instances of Voluntary Peaceful deaths from the Vedic tradition and some motivating instances of monks and nuns who had embraced death voluntarily and peacefully in the best traditions of Jaina way of leading a spiritually productive life and dying a graceful and spiritually uplifting death. The author has given various useful texts and instances connected with the subject such as indicators of imminent death, Procedure for accepting conditional fast unto death, procedure for accepting unconditional fast unto death, etc., at the end of the work, as ten appendices.

0.2.31 Prakīrṇaka Sāhitya : Manana Aur Mīmāṁsāxxxv– “1995”

This work, a collection of essays on the content and form of thirty–two known Prakīrṇakas, contains a very thought provoking essay entitled ‘Samādhimaraṇa Sambandhī Prakīrṇakoṅ kī Viṣayavastu’ by Dr. Ashok Kumar Singh. This essay outlines the contents of twenty–one of the thirty–two Prakīrṇakas that deal with the subject of Samādhimaraṇa.

0.2.32. Sallekhanā : A Philosophical Studyxxxvi – “2001”

This study by Dr. P.B. Chaugule is based on the concept of Sallekhanā as contained in the Jaina literature of the Digambara following and it also dwells on the most pertinent question whether or not Sallekhanā is suicide. It covers, at length, the precept and practice of Sallekhanā and also makes liberal references to the matter of death as analysed by the other major religious philosophies.

0.2.33. Samādhimaraṇaxxxvii – “2001”

This is a rather comprehensive work by Dr. Rajjankumar, basically on the concept and practice of Samādhimaraṇa in the Jaina tradition. At the very outset author has compared the concept of voluntary death in various religious traditions. This has been followed by a review of the Jaina literature on the subject and a critical examination of Voluntary Peaceful death as distinct from an ordinary death. The fourth chapter is devoted to the practical aspects of this practice and the fifth chapter reviews the tradition of Samādhimaraṇa in the Jaina order in the ancient, medieval and modern times. The sixth chapter compares Samādhimaraṇa with other forms of voluntary deaths and the seventh chapter lists the conclusions drawn, by the author, on the basis of this critical study.

0.2.34. Uttarādhyayanasūtra : Dārśanika Anuśīlanxxxviii – “2002”

The eighth chapter of this study by Sadhvi Dr. Vineetaprajna, carried out under the guidance of Prof. Sagarmal Jain, is devoted to the subject of the concept of Samādhimaraṇa as contained in the Uttarādhyayanasūtra. The first section of this chapter mentions seventeen types of death, the second section deals with the purpose, circumstances, process and types of Samādhimaraṇa, the third section refers to the concept of Samādhimaraṇa as obtained in other works and finally, the fourth section distinguishes Samādhimaraṇa from suicide and concludes that it is not suicide.

0.2.35. Samādhimaraṇa Kī Avadhāraṇā xxxix– “2002”

This work, which is the latest amongst the ones referred, contains fourteen valuable essays on the subject of Samādhimaraṇa by some of the most eminent contemporary scholars of Jaina studies. They cover a wide canvas dealing with the concept, the death–signs, examples, form, importance, process, analyses, synonymous terms of Samādhimaraṇa and its relevance in modern times. Here, I present a brief review of these essays.

  1. Jaina Āgamoṅ Meṅ Samādhimaraṇa Kī Avadhāraṇā, by Prof. Sagarmal Jain

This essay traces the origin and development of the concept of Samādhimaraṇa in the most ancient Jaina scriptures such as Ācāraṅga, Uttarādhyayana, Sthānāṅga, Samavāyāṅga, Bhagavatīsūtra, Upāsakadaśā, Antakṛddaśā, Anuttaraopapātikadaśā and Daśavaikālika.He, then proceeds to cite the examples of the aspirant practitioners from the comparatively not so ancient scriptures such as Aupapātika–sūtra and Rājapraśnīyasūtra, and then goes over to the treatment of the subject in the Prakīrṇaka literature. The author then proceeds to examine the concept of Samādhimaraṇa as obtained in the canonical works of the Digambara tradition – Mūlācāra and Bhagavatī–Ārādhanā. After presenting a bird’s eye view of the origin and development of the concept of Samādhimaraṇa as conta9ned in the Ardhamāgadhī and Śaurasenī canonical works, he proceeds to present a detailed analysis as per the Ardhamāgadhī scriptures. He concludes his essay by hinting at the necessity of a comparative study of the subject on the basis of various canons–explanatory works and the works of learned Jaina masters down the ages.

  1. Sallekhanā Meṅ Riṣṭoṅ Kī Avadhāraṇā by Dr. Santosh Godha –

Riṣṭa means a death–sign. Taken in plural they mean some indications that forecast death after some estimated period of time. Dr. Godha has traced the history of predicting or at least knowing about the impending death before time through such indications from Āyurveda, the Indian science of medicine, through various treatises on Yoga and philosophy. She, then, dwells at length on the death–signs mentioned in the ‘Riṣṭasamuccaya’ by Ācārya Durgadeva. This work mentions three types of death–signs, namely 1. Piṇḍastha Riṣṭa or the bodily death–signs such as sudden deformity, fixed gaze, etc, which predict imminent death. 2. Padastha Riṣṭa or environmental death–signs such as shooting stars, wailing of dogs, etc, which can predict death two to three years in advance and 3. Rūpastha Riṣṭa or visual or virtual death–signs such as visions, dreams, seeing the shadow–man etc, which can predict death a couple of days to a couple of years in advance. She concludes her essay by saying that little is known about this vast subject and there is a need for adding to the existing knowledge through experimentation and research.

  1. Prācīna Jain Granthoṅ Meṅ Samādhimaraṇa Ke Dṛṣṭānta by Prof. Prem Suman Jain –

In this essay with emphasis on the examples of Samādhimaraṇa in the ancient Jaina works, after mentioning the inevitability of death, the author defines ‘Sallekhana’ as the proper rarefaction of the body through scripturally approved means. He then proceeds to draw a distinction between the ignorant death and the enlightened death and mentions three types of enlightened deaths. Thereafter, he cited the examples of fifteen aspirants that embraced death peacefully, under extremely calamitous conditions, from the SaṁstārakaPrakīrnaka. The author also draws attention towards the differences of form that are apparent in the stories of this Prakīrṇaka and other works on the subject.

  1. Santhārā “Samādhimaraṇa” Kā Svarūpa by Dr. Suresh Sisodiya –

Mentioning Samādhimaraṇa as one of the important observances in monastic as well as lay followers’ conduct, the author distinguishes between the conditional “Sāgārī” and ordinary “Sāmānya” Santhārā. He then proceeds to state the procedure for accepting the vow and observing the Samādhimaraṇa. He also avers to the Buddhist view on Samādhimaraṇa and cites the examples of Bhikṣu Vakkali Kulaputra and Bhikṣu Channa to quote from Saṁyuttanikāya to elicit Lord Buddha’s views, on the subject of voluntary death under extreme conditions of terminal illnesses and of extreme old–age, that under such circumstances the voluntary death is justified. Stating the five flaws of Samādhimaraṇa, he proceeds to compare it with suicide.

  1. Mūlācāra Meṅ Sallekhanā Kā svarūpa by Dr. Ramesh candra Jain

In this essay the author brings out the form that acceptance and observance of Sallekhanā takes according to Mūlācāra. he mentions various vows and reflections that the aspirant undertakes, his repentance and retraction from the unexpiated sins, self–censure and condemnation in front of the spiritual master for one’s flaws as well as criticism of own faults with a view to atone for them. At the end he briefly touches upon the role of the Niryāpakācārya.

  1. Śramaṇa Aur Śrāvaka Jīvan Meṅ Santhāre Kā Mahatva byDr. Subhash Kothari –

As the very title suggests the author has dwelled upon the importance of the vow of Samādhimaraṇa as part of monastic as well as lay followers’ spiritual observances and mentions the spiritual benefits that accrue as a result of embracing voluntary death in a state of mental equanimity.

  1. Saṁlekhanā Santhārā : Jaina Dṛṣṭi Se Eka Vihaṅgāvalokana by Manmal Kudal –

In this essay Sri Kudal has conveyed that when an aspirant feels that his condition of extreme old–age or incurable disease has become irrevocable it is better for him to give up food gradually to embrace death gracefully in a state of mental equanimity rather than cry for pain. He has then defined death and covered the concept and procedure of Samādhi–maraṇa as obtained in the canonical texts at some length.

  1. Śrāvaka Jīvan Meṅ samādhimaraṇa Kā Mahatva – by Inderchand BaidThis essay, with emphasis on the importance of Samādhi–maraṇa in the spiritual practices of a lay follower, is more or less on the same lines as the sixth essay by Dr. Subhash Kothari. The author has emphasised the importance of giving up of attachment and delusion as preconditions for a successful accomplishment of equanimity “Samādhi” in death “maraṇa”.

  2. Jain Purāṇa Granthoṅ Meṅ Varṇit Samādhimaraṇa – by Dr. Saroj JainIn this essay the author has dealt with the concept of Samādhimaraṇa as contained in three Purāṇa texts – Padma–purāṇa, Harivaṁśa–purāṇa and Ādi–purāṇa and concluded her statement by saying that an observer of the ritual of Sallekhanā, who has tasted the nectar of the true faith becomes devoid of all the worldly sorrow and achieves the eternal bliss of liberation.

  3. Sallekhanā Kī Prakriyā byDr. Rajkumari Kothari –

In this essay the author has outlined the procedure for undertaking the vow of Samādhimaraṇa starting from eating of full–scale food to no food as found enunciated in various canonical texts and their explanatory works.

  1. Samādhi Ke Bheda byDr. Udaichand Jain –

Starting with the definition of Samādhi as given in Parama–sam-dhi Adhikāra of Kunda Kundacārya’s Niyamasāra, the author has analysed the concept of equanimity of mind under the categories of external and internal peace of body and mind through the considerations of name, establishment, matter, position, time and mode/mood. He, then proceeds to state ten factors that contribute to internal and external harmony and goes on to the issue in hand – Samādhimaraṇa.

  1. Sallekhanā Ke Vibhinna Paryāyavācī Śabda by Dr. Sunita Kumari –

In this essay the author has mentioned the various synonymous terms that have been used from time to time for referring to Samādhi–maraṇa or voluntary peaceful death with brief explanatory note with each. These synonyms are – Sallekhanā, Santhārā, Samādhimaraṇa, Paṇḍit–maraṇa, Sakāmamaraṇa, Sanyāsamaraṇa, Antakriyā, Uttamārtha and Udyuktamaraṇa.

  1. Maraṇa Ke Vividha Prakāra byDr. Rajjan Kumar –

This essay contains the descriptions of various types of deaths such as – willing deaths and unwilling deaths, noble deaths and ignoble deaths, ignorant death, enlightened death and mixed death, natural death and aided deaths, etc. He concludes his exposition with the conclusion that basically the deaths are only of two types – first, the deaths of the ignorant and negligent ones and second, the death of the enlightened and vigilant ones.

  1. Antima Maraṇāntika Sallekhanā Jhūṣaṇā Ārādhanā byCol. D.S. Baya ‘Sreyas’ –

In this essay, in English language, meaning ‘The end–practice of Samādhimaraṇa’, the author has conveyed the thought that the very fearsome death can be made attractive and one can approach it fearlessly only if it is properly understood. Whole life of the aspirant practitioner ought to be such as not to induce fear of the afterlife. He, then proceeds to distinguish between the voluntary and involuntary deaths and define the voluntary one. This is followed by an enumeration of seventeen types of deaths mentioned in the Jaina scriptures and brief explanations of the terms Bālamaraṇa “Ignorant death”, Paṇḍitamaraṇa “Enlightened death”, Bāla–paṇḍitamaraṇa “Mixed death”, Kevalimaraṇa “the death of the omniscients”, Bhaktapratyākhyāna–maraṇa “Death by fast unto death”, Ingini maraṇa “Place specific death” and Pādapopagamana maraṇa “still death”. The author dwells at some length on the issue of the right time and right circumstances of accepting voluntary death and with due physical, mental and emotional preparation for the purpose. He advocates dying with grace rather than in disgraceful misery.


Section – 1.

“Jātasya hi dhruvo mṛtyurdhruvaṁ janma mṛtasya ca |” – Śrimad Bhagvadgītā, 2/27.

ii “Jamma dukkhaṁ jarā dukkhaṁ, rogāṇi maraṇāṇi ya |

Aho dukkho hu saṁsāro, jattha kisanti jantavo ||” – Uttarādhyayanasūtra

iii “Punarapi janmaṁ punarapi maraṇaṁ, punarapi jananī–jaṭhare śayanaṁ |

Iha saṁsāre, bahu dustāre, kṛpayāpāre pāhui Murāre ||”

– Ādi Saṅkarācārya, Mohamugdara Stotra, 21.

iv Saṁstāraka Prakīrṇaka, English Translation, Baya DS, Āgama Saṁsthāna, 2002, Udaipur, verses 31–43.

Section – 2.

vĀcārāṅga, Muni Madhukar, Āgama Prakāṣana Samiti, Beawar, 1982

viSthānāṅgasūtra, Muni Madhukara, Āgama Prakāṣana Samiti, Beawar, 1981.

viiSamavāyāṅgasūtra, Muni Kanhaiyalal Kamal, Āgama Prakāṣana Samiti, Beawar, 1982.

viiiAnuttaropapātikasūtra, Muni Kanhaiyalal Kamal, Agama Prakashan Samiti, Beawar, 1990.

ixŚrī Upāsakadaṣāṅgasūtra, Hindi Translation by Pitaliya Gheesulal, Shri Akhil Bharatiya Sadhumargi Jain Sanskriti Rakshaka Sangha, Beawar, Ed. II. 1994.

xBhagavatī Ārādhanā, Śivārya alongwith Vijayodayā ṭīkā by Ācārya Śrī Aparājitasūri, Translated into Hindi and edited by Siddhāntācārya Pt. Kailash Chandra Siddhantashastri, Hiralal Khushalchanda Doshi, Phaltana, 1990.

xiMūlācāra, Ācārya Vaṭṭaker, HTr C. Āryikāratna Jñānamati Mātāji, Bhāratīya Jñānapīṭha, New Delhi, Ed. II, 1992.

xiiTattvārthasūtra, Vācaka Umasvati, Hindi Commentary By Pt. Sukhlal Sanghvi, Ed. II, 1952.

xiiiVinayapiṭaka, Comm. Rahul Sankrityayana, Bauddha Akar Granthamala, Kashi Vidyapitha, Varanasi, Ed. I, 1994.

xiv Bhikkhu Jagadīsakassapo, Saṁyuktanikāya Pali, Vols I–IV, Pali Publication Board ‘Bihar Govt.’, 1953.

xvSuttapiṭaka Saṁyuktanikāya Pali, Vols I–IV, Svāmi Dvarakadas Shastri, Bauddha Bharati Granthamala–42, Bauddha Bharti, Varanasi, Ed. I, 2000.

xviDhammapadaṁ, ed. Dr. Satyaprakash Sharma, Sahitya Bhandar Meerut, 6th Ed., 1995.

xviiVisuddhimaggo, Ācārya Buddhaghoṣa, Hindi Commemtary by Dr. Tapasya Upadhyaya, Pt. II, Bauddha Bharati, Varanasi, Ed. I, 1995.

xviii Vasunandi Śrāvakācāra, Ācārya Vasunandi, Bhartiya Jnanapeetha, Kashi, 1952.

xix Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra, Ācārya Samantabhadra, HTr. Āryikā Syādvādmati Mātāji, Bhāratavarṣīya Anekānta Vidvatpariṣad, Mujaffarnagar, 1997.

xx Samādhi–Maraṇaotsāha–Dīpak, Śrimatsakalakīrti–Gaṇi, H.Tr. Pt. Hiralal Jain Siddhā–ntaṣastrī, Vira Seva Mandir Trust, Varanasi, 1984.

xxi Doshi Ratanlal, Mokṣamārga, ABS Jaina Saṁskṛti Rakṣaka Saṅgha, Sailana, Ed. II, 1971.

xxii Dr. Sudarshanlal, Uttarādhyayanasūtra : Ek Pariṣīlan, Parshvanatha Vidyapeeth, Varanasi, 1971.

xxiii Sllekhanā Is Not Suicide, Justice TK Tukol, LD Institute Of Indology, Ahmedabad, Ed. I, 1976.

xxiv Jain Sādhanā Paddhatti Meṅ Tapoyoga, Muni Srichand, Adarsh Sahitya Sangha, Churu, 1979.

xxv Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta Aura Svarūpa, Ācārya Devendramuni Shastri, Shri Taraka Guru Jaina Granthalaya, Udaipur, Ed. I, 1982.

xxvi Jaina Bauddha Aur Gītā Kā Sādhanā Mārga, Prof. ‘Dr.’ Sagarmal Jain, Prakrita Bhārati Samsthana, Jaipur, Ed. I, 1982.

xxvii Jiṇa Dhammo, Ācārya Shri Nanesh, Shri Samata Sahitya Prakashan Trust, Indore–Ujjain, Ed.–I, 1984.

xxviii Jain Phoolchand Premi, Mūlācār Kā Samīkṣātmaka Adhyayana, Parshvanath Vidyasram Shodha Sansthan, Varanasi, 1987.

xxix Kothari Subhash, Upāsakadaṣāṅga Aura Uskā Śrāvakācāra ‘Eka Pariśīlana’, Āgama Ahiṁsā Samatā Evaṁ Prakṛta Saṁsthāna, Udaipur, Ed. I, 1988.

xxx Jain Rameshchand, Sallekhanā Eka Anucintan, Sri Taya Jain Chatravritti Fund trust, Udaipur, 1989.

xxxi Jinavāṇī, Year 48, Isuues No. 5–7, Samyagjñāna Pracāraka Maṇḍala, Jaipur, May–July, 1991, pp. 291–344.

xxxii Ātma–Mukti, Nemichand Kankariya memorial vol. 3, Narendra Trading Corporation, Beawar, 1992.

xxxiii Sadhvi Sri Vijayasri, Samādhimaraṇa, Sri Jaina Sangha, Sorapur, 1993.

xxxiv Upadhyaya Kevalmuni, Jīvan Kī Antim Muskān, Jain Divakar Sevasangha, Chikbalapur, 1994.

xxxv Prakīrṇaka Sāhitya : Manana Aur Mīmāṁsā, Edtd. Prof. Sagarmal Jain and Dr. Suresh Sisodiya, Āgama Ahiṁsā Samatā Evaṁ Prākṛta Saṁsthāna, Udaipur, Ed. I, 1995.

xxxvi Chaugule P.B., Sallekhanā : A Philosophical Study, Doctoral Thesis, Shivaji University, Kolhāpur, 1991.

xxxvii Kumar Rajjan, Samādhimaraṇa, Parshvanatha Vidyapeetha, Varanasi, Ed. I, 2001.

xxxviii Sadhvi Dr. Vineetaprajna, Uttarādhyayanasūtra : Dārśanika Anuśīlan Evaṁ Vartamāna Pariprekṣya Meṅ Uska Mahatva, Shree Chandraprabhu Maharaj Juna Jaina Mandira Trust, Chennai, Ed. I, 2002.

xxxixSamādhimaraṇa Kī Avadhāraṇā, Edtd. Dr. Suresh Sisodiya, Āgama Ahiṁsā Samatā Evaṁ Prākṛta Saṁsthāna, Udaipur, Ed. I, 2002.

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