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death with equanimity

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(Chapter II, cont.)

2.4 – 2.41

2.4 Practice of Sallekhanā –

When a learned and faithful aspirant monk, desirous of attaining liberation, feels that he has to renounce his body, for the reasons already mentioned, he must gradually reduce his external activities, weaken his passions as well as reduce his food and water intake.i According to Tattvārthasūtra even the householders who have purified their souls sufficiently by practising the twelve householders’ vows faithfully, are also eligible to undertake this practice ending in their voluntary peaceful deaths.ii

2.41 Sallekhanā In Various Arddhamāgadhī Canons –

1. The Ācārāṅga mentions a twelve years long Sallekhanā with different regimens for the periods of first four years, the next four years, the next two years, the first and the second halves of the eleventh year and the twelfth year. These are as follows:iii

  1. Observance of fasts of different durations in the first four years,

  2. Fasts of different durations coupled with giving up of nutritious foods during the next four years,

  3. Fasting on alternate days for the next two years and breaking the fasts with the observance of Ācāmla penance in which only one meal devoid of all taste and that of little nutrition is taken.

  4. Observing fasts of one or two days at a time during the first six months of the eleventh year,

  5. Observing fasts of longer durations during the second half of the eleventh year and breaking the fasts with Ācāmla penance coupled with reduced diet penance,

  6. Observing continuous Ācāmla penance during the twelfth year and gradually reducing the food intake so that by the end of the year the kṣapaka takes only a grain of food and a drop of water.

2. According to Uttarādhayayanasūtra the longest Sallekhanā is of twelve years’ duration, the medium one is of twelve months “one year”’s duration and the shortest Sallekhanā is that of twelve fortnights’ “six months’” duration.iv However, no such preparatory penance can be undertaken when Samādhimaraṇa is resorted to in emergent circumstances. The details of twelve years’ Sallekhanā are as under: –

  1. The aspirant undertaking the longest Sallekhanā of twelve years’ duration must practise fasts of varying durations, give up all highly nourishing foods like milk, curds, clarified butter, sweets, etc, and practice various kinds of external and internal penance for the first four years. v

  2. He must undertake various kinds of penance “of one, two, three days’ duration’s at a time” for the next four years.vi

  3. Then, for the next two years, he must practice the penance of fasts on the alternate days and eat only one meal devoid of taste and high nourishment “Ācāmla”. In the first half of the eleventh year he must not undertake any severe penance “like three, four and more fasts at a time”.vii However, according to Pravacanasāroddhāra Vṛtti such a penance is undertaken.viii The fasts are broken by observing Ācāmla coupled with reduced diet “Avamaudarya” penance.ix

  4. For the next six months he must undertake severe penance and open his fasts by taking only one dry, tasteless meal of little nutritive value per day “Ācāmla”.x However, he is not to combine these Ācāmla observances with those of reduced diet penance.xi

  5. Then, again, for the twelfth year the aspirant must practice Ācāmla continuously and, finally, undertake fast of the duration of a fortnight or a month.xii

  1. The Prakīrṇakas also mention two kinds of Sallekhanā xiii and prescribe external and internal penances for weakening of the body and the passions.xiv About the order of observing various kinds of external penances, the Maraṇavibhakti mentions that the aspirant practitioner must weaken his body by observing fasts of different durations and by gradually reducing his food intake. xv First of all he must reduce his food intake, and then follow it up with giving up of nutritious foods and then by fasting for gradually increasing durations. xvi Fir weakening the passions, however, it mentions the practice of forgiveness for overcoming anger, humility for overcoming pride, simplicity and straightforwardness for overcoming deceit and contentment for winning over the greed.xvii

  2. Vyavahārabhāṣya also states these three categories “long, medium and short” of Sallekhanā practices.xviii Detailing the form that this observance must take, Pravacanasāroddhāra mentions that during the first four years the aspirant must undertake fasts of one, two or three days at a time and break his fasts by taking proper food. During the next four years he must fast similarly but mustn’t take highly nourishing foods while breaking the fasts. In the ninth and the tenth years he must fast and break his fasts with the observances of Ācāmla in which he ought to take dry and tasteless food only. In the first half of the eleventh year he must undertake fasts of one, two and three days’ duration and break them with the observance of Ācāmla coupled with reduced diet penance as well. In the next half of the same year he must observe fasts on one, two, three or four days at a time and break them with Ācāmla only. He may not practice reduced diet penance with these Ācāmla observances.xix

About the observances to be undertaken in the twelfth year, differing views, of different preceptors, are available. In the Niśīthacūrṇi, Ācārya Jinadāsagaṇi Mahattara has expressed the view that the aspirant must practice unbroken “Koḍī sahiyaṁ” depleting “hāyamān” Ācāmla penance for the whole of the twelfth year. He must gradually reduce his food and water intake in such a way that at the end of the year he is taking only a grain of food and a drop of water.xx In the last four months of this year, however, oil can be kept in the mouth “without gulping it, of course” so as not to render the mouth incapable of speaking or chanting the holy hymns and incantations such as the Namaskāra–mantra etc.xxi

Pravacanasāroddhāra Vṛtti also prescribes a similar procedure. It says that in the twelfth year the aspirant must observe unbroken Ācāmla penance in such a way that he keeps reducing one morsel of food and one gulp of water every day. When he reaches the stage of taking only one morsel of food and one gulp of water, he must start reducing one grain of food and one drop of water every day so that at the end of the year his daily intake is only a grain of food and a drop of water.xxii

According to Vṛhadvṛtti, however, the penance in the twelfth year may take either of the following forms: –xxiii

  1. Either continuous and unbroken series of Ācāmla penance with gradually reduced intake of food and water, or

  2. An alternate day observance of Ācāmla with undertaking of other form of penance on the days in between.

  3. At the end of the twelfth year the aspirant must observe a fast of a fortnight or a month’s duration.

Like this, at the end of the twelve years’ Sallekhanā, the aspirant is ready to undertake the vow of voluntary peaceful death by any one of the three ways. Actually, his body weakens to such an extent that he can even undertake the most severe form of voluntary death – Pādapopagamana–maraṇa.xxiv

i “Duvihaṁ pi viditāṇaṁ buddhā dhamassa pāragā |

Aṇupuvvīe saṅkhāe ārambhāe tiuṭṭati |

Kasāe payaṇu kiccā appāhāro titikkhae ¤||” – Ācārāṅga, 8 – 8 – 17–18.

ii “Aṇuvrato`gārī || 15 ||

Digdeśānrthadaṇḍaviratisāmāyikapauṣadhopavāsopabhogaparibhogaparimāṇātithisaṁvi bhāgavratsampannaśca || 16 ||

Māraṇāntikīṁ saṁlekhanāṁ joṣitā || 17 ||” – Tattvārthasūtra, 7.15–17.

iii Ācārāṅga, Madhukarmuni, p. 294.

iv “Bāraseva u vāsāiṁ saṁlehukkosiya bhave |

Saṁvaccharaṁ majjhimiyā chammāsā ya jahanniyā ||” – Uttarādhyayana, 36.251.

v “Paḍhame vāsacaukkammi vigaīnijjūhaṇaṁ |

Biie vāsacaukkammi vicittaṁ tu tavaṁ care ||” – Ibid, verse 252.

vi “Dvitīye varṣa catuṣke; Vicitraṁ tu iti vicitrameva caturtha–ṣaṣṭhāṣṭhamādirūpaṁ tapaścaret, atha ca pāraṇake sampradāyaḥ – ‘uggamavisuddha’ savvaṁ kappaṇijjaṁ pāreti |”

Vṛhadvṛtti, folio 706. ‘Q. Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta aur samīkṣā, ibid, p. 706.’

vii “Egantaramāyāmaṁ kaṭṭu saṁvacchare duve |

Tao saṁvaccharaddhaṁ tu nāivigiṭṭhaṁ tavaṁ care ¤||”

Uttarādhyayanasūtra, verse 253.

viii “Vikṛṣṭaṁ aṣṭamadaśamadvādaśādikaṁ tapaḥ karmaṁ bhavati |

Pravacanasāroddhāra Vṛtti, folio 254. ‘Q. Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta aur samīkṣā, ibid, p. 706.’

ix “Pāraṇake tu parimitaṁ kiñcidūnodaratā sampannamācāmlaṁ karoti | – Ibid, folio 254.

x “Tao saṁvaccharaddhaṁ tu vigiṭṭhaṁ tu tavaṁ care |

Parimiyaṁ ceva āyāmaṁ taṁmi saṁvacchare kare ||”

Uttarādhayaynasūtra, verse 254.

xi “Pāraṇake tu mā śīghrameva maraṇaṁ yāśiṣamitikṛtvā paripūrṇagra_ṇyā ācāmlaṁ karoti, na punarūnodarayeti |

Pravacanasāroddhāra Vṛtti, folio 254. ‘Q. Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta aur Samīkṣa ibid, p. 707.’

xii A. “Koḍsahiyamāyāmaṁ kaṭṭu saṁvacchare muṇī |

Masaddhamāsien>aṁ tu āhāreṇa tavaṁ care ||” – Uttarādhyayanasūtra, verse 255.

  1. Saṁvatsare varṣe prakramad dvādaśe ‘muniḥ sādhuḥ’ māsa tti sūtratvānmāsaṁ bhūto māsikaratenaivārddhamāsikena āhāreṇenti – upalakṣaṇaṁ tvādāhāra tyāgena, pāṭhāntaratas^ca kṣṇena tapaḥ iti prastāvād bhakta prijñānādikamanaśanaṁ caret |

Vṛhadvṛtti, folios 706–7.

xiii “Chammāsiyā jahannā ukkosā bāraseva vārisāiṁ | – Maraṇavibhatti, verse 182

xiv “Sallehaṇā ya duvihā abbhintariyā ya bāhirā ceva |

Abbhintariya kasāe bāhiriyā hoi ya sarīre ||” – Ibid, verse 176.

xv

“Ullīṇollīṇehi ya ahava na egantavaddhamāṇehiṁ |

Saṁliha sarīrameyaṁ āhāravihiṁ payaṇuyanto ||” – Ibid, verse 178.

xvi “Chaṭṭha`ṭṭhama–dasama–duvālasehiṁ bhattehiṁ citta–kiṭṭhehiṁ |

Miya–lahukaṁ āhāraṁ karahi āyambilaṁ vihiṇā ||” – Ibid, verse 183.

xvii “Kohaṁ khamāI māṇaṁ maddavayā ajjaveṇa māyaṁ ca |

Santoseṇa ya lobhaṁ nijjiṇṇa cattāri vi kasāe || – Ibid, verse 189.

xviii “Sā jhaghanyā madhyamā utkṛṣṭā ca | – Vyavahārabhāṣya, 203.

xix “Cattāri vicittāiṁ vigai nijjūhiyāiṁ cattāri |

Saṁvacchare ya donni egantariyaṁ ca āyāmaṁ ||

Nāi vigiddho ya tavo chammāsa parimiaṁ ca āyāmaṁ |

Avare viya chamm-se hiī vigiṭṭhaṁ tavo kammaṁ ¤||” – Pravacanasāroddhāra, 982–83.

xx “Duvālasaṁ varisaṁ nirantaraṁ hāyamāṇa usiṇodarāṇa āyambilaṁ karei taṁ Koḍīsahiyaṁ bhavai jaṇeya vilassa koḍī koḍīe milai |

Niśīthacūrṇi. ‘Q. Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta aur samīkṣa ibid, p. 706.’

xxi Ibid.

xxii “Dvādaśe varṣe bhojanaṁ kurvan pratidinamekaika kavala–hānyātāvadūnodaratāṁ karoti yavadekaṁ kavalamāhārayati |

Pravacanasāroddhāra Vṛtti. ‘Q. Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta aur samīkṣa ibid, p. 706.’

xxiii “Koṭyo – agre pratyākhyānādyantakoṇrūpe sahite–milite yasminstatkoṭisahitaṁ, kiṁ muktaṁ bhavati? Vivikṣitadine prātarācāmlaṁ pratyākhyānaṁ taccāhorātraṁ pratipālyaṁ, punadvitīye`nhi ācāmlameva pratyācaṣṭe, tato dvītiyasyārambhaṁ koṭirādasya tu paryanta koṭirūpe api milite bhavat iti tatkoṭI sahitamucyate, antyetvāhuḥ – ācāmlamekasmin dine kṛtvā dvitīye dine ca tapodantaramanuṣt,hāya punastritīya dina ācāmlameva kurvataḥ koṭisahitamucyate | – Vṛhadvṛtti, folio 706. ‘Q. ibid, p. 707.’

xxiv Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta aur Svarūpa, ibid, p. 706.

Section – 2.5.

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