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death with equanimity

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(Chapter II, cont.)

2.5 – . 2.552

2.5 Practice Of Santhāra–Samādhimaraṇa –

Santhārā is practised after the preparatory practice of Sallekhanā. Pravacanasāro–ddhāra mentions that after twelve year long preparatory penance – Sallekhanā – one must retire to the mountain–recess, hill or cave and finding a flawless place undertake one of the three forms of Samādhimaraṇa.i

The Santhārā or the vow of giving up food and water while ascending the bed of grass, is, again, of two types – 1. Emergent Santhārā, which is undertaken in an emergent circumstance. It can be either temporary or permanent depending upon the gravity of the circumstance. The temporary Santhārā is generally conditional. In this type the practitioner gives up food and water and resigns in a state of mental equanimity when faced with an imminent danger to his life or when he retires to bed and wishes to pass away in a state of equanimity if any unforeseen calamity befalls him during his sleep. However, he does so on the condition that if the circumstances change and the danger no longer exists he may resume his normal life and start taking food and water. 2. Unconditional Santhārā, in which the aspirant practitioner takes the vows for life, at his own volition, and his vow ends in his death only.ii

2.51 The Temporary Conditional Santhārā –

The temporary conditional Santhārā is accepted by the faithful followers either in an emergent circumstance endangering his life or daily while retiring to bed in order to safeguard their spiritual interests in case something untoward happens during their sleep or at night. They do this by observing a kāyotsarga of four Logassa and then reciting the text – “If I come to any fatal harm such as being bitten by a snake, burning in a fire, drowning in a flood, fatal attack by an enemy, or death due to the thread of life coming to an end, or in the case of my death due to any other unforeseen circumstance, I renounce the attachment towards my body, give up eighteen sinful activities, four types of foods and accept the vow of peaceful death. However, if I rise unharmed, I shall be free to resume my normal life.”iii

On coming out unscathed from the danger or on rising from sleep unharmed, the practitioner of temporary conditional Santhārā, once again observes a kāyotsarga of four Logassa and then recites the text – “I have, to the best of my ability and intention, observed the vow of conditional Santhārā properly. If for some flaws the observance has suffered improprieties of not touching the spirit of the vow, not acting in accordance with the provisions of the vow, not maintaining the purity and sanctity of the vow, not observing it till the intended time, not enhancing the glory of the vow, not observing it in intent and purpose intended to start with, and in not acting according to the provisions of this observance, as laid down by the Lords Jina, may my misdeeds become false and fruitless.”iv

This, in nut–shell, is the procedure for the observance of temporary and conditional Santhārā.

2.52 Permanent Unconditional Santhārā –

Permanent and unconditional Santhārā can also be undertaken either in the face of an imminent danger or in the case of incapacitation of the body for various reasons as mentioned earlier. The spiritual aspirant practitioners who can interpret the signs of death after predictable periods of time “Riṣṭa” also undertake Sallekhanā and permanent unconditional Santhārā or Samādhimaraṇa by one of the three ways of Bhaktapratyākhyāna, Iṅginī or Pādapopagamana depending on the rigour with which he wishes to practise it.

The ‘Death–signs “Riṣṭa” are described in the following sub–section.

2.521 Indicators Of Death –

According to The indicators of death after specified periods of time, as mentioned in ‘Jīvan Kī Antima Muskāna’ by Upādhyāya Kevalmuni, are as follows: – v

  1. If own eye–lashes, tip of the nose and the tip of the tongue become invisible, the life for nine more days is predicted.

  2. On bathing if the whole body remains wet but the face dries up, only fifteen days’ life remains.

  3. Following signs become manifest when only three days’ life remains –

  1. The thinning of the ear–lobe,

  2. Curving of the nose,

  3. Whitening of the pupil, blackening of the forehead, reddening of the nose, dropping of the moustache–hair, whitening of the lips, drying and hardening of the tongue and blackening of the teeth,

  4. Losing the taste of food and water, milky smell of nasal mucus,

  5. Palpitation on the right side of the chest, reddening of the palms and soles, blackening of the nails,

  6. Slowing pulse, senselessness, increased anger and hallucinating,

  7. Yellowing of the chest, whitening of the thighs, bluing or reddening of the throat, wrinkling of the nose and fading of the palm–lines,

  1. Turning back of one or both pupils, blackening of all the nails, warm head and cold hands and feet indicate immediate imminent death.

  2. Half the body warm and the rest half the body cold indicate death in seven days.

According to ‘Suśruta’, an Āyurvedic treatise, any significant change in the natural form or coloration of the body–organs is indicative of almost immediate imminent death.vi The periods can be predicted by observing the severity or mildness of these signs.

Riṣṭa Samuccaya, a treatise by Ācārya Durgadeva “Circa 11th century AD”, is devoted to the study of death signs. It described them in three parts – bodily signs, external sign and vision based signs.vii

2.53 Procedure For Samādhimaraṇa Santhārā –

According to the Ardhamāgadhī canonical and explanatory works the procedure for this end–practice of voluntary peaceful death is as follows: –viii

  1. First of all the practitioner must forsake all attachment and affection towards all the relatives and near and dear ones and seek their forgiveness while he, too, must forgive them with a clear heart.ix

  2. Then he must criticise and repent for all his done, got done and approved sinful acts and accept the five great vows “in the case of a house–holder aspirants” till the end of his life; he must overcome his grief, fear, sorrow, depressed state of mind, foulness of disposition and ineptitude that cause timidity and pain and wholeheartedly engage himself in the forthcoming practice and devote his time in scriptural studies only.x

  3. Then the practitioner must spread his bed of grass in a well–swept place that is free from micro–life infestation.

  4. Then he must sit facing East or North and say, “O’ Lord µ now I gladly and willingly accept irrevocable vow of fasting unto death.”xi

  5. Then he must recite the Namaskāra Mahāmantra thrice.

  6. Then he must bow to the Lord and his guru, recite the ‘Icchākāreṇaṁ’ text, the ‘Tassauttarīkaraṇeṇaṁ’ text and the ‘Logassa’ text, in this order.

  7. Then he must declare in the name of the Lord Tīrthaṅkara as to whether he is accepting temporary conditional Santhārā or the permanent unconditional one.

  8. He must then renounce all four types of foods according to his intended practice.

  9. He must renounce all eighteen types of sinful activities of his body, mind and speech.

  10. He must overcome his attachment towards his body that he has protected against various diseases, hardships and afflictions and adopt a detached disposition. To this end he declares, “This body that has been desired by me, that was dear to me, that was pleasurable for me, that was attractive, that was stable, that was reliable, that was respectable, that was very desirable, that was considered good by me in spite of its flaws, that was protected by me like the jewellery box, that was treated like the chest of gems, that was taken care of so that it was not exposed to cold, heat, hunger, thirst, insect–bite, theft, and even the mosquito bites, that it might not suffer the maladies of gout, bile and cough, sputum, delirium, as well as the inconvenience due to various hardships and afflictions, I now renounce any attachment towards it and go about my practice without desiring an early death. xii

It is clear from this exposition that though usually the end–practice of Santhārā or Samādhimaraṇa is to be undertaken after the preparatory penance of Sallekhanā, in emergent cases when the death became imminent due to various reasons it could be undertaken directly, without undertaking such rigorous preparatory penance.xiii

2.54 Desirable Mental Disposition For Sallekhanā And Santhārā –

An aspirant practitioner who has set himself out on the path of Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa must deliberately develop a psychic disposition that may steadfastly keep him on the path even when the pangs of hunger and death torment him. The following lines of thought help him in cultivating such a mental attitude and psychic disposition: –

  1. The soul is all powerful and capable of liberation.

  2. The all–powerful soul must not fear the death of the perishable and decayed body that houses many a disease and worm.xiv

  3. O’ learned soul µ why do you fear death? It is but a way to gain a new body by which to perform all the worldly and spiritual duties afresh with all new verve, zeal and enthusiasm.xv

  4. Death is the means to gain the heavenly pleasures or the eternal bliss of liberation as a result of lifelong pieties and penance. Then, why should one fear such friendly death?xvi

  5. Without the help of king death the soul caught in the miseries of the confinement of the body cannot be released. Then, why fear death?xvii

  6. Through death the Self–realised learned ones gain freedom from the physical body that is the cause of all pain and misery from birth to old–age.xviii

  7. One, who has not been able to achieve one’s spiritual gains even after coming face to face with the celestial tree – death, what will he be able to gain afterwards?xix

  8. Should the living beings not rejoice the coming of death, which gives them new bodies, full of vitality, instead of their old and decayed ones?xx

  9. It is the soul that feels the pleasure and the pain as well as fear. As the soul has nothing to lose by the death of the body, but only to gain. Why, then, should it be afraid of death?xxi

  10. It is only the ignorant souls that are deeply attached to the mundane pleasures, fear death. The enlightened ones, indifferent towards the world, do not.xxii

  11. When the soul, the king of the body–town, departs on a journey to the world hereafter, the city–walls of the town cannot stop him.xxiii

  12. The pains and aches of the decayed and diseased body and the pangs of death only help the learned soul to achieve detachment from the physical being just as a nobleman of cultured origin feels repelled from the squalor of the slums.xxiv

  13. The worldly souls are generally fond of the new things. They feel happy even when they exchange useful old items with the useless new ones. Then why do they fear death that gives them a new and useful body for their old and useless one?xxv

Alternatively, the twelve pious contemplations on 1. The transitory nature of existence “Anitya Bhāvanā”, 2. Helplessness against the inevitability of death “Aśaraṇa Bhāvanā”, 3. The miserable nature of worldly existence “Saṁsāra Bhāvanā”, 4. Unitary character of the soul “Ekatva Bhāvanā”, 5. The feeling of separation from everything else “Anyatva Bhāvanā”, 6. The foulness of the body constituents like flesh, blood, urine, faeces, semen, etc “Aśuci Bhāvanā”, 7. Thinking of the means of continuous inflow of karmic influx “Āsrava Bhāvanā”, 8. Thinking of the means of stoppage of karmic influx “Saṁvara Bhāvanā”, 9. Thinking of the means of karmic separation “Nirjarā Bhāvanā”, 10. Thinking of the form and functioning of the universe “Loka Bhāvanā”, 11. Thinking of one’s own spiritual duties “Dharma Bhāvanā” and 12. Thinking of the rarity of enlightenment “Bodhi–durlabha Bhāvanā” help a great deal in maintaining equanimity of mind and intellect in spite of the hardships suffered during this critical practice.

2.55 Flaws Of Voluntary Peaceful Death –

Like any other spiritual practice, the practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death “Samādhimaraṇa” is also fraught with the possibility of certain flaws. More so, because it is the most difficult practice to undertake and also because it may last for a considerably long period of time. During this time the mind of the aspirant practitioner may wander and give way to various spiritually unproductive thoughts. The aspirant practitioner ought to guard against such flawed thought–current as it may render the whole practice compromised. The thoughts that may compromise the practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death are known as its flaws. Various scriptures have listed these flaws differently. The flaws mentioned in the literature of the Śwetambara tradition are as follows:

2.551 Upāsakadaśāṅga

Upāsakadaśāṅga mentions the following flaws xxvi: –

  1. Ihalokāśaṁsāprayoga “This worldly desire” – This practice is highly spiritually rewarding. Therefore, thinking of and desiring this worldly pleasures such as the desire to become a king or a wealthy person in the next rebirth, as a result of this practice, and gaining the resultant pleasures that can be enjoyed in this “middle or human” world is a serious flaw.

  2. Paralokāśaṁsāprayoga “The other worldly desire” – Thinking of and desiring the other worldly pleasures such as the desire to become a heavenly god or a heavenly king in the next rebirth and the resultant heavenly pleasures that can be enjoyed in the other “upper” world.

  3. Jīvitāśaṁsāprayoga “The desire to live on” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death attracts a lot of adulation from the faithful followers of the faith and the practitioner’s name and fame spread far and wide. Also, he is rendered high degree of attention and service by them and all this may tempt the aspirant practitioner to live on for some more time so that all this happiness may continue.

  4. Maraṇāśaṁsāprayoga “The desire to die quickly” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death is a painful one. It is bugged by hunger, thirst and physical pain and discomfort. A weak minded aspirant practitioner may suffer all these but still desire to die quickly so that all this may end soon.

  5. Kāmabhogāśaṁsāprayoga “The desire for sensory pleasures” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death is considered to be the most pious of all spiritual practices. The aspirant practitioner is aware of its merit and knows that, if desired, the merit earned by the practice of Samādhi–maraṇa may yield the most desirable objects of sensory pleasures in the next birth. He may, therefore, be tempted to make a binding wish “Nidāna” and compromise his chances of a much higher reward – karmic separation and resultant liberation 

2.552Tattvārthasūtra -

The Tattvārthasūtra also mentions five flaws as underxxvii: –

  1. Jīvitāśaṁsāprayoga “The desire to live on” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death attracts a lot of adulation from the faithful followers of the faith and the practitioner’s name and fame spread far and wide. Also, he is rendered high degree of attention and service by them and all this may tempt the aspirant practitioner to live on for some more time so that all this happiness may continue.

  2. Maraṇāśaṁsāprayoga “The desire to die quickly” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death is painful one. It is bugged by hunger, thirst and physical pain and discomfort. A weak aspirant practitioner may suffer all these but still desire to die quickly so that all this pain may end soon.

  3. Mitrānurāga “Affection for the friends” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death entails certain death and the aspirant practitioner may feel that his practice will certainly result in separation from his or her near and dear ones such as his/her family, relatives and friends. This may, eventually, disturb his state of equanimity and render the practice far from being peaceful.

  4. Sukhānubandha “Attachment to the previously enjoyed pleasures” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death is a painful one. While suffering its attendant painful discomforts the aspirant practitioner may recall the previously enjoyed pleasures and may wish that they may be enjoyed by him again “in the next birth”. This, too, may disturb his mental equanimity.

  5. Nidānakaraṇa “Making a binding wish” – The Practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death is considered to be the most pious of all spiritual practices. The aspirant practitioner is aware of its merit and knows that, if desired, the merit earned by the practice of Samādhimaraṇa may yield the most desirable objects of sensory pleasures in the next birth. He may, therefore, be tempted to make a binding wish “Nidāna” and compromise his chances of a much higher spiritual reward of karmic separation and resultant liberation.

Four out of the five flaws mentioned by the Tattvārthasūtra at 2.552 “a, b, c and e” are essentially the same as those mentioned in the Upāsakadaśāṅga as they refer to the desires that ultimately bind the aspirant to mundane existence. The fourth flaw “sec 2.552 – d” of affection for the kith and kin is also a form of attachment that withholds liberation. In this sense all these flaws must be guarded against so that the aspirant practitioner may attain his goal of spiritual emancipation and liberation unhindered.

i “Dvādaśavārṣikīmutkṛṣt,ām saṁlekhanāṁ kṛtvā girikandaraṁ gatvā upalakṣaṇametad anyadapi ṣaṭkāpamarddarahitaṁ viviktaṁ sthānaṁ gatvā Pādapopagamanaṁ vā śabdād Bhaktaprijñāmiṅginīmaraṇaṁ ca prapadyate |” – Pravacanasāroddhāra, 134.

ii Upādhyāya Kevalmuni, Jīvan kī antima muskān, Chikbalapur, 1994, p. 85.

iii “Bhakkhanti, ḍjjhanti, māranti, kiṁvi uvasaggeṇa mama āūanto bhavejja tahā sarīrasambandha–moha–mamatta aṭṭhārasa–pāvaṭṭhāṇāṇi cauvvihaṁ pi āhāraṁ vosirāmi | Suhasamāhieṇaṁ nicchā vaikkati tao āgāro |” – Ibid. p. 123.

iv “Sāgāriaṁ aṇasaṇassa paccakkhāṇaṁ phāsiyaṁ pāliyaṁ sohiyaṁ tīriyaṁ kittiyaṁ ārāhiyaṁ āṇāe aṇupāliyaṁ na bhavai tassa micchā mi dukkaḍaṁ.” – Ibid. p. 125.

v Ibid. p. 121–122.

vi “Śarīraśīlavīryasya pratervi ti bhavet | taccaṁ riṣtaṁ samāsena.”

Dr. Santosh Godha, Samādhimaraṇa Kī Avadhāraṇā, A_gam Saṁsthān, Udaipur, 2002, p. 31.

vii Ibid, p. 23.

viii Jaina Ācāra : Siddhanta Aur Svarūpa, ibid, p. 710.

ix “Snehaṁ veraṁ saṅgaṁ, parigrahaṁ cāyahāya śuddhamanāḥ |

Svajanaṁ parijanamapi ca kṣāntvā kṣamayet priyarvacanaiḥ ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 3.

x “Ālocya sarvamenaḥ kṛtakāritamanumataṁ ca nirvyājan |

Āropyenmahāvratamāmaraṇa sthāyi niḥśes,aṁ ||

Śokaṁ bhayamavasādaṁ kledaṁ kāluṣyamaratimapi hitvā |

Satvotsāhamudoyaṁ ca manaḥ prasādayaṁ śrutairamṛtaiḥ ¤||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 4, 5.

xi “Aha Bhante µ Apacchim māraṇantiya saṁlehaṇā jhūsaṇā ārāhaṇāe ārāhemi”

Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānta aur Svarūpa, Ibid, p. 710

xii “Jaṁ pi imaṁ sarīraṁ iṭṭhaṁ kantaṁ piyaṁ mṇuṇṇaṁ maṇāṇaṁ dhijjaṁ visāsiayaṁ sammayaṁ bahumayaṁ aṇumayaṁ bhaṇd,akaraṇḍagasamāṇaṁ ryaṇakaraṇḍagabhūyaṁ māṇaṁ sīyā, mā ṇaṁ uṇhā, māṇaṁ khuhā, mā ṇaṁ paivāsā, mā ṇaṁ vālā, mā ṇaṁ corā, mā ṇaṁ daṁsamasagā, mā ṇaṁ vāiyaṁ, pittiyaṁ, kapphiyam, saṁbhīmaṁ, sannivāiyaṁ, vivihārogā–yaṅkā, prisahā, uvasaggā, phāsā phusantu caramehiṁ ussāsa nīsāsehiṁ vosirāmi. Kālaṁ aṇavakaṅkhamāṇaṁ viharāmi.”

xiii Jaina Ācāra : Siddhānt Aur Svarūpa, ibid, p. 711.

xiv “Kṛmijālaśatākīrṇe jarjare dehapañjare |

Bhajyamāne na bhetavyaṁ yatasvaṁ jñāna–vigrahaḥ ¤||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 9.

xv “Jñānimbhayaṁ bhavet kasmātprāpet mṛtyumahotsave ? |

Svarūpasthaḥ puraṁ yāti deho dehantara–sthitiḥ ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 10.

xvi “Sudattaṁ prāpyatre yasmāt dṛśyate pūrva sattamaiḥ |

Bhujyate svarbhavaṁ saukhyaṁ mṛtyurbhīti kitaḥ sattām ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 11.

xvii “Āgarbhādduḥkkha santaptaḥ prakṣpto deha–pañjare |

Nātmā vimucyate`nyena mṛtyu bhūmipati vinā ¤||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 12.

xviii “Sarvaduḥkhapradaṁ piṇḍaṁ dūrīkṛtyātmadarśibhiḥ |

Mṛtyu–mitraprasādena prāpyate sukhasampadaḥ ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 13.

xix “Mṛtyu–kalpaddrume prapte yenāmātmārtho na sādhitaḥ |

Nimageno janmajmvāle sa paścāt kiṁ kariṣyati? ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 14.

xx “Jīrṇa dehādikaṁ sarvaṁ nūtanaṁ jāyate yataḥ |

Sa mṛtyu kiṁ na modāya sattāṁ sātotthitiryathā? ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 15.

xxi “Sukhaṁ duḥkhaṁ sadā veti dehasthaśca svayaṁ vrajet |

Mṛtyurbhītistadā kasya jāyate paramārthataḥ ¤||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 16.

xxii “Saṁsārāsaktacittānāṁ mṛtyurbhītyairbhavenṛṇānāṁ |

Modāyate punaḥ so`pi jñāna–vairāgya–vāsinām ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava ibid, 17.

xxiii “Purādhīśo yadā yāti, sukṛtasya bubhtsayā |

Tadā sau vāryat kena prapñcaiḥ pāñcabhautikaiḥ? ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 18.

xxiv “Mṛtyukāle satāṁ duḥkhaṁ yad bhaved vyādhi sambhavaṁ |

Dehamohavināśāya manye śiva–sukhāya ca ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 19.

xxv “Atipariciteṣvavajñā nave bhavetprītiriti janavādaḥ |

Ciratara śarīranāśe navataralābhe ca kiṁ bhīruḥ ? ||” – Mṛtyu Mahotsava, ibid, 24.

xxvi “Ihalogasaṁsappaoge, Paralogāsaṁsappaoge, Jīviāsaṁsappaoge, Maraṇāsaṁsappaoge, Kāmabhogāsaṁsappaoge |” – Uvāsagadas-o, 1/57.

xxvii “Jīvitāmaraṇāśaṁsā–mitrānurāga–sukhānubandha–nidānakraṇāni |” – Tattvārthasūtra, 7/32.

Section – 2.6.

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