death with equanimity



(Chapter III, cont.)

3.4 – 3.43

3.4 Procedure for Undertaking Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa –

The procedure for undertaking the practice of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa can be summed up as follows: –

3.41 Occasions for undertaking Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa –

When an aspirant sees death–signs “Riṣṭa” and finds that his death is a predictable period of time away or when he finds that he has become very old, physically very weak and feeble, terminally ill, unable to perform his monastic or lay follower’s duties or when some accidental happening such as physical or mental trauma, snake or other poisonous–bite, attack by a wild beast or mauling by a maddened or infuriated animal or an attack by an enemy or a fanatic religious fundamentalist or a thief or a robber or a barbarian, or when there is a long–drawn famine in the country or some other such event when either the death becomes imminent or the practice of right religious practices becomes impossible, constitute the occasions for undertaking the practice of Sallekhanā– Samādhimaraṇa.i

Jaina scriptures are full of illustrative parables that variously demonstrate the suitable occasions for undertaking the practice of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa. They are in respect of Dharmasimha of Ayodhya,iiṛṣabhasena of Pataliputra,iiiJayasena of Sravasti,ivŚakaḍāla of Pataliputra,vŚivabhūti,viŚrīdatta,viiGajakumara, viiiGajasukumāla,ix etc.

From the abovementioned scriptural texts and instances and views of various learned scholars it becomes amply clear that the occasions for undertaking the practice of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa can be broadly classified into two groups as follows: –

    1. Irrecoverable physical weakness as well as incurable and terminal diseases, and

    2. When death becomes imminent due to calamities caused by natural and other means. If these causes are such as to offer no chances of survival, one accepts an unconditional vow resulting in death in a state of equanimity of mind. However, if these calamities are of a transient nature, so as to offer some chance of survival, the affected individual, who is otherwise fit and fine, can undertake a conditional vow that terminates itself when the cause of calamity is removed.

At this stage it needs to be clarified that though the Digambara tradition takes the terms ‘Sallekhanā’ and ‘Samādhimaraṇa’ synonymously to mean the end–practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death, the practice of twelve year long Sallekhanā cannot be looked at in this light. It is necessarily a preparatory practice that is undertaken by an aspirant practitioner “kṣapaka” who comes to know of his remaining life–span by interpreting the death–signs “riṣṭa” and wishes to weaken his body and passions prior to embracing death by one or more of the three forms of voluntary peaceful death. Here, in this section, we are discussing the occasions for undertaking Samādhimaraṇa as distinct from Sallekhanā.

3.42. The Eligibility Of The Aspirant –

These have been listed under considerations for undertaking the vow of Bhaktapratyākhyāna at serial 1 of sub–section 3.3111. However, some elaboration in the light of other works is warranted. Mūlācāra mentions that a person who is endowed with right–belief, who is sense–controlled, detached, prideless, dispassionate, patient, desireless, brave and a knower of mundane miseries is eligible for undertaking this practice.x According to Bhagavatī Ārādhanā only that aspirant who is able to destroy the four passions of anger, pride, guile and greed is eligible to embrace voluntary death.xi According to Maraṇavibhakti, one who has weakened his body and passions by undertaking various types of external and internal penance “Sallekhanā” is eligible for undertaking this end–practice of Voluntary Peaceful Death or Samādhimaraṇa.xii

3.43 The Procedure For Undertaking The Practice Of Samādhimaraṇa –

Mūlācāra, which does not mentions a twelve year long Sallekhanā, lays down the following sequence for the practice of Samādhimaraṇa: –

  1. First of all, the aspirant practitioner “kṣapaka” must completely renounce violence, untruth, theft, sex and material and emotional encumbrance at physical vocal and mental levels.xiii

  2. He must gain a disposition of equality towards all the living beings, give up animosity towards them, give up all mundane desires and adopt a forgiving attitude. xiv

  3. He must give up all solid food and desire therefor and forsake desire for all earthly and heavenly pleasures. xv

  4. When the calamitous afflictions present themselves, he must think that he renounces all foods and desires if these afflictions result in his death and is open to resume taking food and normal life if they are mitigated.xvi

  5. He must detach himself from all bodily concerns and think that this body is the cause of all troubles as all the pain and misery, old–age and disease are due to this body only. It is the body that is associated at birth and dissociated at death. Therefore, one must not be attached to this mortal body and spend one’s time in the pious contemplation of one’s spiritual duties. xvii

  6. He must, then, retract from all transgressions and atone for all his faults and flaws by confessing, criticising, condemning and repenting in front of the guru and observing due expiation awarded by him. xviii

  7. Finally, he must give up all knids of food including the liquid food and, with a desire to give up all passions and the body, await death in a state of equanimity of mind. xix

Bhagavatī Ārādhanā lays down the following sequence for Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa, which, according to this work, is of two types – external and internal – and should be practised by weakening of the body and the passions respectivelyxx: –

  1. First of all, the external Sallekhanā is practised by fasting and opening the fasts by taking only that kind of food which is devoid of taste and much nutrition and thereby weakening the body gradually.xxi

  2. By practising Arddhānaśana type of fasting, which is practised during the preparatory Sallekhanā by undertaking fasts of different durations.xxii

  3. To weaken the body by reducing the food that one has been taking and by increasing the duration of fasting according to one’s capacity.xxiii

  4. Such Sallekhanā can extend up to a period of twelve years.xxiv In the first four years the aspirant must undertake fasts of varying durations, in the next four years he must give up all tasty and highly nutricious foods such as milk, curds, clarified butter, sweet and salty foods, etc; for the next two years he must subsist on rice soup and other tasteless food; in the eleventh year he must live on the rice soup only; in the first half of the twelfth year he must practise medium penance and in the last six months of this practice he must practise very severe penance.xxv

  5. In order to calm the passions, one must leave all those vices that increase them and to adopt those virtues that overcome them. xxvi

  6. While practicing such external and internal penance when the kṣapaka comes to realise that his end is near he goes to the guru and confesses, criticises, condemns, repents for and atones for his conduct–flaws by undertaking the expiation awarded by him. xxvii

  7. Having atoned for his flaws, he then takes the vow of Samādhi–maraṇa and practises Sarvānaśana, which is practised at the end by undertaking complete fast unto death.xxviii

A detailed exposition of the procedure for undertaking Bhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa has been given in section 3.3. Here, only an outline procedure has been indicated for gaining a bird’s eye view.

i A. “Maraṇānte`vaśyamaham’ vidhinā Sallekhanā kariṣyāmi |

Iti bhāvanā pariṇato`nāgatamapi pālayedidaṁ śīlaṁ ||

  • Puruṣārthasuddhyupāya, Śrimad Rājacandra Āśram, Agas, 1996, verse 176.

B. “Kālena vopasargeṇa niścityāyuḥ kṣayonmukhaṁ |

Kṛtvā yath-aidhi prāyaṁ tāstāḥ saphalayet kriyāḥ ||” – Sāgāra Dharmāmṛta, 8.9.

C. “Dehādi vaikṛtaiḥ samyaṅnimittaistu suniścite |

Mṛtyuvārādhanāmagna mate durra na tatpadaṁ ||” – Ibid, 8.10.

D. “Jaravagghinī ṇa campaī ṇa viyalāI hunti akkhāiṁ |

Buddhī jāva ṇa ṇāsai āujalaṁ jāva n,a parigalaī ||” – Ārādhanāsāra, verse 25.

  1. Śrāvakacāra Saṅgraha Pt. II, Jīvarāj Jain Granthamala, Solapur, 8.9, 8.10.
  2. Mandākṣatve`tivṛddhatve copasarge vratakṣaye |

Durbhikṣe tīvraroge cāsādhye kāyabalātyaye ||

Djarmadhyāna–tanūtsargahīyamānādike satiṁ |

Sannyāsavidhinā dakṣairmṛtyuḥ śivaptye ||”

Samadhimaraṇotsāhadīpak, 17, 18.

  1. Jarārogendriyahānibhirāvaśyaka parikṣayo ||”

Jainendra Siddhānta Koṣa, Pt. IV, p. 386.

  1. Tattvārthasūtra, ‘Comm.’ Pt. Sukhlal Sanghvi, p. 183.
  2. A. “When the right time ‘to prepare for death’ has arrived, a faithful ‘monk’ should in the presence ‘ of his teacher’ suppress all emotions’of fear or joy’ and wait for the dissolution of his body.”

B. “Sallekhanā is facing death ‘by an ascetic or a hoseholder’ voluntarily when he is nearing his end and when normal life according to religion is not possible due to old–age, incurable disease, severe famine, etc, after subjugation of all passions and abandonment of all worldly attachments.”

Tukol T.K., Sallekhanā Is Not Suicide, L.D. Institute Of Indology, Ahmedabad, 1976, p. 6, 7.

  1. Jain Sagarmal, Jaina Bauddha Gītā Ke Ācāra Darśanoṅ Kā Tulanātmaka Adhyayana, Pt. II, Prakrit Bharati, Jaipur, 1982, p. 436.

ii “Kosalaya Dhammasīho aṭṭhaṁ sādhedi giddhaput,ṭheṇa |

ṇayarammi ya Kollagire Candasiriṁ vippajahidūṇa||”

  • Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, verse 2067.

iii “Pāḍaliputte dhūdaheduṁ māmayakadammi uvasagge |

Sādhedi Usabhaseṇo aṭṭhaṁ vikkhāṇasaṁ kiccaṁ ||” – Ibid, verse 2068.

iv “Ahimāraeṇa ṇivadimmi māride gahidasamaṇaliṅgeṇa |

Uṭṭhāhapasamaṇatthaṁ satthagahaṇaṁ akāsi gaṇī ||” – Ibid, verse 2069.

v “Sagadālaeṇa vi tadhā sattaggahaṇeṇa Sādhido aṭṭho |

Vararuipaogaheduṁ ruṭṭhe ṇande Mahāpaume ||” –Ibid, verse 2070.

vi “Tasthau tarostale yasya jvalito vanhinā tataḥ nipetavadbhirālataiḥ pratyaṅgaṁ sa kadarthitaḥ ||” – Ārādhanāsāra, p. 109.

vii “Śukacareṇa vyantara devena tena pūrvavairamanusmṛtya śītalavāriṇā siktaḥ tathā śītalavātena kadarthitaḥ sahajaśuddhaṁ paramātmānamārādhya kevalākhyaṁ ca jyotirutpādhya nirvāṇaṁ prāptvān Śrīdatto muniḥ ||” – Ibid, p. 109.

viii “Itaśca Paṁsulaśreṣṭhī cirantananijāṅganāsaktijanitaṁ vairamanusmṛtya tīvratara–krodhāveśattaṁ munīndraṁ Gajakumāraṁ lohakīlakaiḥ kīlayitvā bahutarāṁ pīḍāṁ capādhya prapalāyyagataḥ | Munīndro`pi tathā vidhāṁ bādhāṁ soḍhvā dharmadhyānena svagantaḥ ||” – Ibid, p. 108.

ixAntakṛddaśāṅgasūtra, 3.8.

x “ṇimmamo ṇirahaṅkāro ṇikkasāo jidindio dhīro |

Aṇidāṇo diṭhisampaṇṇo maranto ārāhao hoi ||

ṇikkasāyassa dantassa sūrassa vavasāiṇo |

Saṁsārabhayabhīdassa paccakkhāṇaṁ suhaṁ have ||

Edaṁ paccakkhān,aṁ jo kāhidi maran,adesayālammi |

Dhīro amūḍhasaṇṇo so gacchai uttamaṁ ṭhāṇaṁ ||” – Mūlācāra, Pt. I, verses 103–05.

xi Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, verses 208. 264.

xii “Eyaṁ sarāgasaṁlehaṇāvihiṁ jai jai jaī samāyarai |

Ajjhappasañjuyamaī so pāvai kevalaṁ suddhiṁ ||” – Maraṇavibhakti, verse 187.


xv “Savvaṁ āhāravihiṁ saṇṇāo āsae kasāe ya |

Savvaṁ ceva mamattiṁ jahāmi savvaṁ khamāvemi |” – Mūlācāra, Pt. I, verse 111.

xvi “Savvaṁ āhāravihiṁ paccakkhāmi pāṇayaṁ vajja |

Uvahiṁ ca vosirāmi ya duvihaṁ tiviheṇasāvajjaṁ ||” – Ibid, verse 113.

xvii “ṇatthi bhayaṁ maraṇasamaṁ jammaṇasamaṁ ṇa vijjade dukkhaṁ |

jammaṇamaraṇādan’kaṁ chindi mamattiṁ sarīrādo ||” – Ibid, verse 119.

xviii “Paḍhama] savvadicāraṁ bidiyaṁ tivihaṁ bhave paḍikkamaṇaṁ |” – Ibid.

xix “Pāṇassa pariccayaṇaṁ jāvajjīvāyamuttamaṭṭhaṁ ca ||” – Ibid.

xx “Sallehaṇā ca duvihā abbhantariyā ya bāhirā ceva |

Abbhantarā kasāyesu bāhirā hodi hu sarīre ||” – Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, verse 208.

xxi “Savve rase paṇīde ṇijjūhitā du pattalukkheṇa |

Aṇṇadareṇuvadhāṇeṇa sallihai ya appayaṁ kamaso ||” – Ibid, verse 209.

xxii “Addhāṇasaṇaṁ savvāṇasaṇaṁ duvihaṁ tu aṇasaṇaṁ bhaṇiyaṁ |

Viharantasya ya addhāṇasaṇaṁ idaraṁ ca carimante ||” – Ibid, verse 211.

xxiii “Aṇupuvveṇāhāraṁ samvaṭṭato ya sallihai dehaṁ |

Divasuggahieṇa tveṇa cāvi sallehaṇaṁ kuṇai ||” – Ibid, verse 249.

xxiv “Ukkasaeṇa Bhattapaiṇṇākālo Jiṇehiṁ ṇiddiṭṭho |

Kālammi sampahutte bārasavarisāṇi puṇṇāṇi ||” – Ibid, verse 254.

xxv “Jogehiṁ vicittehiṁ du khavei saṁvaccharāṇi cattāri |

Viyaḍī ṇijjūhittā cattāri puṇo vi sosedi || – Ibid, verse 255.

Āyambilaṇivviyaḍīhiṁ doṇṇI āyambileṇa ekkaṁ ca |

Addha ṇādivigaṭṭhehiṁ ado addhaṁ vigaṭṭhehiṁ ||” – Ibid, verse 256.

xxvi “Taṁ vatthuṁ mottavvaṁ jaṁ paḍI uppajjade kasāyaggi |

Taṁ vatthumalliejjo jatthovasamo kasāyāṇaṁ ||” – Ibid, verse 264.

xxvii “ṇaccā samvaṭṭijjantamāugaṁ sigghameva to bhikkhū |

Arihantasiddhasāhūṇaṁ aṁmi sigghamāloce ||” – Ibid, verse 2017.

xxviii Ibid, verse 211.

Section – 3.5

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