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death with equanimity

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(Chapter III, cont.)

3.6 – 3.62

3.6 Voluntary Peaceful Death In Śaurasenī Canonical Literature –

From the foregoing sections it must have become amply clear that the subject of Samādhimaraṇa or Voluntary Peaceful Death has been dealt with in great detail in the Śaurasenī canonical, canon–equivalent and other explanatory works of Digambara tradition. Given in the following subsections is a summation of such coverage in the major works of this genere.

3.61 Mūlacāra –

Mūlācāra, by Ācārya Vaṭṭkera, is one of the most ancient and authentic works dealing with the subject of monastic conduct of the Digamabara or ‘sky–clad “naked”’ monks. The subject of Samādhimaraṇa has been covered in its second chapter entitled ‘Vṛhatpratyākhyānasaṁstarastava’.

According to this work Samādhimarṇa is the fast unto death, undertaken till the life ebbs aout of the body when it “the body” becomes weak and unable to perform its duties like scriptural study, service to self and the others, penance and austerities and monastic and lay followers’ duties in general and it becomes a burden and the cause of many a sinful act. The aspirant who wishes to undertake this penance first vows to renounce all external and internal material and volitional encumbrance by his body, mind and speech and only then takes the vow of a fast unto death or ‘Yāvajjīvana Anaśana Tapa’ or ‘Nirā–kāṅkṣa Anaśana Tapa’.i

Mūlācāra mentions three types of fasts unto death – Bhaktapratyākhyāna, Iṅginī and Prāyopagamna.iiIt also contains detailed descriptions of the form and practice of Samādhimaraṇa including the eligibility of the aspirant practitioner as well as his enthusiasm for undertaking and maintaining this critical practice. This work attaches so much importance to this practice that it calls it the Nirvāṇadvāra or the door to liberation.iii

3.62 Bhagavatī Ārādhanā –

Also known as Mūlārādhanā, Bhagavatī Ārādhanā, by Ācārya Śivakoṭi “Śivārya”, is the biggest treatise devoted entirely to the subject of Voluntary Peaceful Death or Samādhimaraṇa. In its 2164 verses it describes, in great detail, the seventeen types of deaths “Āvīci, etc”, three kinds of SamādhimaraṇaBhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa “It is the type of Voluntary Peaceful Death in which an aspirant practitioner or kṣapaka enjoys full freedom of movement and service by self or assistance by the others. It is again either well–considered – Savicāra or emergent – Avicāra of which the Savicāra type may extend up to a period of twelve years”, Iṅginīmaraṇa “It is the type of Voluntary Peaceful Death in which an aspirant practitioner or kṣapaka curtails his freedom of movement to a restricted area and serves his own needs excluding assistance by the others.” and Prāyopa–gamanamaraṇa “It is the type of Voluntary Peaceful Death in which an aspirant practitioner or kṣapaka renounces all movement and service and lies at a selected place like a fallen tree”.iv Besides, it also contains details of forty considerations such as eligibility of the kṣapaka, etc and the twelve contemplations “Dvādaśa Anuprekṣā” that must accompany this practice. In addition, it also contains the detailed descriptions of several aspirants who undertook the practice of Samādhi–maraṇa under various circumstances.

At the very outset it contains verses that highlight the importance, utility, form, kinds etc of Samādhimaraṇa.v The section devoted to the types of death mentions various kinds such as Avīcimaraṇa, Tadbhavamaraṇa, Avadhimaraṇa, Vaihāyasamaraṇa, Pṛṣṭhamaraṇa, Bālamaraṇa, Bālapaṇḍitamaraṇa, Paṇḍitamaraṇa, etc. and their detailed descriptions as well.vi The section on Bhaktapratyākhyāna–maraṇa describes this type of Samādhimaraṇa in great detail by mentioning forty considerations of undertaking SavicāraBhaktapratyākhyāna–maraṇa, some of which are also variously applicable to the practices of Avicāra Bhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa, Iṅginīmaraṇa and Prāyopagamanamaraṇa. These considerations include all relevant issues such as the eligibility of the aspirant practiotioner desirous of undertaking this practice “Arihā”, his identity “Liṅga : renunciational – nude or exceptional –clothed”, his level of scriptural study “Śikṣā”, Vinaya, suitable supervising monk or Ācārya “Niryāpakācārya” and assistants “niryāpakas”, atonement for one’s flaws by confessing, criticising, condemning, and observing the expiation awarded by the Niryāpakācārya, the result of undertaking such a practice “Phala” and the disposal of the dead body after the conclusion “Parityāga”, etc.vii

This work also mentions the names and brief indications of those aspirants who embraced Voluntary Peaceful Deaths by adopting various means. These include the names of Dharmasimha, ṛṣabhasena, Jayasena, Thakatāla, Sukumāla, Gajakumāra, Sukauśala, etc.viii

Where relavant, this work also contains the descriptions of the practices to weaken the passions, the means of karmic influx, bondage, stoppage and separation as well as hellish miseries and the eternal bliss of final liberation.

We can say that this is the most complete treatise on the subject of Samādhi–maraṇa that has not left any relevant issue untouched.

iMūlācāra, 3.113, 114.

ii “Bhattapaiṇṇā Ingiṇī Pāuvagamaṇāṇi jāṇi maraṇāṇi |

Aṇṇevi evamādī bodhavvā ṇiravakaṅkhāṇi ||” – Ibid, 349.

iii Mulācāra Pt. I, verses 92–107.

iv See section 3.3 for details.

vBhagavatī Ārādhanā, verses 1–46.

vi Ibid, 25–28.

vii Ibid, verses 64–2023.

viii Ibid, verses 2062–70 and 2155–56.

Section – 3.7

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