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death with equanimity

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(Chapter III, cont.)

3.7 – 3.733

3.7 Other Works On Samādhimaraṇa –

Other important works of Digambara tradition devoted to the subject of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa, which also mention the flaws of this practice, are as follows: –

3.71 Gommaṭasāra –

In the Karmakāṇda section of this work by Ācārya Nemicandra Siddhantacakravartī of Gommaṭeśvara “Śraveṇabelagola” fame “Circa 7th Century AD” also mentions three ways “Cyut, Cyāvit and Tyakta” in which the soul leaves the bodyi and Bhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa, Iṅginīmaraṇa and Prāyopagamana–maraṇa as thethree kinds of desirable ways of renouncing the bodyii and describes them at some length.iii

3.72 Saṁskṛta Works On Samādhimaraṇa –

The following works, though not in the Śaurasenī Prākṛta language, form an important part of treatises on monastic and lay followers’ conduct and cover the subject of Samādhimaraṇa either wholly or in sufficient details to warrant a mention here: –

A. Samādhimaraṇotsāha–DīpakaivAs suggested by its title itself, this important work, by Ācārya Sakalakīrti Gaṇi, is wholly devoted to the subject of Samādhimaraṇa. At the very outset, the author encourages the aspirant for the practice of Samādhimaraṇa by praising it and narrating its gains and goes on to say as to when and why it should be practised. He follows it up by mentioning suitable place for this practice and describing the procedure including those for body–weakening and passion–weakening.

He urges the aspirant practitioners to endure the hardships of hunger and thirst by describing the desperate hunger and thirst that he had to endure as a human being or as a subhuman creature or a hellish being. He also encourages the aspirants to endure the hardships of like, dislike and disease and emphasises the purity of the practices related to right–belief, right–knowledge, right–conduct and austerities while devoting their time in the contemplation of the religious duties.

He goes on to tell them about the contemplation of twelve detachment promoting thoughts, scriptural study that gives the right knowledge and perspective, ten monastic duties, twenty–five flaws of five great vows and ways to avoid them, sixteen contemplations for ensuring purity of belief and the basic monastic virtues “mūla guṇa”.

He prescribes the purest form of contemplation of the self and follows it up with the statement of the gains to be gained therefrom.

Towards the end the treatise is summed up with the mention of the results to be gained by the superior, medium and inferior types of practices and says that the results are commensurate with the quality of end–practice and rigoursness undergone by the kṣapaka.

B. TattvārthasūtravThe seventh chapter of thismost important set of Jaina maxims, by Ācārya Umāsvami, deals with the subject of Sallekhanā–Samādhi–maraṇa and mentions its importance, procedure, flaws of practice and its result. The treatment of the subject is emphatic and brings out all essential and important aspects of this practice in a clear and concise manner.

C. Sāgāra Dharmāmṛtavi This work on the lay followers’ conduct by Pt. Ashadhar maintains that a person can endeavour for final liberation even while staying a householder. Its eighth chapter deals with the subject of Sallekhanā– Samādhimaraṇa and covers various aspects of its importance, form, procedure, suitable place, suitable bed, body and passion weakening practices and clearly distinguishes it from suicide. It also deals with the practice–flaws of Samādhi–maraṇa and describes its supplementary practices.

D. Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāravii Also known as ‘Ratnakaraṇḍa Upāsaka–Adhyayana’ and ‘Samicīna Dharmaśāstra’, it is one of the most authentic treatise on the subject of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa by a lay follower of the Jaina faith. The subject of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa has been dealt with in great detail in the sixth chapter entitled ‘Sallekhanā Adhikāra’ or ‘Sadvratādhikāra’, which deals with its importance, form, procedure, result and flaws and also describes the grandeur of the heavens and the eternal bliss of final liberation that can be attained through this practice. It emphasises the weakening of passions and detachment from the mundane by the aspirant and says that those who practise it with due procedure and in the right frame of mind surely attain final liberation or nirvāṇa.

E. Vasunandī ŚrāvakācāraviiiVasunandi Śrāvakacāratakes up the subject ofSallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa as the twelfth practice in the second vrata and as opposed to the Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra, that makes no distinction between the practice of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa by an ascetic or a lay follower, it allows the lay followers to retain their clothes while practising this lay followers’ fourth educational vow. Clearly, it recommends the practice of the exceptional procedure mentioned in the Mūlārādhanā “Bhagavatī Ārādhanā”.ix

3.73 Flaws Of Samādhimaraṇa As Mentioned In These Works –

The flaws of the practice of Samādhimaraṇa given in Upāsakadaśāṅga and Tattvārthasūtra have been mentioned in the second chapter at section 2.55. Given hereunder are the flaws of Samādhimaraṇa as mentioned in the works of the Digambara tradition like Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra, Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya and Sāgāradharmāmṛta.

3.731 Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra

Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra mentions five flaws of the practice of Samādhi–maraṇa as 1. Jivitāśaṁsā, 2. Maraṇāśaṁsā, 3. Bhayāśaṁsā, 4. Mitra–anurāgāśaṁsā and 5. Nidānāśaṁsā.x Their description is as follows: –

  1. Jīvitāśaṁsā “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 desire to live on for some more time so that all this happiness may continue.

  2. Maraṇāśaṁsā “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 aspirant practitioner may suffer all these but still desire to die quickly so that all this unhappiness may end.

  3. Bhayānuśaṁsā “Apprehension or fear” – To have apprehension about the practice of Samādhimaraṇa is Bhayānuśaṁsā. It is of two types as under: –

    1. Ihaloka Bhaya – To have the apprehension that the practice of Sallekhanā is very tedius and it will result in great pain to my body. If it does not yield the desired result of spiritual emancipation, all that pain and trouble will be in vain. Such thoughts, actuated by the desire to enjoy earthly pleasures, are termed as Ihaloka Bhaya.

    2. Paraloka Bhaya – To have the apprehension as to whether such a rigorous practice will actually result in desired fruition in the life hereafter, is called Paraloka Bhaya.

  1. Mitrasmṛti Aticāra “Affection for the friends” – The Practice of ‘Voluntary Peaceful Death’ entails certain death and the aspirant practitioner may remember the good time spent with his near and dear ones such as his/her family, relatives and friends and feel that his practice will certainly result in separation from them. Such memory may, eventually, disturb his state of equanimity and render the practice far from being peaceful.

  2. Nidāna Aticāra “The flaw of making a binding wish” – Nidāna means 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. So, he may be tempted to make a binding wish “Nidāna” and compromise his chances of karmic separation and resultant liberation.

3.732 Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya

Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya also mentions five flaws as follows:–

      1. Jivitāśaṁsā, 2. Maraṇāśaṁsā, 3. Sahṛdayānurāga 4. Sukhā–nubandha and 5. Nidāna.xi Their description is given below –

  1. Jīvitāśaṁsā “The desire to live on” – Same as in the last section.

  2. Maraṇāśaṁsā “The desire to die quickly” – Same as in the last section.

  3. Sahṛdayānurāga “Affection for the near and dear ones” – This flaw is similar to Mitrānurāga aticāra described in the last section.

  4. Sukhānubandha “Attachment for previously enjoyed pleasures” – If a kṣapaka recalls worldly and sensual pleasures enjoyed by him in the past when he lead a householder’s life, it will disturb his state of equanimity and compromise his chances of peaceful death.

  5. Nidāna “Binding Wish”– Same as in the last section.

3.733 Sāgāra Dharmāmṛta

Sāgāra Dharmāmṛta also lists five flaws of the practice of Samādhi–maraṇa as 1. Jivitāśaṁsā, 2. Maraṇāśaṁsā, 3. Mitrānurāga 4. Sukhānubandha and 5. Nidāna.xii Their description is same as in the last section.

When we examine these flaws carefully, we realize that all of them are actuated by worldly attachment and consequent desires and fears and that these six are essentially the same as the five mentioned earlier. The fear–flaw mentioned by the author of Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra is the same as the fear of being deprived of the pleasures of this life and that of not gaining the worldly or heavenly pleasures in the following birth.

i See section 3.13 and end–note 23 for details.

ii “Bhattapaiṇṇāiṅgiṇipāoggavihīhiṁ cattamidi tivihaṁ |”

Gommaṭasāra ‘Karmakāṇḍa’, verse 59.

iii See section 3.32 with end–note 195 qnd section 3.33 with end–note 210 for details.

iv Samādhimaraṇotsāha–Dīpaka, Śrī Sakalakīrti Gaṇi, Hindi Tr. Pt. Hiralal Jain Siddhantashastri, Veera Seva Mandir Trust, varanasi, 1984.

v Tattvārthasūtra, vācaka Umāsvāti, ‘Comm.’ Pt. Sukhlal Sanghvi, Eng Tr. Dr. K.K. Dixit, L. D. Institute of Indology, Ahmedabad,

vi Dharmāmṛta ‘Sāgāra’, Pt. Ashadhar, ‘Ed.’ Pt. Kailashachandra Shastri, Bhartiya Jnanapeeth, Delhi, 1978.

vii Samantabhadra, Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra, B. A. V. Prishad, Muzaffaranagar, 1997.

viii Vasunandī Śrāvakācāra, Ed. Dr. Bhagchandra Bhaskar, Parshvanatha Vidyapeeth, Varanasi, 1999.

ix Ibid, verses 271–72 and explanation at pp. 269–70. Also refer to section 3.3111’2’ and end–note 64 for details.

x “Jīvitamaraṇaśaṁse bhayamitrasmṛtinidānanāmānaḥ |

Sallekhanāticārāḥ pañca Jinendrauḥ samādiṣt,āḥ ||” – Ratnakaraṇḍa Śrāvakācāra, 5.8.

xi “Jīvitamaraṇaśaṁse suhṛdanurāgaḥ sukhānubandhaśca |

Sanidānaḥ pañcaite bhavanti Sallekhanākāle ||” – Puruṣārthasiddhyupāya, verse 195.

xii “Jīvitamaraṇaśaṁse suhṛdanurāgaḥ sukhānubandhamajan |

Sanidānaṁ saṁstaragaścarecca Sallekhanā vidhinā ||” – Sāgāra Dharmāmṛta, 8.46

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