death with equanimity



Chapter – V

comparative study of  VOLUNTARY PEACEFUL DEATH

in Prākṛta, Pāli and Other Sacred Texts

5.1 – 5.11

5.1 Introductory –

We have seen, in chapters II–IV, that the subject of Voluntary Peaceful Death or Sallekahanā–Samādhimaraṇa has received a wide coverage in both the Arddhamāgahī and Śaurasenī Prākṛta literature of the Śvetāmbara and Digambara traditions of the Jainas. Though the Pāli literature of the Buddhists does not deal with the subject of Sallekhanā and Samādhimaraṇa as such, its pages are full of instances where the Buddhist monks had embraced voluntary deaths for one reason or the other and it had received the approval of Tathāgata Buddha himself. The Hindu and other religious traditions also approve of voluntary deaths under varying circumstances, which either makes the performance of one’s duties impossible or in defence of one’s righteousness, virtues and faith when they are threatened.

5.11 Types Of Deaths –

In Arddhamāgadhī literature the Ācāraṅga mentions three types of Samādhi–maraṇa or Voluntary Peaceful Death, namely Bhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa, Iṅginīmaraṇa and Prāyopagamanamaraṇa,ithe Sthānāṅgaii and the Vyākhyā–prajñapti iii mention fourteen types of deaths “two of the auspicious types and twelveiv of the inauspicious types” each while the Samavāyāṅgav mentions seventeen types of deaths of which eight “Bālapaṇḍitamaraṇa, Paṇḍitamaraṇa, Kevalīmaraṇa, Vaihāyasa–maraṇa, Gṛddhapṛṣṭha–maraṇa, Bhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa, Iṅginīmaraṇa and Prāyopagamanamaraṇa” are considered spiritually auspicious and rewarding while the other nine are not. The Uttarā–dhyayanasūtra mentions Sakāma–maraṇa as the spiritually beneficial type of death while Akāmamaraṇa as otherwise.vi Amongst the Prakīrṇakas the Maraṇavibhakti mentions Paṇḍitamaraṇa, Saśalyamaraṇa and Nih<śalyamaraṇaviiwhile Bhaktaparijñā mentions three kinds of Abhyudyata–maraṇaBhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa, Iṅginīmaraṇa and Prāyopa–gamanamaraṇa” and two subtypes of Bhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa as well. viii

In Śaurasenī literature, the Mūlācāra mentions a three–fold classification of death as, Bālamaraṇa “ignorant death of the false–beliefed part–restrained aspirant”, Bāla–paṇḍitamaraṇa “mixed death of the right–beliefed but only part restrained aspirant”, and Paṇḍitamaraṇa “enlightened death”ix while Mūlāradhanā “Bhagavatī Ārādhanā” mentions seventeen types as mentioned in the third chapter.x However, Samādhi–maraṇotsāha– dīpaka, a Saṁskṛta treatise on the subject of Voluntary Peaceful Death by Ācārya Sakalakīrti Gaṇi mentions seven types of death – Bāla–bāla–maraṇa “The most ignorant death of the false–beliefed aspirant”, Bālamaraṇa, Bāla–paṇḍitamaraṇa, three types of PaṇḍitamaraṇaBhaktapratyākhyānamaraṇa, Iṅginīmaraṇa and Prāyopa–gamanamaraṇa” and Paṇḍita–paṇḍitamaraṇa “the most enlightened death of the omniscient Kevalis”.xi

The Pali literature of the Buddhists does not mentions specific types of death from the point of view of spiritual benefit or otherwise, there are a number of instances of voluntary deaths available in its various treatises such as Dhammapada “Vakkali”xii, Saṁyuktanikāya “Vakkali Kulaputraxiii, Bhikśu Channaxiv and Godhikāxv“, Theragāthā “Nahātaka–muni xvi“, Therigātha “Siṁhāxvii“, Dīghanikāya “Pāay-sixviiietc. Some of these voluntary deaths “like that of Vakkali Kulaputra, Bhikṣu Channa, Godhikā, Nahātakamuni, Megharāj xixand Uttaraxxcould be compared to Voluntary Peaceful Death but most of them were undertaken for reasons other than attaining spiritual emancipation and fall short of this distinction.

In this chapter we aim to compare and contrast the concept of voluntary deaths in general and that of Voluntary Peaceful Death or Samādhimaraṇa in particular as dealt with in the last three chapters as also in other religious text of Indian and foreign origins.


Section – 5.1

Ācārāṅga, Pt. I, ‘Ed.’ Madhukarmuni, Agam Prakashan Samiti, Beawar, pp. 278, 290, 294.

ii Sthānāṅga, Madhukarmuni, Agam Prakashan Samiti, Beawar, 2/4/411.

iiiVyākhyāprajñapti, ‘Ed.’ Madhukarmuni, Agam Prakashan Samiti, Beawar, 2/1/26.

iv Also see Uttarādhyayana Niryukti Pt. II. Devacandra Lalbhai Jain Pustakoddhāra Samiti, Mumbai, 1916, pp. 237–38.

vSamavāyāṅgasūtra, ‘Ed.’ Madhukarmuni, Agam Prakashan Samiti, Beawar, verse 121, p. 53.

vi “Santime duve ṭhāṇā akkhāyā māraṇantiyā |

Akāma–maraṇaṁ ceva Sakāmamaraṇaṁ tahā ||” – Uttarādhyayanasūtra, 5.2.

viiMaraṇavibhattipaiṇṇayaṁ, Paiṇṇayasuttāiṁ, Muni Puṇyavijayaji, Mahaveer Jaina Vidyalaya, Mumbai, 1984, verses 22–44 and 51, 52.

viiiBhattapariṇṇāpaiṇṇyaṁ, Paiṇṇayasuttāiṁ ibid, verses 5–9.

ixMūlācāra Pt. I, Vaṭṭakera, verses 92–107.

x This thesis, Chapter III, section 3.11.

xi Samādhimaraṇotsahadīpaka, verses 11, 12. Also refer to section 3.11 and end–note 22 of chapter III.

xii This thesis, Chapter IV, sec. 4.43 and end–note 25

xiii Ibid, sec 4.44, and notes 27–31.

xiv Ibid, sec 4.44, and end–notes 32–40.

xv Ibid, sec 4.44, and end–note 26.

xvi Ibid, sec 4.46 ‘4’, and end–note 46.

xvii Ibid, sec 4.46 ‘3’, and end–note 45.

xviii Ibid, sec 4.46 ‘2’, and end–note 44.

xix Ibid, sec 4.46 ‘6’, and end–note 49.

xx Ibid, sec 4.46 ‘7’, and end–note 50.

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