—————————————————————————————————————————

death with equanimity

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Chapter VI

INCIDENCE AND PRACTICE of Voluntary Deaths in Modern Times

6.1 – 6.223

6.1 Introductory –

The Jaina lore – scriptural as well as inscriptional is replete with the mentions of tradition of ‘Voluntary Peaceful Deaths’ practiced by the followers of this faith from prehistoric period through the present times. The earliest mentions are in respect of Lord ṛṣabhadeva, the first prophet “Tīrthaṅkara or ‘Ford maker’” and His disciples that lived immeasurable time ago before the advent of recorded history or even the myth. These mentions are followed by those in respect of the twenty–three Prophets and their disciples that followed. The period up to the twenty–second Tīrthankara – Bhagvān Ariṣṭanemi “a cousin of Lord Kṛṣṇa” may be considered as prehistoric or mythological because no recorded history but only mythological mentions pertaining to that period are available. The first historical mentions pertain to Bhagvān Pārśvanātha “the twenty–third Tīrthaṅkara” and his disciples followed by those in respect of the last and twenty–fourth Tīrthankara, Bhagvān Mahāvīra, and his disciples to date.

In this chapter I have made an attempt to critically survey the available mentions of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa by grouping them in the following groups: –

  1. Scriptural Evidence relating to the prehistoric period,

  2. Inscriptional Evidence relating to the ancient and medieval period, and

  3. Journalistic Evidence relating to the modern era.

I have also researched into the incidence and practice of ‘Voluntary Peaceful Death’ in the country in the last ten years in order to determine the statistical trends and the methodology followed in respect of this practice in the modern times.

I have studied, in detail, ten prominent cases – with a fair representation of cases from the sky–clad “Digambara” and white–clad “Śvetāmbara” traditions – of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa. I have analysed these cases in detail and presented the findings in this chapter.

6.2 Jaina Tradition Of Samādhimaraṇa –

The available evidence proves that there has been a long standing tradition of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa in the Jaina way of life. This evidence can be divided into three clear–cut divisions – Scriptural, Inscriptional and Journalistic. These relate to the prehistoric period, ancient and medieval periods and modern times. These are being discussed in the sub–sections that follow.

6.22 Scriptural Evidence –

The scriptural evidence of the practice of Sallekhanā–Samādhimaraṇa relates to the period of time ranging from prehistoric period of Bhagvān ṛṣabhadeva to the ancient historic period of Bhagvān Mahāvīra. We have already discussed in the earlier chapters that the Arddhamāgadhī Jaina scriptures – primary as well as subsidiary refer to the practice of Samādhimaraṇa since the very beginning of the revival of the faith, in the current descendent time cycle, by Bhagvān ṛṣabhadevaiin the hoary past and goes on to mention the adherence to this practice by the Tīrthaṅkaras and their disciples down the ages. The Kalpasūtra and the Antakṛddaśaṅga contain detailed descriptions of the end–practices of Samādhimarṇa by the way of fasting unto death “anaśana” by Bhagvān Ariṣṭanemi and His disciplesii in the mythological age and Bhagvān Pārśvanātha iiiand Bhagvān Mahāvīra and His disciplesiv in the ancient historical age.Besides these, too, the subject of Samādhimaraṇa has been dealt with in primary canonical works like Ācāraṅga,v Sthānāṅga,vi Samavāyāṅga,vii Vyākhyāprajñapti,viii Uv-sagadasāo,ix Aṇuttarovavāiyadasāoxand the subsidiary canonical works like Uttarādhyayanasūtra,xi Daśavaikālika,xiietc. The Prakīrṇakas like Maraṇasamādhi, Āturpratyākhyān, Mahāpratyākhyān, Saṁstāraka, Ārādhanāsāra/ Paryantārādhanā, Bhaktaparijñā and Ārādhanāpatākā also deal with this subject in all possible details and these have already been discussed in the second chapter of this thesis.xiii These works not only spell out the precept but also give instances of aspirants who practised Samādhimaraṇa and achieved the ultimate fruit of spiritual emancipation. The Saṁstāraka Prakīrṇaka mentions the instances of fifteen such aspirants such as Arṇikāputra, Skandhaka, Daṇḍa, Sukośala, etc.xiv Such instances have also been mentioned in other Prakīrṇakas dealing with the subject of Samādhimaraṇa.

Amongst the Śaurasenī canonical works of the sky–clad tradition of Jainas Bhagavatī Ārādhanāxv is wholly devoted to the subject of Samādhimaraṇa and it deals with it in great detail and also mentions the instances of aspirants, such as Dharmasimha, ṛṣabhasena, Jayasena, Thakatāla, Sukumāla, Gajakumāra, Sukauśala, etc, who practised Samādhimaraṇa.xviMūlacāraxvii also deals with its precept and practice in sufficient detail.

6.22 Inscriptional Evidence –

Inscriptional evidence relates to ancient and medieval periods and are valuable to establish the fact that the practice of Samādhimaraṇa has been in vogue amongst the followers of the Jaina faith for long. The rock–inscriptions are incontrovertible proofs to the extent that any corruption in their contents is almost impossible. To this extent they prove the historicity of this practice. The details about the rock–inscriptions in respect of almost two hundred cases pertaining to the practice of Samādhimaraṇa have been very laboriously and painstakingly compiled from ‘Epigraphia Carnāticā’ and ‘Jaina Śilālekha Saṅgraha’ by two eminent scholars – Justice T.K.Tukol and Dr. Rajjankumar and included in their works entitled ‘Sallekhanā Is Not Suicide’ and ‘Samādhimaraṇa’ respectively. Some of the pertinent details elicited from these sources are given in the following sections in their chronological order.

6.221 The Ancient Period –

As far as the ancient period “from pre Christian era to the seventh century AD” of Jaina history is concerned, the evidence is available in the form of rock–inscriptions. Most of the available rock–inscriptions are from Karnāṭaka but there are some from the north as well. The following details about the rock–inscriptions pertaining to the practice of Samādhimaraṇa, elicited from various records of these rock–inscriptions, prove that this practice was a desirable part of Jaina spiritual practices and that it has been prevalent in the Jaina society since much before the Christian era to the medieval period as well : –

The Inscriptional Evidence Pertaining To The Ancient Period –

Serial No.

Period

Place

Name

Lineage

Reference

Remarks

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1.

250 BC

Cikkābeṭṭā “Candragiri” Śravaṇabelgol

Prabhācandra “Candragupta”

Bhadrabāhu’s disciple

JSSxviii–I, Ins. 1;

ECxix–II, Ins. 1

Ins. Dt. 650 AD.

2.

650 AD

Kaṭavapra Hill

Ācārya Ariṣṭanemi

EC–II, Ins. 4

3.

650 AD

Panapa Bhaṭṭāraka

From Nedumbore

JSS–I, 6; EC–II, 6

1 Month’s fast

4.

Ugrasenaguru

Paḍḍiniguru’s disciple

JSS–I, 8; EC–II, 8

Do

5.

Jambu Nāyagir

EC–II, Ins. 5

1 Month’s fast

6.

650 AD

Candragiri

Baladevamuni

Kanakasena’s disciple

EC–II, Ins. 17

7.

650 AD

Candragiri

Upavāsapara

Vṛṣabhanandi

EC–II, Ins. 75

8.

700 AD

Candragiri

Nāgamati Gantiyara

JSS–I, 2; EC–II, 2

3 Monts’ fast

9.

700 AD

Candragiri

Muni Cāritraśrī

JSS–I, 3; EC–II, 7

10.

Guṇasena

Muni Guru

JSS–I,9; EC–II, 9

11.

700 AD

Baladevaguru

Dharmasenaguru

JSS–I, 5; EC–II, 10

Onemonth’s fast

12.

700 AD

Candragiri

Akṣayakīrti

From Mathurā

EC–II, Ins. 22

Bitten by asnake

13.

700 AD

Dhaṇṇe Kularevi Gurāvi

Perumal Guru

JSS–I,11; EC–II, 10

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

14.

Kalāvirguru

EC–II, Ins. 13

21 days’ fast

15.

Nāgasena

ṛṣabhasena’s disciple

JSS–I,14; EC–II, 14

16.

700 AD

Candragiri

Simhanandi

JSS–I,19; EC–II, 19

17.

700 AD

Mt. ṛṣi, Kalavappu

Ācārya Candradeva

JSS–I, 17; EC–II, 31

18.

700 AD

Candragiri

Sādhvī Anantamati

Nimilur Saṅgha

JSS–I,18; EC–II, 35

19.

700 AD

Mt. ṛṣi, Kalavappu

Guṇadevasūri

JSS–I,160; EC–II, 23

20.

700 AD

Tīrthagiri Ralavappu

Sasimati Ganti

JSS–I, 35; EC–II, 76

21.

700 AD

Nandisena

JSS–I, 26; EC–II, 83

22.

700 AD

Tīrthagiri

Mahādeva Munipuṅgava

JSS–I,193; EC–II, 80

23.

700 AD

Do

Sādhvi Rāgyimati Ganti

Nimelur Saṅgha

JSS–I,194; EC–II, 97

24.

700 AD

Do

Nandimuni

JSS–I,194; EC–II, 111

6.222 The Medieval Period –

The incidents of Samādhimaraṇa reported in the rock–inscriptions of Karnataka for the medieval period ranging from the eighth century AD to the sixteenth century AD are as follows: –

Ser No.

Period

Place

Name

Lineage

Reference

Remarks

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1.

982 AD

Śraveṇabelgola

King Indrarājā IV

Raṣtrakūṭa

SNS,xx III, p. 28

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

2.

1050 AD

Titaramad

Kivirāyya

JSS–IV, 431; EC–II, 54

3.

1050 AD

Nallur

Jakkiyabbe

Kasturi Bhattaraka

JSS–II, 140; EC–I, 100

4.

1064 AD

Mullur

Guṇasena Pt. Deva

Nandi Sangha

EC–II, 71

5.

1090 AD

Kallu Basti

Boppavve

W/o Canḍimayya

EC–VIII, 198

6.

1093 AD

Do

Śubhacandra Deva

Mula Saṅgha

EC–VIII, 199

7.

1103 AD

Tīrthahalli

Cāligā Senbovā

Padmaprabhdeva

JSS–III, 468; EC–VIII, 191

8.

1113 AD

Mysore Area

Buci Raja

Mula Sangha

JSS–IV, 387; EC–II, 59

9.

1115 AD

Meghcandra Traividyadeva

Mula Sangha

EC–II, 47

10.

1120 AD

Yarad Kaṭṭe Basadi

Demiyakkā

JSS–IV, 314; EC–II, 49

11.

1123 AD

Candragiri

Śubhacandra Deva

Maladhari Munindra

EC–II, 43

12.

1129 AD

Candragiri

Mallisena Maladharideva

Maladhari Munindra

JSS–IV, 303; EC–II, 54

13.

1130 AD

Candragiri –Kancina ḍone

Tribhuvanamalla Caladaka Rāya

Digambara Layman

EC–II, 68

14.

1139 AD

Candragiri

Simgamayya

Guru Prabhacandra

JSS–I, 52; EC–II, 52

15.

12th Cent. AD

Huluhalli

Candrakīrti and disciples

JSS–III, 571

16.

1174 AD

Karadalu

Haryyal<e

Mūla Saṅgha

JSS–III, 383; EC–XII, 93

17.

1174 AD

Karadalu

Harihardevi

Mūla Saṅgha

JSS–III, 384; EC–XII, 94

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

18.

1186 AD

Belagami

Padmiyakke

W/o Malsetti

JSS–III, 420; EC–VII, 148

19.

1190 AD

Coorg

Jakkiyabbe

Digambara nun

JSS–II, 183; SNS, III, p.33

20.

12–14th C. AD

Heggere

Meghcandra

JSS–III, 364

21.

12–14th C. AD

Mysore Area

Nemisetti

Guru Nayakirti

JSS–IV, 379; EC–V, 134

22.

1245 AD

Hummach

Soyidevi

Guru Balacandra Deva

JSS–III, 500; EC–VIII, 53

23.

1300 AD

Bastihalli

Ramcandra Maldharideva

Guru Balacandra Pt. Deva

JSS–III, 584; EC–V, 134

24.

1311 AD

Kalandi “Gujrat”

A congregation of

Jainas

SNS, III, p. 58

25.

1352 AD

Hullanahalli

Perumālu Mahiṣa

EC–VIII, 110

26.

1356 AD

Hullanahalli

Candrakīrti Vratīndra

JSS–II, 545; EC–VIII, 110

27.

1368 AD

Hullanahalli

Allambe

EC–VIII, 110

28.

1352 AD

Hullanahalli

Perumālu Mahiṣa

EC–VIII, 110

29.

1354 AD

Maysore Area

Maragaunda

Digambara layman

JSS–IV, 610; EC–VIII, 102

30.

1395 AD

Kāmigaunḍi

Dig. lay woman

JSS–III, 594; EC–VIII, 109

31.

1398 AD

Hummach

Pāyaṇṇa

S/o Mālappa

JSS–III, 597; EC–VIII, 111

32.

1403 AD

Hire Avali

Bommigaundi

Guru Maldharideva

EC–II, Ins. 105

33.

1420 AD

Hire Avali

Gopa Gauda

Guru Munivratasvami

EC–VIII, Ins. 117

34.

1421 AD

Hire Avali

Maduka Gauda

S/o Bechigauda

EC–II, Ins. 126

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

35.

1643 AD

Tavarekere

Carukirti Pt. Yati

EC–II, Ins. 142

6.223 The Modern Period –

The incidents of Samādhimaraṇa reported in a Karnataka rock–inscription and those reported in various newspapers and periodicals from time to time for the period after the 16th century to 1993 AD, as elicited from the available issues, are as follows: –

Ser No.

Date

Place

Name

Lineage

Reference

Remarks

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

1.

1809 AD

Bhadrabāhu Cave

Ajitkīrti Devaru

Desigaṇa, Kundakundānvaya

EC–II, Ins. 72

I Month’s fast unto death

2.

1832 AD

Udaipur

Ācā. Narasimhadasji

Shve. Sthanakvasi

AAGxxi, p. 143

1 day

3.

1885 AD

Nathadvara

Ācā. Manji Svami

Do

Ibid, p. 150

Do

4.

1930 AD

Vallabhanagar

Eklingdasji M.

Do

Ibid, p. 167

Do

5.

1934 AD

Venichandji M.

Do

Ibid. P. 162

Do

6.

1939 AD

Kunwariya

Jodhrajji M.

Do.

Ibid, p. 180

Do

7.

1945 AD

Jodhpur

Mu. Shambhuramji

Do

SMR,xxii p. 179

7 days’ fast unto death

8.

1949 AD

Mu. Banvarilalji

Do

SMR, p. 179

10 days’ fast unto death

9.

Jodhpur

Mu. Kriparamji

Do

SMR, p. 179

19 days’ fast unto death

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

10.

1953 AD

Delhi

Mu. Moharsimhji

Do

SMR, p. 179

4 days’ fast unto death

11.

1954 AD

Rayapur

Sā Kerkunwarji

Do

Ibid, p. 192

Do

12.

18-09-55

Kuntalagiri

Ācārya Śāntisāgrji

Mu. Devendrakīrti

SNS, VIII, p.98.

40 days’ end–practice.

13.

1963 AD

Sahada

Mangilalji M.

Shve. Sthanakvasi

AAG, p. 186

1 day

14.

09-10-64

Beawar

Sa. Dalavatī

Shve. Terapanth

SKYxxiii

18 days’ fast unto death

15.

-

Jatwada

Sa. Goranji

Shve. Terapanth

SKY

8 days’ fast unto death

16.

1967 AD

Sā. Sajjankunwar

Shve. Sthanakvasi

AAG, p. 193

1 day

17.

21-09-73

Baramati

Mu. Bhadrabāhu

Mu. S&reyāṁsasāgar

SNS, III, p. 59.

5 days’ end–practice.

18.

24-09-73

Gajapantha

Mu. Sudharmasāgar ji

Kṣu. Vijayakīrti

SNS, III, p. 58.

43 days’ end–practice.

19.

23-03-77

Bashi

Ācā. Ādisāgar Aṅkalikar

JMxxiv/96/23–24/169

20.

10-04-78

Ludhiyana

Sā. Lajjavantiji

Shve. Sthanakvasi

SMR, p. 180

10 days’ fast unto death

21.

04-05-78

Kundevadi

Smt. Sitabai Nahar

Shve. Sthanakvasi

SMR, p. 179–80

52 days’ fast unto death

22.

14-04-80

Ratlam

Sā. Hagamkunwarji

Shve. Sthanakvasi

SMR, p. 180

57 days’ fast unto death

23.

24-05-83

Kṣu. Jinendra Varṇi

Digambara Tradition

SMR, p. 180

42 days end–practice

24.

28-10-85

Asind

Ganeshlal Kanthed

Shve. Terapanth

SKY

9 days’ fast unto death

25.

Ladnun

Sā. Kiraṇkumariji

Shve. Terapanth

SMR, p. 180

53 days’ fast unto death

26.

02-06-87

Ladnun

Sā. Kiranyasha

Shve. Terapanth

SKY

50 days’ fast unto death

27.

13-07-87

Ghodnadi

Hirabai Barmecha

SMR, p. 180

45 days’ fast unto death

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

28.

02-08-87

Fatehpur

Sā. Likhamavatji

Shve. Sthanakvasi

SMR, p. 180

24 days’ fast unto death

29.

01-09-87

Ghevarchand Surana

Shve. Terapanth

SMR, p. 180

30 days’ fast unto death

30.

11-09-87

Sardashahar

Bhanwaridevi Borad

JP,xxv p. 29

63 days’ fast unto death

31.

06-10-87

Sonipat

Mu. Badriprasadji

Shve. Sthanakvasi

SPxxvi, pp. 7–8

72 days’ fast unto death

32.

Surat

Sā. Mahayashaji

SMR, p. 181

45 days’ fast unto death

33.

15-03- 88

Smt. Daidevi Bothra

SMR, p. 181

7 days’ fast unto death

34.

08-05-88

Ācā. Śrutsāgarji

Ācā. Vīrasāgarji

SMR, p. 181

9 days fast unto death

35.

28–04–91

Baramati

Āryika Ajitmatī

Ācārya Bāhubalī

PSS,xxvii 5.2, p. 235.

112 day’s end–practice.

36.

19-09-92

Taranga Siddhaksetra

Mu. Omsāgraji

JJxxviii/46/7/69

2 days fast unto death

37.

25–12-92

Bedikhal

Ramagauda Patil

Muni Vidyanandji

PSS, 5.3, p. 236.

10 days’ end–practice

 

This data sampling the rock–inscriptions of Kranataka and Gujarat as well as the media reports for the last century clearly shows that the practice of ‘Voluntary Peaceful Death’ or Samādhimaraṇa was very much prevalent during the period from the far ancient period of 250 BC to the modern period to date. If we also reflect on the scriptural evidence we find that the practice had been prevalent ever since the dawn of Jainism in the third phase of the current descendent time cycle “Avasarpiṇī kāla” by Bhagwan Ṛṣabhadeva.

iREFERENCES

Section – 6.2

“. . . utipaṁ Aṭṭhāvaya selasiharaṁsi dasahiṁ aṇagārasahhassehiṁ saddhiṁ chaudasameṇaṁ bhatteṇaṁ appāṇaeṇaṁ abhīiṇā nakkhatteṇaṁ jogamuvāgaeṇaṁ puvvaṇhakālasamayaṁsi vesajjiekālagae jāva savvadukkhappahīṇe |”

Kalpasūtra, ‘Ed.’ Upādhyāya Pyarchandji, Shri Jain Divakar Divya Jyoti Karyalaya, Beawar, 1972, p. 208

ii A. “. . . . tassa ṇaṁ Asāḍhasuddhassa aṭṭhamī pakkheṇaṁ uppiṁ Ujjinta selasiharaṁsi pañcahiṁ chattīsehiṁ aṇagārasaehiṁ saddhiṁ māsieṇaṁ bhatteṇaṁ apāṇaeṇaṁ Cittā nakkhatteṇaṁ jogamuvāgaeṇaṁ puvvarattāvarattakālasamayaṁsi vesajjiekālagae jāva savvadukkhappahīṇe |” – Ibid, p.187.

B. Antagaḍadasāo, parts I–V.

iii “uppiṁ Sammeyaselasiharaṁsi appacautīsaime māsieṇaṁ bhatteṇaṁ apāṇaeṇaṁ Visāhāhiṁ nakkhatteṇaṁ jogamuvāgaeṇaṁ puvvaṇhakālasamayaṁsi vagghāriyapāṇīkālagae viikante jāva savvadukkhappahīṇe |” – Kalpasūtra ibid, p.178.

iv A. “. . . ege abīe chṭṭheṇaṁ bhatteṇaṁ apāṇaeṇaṁ Sāiṇā Nakkhatteṇaṁ jogamuvāgaeṇaṁ . . . chinnajāijarāmaraṇabandhaṇe siddhe buddhe mutte antagaḍe parinivvuḍe savvadukkhappahīṇe |” – Ibid, p. 164.

B. Antagaḍadasāo, parts VI–VIII.

vĀcārāṅga, 1. 8. 5–8.

viSthānāṅga, 2.4.

viiSamavāyāṅga, 17th Samavāya.

viiiVyākhyāprajñapti, 2. 1. 25–26

ixUpāsakadaśāṅga, 1–10.

xAnuttaropapātikadaśaṅga, 1–8.

xiUttarādhyayanasūtra, 5 and 36.

xiiDaśvaikālika, 8.

xiii This Thesis, Chapter 2, sec 2.79

xiv Santhāraga Paiṇṇayaṁ, Eng Tr. By Baya D.S., Agama Shodh Samsthan, Udaipur, 2003, verses 56–87.

xv This Thesis, Chapter 3, sec 3.72.

xviBhagavatī Ārādhanā ibid, verses 2067–70 and 2155–56.

xvii This Thesis, Chapter III, sec 3.73.

xviii JSS = Jaina Si*lālekha Saṅgraha, Jaina Hiralal, Bhartiya Jnana Peeth, Kashi, 1964.

xix EC = Epigraphia Carnatica, Director Of Archeological Research, Mysore.

xx SNS = Sallekhanā Is Not Sucude by Justice T.K. Tukol, LD Institute Of Indology, Ahmedabad, 1976.

xxi AAG = Pravartak Ambalalji M. Abhinandan Granth, AGPS, Amet, 1976.

xxii SMR = Samādhimaraṇa, Dr. Rajjankumar, PV, Varansi, 2002.

xxiii SKY = Satyug Kī Yādein, Dr. Shanta Jain, Parmarthik Shikshan Samsthan, Ladnun, 1997.

xxiv JM = Jaina Mitra Weekly, Digambara Jain Prantik Sabha, Mumbai.

xxv JP = Jaina Prakash, Mumbai, 16 Oct., 87.

xxvi SP = Manakchand Maru, Śramaṇopāsaka Fortnightly, ABSJ Saṅgha, Bikaner.

xxvii PSS = Philosophical Study Of Sallekhanā by Dr. P.B. Cougule, Shivaji University, Kolhapur, 2001.

xxviii JJ = Jaina Jagat Monthly, Bharat Jaian Mahamandal, Mumbai.

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