Thursday, August 13, 2015

Jain communities unite to protest the Judgement against Santhara

Jain communities have been uniting to protest the Rajasthan High Court's Judgement against Santhara (Samlekhana). Samlekhana is a process of ultimate purification of Atma, the soul. Ascetics of the highest order practice this to accept death as a reality of life without fear. This can be told as death in equanimity.

Samlekhana is neither suicide nor a glorification of death. Ascetics, accept Samlekhana willingly and knowingly with any craving for life and death. He tries (practices) to remain equanimous to all pain, sorrow, craving, aversion and even to life and death. The laymen (Shravak-Shravika) also follow Santhara who is willing to purify his or her soul to a high level.

However, it seems from the judgement that this very aspect of Jainism is not addressed in the judgement. All sects of Jain community, Digambar, Shwetambar (Sthanakvasi, Terapanth, Mandir Margi) practice this as a religious (Spiritual) belief. The Jain community has been practicing this penance since time immemorial. It would be better if the court did not enter into the area of belief and faith.

Jain communities in different parts of India are uniting to protest this judgement. Jain is a peaceful and non-violent community and will take the legal way to save their religious right. The shwetambar community in Jaipur met yesterday (12 August 2015) to decide an action plan followed by a meeting of Digambar community today (August 13). A joint meeting will be organized tomorrow to decide further action plan.

Similar steps are taken  in different parts of India. Jain monks and nuns, observing their Chaturmas are also supporting the movement.  In the meantime, Gulab Chand Kataria, Home Minister, Rajasthan has come forward to support Jain community declaring that the State government will fight the case in favor of Jain community.

It is obvious that the community has to move to the Hon'ble Supreme Court to protect their religious right. And, the Jain have faith in Indian constitution that guarantees the right to religious freedom. A Supreme court judgement (1954) also supports that. Moreover, Jain is a religious minority and enjoys special rights for their religion in the constitution of India.

We urge all Jai members to act unitedly forming a joint community comprises of community leaders, scholars and legal and other professionals.

Research by Western scholars about Sallekhana

Jyoti Kothari,
Convener, Sakal Jain Samaj, Jaipur

(Vardhaman Gems, Jaipur represents Centuries Old Tradition of Excellence in Gems and Jewelry)
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