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from India Daily

Santhara, Religious Way to Commit Suicide?
link to the article

Pratyush Pratyush, New Delhi, INDIA
Oct 5 2006

Amar Chand Kasawan, 74, took up Santhara, a Jain ritual of fasting unto death. He was suffering from gangrene and pneumonia since long. According to the Jain community, he has got the divine status by taking up Santhara. Kasawan died on the fifth day of his fast.

The members of Jain community have termed birth and death as religious festivals and favored the ancient ritual fast of ‘Santhara’ as the means to get salvation.

The Shwetambar sect of the Jain community considers this practice to be the ultimate spiritual achievement.

Pana Chand Jain, former judge of Rajasthan High Court, has said about the difference between suicide and Santhara. He said that suicide is the outcome of anger or depression. However, Santhara is taken with a calm mind.

Some of the scholars have termed the Santhara as the rites of passage of birth and death as religious festival.

Earlier, Vimala Devi, 61 also took Santhara last week after fasting for 14 days. Three other cases of Santhara have been reported from Rajasthan, all of them being women over 80 years old.

Meanwhile, Keila Devi, 91, of Jaipur has entered the 27th day of her fast and Dhanni Devi, 85, of Bikaner district is on the 18th day of ’santhara’.

A PIL has been filed in the Rajasthan High Court to restrict the practice and compared it with suicide, euthanasia and Sati.

Since the PIL filed in High Court, two people have been died among five cases of Santhara reported in Rajasthan.

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