sallekhana by Shugan Chand Jain

sallekhana

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JAINISM REGARDS LIFE TO BE ETERNAL. RECOGNIZING THAT THE SOUL CAN NEVER DIE, BUT MERELY TAKES A NEW BODY, A CAREFUL TRADITION WELCOMING DEATH THROUGH INTENTIONAL FASTING DEVELOPED MORE THAN TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO. A LEGAL CHALLENGE RAJASTHAN WAS PUT FORWARD IN 2013, SUGGESTING THAT THIS PRACTICE IS HARMFUL AND COERCIVE AND TARGETS WOMEN IN PARTICULAR. FOR A SHORT WHILE SALLEKHANÀ, WHICH MEANS THE “THINNING OF EXISTENCE,” WAS DECLARED ILLEGAL. IN RESPONSE TO THIS CONTROVERSY, THREE CONFERENCES WERE CONVENED BY THE INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL FOR JAIN STUDIES TO EXPLORE THE LEGAL, RELIGIOUS, AND MEDICAL ASPECTS OF THIS PRACTICE. EXPERTS DISCUSSED THE LONG HISTORY OF THE PRACTICE, ATTESTED TO IN EPIGRAPHS THROUGHOUT INDIA; THE WAYS IN WHICH FASTING TO DEATH HAS BECOME AN ACCEPTABLE PRACTICE IN THE WESTERN WORLD; AND CONTEMPORARY INSTANCES OF ITS OBSERVANCE IN INDIA. THIS VOLUME PRESENTS AN INTERDISCIPLINARY APPROACH TO THINKING ABOUT THE END OF LIFE, FROM BIOMEDICAL, HISTORICAL, RELIGIOUS, AND LEGAL PERSPECTIVES.

Jainism regards life to be eternal. Recognizing that the soul can never die, but merely takes a new body, a careful tradition welcoming death through intentional fasting developed more than two thousand years ago. A legal challenge Rajasthan was put forward in 2013, suggesting that this practice is harmful and coercive and targets women in particular. For a short while Sallekhanā, which means the “thinning of existence,” was declared illegal. In response to this controversy, three conferences were convened by the International School for Jain Studies to explore the legal, religious, and medical aspects of this practice. Experts discussed the long history of the practice, attested to in epigraphs throughout India; the ways in which fasting to death has become an acceptable practice in the Western world; and contemporary instances of its observance in India. This volume presents an interdisciplinary approach to thinking about the end of life, from biomedical, historical, religious, and legal perspectives.

CONTENTS

Preface
Introduction
– Shugan Chand Jain
– Christopher Key Chapple
Part One: Legal Aspect
1. Sallekhanā on Trial
– Whitny Braun
2. To Be or Not to Be: Philosophical and
Constitutional Perspectives on the Right to Die
– Ananth Acharya
3. Suffer not the Suffering: An Examination of
the Jain Practice of Sallekhanā
– Purushottama Bilimoria
4. Legality of the End of Life
– D.R. Mehta
– Kusum Jain
5. A Study of Sallekhanā as an Art of Living
Attracting No Legal Attention
– Panachand Jain
Part Two: Medical Aspect
6. Bioethics and Medico-Legal Approaches to
Ritualized End-of-Life Fasting and Immobilization
Practices in India: Jain Sallekhanā and Buddhist Tukdam
– Sean Hillman
7. Practice of Modified Sallekhanā: Acceptance of Death
– Nitin Shah
8. The Role of Dharma Jāgaraṇa for Sallekhanā
– Reshma Bhansali
Part Three: Philosophical Aspect
9. Eternal Life, Death and Dying in Jainism
– Christopher Key Chapple
10. Relevance of Sallekhanā/Samādhi-maraṇa in
Today’s Society
– D.S. Baya
11. The Final Fast in the Eighth Aṅga: The
Antakr̥tdaśāṅgasūtra
– Priyadarshana Jain
– Rajal Borundia Jain
12. The Jain Approach to Death and New Life
– Shugan C. Jain
Appendix I
Appendix II
Appendix III
Appendix IV
Contributors
Consolidated Bibliography
Index

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