Indian Jains protest right to fast until death

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Ancient Indian, Aug 27, 2015.

  1. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    JAIPUR, INDIA - Thousands of members of the austere Jain religion protested across India on Monday for the legal right to take part in an ancient ritual of starving themselves to death.

    Dressed in traditional white kurtas and trousers and holding banners that read “Suicide is crime.
    Santhara is religion”, they marched silently through the city of Jaipur in the western state of Rajasthan.

    Jains have been campaigning after a Rajasthan High Court ruled this month that their voluntary custom of fasting until death or Santhara was a form of suicide, which is illegal under Indian law.

    “Our peaceful protest is against the judgement pronounced by the high court without understanding the concept and objectives” of the tradition, Jain leader Rajendra Godha said.

    Godha said up to 100,000 devotees took part in the protest that snaked through Jaipur for several kilometres and also saw schools and businesses run by Jains close for the day.

    Additional deputy commissioner of police Gyanendra Singh put the protest numbers much lower, at between 35,000 and 40,000.

    Smaller protests were also held in other cities including in Mumbai, where an AFP photographer said several thousand gathered peacefully under a tent to hear speeches by two priests.

    Jain leaders have said they will appeal to the Supreme Court against the lower court’s ruling, saying the decision was against their religious right which is enshrined in the constitution.

    As part of their religion, Jains can take a vow to give up food and water as a way of embracing death.
    It is unclear how many deaths occur every year but local media put the number at a couple of hundred.

    The high court was ruling on a petition by an activist in Rajasthan who argued the practice was against the law.
    He questioned whether elderly Jains were being encouraged to take the vow to free families of the burden of taking care of them, an argument Jains deny.

    A Hindu-majority country, India is also home to large numbers of religious minorities including 4.
    2 million Jains, according to 2011 census figures.

    Jainism is thousands of years old, a nonviolent religion whose philosophical roots are based in ancient India and are inspired by the same principles of tolerance that influenced freedom fighter Mahatma Gandhi.

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    I heard this news this morning.
     
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  3. Ancient Indian

    Ancient Indian Unplugged Version Senior Member

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    SC stays Rajasthan HC decision of declaring 'Santhara' illegal

    New Delhi, August 31: The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the order passed by Rajasthan High Court declaring 'Santhara', a religious ritual of fasting until death, as illegal.


    Opposing the decision, a Jain body, Sthanakvasi Jain Shravak Sangh, approached the apex court seeking a stay on the Rajasthan HC's judgment, claiming it was passed without appreciating the basic philosophy and tenets of the Jain religion.

    The Rajasthan High Court had on August 10 had held 'santhara' as illegal making it punishable under section 306 and 309 of IPC related to abetment of suicide.

    The petition claimed that the high court erred in equating the religious practice with the offence of suicide while the fact is a "vow taken to purify the soul".

    "Santhara is an ancient and old practice as old as the religion as the faith itself and the observations of the High Court in this regard is exfacie wrong and the references to the practice are found as far back as in Samvat 1389," the plea said.

    "Article 25 (of Constitution) protects a right of every person to the 'freedom of conscience' which entitles a person to a right to have his own beliefs and faith and as such the so called 'modern' thinking cannot be imposed on the members of the Jaina Community," it said.

    The petition came in the backdrop of protests by the community in Rajasthan and some other states against the high court order.
     
  4. gpawar

    gpawar Regular Member

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    HC did the right thing, old superstitions cannot be allowed to continue for ever. Human civilization is ever changing/evolving. Allowing this custom is as good as legalizing suicide.

    Article 25 also states(in the condition):

    (1) Subject to public order, morality and health and to the other provisions of this Part, all persons are equally entitled to freedom of conscience and the right freely to profess, practise and propagate religion.
     

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