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Thursday, July 06, 2006

Monk starves to death: Is it suicide?

An elderly Jain monk killed himself of starvation in Bhind in Central India and thousands gathered from cities nearby and other states to attend the 'great event'.

After he died, the body was taken around in a decorated vehicle around the town and it was near-celebration. The monk Kshamasgar had stopped taking food earlier and then quit water also.

As news spread, the people kept pouring in. Had it been an ordinary person sitting on hunger strike police would have taken him away, booked and forced him to eat because it is almost a suicide.

However, the debate over this Jain tradition 'santhara' continues. It is also known as Sallekhana. Often elderly females who become 'useless' to family are urged by family members to go for that--the Tehelka had done a story on that in extreme detail.

However, the tradition continues for thousands of years in India. Jains being the rich merchants and due to their clout in media and politics no body speaks on this practice. The Women Commissions often speak on the issue when females do it or girls are turned Jain sadhvis at the age of 8 or 10 and have to live a full life of asceticism.

But none dares speak. After VHP is dominated by Jains. While in most communities and small sects, at least a couple of voices of dissent are heard about practices, not a single voice from within Jains is heard on the issue.

While Hinduism got rid of Sati and even worshipping in existing Sati temples is now made a crime, the Jain community continues such practices and there is support for Sallekhana among the adherents


urdudaaN said...

Same goes for Nuns. The christian clout wards off any mention of such a gross suppression.

Also, I have seen a naked saadhu wandering 'freely' in a muslim majority area and the muslims turning their heads in dismay.

If muslims had any such practices they would have been made to hang their heads in shame for being utterly uncivilised.

indscribe said...

'If Muslims had any such practices....', that's true. In fact our representatives on news channels still appear apologetic, which surprises me.

How do we know said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
indscribe said...

So what do I do about that? If some politicians divided this country long before my birth and even if a section of Muslims demanded separation, so what?
Don't get so angry with Muslims yaar. Even in families there are divisions, aren't there.
Meanwhile, I was wondering Muslims don't engage in proselytising but Jains convert thousands all over India, why? If they are part of Hinduism, do they need conversion. Or just because they are 'your own Indic religion' and you don't mind though conversions to Buddhism affect you while conversions of Jainism are not even reported at all anywhere.

indscribe said...

How do we know....yaar I don't know your name...that's sad. Anyway will know soon hopefully! Yaar mainly the piece was about IPC, I mean many such things happen in prosperous sections but the money and prosperity keeps them hidden otherwise they are no less regressive practices.
Actually I know a lot, its not a matter of half-baked knowledge. If monk does it may be ok in your opinion but when often elderly women are forced to do that just because it brings Glory to family and also financial rewards in small towns it becomes bad. They are sacrificed at the altar of the religion! Anyway. Take care. bye

How do we know said...

I agree that when an elderly person is forced to die, its sad. However, when a monk does it, of his own free will, i think we should understand the concept, and respect it.

Jains are not a part of Hinduism. Nor are Buddhists or the other Indic religions.

Re. Conversions, I think that is a matter of personal preferance entirely. All religions are free to root like political parties, and vulgarise their faith. All religions are also free to then tout numbers as a show of strength.(If a God is so insecure that it needs numbers, what security will the faith lend to me? )

All religions are free to believe that everyone who does not subscribe to their own faith is wrong. They are free to call them kafirs, or pagans, or whatever.

However, this conversion mania, imho, is not native to India or Indic religions. We have imported it.

I have a lot of misunderstanding ... maybe you will be able to help? I could ask questions on doubts I have..

indscribe said...

Sure dear. For centuries we have all lived together and though there have been painful events in the past, surely our ancestors were more 'kushaada-dil' and liberal perhaps because they shared the same culture. Now there are misconceptions on both sides due to the distances between us.

urdudaaN said...

I tend to agree with, "All religions are free to believe that everyone who does not subscribe to their own faith is wrong."
Very well said, indeed!

All my childhood, I had known people who smoked gaanja(grass) being arrested and kept in jails. But, when I started reading newspapers, gaanja-smoking at kumbh melas came as a common sight.
So, rules are there probably just for entrapment.

The term 'kaafir' was coined as a catch-all phrase against muslims. Muslims are not a superior race like Jews, Brahmins, Germans or the Whites.
So, even if others who deny the existance of the one-and-only God-of-all are referred to as a 'kaafirs'(deniers!) whom does it point to? None and all, I would say.

In my not-so-humble opinion 'digital' rules work best, they being least fuzzy, which is not the case with ours.

For instance, our Indian rules define nudity as going to the extent of showing pubic hair. If so, how can a 'naked' saadhu wander freely in front of my eyes in my democratic country? Don't rules mean anything? The rule itself caters to the high-society magazines, not a muslim citizen, or others who are not-so-progressed.

Now, if you say, 'I have contempt for Indian laws', or I have something against the Sadhus, that is going to make you a real 'kaafir' :)

HP said...

Well, thats a valid point that you have raised!


Sanchit Jain said...

There's nothing wrong in following ur own religion.
I think of religion as a path of devotion to God with ethics of protection of humanity.