Jains take out rally against HC order on “Santhara”

Jains in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad held a 5 kms protest, Ahimsa Peace Rally, in city on Monday against Rajasthan High Court’s order declaring Santhara, an age old Jains Ritual Practice of fast unto death, as suicide.

Navratan Mall Gundecha, President of Sri Jain Sewa Sangh; Manoj Kothari, of Sri Jain Mahamandal; Ashok Saklecham, Secretary of Jain Sewa Sangh; Ramesh Saklecha, President of Sri Jain Mahamandal and Sajjan Gandhi, Secretary, Shri Jain Maha Mandal headed the Ahimsa Peace Rally.

Over 10,000 jains under the banners of Jain Seva Sangha Sri Jain Mahamandal took out the Rally which began on Monday morning at Jain Bhavan in Pan Bazar and went through Mahankali, Minerva Hotel, Parklane, Paradise, Prederghast Road, Sindhi Colony, Minister Road and culminated into protest meeting at Paigah Palace, Patigadda.

They carried placard with messages: “Santhara Par Rok Jain Dharm par Rok”, “Yeh ladai hai nyayki, dhrame samman ki”, “Jain Dharm Bachao Aandolan”. “Aatmhatya jhulm hai, sallekhna Santhara dharm hai”; “Sallekhna maran nahi, moksha ka dwar hai” young and old, women, elderly people all joined the protest rally. It is an attack on our dharma they said. We would like to protect our dharma. “Ab nahi tho, kabhi nahi” . They went through the various galies to reach patgatta shouting slogans “Jain Dharm Bachao”, “Santhara is not suicide” and “Ab nahi tho kabhi nahi” etc.,

Nearly 10,000 jain establishments in twin cities closed their businesses for 24 hours losing business worth several hundred crores. The Ahimsa Peace Rally was organised as part of the Bharath Bandh Call given by the 50 lakh plus Jains in the country. Jains living across the globe too joined the protest peace rallies organised in their respective countries.

Addressing the gathering at the Paigah Palace several jain munis observed that Santhara is not a Suicide and it is a way to get moksh. We are not against the courts, but, we are certainly against the judgement. We have every right to oppose it, they said. They urged people, courts and public to understand Santhara. Santhara aaradhana se hotha hai, they declared. They urged Rajasthan Court to reconsider its decision. Santhara is a religious fast on to death. This age old practice has been declared as ‘Suicide’ by Rajasthan High Court Recently. Jains have challenged the Rajasthan High Court order in the Supreme Court already.

The century-old practice of santhara has been in the eye of a storm since Rajasthan High Court recently gave an order banning the centuries old Jains Ritual. Six million Jain population across the country is irked by the High Court Ruling. The ancient ritual of voluntary starvation to embrace death is a way to moksh. We Jains are not afraid of deaths. We want to protect our dharm, our sanskrithi, they said.

Jains consider Santhara to be the highest form of passage, or death and in a way not the same as suicide. It is done in full consciousness and in peace. “Santhara’ is a religious and a spiritual act. “Santhara is never a suicide attempt by Jain-munis or any other, as it is meant to get moksh from existing life and punarjanam (rebirth) and it is a 2,500-year-old ritual since Bhagwan Mahaveer they informed

Fasting is a common religious practice in several cultures across the world. Which religion is not into fasting, they asked. Fasting has a universal appeal to every religion. It is an encroachment upon into our religion and our age old practices, they said. The Jain religion is one of the oldest religions in the world. Ours is the most peace loving religion. It is our dharma bachao aandolan, they said.

“We jains are one. First time all the four different sects of Jains namely Digambars, Shwethambars, Therapanthas and Murtipoojaka got together to protest aginst the court verdict,” they said.

One crore plus Jain shops and establishments across the country were also closed Monday. That resulted in the loss of Rs 1000 Crore to Jain Samaj. (INN)