NOT MANY days ago a woman from the Jain community performing ‘santhara’ (religious fast to death) had raised eyebrows of social activists. Now, 75-year-old Chirtasagar Maharaj (previously known as Tejkaran Jain) took up santhara at Mangi Bai Kala Community Hall here on Monday.
Chirtasagar Maharaj, a father of four, took deeksha from Bhutbali Sagar Maharaj after realising that his end was nearing. Chitrasagar Maharaj gave up food for last one and half months and declared to perform ‘Santhara’ towards the end of his life.
Chirtasagar Maharaj seems to be inspired by his elder brother late Nemi Chand Jain, who also took up santhara during his last days. On Monday, he expressed his wish to leave home and take sanyasa. Asked about a legal action against such an act, Manjula Didi, a Jain nun, said in Jainism, santhara or sanlakhna as it is popularly called, is considered a way to attain ‘moksha’.
Till any action can be taken against the ritual, the response of community members is inspiring others to perform ‘Santhara’ as a decent and religious way to end their life, she said. Chitrasagar Maharaj’s wife Deva Bai Jain, who was sitting in front of her husband, also expressed her wish to end her life in the same manner. According to Deva Bai, it is not a crime to spend last days of life remembering god. It is the best way, say Chitrasagar’s sons
Rajendra Jain and Lalit Jain.
District Collector Vivek Aggarwal said he was seeking a legal opinion on the matter. He said he had sent ADM Rameshwar Gupta to take stock of the situation. A PIL has been filed in the Rajasthan High Court to ban the practice comparing it with suicide, euthanasia and sati.