What does SANTHARA mean ?
Saturday, September 30th, 2006
A few days ago, the BBC reported on the ritual death of Vimla Devi in Jaipur, who committed Santhara, sanctioned by Jainism, where a person voluntarily gives up food and prepares for death. Vimla Devis fast was challenged and now the courts are considering whether Santhara should be considered suicide. The argument for not considering it suicide states that committing Santhara is a rational decision that requires the sanction of a cleric, and the persons family, and is not an impulsive private act like suicide (though I doubt if suicide is impulsive). Those who oppose Santhara are worried about it having a resemblance to Sati, and the possibility of sick and old persons being pressured to voluntarily starve themselves.
Santhara itself has public and performative aspect, similar and different from Kafkas Hunger Artist. From India Today:
The period of the fast that leads to death varies. Harchand Surana of Sardarsahar in Bi ...more