Hallkhana (IAST:), also known as Samlehna, Santhara, Samadhi-marana or Sanyasana-marana; is a supplementary vow to the ethical code of conduct of Jainism. It is the religious practice of voluntarily fasting to death by the diet of food and liquids. It is viewed in Jainism as the thinning of human passions and the body, and another means of destroying rebirth-influencing karma by withdrawing all physical and mental activities. It is not considered a suicide by Jain scholars because it is not an act of passion, nor does it deploy poisons or weapons. After the roomkhana vow, the ritual preparation and practice can extend into years. Sallekhana is a vow Jain ascetics and householders. These are some of the most important things in the world, including queens, in Jain history. However, in the modern era, death through hall has been a relatively uncommon event. There is debate about the practice from a right to life and a freedom of religion viewpoint. In 2015, the Rajasthan High Court banned the practice, considering it suicide. Later that year, the Supreme Court of India stayed at the Rajasthan High Court and lifted the ban on Hallkhana.
There are five great vows prescribed to followers of Jainism; Ahimsa (non-violence), Satya (not lying), Asteya (not stealing), Brahmacharya (chastity), and Aparigraha (non-possession). A further seven are also prescribed, which include three Gunavratas (merit vows) and four Shiksha vratas (disciplinary vows). The three Gunavratas are: Digvrata, Bhogopabhogaparimana, and Anartha-dandaviramana (abstain from purposeless sins). The Shikshavratas include: Samayika (vow to meditate and concentrate for limited periods), Desavrata (limiting movement and space of activity for limited periods), Prosadhopavāsa (fasting for limited periods), and Atithi-samvibhag (offering food to the ascetic). Sallekhana is treated as an additional to these twelve vows. However, some Jain teachers such as Kundakunda, Devasena, Padmanandin, and Vasunandin have included it under Shikshavratas. Hallkhana () means to properly ‘thin out’, ‘scour out’ or ‘slender’ the passions and the body through gradually abstaining from food and drink. Roomkhana is divided into two components: Kashaya Sallekhana (slenderising of passions) or Abhayantra Sallekhana (internal slendering) and Kaya Sallekhana (slenderising the body) or Bahya Sallekhana (external slendering). It is described as “facing death voluntarily through fasting”. According to Jain texts, Hallkhana leads to Ahimsa (non-violence or non-injury), as a person observing Hallkhana subjugates the passions, which are the root causes of Himsa (injury or violence).
Whereas Sallekhana is prescribed for both householders and ascetics, Jain texts describe conditions when it is appropriate. It should not be observed by a householder without guidance of a Jain ascetic. Sallekhana is always voluntary, undertaken after public statement, and never helped with any chemicals or tools. The fasting causes thinning away of a body by withdrawing by choice of food and water to oneself. As death is imminent, the individual stops all food and water, with full knowledge of colleagues and spiritual counselors. In some cases, they are asked to leave their spiritual counselors. For a successful hallkhana, the death must be with “pure means”, voluntary, planned, undertaken with calmness, peace and joy where the person agrees to the body and mind Roomkhana differs from other forms of ritual death recognized in Jainism as appropriate. The other situations consider ritual death to be better than a mendicant than breaking his or her Five Great Vows (Mahavrata). For example, celibacy is one of the Five Vows, and ritual death is considered better than being defamed. A ritual death under these circumstances by poison is believed to be better and allows for an auspicious rebirth. The other situations consider ritual death to be better than a mendicant than breaking his or her Five Great Vows (Mahavrata). For example, celibacy is one of the Five Vows, and ritual death is considered better than being defamed. A ritual death under these circumstances by poison is believed to be better and allows for an auspicious rebirth. The other situations consider ritual death to be better than a mendicant than breaking his or her Five Great Vows (Mahavrata). For example, celibacy is one of the Five Vows, and ritual death is considered better than being defamed. A ritual death under these circumstances by poison is believed to be better and allows for an auspicious rebirth.
The duration of the practice can vary from to few days to years. The sixth part of the Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra describes Hallkhana and its procedure as follows- Jain texts mention five transgressions (Atichara) of the vow: the desire to be reborn as a human, the desire to be reborn as a divinity, the desire to continue living , the desire to die quickly, and the desire to live in the next life. Other transgressions include: recollection of affection for friends, recollection of the pleasures enjoyed, and longing for the enjoyment of pleasures in the future. The ancient Svetambara Jain text Acharanga Sutra, dated to about 3rd or 2nd century BCE, describes three forms of Hallkhana: the Bhaktapratyakhyana, the Ingita-marana, and the Padapopagamana. In Bhaktapratyakhyana, the person who wants to watch the wine selects an isolated place where he lies on a bed of straw, does not move his limbs, and avoids food and drink until he dies. In Ingita-marana, the person sleeps on bare ground. He can sit, stand, walk, or move, but avoids food until he dies. In Padapopagamana, a person stands “like a tree” without food and drink until he dies. Another variation of Sallekhana is Itvara which consists of voluntarily restricting oneself in a limited space and then fasting to death.
The Acharanga Sutra () describes three forms of the practice. Early Svetambara text Shravakaprajnapti notes that the practice is not limited to ascetics. The Bhagavati Sutra (2.1) also describes Sallekhana in great detail, as it was observed by Skanda Katyayana, an ascetic of Mahavira. The 4th century text Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, and the Svetambara text Nava-pada-prakarana, also provide detailed descriptions. The Nava-pada-prakarana mentions seventeen methods of “voluntarily chosen death”, of which it approves only three as consisting of the teachings of Jainism. The practice is also mentioned in the 2nd century CE Sangam era poem Sirupanchamoolam. The Panchashaka makes only a cursory mention of the practice and is not described in Dharmabindu – both texts by Haribhadra (). In the 9 th century text “Ādi purāṇa” by Jinasena the three forms are described. Yashastilaka by Somadeva (10th century) also describes the practice. Other writers like Vaddaradhane (10th century) and Lalitaghate also describe the Padapopagamana, one of its forms. Hemchandra () describes it in a short passage despite its detailed coverage of the observances of householders (Shravakachara). According to Tattvartha Sutra, “a householder willingly or willingly adopts Hallkhana when death is very near.” According to the medieval era Jain text, Puruşārthasiddhyupāya, both the ascetics and the householder should “short voluntarily death at the end of life”, thinking that only roomkhana is a pious death. The Silappadikaram (Epic of the Anklet) by the Jain prince-turned-monk, Ilango Adigal, mentions Hallhana by the Jain Nun, Kaundi Adigal.
In South India, especially Karnataka, a memorial stone or footprint is erected to commemorate the death of person who observed Hallkhana. This is known as Nishidhi, Nishidige or Nishadiga. The term is derived from the Sanskrit root Sid or Sad which means “to attain” or “waste away”. These Nishidhis detail the names, dates, the duration of the vow, and other austerities performed by the person who observed the vow. The Earliest Nishidhis (6th to 8th century) mostly have an inscription on the rock without any symbols. This style continued until the 10th century when footprints were added to the inscription. After the 11th century, Nishidhis are inscribed on slabs or pillars with panels and symbols. These pillars were frequently erected in mandapas (pillared pavilions), near basadi (temples), or sometimes as an inscription on the door frame or pillars of the temple. In Shravanabelgola in Karnataka, ninety-three Nishidhis are found from the 6th century to the 19th century. Fifty-four of them belong to the period circa 6th to the 8th century. It is believed that a large number of Nishidhis at Shravanabelgola follow the earlier tradition. Several inscriptions after 600 CE record that Chandragupta Maurya () and his teacher Bhadrabahu observed the vow atop Chandragiri Hill at Sharavnabelagola. Historians such as RK Mookerji consider the accounts unproven, but plausible. An undated inscription in old Kannada script is found on the Nishidhi from Doddahundi near Tirumakudalu Narasipura in Karnataka. Historians such as JF Fleet, IK Sarma, and EP Rice have dated to 840 or 869 CE by its textual context. The memorial stone has a unique depiction in the death ritual (Sallekhana) of King Ereganga Nitimarga I () of the Western Ganga Dynasty. It was raised by the king’s Satyavakya. In Shravanabelgola, the Kuge Brahmadeva pillar has a Nishidhi commemorating Marasimha, another Western Ganga king. An inscription on the pillar in front of Gandhavarna Basadi commemorates Indraraja, the grandson of the Rashtrakuta King Krishna III, who died in 982 after observing the vow. The inscriptions in South India suggest roomkhana was originally an ascetic practice which later extended to Jain householders. Its importance as an ideal death in the spiritual life of householders ceased by about the 12th century. The practice was revived in 1955 by the Digambara monk Acharya Santisagara.
Hallkhana is a respected practice in the Jain community. It has not been a “practical or general goal” among Svetambara Jains for many years. It was revived among Digambara monks. In 1955, Acharya Shantisagar, at Digambara monk took the lead because of his inability to help and his weak eye-sight. In 1999, Acharya Vidyanand, another Digambara monk, took a twelve-year-long vow. Between 1800 and 1992, at least 37 instances of Sallekhana are recorded in Jain literature. There were 260 and 90 recorded Hallkhana deaths among Svetambara and Digambara Jains respectively between 1993 and 2003. According to Jitendra Shah, the Director of the LD Institute of Indology in Ahmedabad, an average of about 240 Jains practice Hallkhana each year in India. Most of them are not recorded or noticed. Statistically, Sallekhana is an activity of Jains and is one of the most important of all classes. It is observed more often by women than men.
Jain texts make a clear distinction between the Sallekhana and suicide. Its dualistic theology differentiates between soul and matter. Soul is reborn in the Jain belief based on accumulated karma, how does one contribute to the karma accumulation, and one reduces the negative karmic attachments. The preparation for roomkhana must begin early, well before the approach of death, and when death is imminent, the vow of Sallekhana is observed by progressively slenderising the body and the passions. The comparison of Sallekhana with suicide is debated since the early days of Jainism. The early Buddhist Tamil epic Kundalakesi compared it to suicide. It is refuted in the contemporary Tamil Jain such literature as in Neelakesi. Professor SA Jain cites differences between the motivations behind suicide and those behind Hallkhana to distinguish them: Champat Rai Jain, a Jainist scholar wrote in 1934: Soul is a simple substance and as such immortal. Death is for compounds whose dissolution is termed disintegration and death when it has a living organism, which is a compound of spirit and matter. It is a great asset for the future life of the soul, which, as a simple substance, will survive the bodily dissolution and death. The true idea of Hallkhana is only one of those things that should not be overlooked. It should not be a problem, not a beast, bellowing and panting and making vain efforts to avoid the unavoidable. Modern era Indian activists have questioned this rationale, calling the voluntary choice of death to an evil similar to sati, and Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1950, guarantees the right to life to all persons within the territory of India and its states. In Gian Kaur vs. The State of Punjab, the state high court ruled, “… ‘right to life’ is a natural right embodied in Article 21 goal suicide is an unnatural termination or extinction of life and, therefore, inconsistent and inconsistent with the concept of right to life “. Nikhil Soni vs. Union of India (2006), a case filed in the Rajasthan High Court, citing the Aruna Ramchandra Shanbaug vs. Union of India case related to euthanasia, and the Gian Kaur case, argued, “No person has a right to take his own life consciously, The book Roomkhana Is Not Suicide by train Justice TK Tukol was widely quoted in the court which “Hallkhana has propounded in the Jaina scriptures is not suicide.” The Rajasthan High Court stated that “[The Constitution] does not permit nor include under the Article 25 the right to take one’s own life, Article 25 of the Constitution”. It is furthermore that it is not established that it is an essential practice of Jainism and it is not covered by Article 25 (1). So the High Court banned the practice in August 2015 making it punishable under Sections 306 (abortion of suicide) and 309 (attempt to commit suicide). Members of the Jain community held nationwide protest marches against the ban on Hallkhana. Advocate Suhrith Parthasarathy criticized the judgment of the High Court and wrote, “Roomkhana is not an exercise in trying to achieve an unnatural death, but is rather a practice intrinsic to a person’s ethical choice to live with dignity until death.” He also pointed out that the Supreme Court in the Gian Kaur case specifically recognized the right to live with human dignity within the ambit of right to life. He further cited that the Supreme Court wrote in the said case, “[The right to life] may include the right of death, but the right to life. of life is not confused or equated with the right to die an unnatural death curtailing the natural span of life. ” On 31 August 2015, The Supreme Court admitted the petition by Akhil Bharat Varshiya Digambar Jain Parishad and granted leave. It stayed the decision of the High Court and lifted the ban on the practice. In April 2017, the Indian Parliament decriminalized suicide by passing the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
There are similar practices in other religions like Prayopavesa in Hinduism, and Sokushinbutsu in Buddhism. The ancient and medieval scholars of Indian religions discussed suicide, and a person’s right to voluntarily choose death. Suicide is broadly disapproved and discouraged by Buddhist, Hindu and Jaina texts. The Satapatha Brahmana of Hinduism, for example, in section 10.2.6 discusses the nature of cyclical life and rebirth, and concludes that “therefore, one should not depart from one’s natural lifespan,” states David Brick, an Indologist at Yale University. However, for those who have renounced the world (sannyasi, sadhu, yati, bhikshu), the Indian texts discuss when the ritual choice of death is appropriate and what means of voluntarily ending one’s life are appropriate. The Sannyasa Upanishads, for example, This article is about fun, and how to do it in a fun way to learn how to eat food and drink to death (similar to sallekhana), walking into a river and drowning, entering fire, path of the heroes, and the Great Journey. Scholars disagree whether “voluntary religious death” is discussed in Indian religions or is not same as other forms of suicide.