Jainism is one of the world’s most ancient religions, and Jain monks lead a life of extreme austerity and renunciation. Sallekhana or santhara is a controversial religious practice in which a Jain stops eating with the intention of preparing for death. It is seen as the ultimate way to expunge all sins and karma, liberating the soul from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth.
So when Dalrymple probes further, the monk says that sallekhana is a ritual fast to death which Jains regard as the “culmination of our life as ascetics”. Suicide is a great sin, the result of despair. But sallekhana is a triumph over death, an expression of hope… With suicide, death is full of pain and suffering.
But sallekhana is a beautiful thing. There is no distress or cruelty