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Aidto dying: What Jainism – one of India`s oldest religions – teaches us"RNS," June 11, 2016
The article looks at the debate surrounding “Sallekhana” and thereasons why some believe the practice is illegal. More specifically,the Janis that are the members of the Jain religion often practicethe “Sallekhana,” which involve the starvation to death. In someof the examples, the people that have undertaken the practice did sobecause of the severity and the advanced of their illnesses. Forinstance, one had advanced cancer, and another had fatal kidneydisease hence, starvation to death was a way to avoid the prolongedsuffering that they might experience later. Besides that, the membersof the religion also believe that it is a way of entering the nextphase of life where they might even live in another. The constitutiondisagrees with such assumptions and considers the practice assuicide. However, the fact that they are looking at the issue fromthe legal perspective and the religious view makes it hard to findcommon ground between the two sides.
It is ironical that the same constitution that allows euthanasiaconsiders the “Sallekhana” as being illegal. At the same time,the two activities rely on nearly the same procedures in ending thelife of a person. More specifically, “Sallekhana” is conductedwhen a person believes that he or she will keep suffering hence,starvation to death will somehow ensure that they die peacefully.Before someone begins the “fast,” he or she should seek thepermission and the counsel of a spiritual advisor as well (Rao, 650).The spiritual advisor might disagree if the circumstances will notamount to prolong suffering. The same case also applies to euthanasiathat the constitution has legalized. The approval of the spiritualadvisor proves that the likelihood of a Janis being exposed tocoercive circumstances to undergo the procedure is rather minimal.India practices euthanasia and they rely on withdrawing life supportin patients that are in critical situations as long as a number ofthe family members agree that it is the best option. In both cases,the act is implemented with the aim of ending prolong suffering thatthe victim will face if he or she remains alive. Both “Sallekhana”and euthanasia are passive suicide and legalizing one of them meansthat the other one should be legalized too. The two activities alsoserve the same purpose that is peaceful death and reducing thesuffering associated with the particular illness that they might besuffering from (Rao, 651). More specifically, looking at the legalaspect and the moral perspective might create confusion in thedebate. In fact, some countries have prohibited euthanasia since theybelieve it is unethical yet, India still practices the same. As aresult, the court should allow “Sallekhana” because it also helpspatients in avoiding the suffering that they might undergo.
The two sides are looking at the practice from a constitutionalperspective and a religious view resulting in the confusion that theyare facing. In fact, they are consulting a constitution that wascreated by the British that were against most of the Indian religiouspractices. Hence, the likelihood of the sides reaching a compromiseis unlikely because the two sides have different beliefs. Right fromthe colonization period, the British were against the religiouspractices that were common in India (Pandya, 217). In contrast, thesame constitution does not hesitate in implementing what the Britishand the other western nations deem morally right. For instance, theyhave implemented euthanasia as a legal process that will reduce thesuffering that a patient undergoes because of a certain chronicillness or an accident (Pandya, 217). Besides that, they haveforgotten that in the past, the act was considered normal since mostof the people were not exposed to the British beliefs. A few examplesof the people that have used “Sallekhana” were diagnosed withadvanced cancer and a fatal kidney disease too (Pandya, 217). Theadvanced stage and the fatality of the diseases meant that they wouldmost likely die within a short time. From a religious perspective,the practice might be right, and the government needs to give themthe freedom to proceed with their long-held tradition.
In conclusion, the Indian Supreme Court should allow the group topractice “Sallekhana” to proceed since it has allowed euthanasiayet, the two procedures seem like they are the same thing. Besidesthat, the same article in the constitution that prohibits“Sallekhana” was created by the colonists that were against awide range of the Indian religious practices. The fact that thelawyers are arguing from the legal perspective and the Janis arereasoning from a religious perspective might complicate things. Thelack of a common ground is also another obstacle in finding thesolution. Hence, from a religious perspective, the practice seemsright since the Janis also believe in immortality that they want toachieve. Apart from that, the fact that the same constitution haslegalized and prohibits “Sallekhana” seems ironical. Instead, theconstitution should focus on legalizing “Sallekhana” because itstill serves the same purpose that is reducing the suffering that onemight undergo.
RNS. Aid to dying: What Jainism – One of India`s Oldest Religions- teaches Us. 11th June, 2016. Web. 11thSep, 2016.<http://theconversation.com/aid-to-dying-what-jainism-one-of-indias-oldest-religions-teaches-us-60828>
Pandya, Sunil. "As I approach the End of my Life…."Journal of postgraduate medicine 61.4 (2015): 217.
Rao, Sushila. "India and Euthanasia: The Poignant Case of ArunaShanbaug." Medical law review 19.4 (2011): 646-656.