Jainist monk Gives Support for India’s Landmark Euthanasia Legalization

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India Supreme Court Gave Decision Supporting Passive Euthanasia

Tajur Sagar, a Jain monk, was welcoming to the Supreme Court’s decision to allow passive euthanasia. He said that the practice coincides with the beliefs of Jainism. He recognized that the Supreme Court’s Friday ruling was legally historic, but that has always been a law in Jainism.

The decision passed by India’s top court last week gave approval to passive euthanasia. This is the practice of withholding treatment that is essential to life for a terminally ill individual. A constitution bench of five judges led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Kumar Misra made the order into law. The bench set some guidelines to the permission of passive euthanasia.

The Supreme Court said that “living will” would be allowed only after permission is obtained from the family of the patient who seeks passive euthanasia. In addition to that, a team of expert doctors would also need to reach a conclusion that the said individual cannot be revived.

Jains believe in sallekhana, the very holy right of fasting to death. According to the Jain religion, the rite can free one’s soul from the endless cycle of birth and death, reincarnation. In the religion, a Jain is allowed to undertake sallekhana if they are suffering from an incurable disease or the devastation of old age. Before they can go through the death fast, they get permission from a senior monk. A Jain is not allowed to go through sallekhana if they have worldly responsibilities like children to care for. During sallekhana, the Jain gives up food and drink. He or she focuses on prayer and fasting until their death. They then receive a special funeral.

The allowance of passive euthanasia, although controversial, is celebrated in the Jain religion.

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