Luitgrad Soni: Jaina Dharma of Dying and Death

Luitgrad Soni’s talk for the Dharma in Jainism conference was titled ‘Jaina Dharma of Dying and Death’ where she explores the Jaina view of dying in the appropriate way. She explained the concept of aaradhana which must be maintained by a Jaina. Aaradhana is the core or essence which has a spiritual dimension and is a code of conduct that must always be maintained. It signifies having the right faith and the right conduct. This code entails that a Jain must attain a purpose, achieve monkhood and maintain perfection at the time of death. He/she must have darsana (faith), gnana (knowledge), caritra (conduct), practice penance as well as have mastery over all these virtues.

Her paper included references from Śivārya’s Mūlārādhanā, also known as the Bhagvatī Āradhānā which lists seventeen types of death out of which five are explained at length. The doctrine also says that if one is striving for Aaradhana, then they should make preparations for it. These preparations are seen as purifying the one who is striving for Aaradhana.

It becomes most important for a Jain to maintain aaradhana at all times in life, but especially at the time of death. Thus when death is approaching, a Jain must maintain detachment and forbearing towards life. If he/she fails to do so, the entire life’s worth of austerity may not hold true. Only if it is maintained during death will liberation be possible.

Report by: Ishani Debroy & Kimaya Khashnobish

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