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  • Thumbnail for More Than Death: The Importance of Sallekhana in the Jain Community
    More Than Death: The Importance of Sallekhana in the Jain Community by Ingram, Linnea

    Sallekhana was recently banned in India on the grounds of being suicide. More importantly, however, due to its existence outside of Jain tenets, the ban defined the borders of Jainism and threatens to define boundaries of all religions to existing solely within the canonized literature. Christian martyrdom theories include the recognition of power in martyrs through suffering, faith leading to proper comportment, the inclusion of theater and performance in death, and the heroic versus natural man facing death. Scholarship has stopped at comparing Jainism and Christianity, in understanding the community aspect of Jainism, the morality of sallekhanā, or its comparison to suicide; however martyrdom theories can benefit sallekhanā through new understanding of the Jain community and the importance of sallekhanā in the communal identity. By reframing sallekhanā in comportment, intention, embodiment, engenderment and suffering/pain new borders for Jainism can include a lived religion and more importantly offer a new lens to understand sallekhanā as more than an individual act.