two camps on the pilgrimage of life-birth and death. If life is an art,
death is also an art.
Jainism has taught the art
of choosing death. Jain acaryas have spoken of 17 types of death. It would be interesting
and informative to know only the names of these types :
Life and death are
mysterious events. If a soul has not fixed up its next birth before death, then he gets
the life (birth) according to the thoughts going on in his mind at the ultimate moment of
death. Ordinary souls taking to raudra and arta dhyana get a low type of birth while souls
undertaking dharma or sukla dhyana (higher types - good types of dhyana) get a birth in a
The earlier Jain acharyas,
while contemplating death, said that in one samaya a soul can have one, three,
four or five deaths. The soul having Kevali marana attains to liberation and
becomes free from the cycle of life and death.
The types of death referred
to above are for ordinary souls. Out of these types of death akama marana and sakama
marana need to be properly understood.
Akama marana - He who is attached to objects of sense, does not
want to die. Yet he dies when his life-span is over. He dies helplessly. This death is,
therefore, called Akama marana (dying, though not willing to die).
Ignorant souls, who do not
believe in the other world, rebirth and liberation and who adopt the maxim If this
world is happy, who cares for the other world ? lead a sinful life. They are happy
with sinful karma but die with loud cries at the time of death. A person dying this type
of death, moves in the cycle of life and death till infinity.
- He who is not afraid at the time of death, dies by
welcoming death as a festival. This type of death is sakama-marana (dying willingly). He
who is born, necessarily dies. There is no way to avoid death. Then why raise a hue and
cry about and against death ? Thinking on these line, he who entertains good thoughts at
the time of death, requests for pardon of others and dies with good feelings. This type of
death is called sakama marana.
There are different types
of sakam marana - samadhi marana, anasana, santharo, and samlekhana.
To accept death, after
forgetting all wordly sorrows with a calm and religious mind is Samadhi-marana
: Anasana (fasting) has already been referred to while discussing this type of penance.
Santharo is a type of anasana - voluntary invitation to death after giving up food and
Samlekhana is also a kind
of penance. As it is connected with death, it has been referred to here. An aspirant
performing samlekhana performs a special type of penance of definite time-limit, but this
penance becomes a type of thorn with the yearning after enjoyments in this
world or the other world. Therefore the performers of this penance should take to it
without any desire for fruit and with a pure mental attitude.
Akama marana is also called
Bala-marana and sakama marana is called pandita-marana also.
For further study please read Uttaradhyayana Sutra,
Bhagvati Sutra, etc.