Rishabh Gandhi Talks About Religion, Death, Law and More

May 28, 2024 - 13:55
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Rishabh Gandhi Talks About Religion, Death, Law and More

Rishabh Gandhi, the prominent lawyer and research scholar gave a talk at the Fourteenth International Conference on Religion & Spirituality in Society, held at the Universidad Complutense Madrid. His engaging and stimulating presentation titled, “Ethical Legal Dimensions Of Religious Death Practice of Samadhimaran in Jainism And Hinduism,” gave in depth perspectives into the historical, legal, ethical and cultural aspects of these practices. 

During this talk, Rishabh Gandhi delved into the Jain practice of Sallekhana. This practice’s roots can be found in the Jain Agamas that talk about the significance of the practice in the pursuit of Moksha, or liberation. Sallekhana involves a voluntary and gradual reduction of food and liquid intake. This is usually undertaken by the elderly or terminally ill individuals with the intention of achieving death with equilibrium through deep meditation and detachment from the material world. Rishabh Gandhi talked about how the practice has been a part of the Indian cultural tradition for over 2500 years holding great significance in the cultural fabric of our country.

He also discussed the practice of Prayopavesa in Hinduism. Prayopavesa has become nearly obsolete as a practice. Similar to Sallekhana, Prayopavesa involves fasting until death. The practice is performed by those who believe their life purpose is complete. Rishabh Gandhi talked about tracing the roots of this practice to ancient Hindu Puranas where the emphasis is on the spiritual aim of attaining Moksha. 

A significant portion of Rishabh Gandhi’s presentation was focussed on the ethical and legal implications of these religious practices. He focussed on the voluntary nature of these practices and the spiritual aim behind them. He negated the claims that these are likened to suicide as these are motivated by the individuals intention of attaining enlightenment. Being a prominent lawyer along with a scholar, he was also uniquely qualified to speak about the legal implications of the practices in modern India. He spoke about the 2015 Rajasthan High Court ruling that banned Sallekhana, categorizing it as an attempt to suicide. He spoke about the Supreme Court ruling that put a stay on the High Court’s ruling due to the debate between broader rights to life, privacy, and freedom of religion.

The conference, hosted by Common Ground Research Networks, was attended by representatives from 32 nations, demonstrating its international reach. The conference highlighted the significance of such talks in today's global setting, where the junction of religious freedom and legal rights remains a difficult subject.

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