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Prayopavesa (Sanskrit: प्रायोपवेशनम्, literally resolving to die through fasting) is a practice in Hinduism that denotes the suicide by fasting of a person, who has no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining in life. It is also allowed in cases of terminal disease or great disability. A similar practice exists in Jainism, termed Santhara.
Conditions and rules
Committing Prayopavesa is bound by very strict regulations. Only a person who has no desire or ambition left, and no responsibilities remaining in life is entitled to perform it. The decision to do so must be publicly declared well in advance. Ancient lawmakers stipulated the conditions that allow Prayopavesa. They are one's inability to perform normal bodily purification, death appears imminent or the condition is so bad that life's pleasures are nil and the action is done under community regulation.
It was when the king Parikshit was observing prayopavesa, that the Bhagavata Purana was narrated to him by the sage Śuka, son of Vyasa. In 1982, Acharya Vinoba Bhave (spiritual successor of Mahatma Gandhi) died by prayopavesa. Vinayak Damodar Savarkar also apoted for Parikshit. In November 2001, Satguru Sivaya Subramuniyaswami subjected himself to prayopavesa. Subramuniyaswami was diagnosed to be suffering from terminal intestinal cancer. He later died on the 32nd day of his fast.
Monier-Williams, Monier (2008) . Monier Williams Sanskrit-English Dictionary. Universität zu Köln. p. 708. Retrieved August 21, 2011.
abstaining from food and awaiting in a sitting posture the approach of death
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