"We will support the Jain family morally and legally," says Jain guru.

Hyderabad Jain leaders defend Aradhanas family slam activists for interference
news News Tuesday, October 11, 2016 - 17:19

Two days after an FIR was filed against the parents of Hyderabad girl Aradhana Samadaria for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and violation of the Juvenile Justice act, the Jain community in Hyderabad has rushed to their defense. The 13-year-old had died after she fasted for 68 days as a part of a Jain religious ritual.

“We will support the Jain family morally and legally, because we know they did not do anything wrong. Aradhana’s death is a loss for the whole community, and it was not because of the fast,” said Jain guru Sri Ravindra Muniji, at a press conference on Tuesday.

He also said that she had successfully completed her fast of 68 days and started taking regular food. Since there were no signs of illness during the ‘chaumasa’ fast days, her death was sudden for the family as well, he insisted.

Giving examples of Mahatma Gandhi and Chandragupta Maurya, the Jain guru said that many have been taking up fasts for several years, in search of spirituality and peace, and as a form of protest.

Defending Aradhana’s parents he said, “Several people across the country fast for months, by only consuming boiled water. This tradition has been followed for several years. We don’t encourage or stop anyone, but we do ask them to end the fast if it affects their health. We only inspire people with the culture and ideology of the religion. No one forced Aradhana,” he said.

According to the Jain guru, she took an oath every day before starting her fast, only after her condition was observed by the priests.

(Jain guru: Sri Ravindra Muniji)

“If someone is healthy, why would anyone consult a doctor?” he retorted, when asked why she was not taken to hospital as a precautionary measure during the fast. “Even on her 68th day of fast she was glowing and looking healthy,” he added.

According to him, Aradhana’s two aunts were doctors and could easily notice if she was unwell.

“She attended school for 40 days during her fast. She had the will-power and determination to complete the ritual,” said Ashok Sanklecha, the president of Jain Seva Sangh.

Pushpa Kimtee, one of the women who fasted for 30 days during Chaturmasa said, "I am 62-year-old, I follow this ritual every year and it has never affected my health."

The Jain guru also said that the community is being targeted and that Aradhana’s death was being wrongly presented by the media. He also warned activists not to interfere.

While tapasya is common in Jain community, this was not the first time Aradhana was fasting, according to her father Lakshmichand. In 2014, she fasted for 8 days and last year she fasted for 34 days during the chaumasa.

Inspired by the Navakar mahamantra which consists of 68 words, Aradhana had insisted on fasting for 68 days this year, according to her parents.

For more than 2 months, the 13-year-old had not had any food, surviving only on boiled water. Late in the night of October 3, a day after she finished her long fast, she fainted and was rushed to the hospital, where doctor said she died due to cardiac arrest. She was declared brought dead.

The incident came into light on October 7, after Balala Hakkula Sangam president Achyutha Rao lodged a complaint with the Hyderabad police, seeking action against the girl’s parents.

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