Aradhana Samdariya, a 13-year-old girl, has died in Hyderabad, southern India, after completing a two-month holy Jain fast amid allegations she was coerced. She fainted and fell into a coma after completing a 68-day fast during the Jain holy period known as Chaturmas before dying of cardiac arrest. Over the course of the 68 days, Aradhana was not allowed any food, including fruits and vegetables, and was given drinking water only until 6 p.m. At the end of the fast a massive celebration known as “paarana” was held at the family’s house, and local officials including parliamentarian B. B. Patil and minister Padma Rao Goud were pictured at the event. However, shortly afterward Arandhana collapsed from dehydration and passed away in the early hours of October 3.
Jainism is an ancient Indian religion which follows a strict adherence to non-violence, and many followers do not even eat honey as its collection could amount to hurting the bees. Fasting is a common practice in Jainism to atone for one’s sins. However, fasting until death, or Santhara, is typically reserved for the elderly or terminally ill.
Over 600 people attended Aradhana’s funeral procession, which was less an expression of mourning and more of a celebration, or Shobha Yatra, where the teenager was hailed as “bal tapasvi,” or one who achieves spiritual purity through suffering. However, many others also expressed their disgust at how a teenage girl was allowed, or possibly even coerced, into starving herself.
“It has been a practice for people to undertake severe penance when they give up even food and water,” Lata Jain, a member of the local community, told Indian news channel NDTV. “They are glorified, lauded and honored at community meetings by the religious elders. They are also showered with gifts. But in this case it was a minor and that is my objection. This is suicide, if not murder.”
The Andhra Pradesh Child Rights Association has lodged a police complaint against the girl’s parents, alleging that they forced Aradhana into taking the fast after being told by a religious guru that it would help bring prosperity to the family’s jewelry business.
Our companion party in India is very clear on its attitude towards religion:
“Religion is the most fantastic and fetishistic product of humans‟ self-alienation whereby they make themselves devoid of all power and a non-power all-powerful. It is the aura of “an inverted consciousness” of an “inverted world” – the “fantastic reflection of human things in human mind”.
All the various religions have a common origin – blind faith. Their tenets are very similar no matter how different they appear to be. They treat everything as the creation and manifestation of a supernatural, eternal idea – the omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient god, personified and descended through incarnation in a never-ending succession of gods and goddesses, to take charge of various aspects of nature and society. Prayers and rituals are practiced, and provision for an afterlife and immortality are preached by all.
Believers’ sincerity: Appalling though it is that our fellow workers indulge and throng themselves in thoughts and rites of ultimate salvation and rewards in cloudlands while our exploiters acquire their full deserts of riches down here on earth, and while the religious bodies preach sacrifice but practice possession well beyond the parameter of their precepts, socialists (unlike many rationalists) do not view workers as nonsense crowds. Most religiously minded workers are very sincere in their beliefs. Men and women who produce and distribute all wealth cannot be imbeciles. Aware or not, as long as they produce and distribute wealth they are materialists. It is only while treating conflicts, which are seen occurring between “good” and “evil” that they fall prey to religious superstitions and misconceptions."
If you want a world without the need for superstitions and the supernatural contact:
The World Socialist Party (India): 257 Baghajatin ‘E’ Block (East), Kolkata – 700086,