Sallekhana is the last vow prescribed by the Jain ethical code of conduct. The vow of sallekhana is observed by the Jain ascetics and lay votaries at the end of their life by reducing the intake of food. Sallekhana is allowed when normal life according to religion is not possible due to old age and it is a highly respected practice among the members of the Jain community. According to Jain texts, sallekhana leads to ahimsā, as a person observing sallekhana subjugates the passions, in 2015, the Rajasthan High Court banned the practice, calling it suicide. On 31 August 2015, the Supreme Court of India stayed the decision of the Rajasthan High Court, Sallekhana is made up from two words sal and lekhana, which means to thin out. Properly thinning out of the passions and the body is sallekhana, Sallekhana is prescribed both for householders and ascetics. In Jainism, both ascetics and householders have to follow five fundamental vows, ascetics must observe complete abstinence and their vows are thus called mahavratas, the vows of the laity are called anuvratas. Jain ethical code also prescribes seven supplementary vows, which include three guņa vratas and four śikşā vratas, an ascetic or householder who has observed all the vows prescribed to shed the karmas, takes the vow of sallekhana at the end of his life. According to the Jain text, Purushartha Siddhyupaya, sallekhana enable a householder to carry with him his wealth of piety, Sallekhana is treated as a supplementary to the twelve vows taken by Jains. However, some Jain Acharyas such as Kundakunda, Devasena, Padmanandin and Vasunandin have included it under the last vow, according to famous Jain text, Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra, the sallekhana can be observed only on the arrival of unavoidable calamity, distress, senescence and disease. The duration of the practice could be up to years or more. Sixth part of the Jain text, Ratnakaranda śrāvakācāra is on sallekhana, the procedure expounded is as follows— Giving up solid food by degrees, one should take to milk and whey, then giving them up, to hot or spiced water. Giving up hot water also, and observing fasting with full determination, he should give up his body, the purpose is to purge old karmas and prevent the creation of new ones. The vow of Sallekhana can not be taken by a lay person on his own without being permitted by a monk, in around 300 BC, Chandragupta Maurya undertook sallekhana atop Chandragiri Hill, Śravaṇa Beḷgoḷa, Karnataka. Chandragupta basadi at Shravanabelagola marks the place where the saint Chandragupta died, the Doddahundi nishidhi inscription, a hero stone from Doddahundi,18 km from Tirumakudalu Narasipura in the Mysore district, Karnataka state, India. It has an undated old Kannada language inscription which historians J. F. Fleet, I. K. Sarma, rice have dated by context to 840 or 869 C. E. The hero stone has a depiction in frieze of the ritual death of the Western Ganga Dynasty king Ereganga Nitimarga I. The memorial was raised by the kings son Satyavakya, such nishidhis were raised in medieval India in honor of important Jain personalities who ended their life voluntarily after following severe ritual vow
Nishidhi, a 14th-century memorial stone depicting the observance of the vow of Sallekhana with old Kannada inscription. Found at Tavanandi forest, Karnataka, India.
An inscription (No.130) in memory of Vinayadevasena who observed Sallekhana. 7th century Kannada script. Found at Shravanbelgola, Karnataka, India.