January 19th, 2011
01:45 PM ET

Self-immolation: The ultimate sacrifice

Night had fallen when the men heard the sounds on the mountain. First it was a chime, then a recitation of verses, followed by the crackle of wood burning. They scrambled to the summit to see what was happening.

There, seated with his palms together and facing west, was their friend. Flames leapt around the peaceful man, engulfing him. It was just as he'd intended.

The year was 527.

Read the full story about the history of self-immolation, from 4th century Chinese Buddhism to North Africa today

- CNN Writer/Producer

Filed under: Afghanistan • Africa • Buddhism • Culture & Science • Hinduism • Politics

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Rohan

    PRICH you have done well. i would have loved to have you sit with me to model out practical slnutioos you provided in your essay on how best to end violence against women

    September 9, 2012 at 12:49 am |
  2. me

    If yer gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough....

    January 25, 2011 at 3:41 pm |
  3. ijreilly

    More change can be brought about, I believe, if you are alive.

    January 20, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • Ikkstans

      I would usually agree but in this scenario. You cannot ignore someone that is killing themselves for a cause. To kill someone else may completely label them as crazy, a radical, a murderer etc however in some situations this self immolation is what brings the most change. What sort of government, religion, group of people, etc can ignore groups of people killing themselves because of whatever is going on. That cannot be ignored and if it is, those that are alive will rise up against it.

      March 11, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • Aasu

      this has brought, plseae read the following articles: SL Username Changes on Grid Expectations What's my name on Shopping Cart Disco And what for all this? Probably for a marketing campaign so Linden Lab can

      September 7, 2012 at 9:16 am |
  4. GSA

    The few videos I have seen of this are of Bhuddists monks and when they set themselves on fire they just sat their burning while reciting prayer peacefully. How one can burn for minutes on end and not scream or panic is beyond me.
    @Reality – good point, they may have their reasoning no matter how crazy but at least no one innocent was hurt.

    January 20, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
  5. 1RingyDingy

    Great strategy... I don't like what you are doing so I think I'll kill myself – slowly !!

    January 20, 2011 at 6:58 am |
  6. Reality

    Suicide with a purpose!! Why not as long as no one else got hurt or killed!!! Unlike, Islamic, koranic-driven Islamic suicide bombers!!!

    January 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm |
  7. GSA

    I've seen a few videos of this. Sad that someone would go (or have to go) to that extent to get their point made and yet also very fascinating that someone would have that level of faith in their beliefs....not many do.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • David Johnson


      You said: "very fascinating that someone would have that level of faith in their beliefs....not many do."

      Yep, this would be a good example to point out to the Christian Evangelicals that claim only they have faith.

      Too bad faith and belief do not result in the discovery of truth. *sigh*


      January 20, 2011 at 9:30 am |
  8. Bob

    Everyone loves BBQ.

    January 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm |
  9. Ykcyc

    My Life
    My Life… My fantasy …
    So little… and so-oh much!
    However fleeting seems this moment
    It becomes real by my touch.

    As I create, that I make real,
    Whatever makes a worthwhile Life
    The slightest doubts disappear
    In passing time and daily strife.

    So, what is Life? Life’s but a dream
    One tiny moment at a time
    Whatever choice to do or be
    In deed; thy will be done!

    Each breath I take – a priceless gift.
    Each day I am grateful for.
    For love and joy is in my heart
    Will be, forevermore.

    To be; feel; know, that… I am !!!
    Amazed by what’s around me,
    As if a part of grandest plan
    Provides me what I need, to be.

    Not guilt, not fear, nor darkest night
    Can keep away my destiny,
    Take me away from guiding light
    From what I am or long to be.

    The time will come, this Life will end.
    No more... of this reality.
    My precious time will all be spent,
    Existence – only memory.

    But don’t be sad, as I close my eyes,
    I’ve got to know joy and sorrow,
    I got to be in Paradise –
    No past, no future – only NOW!

    January 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
    • Peace2All


      Hey Pal...

      As per usual, I typically enjoy reading your prose/poetry.

      Hope that you are well...?


      January 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm |
    • Ykcyc

      Hi there, friend!
      Everything is just the way it is supposed to be.
      Thank you for your kind words.
      Hope peace is with you, as well.

      January 20, 2011 at 8:26 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.