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The general misconception about Sati

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The general misconception about Sati Empty The general misconception about Sati

Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon May 23, 2022 8:05 am

"In the 16th century, Mughal emperor Humayun was the first to try a royal agreement against the practice of Sati. Emperor Akbar issued official orders prohibiting Sati and since then it was done voluntarily by women. He also issued orders that no woman could commit Sati without a specific permission from his chief police officers. Akbar had also instructed the officers to delay the woman's decision for as long as possible. The British rulers followed it.

"The Portuguese banned the practice in Goa by 1515 while the Dutch and the French banned it in Hoogli-Chunchura (then Chinsurah) and Pondicherry respectively. Finally the Bengal Sati Regulation which banned the Sati practice in all jurisdictions of British India was passed on December 4, 1829 by the then Governor General Lord William Bentinck. The British was convinced to do it because of the constant persuasion of Raja Ram Mohan Roy whose sister in law, a widow at young age, was burnt alive under this inhuman religious practice. (Reference: Asher, Catherine B., Talbot, Cynthia (2006), India before Europe, Cambridge University Press, London.)"

Source: FB (May 22, 2022: https://www.facebook.com/sujan.sengupta.7/posts/pfbid0h8SGYNax9hYUyRt7Z4e4sij1adTcAoKSKtqfXyKLcix1Ri1qmtsNZDcP73wLhXEBl )

Comment:

Hindu women did not immolate themselves as a religiously required condition upon the death of their husbands before the reign of Humayun. The cases of sati (suicide by fire) used to be quite isolated and chiefly for personal / family reasons, and not frequently and as required religiously from widows.

Even in the Mahabharata (long before Humayun), queen Satyavati continued to live (without committing sati) and she even assumed the role of matriarch of her family after the death of her husband Shantanu.

Moreover, Satyavati's daughters-in-law (Ambika and Ambalika) even bore children with another man, rather than commit sati (kill themselves), after their husband (Satyavati's son Vichitravirya) died prematurely and without begetting an offspring.

Seva Lamberdar
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon May 23, 2022 10:12 am

On the issue of Madri committing suicide (Sati) after the death of her husband Pandu in the Mahabharata, that was an exception and not the rule; Kunti (Pandu's other wife) continued to live after Pandu's death.

There are millions of Hindu widows living in India currently, and the same was the case thousands of years ago in India for widows in general not ending their lives after their husbands' deaths. But some people still think ignorantly that Sati was / is a Hindu religious custom.

If some laws were passed in the past against Sati which was not religiously ordained practice for Hindu widows anyway, that basically was to stop / discourage legally the suicides by some utterly despondent / helpless new widows (like the current laws against encouraging and committing suicide).
Seva Lamberdar
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Mon May 23, 2022 11:02 am

Sati cases were extremely rare and small in number.

Rather than the religious ordinance supporting Sati for a widow, the main causes for committing sati by a widow included the danger to personal safety / security and the uncertainty about social and financial support to her, on long term basis especially, after her husband's death.

In some cases, when a woman (quite helpless, insecure and without money / property) did not kill herself by Sati following her husband's death, she might even end up in a remote temple or religious place to spend the rest of her life living like a hermit, often with her family's permission.

But all these cases, a widowed woman killing herself immediately by Sati or spending her life with shaved head in a remote temple or religious place, were not the result of some Hindu religious ordinance but mostly for personal / family (social) reasons.
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Post by desi aunty Mon May 23, 2022 12:16 pm


I always struggled with understanding these customs, until I began understanding the commerce behind it. 


It’s all about money (or lack of it), greed, power and exploitation. Almost everything can be unfortunately explained by it. 


Reason why families who have ample money, and people who have no money, alongwith having a decent upbringing never fall into these BS. 

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Post by Seva Lamberdar Tue May 24, 2022 7:34 am

D.A.,

Thanks for the comment.

As I indicated earlier, the few isolated instances of Sati (suicide by fire) by women (widowed already or soon to be widow) in Rajasthan, Bengal and other places were basically the result of personal / family situation (utter despondence / depression immediately following husband's death, and the lack of personal safety and security later including the uncertainty about financial and family/social support on long term later).

The same personal / family causes and situations (as listed above) also made many widowed women, not committing Sati, to leave their homes to spend the rest of their lives like hermits (with shaved heads) while finding shelter (usually with family's approval) in remote temples and religious places.

In some instances, the newborn and young girls were also conveniently abandoned / left by their parents / families (unwilling or unable to take care and raise the girl child) to the care of temples where they grew up as dev-daasis (Lord's servants) helping and serving in the temple. Sometimes, dev-daasis ended up getting exploited and abused (including sexually) by the unscrupulous temple staff (including some bad priests), which had little to do with the religion (Hinduism) but mostly due to the bad choice by parents in getting rid of their unwanted daughters.

It is thus clear that all these situations -- girls abandoned by parents to grow up and live like dev-daasis in temples while getting exploited sometimes by unscrupulous temple staff, the widowed women committing suicide by fire (Sati) and the widowed women ending up in temples and religious places to spend remaining life as hermits (usually with shaved heads) -- were due only to family / personal reasons. Obviously, there was no requirement in religion (Hinduism) that parents abandon / leave their unwanted girls in temples in the care of strangers to become dev-daasi, or widows kill themselves as Sati, or widows leave their homes, shave their heads and live like hermits in temples and religious places.
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Post by Seva Lamberdar Wed May 25, 2022 6:54 am

There would be no reason for a religious proclamation (decree) favoring Sati leading to the suffering and death of a woman whose husband just died, considering Hinduism is very compassionate and forgiving as indicated in the following Yajur Veda hymn dedicated to Agni (one of the names for Brahman / God, especially in yajna worship using fire).

"O Agni...each fault done in a village or in forest, in society or mind, each sinful act that we have committed to Shudra or Vaishya or by preventing a religious act, even of that sin, you are the expiation..." The Yajur Veda (Kanda 1, Prapathaka 8, Hymn i.8.3.d)

Moreover, even the Agni-preeksha (literally meaning the test or query using fire) religiously did not require a person (man or woman) to jump in fire to prove innocence, as some people mistakenly think now that the innocent would come out of fire alive and unscathed after Agni-preeksha.

In reality, rather than jumping in the fire to prove innocence, the Agni-preeksha would only involve the swearing of a statement of innocence in front of holy fire, usually the yajna fire dedicated to deity Agni (one of the names for Brahman).
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