• 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Sthree Dharma
<b>Another male bastion falls</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->ANAND/AHMEDABAD: When Riddhi Vora's mother died last month, she did not think twice before performing the last rites.

Many eyebrows were raised in the conservative place that Bhuj is, but Riddhi, a teacher and the eldest of two daughters, says, "Our parents brought us up without any discrimination. I believe it's our duty to perform all rituals, irrespective of gender."

<b>Riddhi even accepted the 'Janoi' (sacred thread) for a ritual known as 'Varshi'. Female foeticide may be rampant in some parts of Gujarat, but the last decade has seen instances of daughters taking over customs that have traditionally been only the male child's privilege, like performing the last rites of their parents.

Jitendra Vora, a priest, sees this as a healthy change. "In one case, a daughter performed funeral rites despite having three brothers,"he says.</b>

Like many parents, Mangla Patel, 65, wanted a male child after having three daughters. But she has no regrets today of not having had one - her daughter Neeta completed all the rituals when her father passed away four years ago.

"Initially, some relatives objected, but elders consented,"says Neeta, an advocate from Petlad. BK Kanabar, a businessman from Talala of Saurashtra, may have spent years wishing for a male child.

But when he died in January, his daughters - Sejal, Hetal, Hemal, Dipti, and Poonam - did not let him down and became his pall-bearers.

"I was supposed to carry out his final rites but when my cousins expressed the desire to perform the rituals, we promptly agreed. In fact, the entire town lauded their love for their father,"Kanabar's nephew Mahesh said.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
More appropriate here - this is a response to comments in another thread:
<!--QuoteBegin-ben_ami+Jul 21 2006, 12:06 PM-->QUOTE(ben_ami @ Jul 21 2006, 12:06 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->btw, the other semetic heresay of feminism has done no less damage to people tho - its ruined the family in the west.[right][snapback]54245[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->You're possibly joking, but having come across and read some of your other posts, I'm not certain.

Don't know the specifics about feminism - isn't it about "equal pay for equal work"? Or maybe that was the suffragette movement. Unless feminism is the one where women and probably men merely want equal social rights and perception for the <i>entire</i> human population. Then it sounds fair to me.
Anyway, feminism appears to have been caused by the build up of natural compulsions against being oppressed by Christianity for over a millennium. It is similar to how the Enlightenment was precipitated by the dark ages of Christianity which lead to a collective move out of the ignorance. In as far as you mean to imply that Christianity caused a reactionary move now called feminism, I'd agree. But if you mean anything else, you are quite wrong.

Equality in all spheres, including the social sphere, for men and women has been a hallmark of many old societies/religions. Take the North American native Americans, for instance. They had a very egalitarian society and I might add, a very successful and advanced one (until Christianity came and destroyed everything, of course). Likewise, ancient Indian society. No talk of egalitarianism "ruining families" in either case.

That feminism (or any such movement) gave women more say in their personal and social lives in Christian countries is a step forward. If that resulted in the break-up of many restrictive Christian families, then so be it. Better that than men and women being miserably stuck together in marriage for the rest of their lives, trapped in a religious outlook that dumbs one side down and thus makes the other side not have an equal partner. Having said that, the feminism movement has been hijacked by Christians today (just like they take over all popular movements) with women who imagine the bible and its usual irreconcilable drivel compatible with equality. So their oppression merely continues.

<!--QuoteBegin-ben_ami+Jul 21 2006, 12:06 PM-->QUOTE(ben_ami @ Jul 21 2006, 12:06 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin-->and even feminsm (very contrary to nature - women simply arnt born to make good husbands).[right][snapback]54245[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Neither are you apparently.
Anyway, Islam and Christianity share your opinion about the strictly prescribed natures of men/women (which are opposed to what's evidenced by sensible or scientific observation).
Hinduism, on the other hand, teaches that the soul is genderless and that one can be born in either gender. There is not much talk of egalitarianism in Hinduism, simply because it is assumed (gender differences are entirely immaterial in Hindu philosophical outlook). The body is considered merely the vessel in which the spirit is harboured in this life, possibly to impart some life lesson best learnt from a man's or woman's perspective (Bhishma in the Mahabharatam has an interesting discussion on this, I think.) Possibly, life as a woman is on the cards for you next.

An unrelated remark but I'll add it here - an undesirable side-effect of either feminism (or whatever post-Christian movement gave rise to it) is the notion that women are a mystery to men and men are a mystery to women. Or that either is fundamentally different. Nonsense. They're just humans. Even animals are not a mystery, so this is just plain nonsense.
Got this via mail.... worth a read.

Indian Royalty

It seems that an article was written to a well founded magazine by a
Caucasian woman who requested a response from Indian men. I'm so glad she
got what she asked for (and more)!!!

This letter was written in response to an article:

Dear Editor:

I'm sorry but I would like to challenge some of your Indian male readers. I
am a White female who is engaged to an Indian male - good-looking, educated
and loving.

I just don't understand a lot of Indian female's attitudes about our
relationship. My man decided he wanted me because the pickings amongst
Indian women were slim to none. As he said they were too fat, too loud, too
mean, too argumentative, too needy, too materialistic or carrying too much
excess baggage.

Before I became engaged, whenever I went out I was constantly approached by
Indian men, willing to wine and dine me and give me the world. If Indian
women are so up in arms about us being with their men, why don't they look
at themselves and make some changes.

I am tired of the dirty looks I get and snide remarks when we're out in
public. I would like to hear from some Indian men about why we are so
appealing and coveted by them. Bryant Gumbel just left his wife of, 26 years
for one of us. Charles Barkley, Scottie Pippen, the model Tyson Beckford,
Montell Williams, Quincy Jones, James Earl Jones, Harry Belafonte, Sydney
Poitier, Kofi Anan, Cuba Gooding Jr., Don Cornelius, Berry Gordy, Billy
Blanks, Larry Fishburne, Wesley Snipes...I could go on and on.

But, right now, I'm a little angry and that is why I wrote this so
hurriedly. Don't be mad with us White women because so many of your men want
us. Get your acts together and learn from us and we may lead you to treat
your men better. If I'm wrong, Indian men, let me know.

A Disgusted White Girl, Somewhere in VA.

Dear Editor:

I would like to respond to the letter written by A Disgusted White Girl. Let
me start by saying that I am a 28-year old Indian man. I graduated from
one of the most prestigious universities in Atlanta, Georgia with a Bachelor
of Arts Degree in Business Management.

I have a good job at a major corporation and have recently purchased a
house. So, I consider myself to be among the ranks of successful Non-White
men. I will not use my precious time to slander white people. I just want to
set the record straight of why Indian men date white women.

Back in the day, one of the biggest reasons why Indian men dated white women
was because they were considered easy. The Indian girls in my neighbourhood
were raised traditionally. They were very strict about when they lost their
virginity and who they lost it to. Because of our impatience to wait,
brothers would look for someone who would give it up easy without too much
hassle. So, they turned to the white girls.

Nowadays, in my opinion, a lot of Indian males date white women because they
are docile and easy to control. A lot of Indian men, because of
insecurities, fears, and overall weaknesses, have become intimidated by the
strength of our Indian women. We are afraid that our woman will be more
successful than us, make more money than us, drive nicer cars and own
bigger houses. Because of this fear, many Indian men look for a more docile
woman. Someone we can control. I have talked to numerous Indian men and they
continuously comment on how easy it is to control and walk over their white

I just want to set the record straight. I want A Disgusted White Girl to
know that not all successful Indian men date white women. Non-Whites like
Ahmad Rashad, Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan, Morris Chestn! ut, Will
Smith, Blair Underwood, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Samuel L. Jackson, and
Chris Rock all married strong Non-White women.

And, to flip the script, there are numerous white men, in and out of the
spot light, who openly or secretly desire Non-White women over white women.
Ted Danson, Robert DeNiro, and David Bowie to name a few. I just don't want
a disgusted white girl to be misinformed.

Stop thinking that because you are white that you are some type of goddess.
Remember, when Non-White Egyptian Queens like Hatsepshut and Nitorcris were
ruling Dynasties and armies of men in Egypt, you were over in the caves of
Europe eating raw meat and beating each other over the head with clubs.
Read your history! It was the Non-White woman that taught you how to cook
and season your food.

It was the Non-White woman that taught you how to raise your children. It
was Non-White women who were breastfeeding and raising your! Babies during
slavery. It is the Non-White woman that had to endure watching their
fathers, husbands, and children beaten, killed, and thrown in jail.

Indian women were born with two strikes against them: being Non-White and
being a woman. And, through all this, still They Rise! It is because of the
Indian women's strength, elegance, power, love and beauty that I could never
date anyone except my Indian Queen. It is not just the outer beauty that
captivates and draws me to them. It is not the fact that they come in all
shapes, sizes, colors and shades that I love them. Their inner beauty is
what I find most appealing about Indian women. Their strong spirit, loving
and nurturing souls, their integrity, their ability to overcome great
obstacles, their willingness to stand for what they believe in, and their
determination to succeed and reach their highest potential while enduring
great pain and suffering is why I have fallen in love with Indian women.

I honestly believe that your anger is geared more toward jealousy and envy
than snotty looks. If this were not so, then why do you continuously go to
tanning salons to darken your skin? If you are so proud to be white, then
why don't you just be happy with your pale skin? Why do you continue to
inject your lips, hips, and breasts with unnatural and dangerous substances
so you can look fuller and more voluptuous? I think that your anger is
really a result of you wanting to have what the Non-White woman has.

BOTTOM LINE: If I were looking for a docile woman, someone I can walk over
and control, I would give you a call. But, unfortunately, I am looking for a
Virtuous Woman. Someone that can be a good wife and mother to my children.
Someone who can be my best friend and understands my struggles. I am looking
for a soul mate and; unfortunately, you do not and CANNOT fit the bill.

No offence taken, none given.

Indian Royalty
About the material pasted in Post 63:
I actually found the response of "Indian Royalty" (IR) to "A Disgusted White Girl" (DWG) rather disappointing. Obviously DWG identifies more with the colour of her skin than anything else, but for IR to respond in equal manner is to stoop to the same level.

IR's points about the qualities of Indian women, African-American women who served as slaves, Egyptian queens were all very good. But the thrust of his argument, in spite of making use of these promising points, was a sad let-down.

DWG obviously correlated 'white' skin-colour with other qualities that men of other origins found compatible. Instead of responding by arguing that these other qualities were abundant in people all over the world and therefore were utterly unrelated to one's colour, IR still kept the debate to the wholly irrelevant 'skin-colour'.

Racism is not defeated by adopting racism oneself. Indians (of the Dharmic religions) - and Native Americans, Africans, the Europeans of the Old World, and others - had never identified themselves as better or worse based on something so trivial as skin-colour. Racist views were totally new and unknown to people of these backgrounds. Yes, I agree that Christian imperialists tried to teach us the world as they've seen it, but that doesn't mean we need to accept it or conform to it.

Racism should be destroyed by proving constantly that it is utterly flawed. IR would have done well to point out this underlying flaw in DWG's argument. It would both have corrected her, and perhaps taught her some humility by holding up a mirror in front of her. It might also not have alienated more open-minded readers.

As a counter-argument to IR's "white women are no comparison to Indian/other dark women", I put up a picture of a Greek-Australian woman who follows Hellenismos (ancient ancestral Greek religion). She and her colleagues performed some sacred rituals and celebrations to inaugurate the Sydney Olympics:
<img src='http://jesus-messiah.com/gifs/olympic-flame.jpg' border='0' alt='user posted image' />
I defy anyone to tell me she does not exude the beauty, intelligence and grace of a Greek Goddess (or at least remind one of Hypatia, the Neo-Platonic mathematician also known for her great beauty).

Why must Indians, Hindus in particular, counter racists using reactive-racism (it's like if Hindus were to counter ChristoIslamist beliefs in monotheist superiority by arguing that "polytheism is superior"). It's another non-argument in the making, and has <i>nothing</i> to do with Dharmic India. The ChristoIslamists have apparently been successful in spreading their racist venom - seeing as how some Indians, like IR, have unlearnt to appreciate all that is good in all peoples of the world.

- Racism believes that one 'race' is better than others, it sees the whole world, and the history thereof, as a war between skin-colours: one bringing Civilised order, the other attempting the destruction of Civilisation. It imagines that disharmony between populations of different skin-colours is inevitable. It's vehemence in irrationally hating or disliking others causes others to become reactive, which then confirms the unfounded racist belief in "inevitable disharmony".
- Reactive-racism - equally flawed - falls for the belief of 'race' and for the racist trap that there need be any disharmony, by arguing that the 'other races' are better.
Neither of these is anywhere near the truth. Racism needs to be confounded, not humoured.

Sunder, I'd much rather read your reply to DWG than that of IR.
Book review
<b>Daughters of the Goddess: The Female Saints of India</b><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--> Linda Johnsen's account challenges the western stereotype of Hinduism as a male dominated religion; pointing out that despite the (sometimes serious) gender issues that exist in Hindu society, in no other religion do women form such a large number of the most revered religious figures, both human saints and archetypal deities. She explains, "It is no accident that in India, the deity who governs education, the arts, and religious knowledge is Sarasvati; the deity associated with strength and protection is Durga; the deity who rules wealth and commerce is Lakshmi - all are Goddesses."

She also contrasts India's 'women of spirit' with western role models of feminism: "I wonder what it might have been like growing up not with Cinderella or Sleeping beauty as role models, but Lallesvari or Mira Bai. Suppose instead of aspiring to be presidents of software firms, ultra thin models, or successful artists and scholars, <b>we women of the West could also picture ourselves as divine beings who could move at will through the inner corridors of the universe?"</b>

Overall, Daughters of the Goddess is an engrossing and charming book. At only 128 pages, and written in a lively and fast paced format, it is sure to reach out to a wide audience. The only downside is that the liberal use of technical Sanskrit terms may baffle some readers (although this is remedied by the glossary). Overall, however, I am sure that this book is destined to change many lives, and highly recommend it to anybody sincerely interested in the subject matter
“Never get in a mess with a woman.” This is the statement given by everybody, from a police officer to gangster, from politicians to a common man. This gender carries so much credibility that the society is forced to react on a slightest grumble of a woman. The society has assumed that they will be accused of hurting a woman if they don’t take the side of a woman even if they know that the woman’s complaint is baseless and unjustified.

Police are wary of reacting if a woman happens to commit a crime. There are innumerable cases where police officers were falsely accused of misbehaving with a woman even when the woman was the culprit. Police has to immediately take an action against a man whenever a woman is the accuser. Even when the police are aware that the woman is the main culprit and the man is innocent, they are compelled to arrest the innocent man. They are scared that their reluctance in registering a woman’s complaint and not arrested the accused might invite women organizations to their police station. Excise officers are cautious in raiding a factory because they have been falsely accused of molesting women employees in the past. And they know that a woman’s allegation always invite trouble even if it is a false allegation. Media are scared of taking a risk of publishing any article or news that exposes a woman’s crime. They are forced to publish articles that show women as victims and men as criminals and if they don’t do it, they face a severe public criticism from women organization.

Politicians too are unwilling to challenge women organization’s absurd legal proposals because they have been boycotted by women organizations which could be detrimental to their political stability. Ministers are careful not to give any statements that could invite rebuke from women organizations even if their statement is correct and justified. Men, in general, are careful not to get into trouble with a woman because they know that even if they are innocent and the woman is at fault, they will either get beaten up by the public or get arrested by the police. In offices too, seniors are careful in dealing with their female employees as they can easily disrupt the management by calling women’s cell and falsely accuse the seniors. Men are keeping their distance with female employees in submission because they could easily get fired if the female employee intends to falsely accuse them of sexual harassment. The legal system invariably passes judgments in favour of women even when she is at fault to avoid protests from women organizations.

In every field, women are expected to get special preferential treatment. Budget is prepared keeping in mind that they are obligated to keep women organizations happy or else they will be boycotted politically. Nobody messes around with women even if the woman is at fault. They are above the law, above the society and culture and very soon, they will be above God since they have already started preaching people that women were worshipped in the olden days. They can wear anything they want but they still expect the people to respect their dignity and modesty. They can sleep around with anybody, have one-night stand, get into adultery, but women organizations always force people to respect them.

This is the status of women in India. However, what we continuously hear from women organizations that women are the weaker gender and their status in the society is inferior. Really! It is one of the classic deceptions of the 21st century where women rein the whole nation but continue to be called the weaker gender. The whole nation is scared of women but still they say that they are living in a male-dominated society. There is none to challenge the deception these women are establishing in the country. They have deliberately maintained their position of calling themselves weaker gender in order to extract as much legal protective laws as possible to be in control of everything.

As long as you and I continue to tolerate this mass deception of women, their power will increase manifold which will easily strangulate our basic human rights. Now that their deception has been uncovered and exposed to the public knowledge, the people must react against it and reclaim their human rights. Considering the above condition of the country, no man would ever say that women are the weaker gender. Now men have become the weaker gender only because we are forced to assume that women are special and need protection. Now make your own choice. Accept and tolerate what you hear or fight for your rights and stop their feministic invasion. It is our social obligation and responsibility to stop this deception that is ruining our country and making the lives of people torturous. If we don’t do anything, then who will?
Do you have same views regrading your own mother or grand mother or sister?

It seems either you are going through nasty divorce or rejected by some smart women.
Why the Indian housewife deserves paeans of praise
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The country's growth is largely due to the people's efforts, particularly the frugal habits of housewives, who are putting corporates and the government to shame though both are cornering the credit for the economy's performance. R. VAIDYANATHAN says housewives will help realise the country's dream of becoming a superpower. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I came across a series of interesting articles on Roop Kunwar's Sati, I do not agree with Sati (different from Jauhar) in principle or practice but these articles really do make interesting points that are worth pondering about:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->'Horror of Sati’ or Tyranny of the Elect?
by Patrick Harrigan
The Statesman (Calcutta & New Delhi) of 5th November 1987

"What is most astonishing...is not that a Rajput widow has performed the rite of sati, for in doing so she simply demonstrates her assent to the set of principles and beliefs that make one a Rajput in the traditional sense. Nor is it surprising that a handful of English-educated exponents of ‘social progress’ would take upon themselves the moral burden of "uplifting the ignorant masses", i.e. to make others see things their way. Rather, it is the unanimous barrage of rabidly anti-sati sentiment filling the English language press and the complete absence of dialogue or discussion between the two sides that shocks and disappoints not only the foreign scholar but also, presumably, anyone else sharing an interest in the survival of democratic as well as traditional institutions in twentieth-century India."

Of late there has been a commotion in the Indian press concerning an incident of sati, or ritual self-immolation, which occurred recently in a remote village in Rajasthan. In a chilling act of courage reminiscent of Rajasthan’s days of glory, a teen-aged bride is reported to have coolly mounted her deceased husband’s funeral pyre and consented to be immolated together with her spouse before the gaze of a few hundred onlookers. The controversy ignited by this young Rajput heroine is still burning, and is unlikely to be soon forgotten.

Except for a small press article that was released nationally, the whole incident might have escaped the attention of the reading public outside of Rajasthan. But once it became known that a Sati Mata shrine was to be erected in honor of Roop Kanwar, feminists across the country (or, at least, ‘hundreds’ of them in certain cities) sent a flurry of irate letters to press editors and politicians demanding that official action be taken so that “no public function be allowed to be held that would glorify the ghastly practice of sati.”

The English language press was quick to seize onto a good story, and joined hands with outraged feminists in a campaign to denounce sati practice and to ‘throw the book’ at anyone associated, however innocently, with the incident of Roop Kanwar’s sati. Next it was the politicians who were seen climbing on board to be the first and loudest to express their moral outrage. Finally it fell upon the courts and local police to bring their sticks down upon participating sympathizers and to rigorously prevent any future recurrence.

Merely “curious”?

What this observer finds most astonishing is not that a Rajput widow has performed the rite of sati, for in doing so she simply demonstrates her assent to the set of principles and beliefs that make one a Rajput in the traditional sense. Nor is it surprising that a handful of English-educated exponents of ‘social progress’ would take upon themselves the moral burden of ‘uplifting the ignorant masses’, i.e. to make others see things their way. Rather, it is the unanimous barrage of rabidly anti-sati sentiment filling the English language press and the complete absence of any dialogue or discussion between the two sides that shocks and disappoints not only the foreign scholar but also, presumably, anyone else sharing an interest in the survival of democratic as well as traditional institutions in twentieth-century India.

Judging by the outcry in the English papers, one might suppose that Indian society as a whole deplores sati. The facts, however, indicate just the opposite. Against the ‘hundreds’ who so vehemently complained, a reported two to four hundred thousand men, women and children quietly ‘voted with their feet’ by attending a Vedic ceremony in Deorala village on the thirteenth day after the rite of immolation. And this occurred, we are told, despite a Government order to prevent "outsiders" from attending.

In this instance, it seems that the Government itself was the principal "outsider". Although vehicular traffic was stopped fourteen kilometers from the village, this did not deter the pilgrims, including many old and infirm people, who simply left their means of transport and walked the remaining distance. Oddly, the same papers chose to describe these hundreds of thousands of the devout as being merely "curious".

Certainly, when lakhs of traditional villagers actually brave the elements, not to mention official hostility, to come on foot from afar on such short notice to attend a ceremony honoring a sati, then there must be crores more who were unable to attend but who remain altogether sympathetic in principle. And yet, scarcely a single voice has been heard to articulate the view of the overwhelming majority who not only merely approve of, but deeply respect and admire, the faith and courage embodied in an act that so horrifies adherents of the modern mentality.

Few people, and certainly not this writer, would dare to suggest that the few cases of involuntary sati that are said to have occurred in the past are in any way laudable. Rather, these are cases of homicide mitigated by considerations of belief and customs. Indian statutory law, however, appears to be dead set against sati in principle. Influenced by foreign-biased education, generations of India’s elite have learned to espouse foreign values with a sense of self-righteousness that is seldom found among the foreigners themselves. By itself, it has done little harm, but these same self-appointed moral policemen, beginning with Raja Rammohan Roy and others like him some 160 years ago, have gone on to impose their newly-adopted values, through Government and public education, upon the rest of their countrymen.

Seductive Labels

The less privileged masses follow meekly, trusting implicitly in the in the ultimate value of a modern education, having for so long been assured of its unquestionable superiority. The result is a veritable tyranny of the elect, all in the name of ‘progress’, or whatever happens to be the current fashion.

Evidently, in the course of acquiring a ‘modern’ education, untold numbers of young people from grade school onwards are unwittingly being sold a readymade foreign set of anti-traditional values, all neatly packaged for Indian soil with such high-sounding labels as ‘modern’ and ‘progressive’. Nobody, it seems, ever questions the meaning of these concepts, which have today become the new sacred cows of aspiring middle-class India.

Nor, for that matter, does anyone appear to consider deeply what the long-term impact will be of widespread modem education upon the social fibre of India’s rural and urban masses. Rising material expectations, growing dissatisfaction with traditional modes of thought, and increasing reliance upon material solutions to problems ancient and modern have been the fruit, in social terms, of the highly-touted ‘modern education’.

Historically, the first modern schools in India, and still the standard for others, were those funded and directed by foreign missionaries, whose avowed intention was to undermine pagan creeds through proving the falsity and inferiority of traditional education and values. No effort or expense was spared to ensure that the greatest prestige and social advantage would accrue to a ‘progressive education’. Even those who did not explicitly convert to the new religion still acquired the conceit that they had emerged into the light of day and that it was now their duty to uplift the ignorant country folk to their sublime level. A full century and a half later, the modern-educated elite of India is still operating under the same worn-out assumptions. The blind still follow the blind, even when furnished with titles and university diplomas.

Modern ills

Even today, it is still the foreign-inspired urban elements who presume to enlighten and lead the masses of traditional village India. Employing the same catch-phrases and ‘ism’s as have served to plunge the rest of the world into conflict and moral depravity, they declare that they would put an end to such “ghastly practices” as sati. And yet, a careful look at India’s cities, their homes and the very hotbeds of the modern mentality, is enough to undermine and expose their whole presumption. For where, but from the cities, does all the turmoil and terrorism in modern India originate? Is not the modern urban mentality itself the source of our social diseases?

For example, the current decade has witnessed the birth on a broad scale of modern-style bride-burning in a fashion that is far more ghastly than the traditional rite of self-immolation that is an option for devout and heroic bereaved widows. Hapless modern urban brides, subjected first to emotional abuse and humiliation, finally meet with a horrible and degrading end by being doused in kerosene and set ablaze by greed-intoxicated in-laws, who report the crime as a “cooking accident”. Nobody knows for certain how many women in the flower of youth annually suffer this grisly end, but it is clearly an urban phenomenon, most rampant in the national capital itself, the very place that is looked toward as the model for the rest of the country.

Traditional sati, as is well-known in Rajasthan and elsewhere, is a matter of principle, something that material pragmatists will never comprehend or believe. Bharat Mata is great, precisely because her children are free to live and to die according to the principles that govern their lives. This freedom is in danger of extinction in the face of powerful and ruthlessly intolerant forces masquerading behind an array of good intentions. The time comes for everybody to be brought to account.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Is Tradition Ridiculed by Western Values?"
Letter to the Editor
by Patrick Harrigan
The Statesman (Calcutta & New Delhi) of 5th January 1988
Dear Mr. Datta-Ray,

It was heartening to see the volley of letters responding to my article "Tyranny of the Elect?" that was published earlier in The Statesman (of 5th November, 1987). While some arguments were to be taken less seriously than others, it was still a clear demonstration (esp. the letter from Amalendu Das Gupta) that scholarship and critical thinking are alive and well amidst the very elect who were singled out for attention in the original article. As the culprit who wrote the piece, my inadequacies are abundantly evident (for the record: I am not a teacher, but a student of your poetry). The profusion of excellent points and counterpoints that were raised tend to further suggest that there is justification for a full public appraisal of such issues as sati. But do let us listen to the meek and humble as well, who so often are not heard until it is too late. As a self-confessed foreigner, I can only point out that there are many indeed whose views do not receive consideration. This is my small service to you the educated and uneducated alike, who may question my integrity.

The writers to the editor deserve a full response to the questions they have raised. Their sheer numbers, however, place such a task outside the scope of this letter, which aims for a reconciliation of the two sides of the issue. Leaving questions of historicity (an imported concept, let us recall) to the historians, we are left with the fundamental social phenomenon of a privileged elite that has grown alienated from the masses by way of its radically different set of values. You, the privileged, have availed yourselves of the international marketplace of ideas, thereby both distinguishing yourselves from the masses and alienating yourselves at the same time. In this respect I am quite like you: privileged and alienated. This has not stopped me from striving for meaning and balance in human affairs, just as it is not stopping you. If our God-given (or ‘naturally-endowed’, if you prefer) intelligence were employed properly, much of this suffering would be unnecessary. The analogy to the American struggle to end slavery in the last century is useful: do you wish to repeat their mistakes and live to witness bloody civil conflict on your own soil?

And yet, that is precisely the ugly scenario that has become common in this part of the world. And how? In the name of democratic principles, and with the very best intentions, privileged people like you and I have placed the educated opinion of the few above the sentiments of the many. Democracy, like it or not, is trust in the rule of the majority. When such trust is not found, then where is democracy? There are ways for social transition to occur happily: the imposition of conformity through threats and intimidation is not one of them. Resentment festers, until it becomes an open wound. Painful divisions follow.

In the case of India, the alienation and indoctrination of modern-educated urban dwellers makes it all but impossible for them to conceive of a grown woman freely consigning herself to the flames. They can only insist to themselves and others that the woman had to be forced or duped into doing it. It is a human marvel, both that such a woman is still seen to exist and that thousands, upon hearing, refuse even to admit its possibility. Let us repeat, for the sake of those who did not read the article carefully, that we are not discussing forced ‘sati’, which is not sati at all, but a form of homicide.

I am indebted to Dr. S.K. Chakraborty for the following observations. First, it is pointed out that we are fettered in our understanding by our total conditioning based upon a body-centered self-identification, a notion that is universally rejected in traditional thought. Secondly, in the sacred rite of marriage (what matters if it is Vedic, or not?) man and woman are said to be united as one soul in two bodies. And yet we are horrified when we see an actual example demonstrating deep conviction to principle. Thirdly, Indian womanhood is still, despite agitation in certain quarters, the embodiment of lofty spiritual values such as nishkam karma, total selflessness. They are admired and highly esteemed for just this reason. With the gradual vanishing of such living examples, India’s secret strength may also disappear.

The traditional rural mentality is so far removed from that of modern-indoctrinated society that it appears incomprehensible. As such, we tag it with labels such as ‘retrograde’ and ‘superstitious’. There is simple wisdom to be found in grass-roots village India. But we are blind to it, held in the grip of our own convictions. Do we know what evils villagers see or hear of when they come to the city? Violence and degradation of women in the cinema and elsewhere, eve-teasing on the public buses, terrorism and bride-burning, to mention but a few. Shall we expect villagers to respect moral injunctions issued from communities that spawn and nurture such evils? Let us try to see it from their perspective, just for once. We must put our own houses in order first, if we would have others behave as we do.

To those who say that sati is an aberrant custom, let it be pointed out that as long as it is felt to be an embarrassment in the eyes of the world, it must be regarded as aberrant. But when it is looked upon as a matter of pride, as much of the nation does that still understands, then who will object to a genuine sati? The greatest aberration of all that Indian civilization has ever had to face is the invading mentality that covertly subverts traditional values at the same time that it ridicules them. Why should it need a foreigner to remind you of this? Your own teachers have been warning you for long.

Twenty years ago, the world was shocked when Vietnamese Buddhist monks, out of principle, immolated themselves in public. Although the act finds no support in Buddhist doctrine at all, the Vietnamese people were not ashamed in the least; quite the contrary. But here in India, English schoolmasters did their job thoroughly, such that their morality perpetuates itself in succeeding generations of elite citizens, who thrust the same upon others in the sincere belief that they are the custodians of truth. But is not the mark of an education the ability to sympathize with and understand the views of others? Or is education only competing systems of indoctrination?

Regarding the incident at Deorala, well-intending people have smeared Roop Kanwar by bringing into question, nay, by refusing even to admit the possibility of, her capability of rising to such a sublime level of courage and idealism. Is it because they feel incapable of it themselves that they deny its possibility to others? And what about the hundreds of principled men and women of Deorala who say they saw Roop Kanwar die a heroine’s death? Was it greed that motivated them, or are we projecting our own priorities onto others? We have so lightly brought into question the integrity of an entire community. What qualifies us to make such judgments? Certain interests have solemnly told us that there were no “objective witnesses” present, for they could find no one who would agree with them. Now that threats and intimidation have muzzled one side, we are told that objective witnesses have been produced after all who will echo allegations made by people who were not there. Are we to believe that they are conducting a search for truth, when the verdict was issued long ago? Shades of witch-hunting!

In conclusion, I would like to apologize again for the unavoidable circumstance of my not being Indian by birth. But how foreign to India are the thoughts that have been given expression here? There may be harm found in modern ideologies, and there may not, but what harm is there in experiencing the world as Indians have long seen it? Modern technology has brought us to this advanced state, but it is blind. It is not weaponry, but moral bankruptcy, that has pushed the world to the brink of annihilation. A happy synthesis of East and West is possible, but the mentality of the West persists in dictating terms to the East. Therefore, India, I beg of you: please solve this challenge yourself.

‘Friend of India’
11, New Natham Road, Madurai

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Right to Die: India’s Democratic Dilemma
by Patrick Harrigan
published in the Los Angeles Daily Journal for the Pacific News Service in May 1988

In India, a recent incident in Rajasthan state of a young widow’s ritual self-immolation upon her husband’s funeral pyre has raised before the public eye burning issues of the individual’s rights in a democratic society. Do democratic governments have the power or the right to legislate thought? Are there no circumstances, for instance, when an adult may select death over life and obtain society’s consent to depart from this world?

Indeed, terminally-ill patients in Holland are granted the right under specified circumstances to opt for a voluntarily-induced death, a practice known as euthanasia. And California is preparing for a statewide public referendum in which euthanasia, popularly called ‘the Right to Die’, is one of the issues left for the voters to decide.

But in present-day India, considered to be the world’s largest democracy, matters are decided differently. The nation’s modern-educated elite, long sensitive to foreign (especially Western) opinion and values, reacted to 18-year old Roop Kanwar’s act of conviction and the subsequent ground swell of public support in Rajasthan on her behalf with their own campaign attacking sati as the age-old option for Hindu widows is called.

To the accompaniment of great political fanfare and harsh rhetoric in the nation’s English press, Indian Parliament with virtually no debate last December passed the Sati (Prevention) Bill. This draconian piece of legislation, openly formulated to stifle dissenting opinion and compel mass obedience, has since been stirring doubts even among the community of women’s rights activists who were the first to clamour for harsher anti-sati measures. Especially frightening to the central government is the spectre the affair has raised of state and village-level resistance to Hew Delhi’s authority to legislate social laws contrary to established religious beliefs at a time when separatist movements in the Punjab and elsewhere are already straining India’s national integrity.

Kanwar, by all accounts a devout Hindu, was by Indian standards well-educated and had been married to Mal Singh only eight months when Mal abruptly took ill and died. Roop Kanwar is reported to have been engaged in her daily prayers at the moment when her husband’s lifeless body was brought before her. With no outward show of sorrow, she completed her prayers before calmly revealing her intention to grieving family members; to unite her soul with that of her husband’s.

Her relatives wished to dissuade her, but she would not listen to them. A number of village elders and religious specialists came to test her. According to Hindu texts seldom is a widow empowered with the truth, or sat, that makes her a sati. Convinced by her inner presence and conviction, they gave their consent with blessings, and withdrew.

That September morning, Roop Kanwar slowly changed into her ‘bridal finery and toured Deorala village for the last time, walking at the head of her own funeral procession. In her hands she held a coconut, symbol of life. For fifteen minutes, she circumambulated the pyre. Said one witness, emoted In an Indian newsmagazine: “We kept telling her that it was getting late and the police might arrive but she signaled us to be patient. Then she climbed on to the pyre and her husband’s head was laid in her lap.”

Awed by Roop Kanwar’s courage and conviction, hundreds of her friends and neighbors paid reverence and stood back as Mal Singh’s 15-year old younger brother stepped forward to light the pyre. According to witnesses, her expression remained serene even as flames were enveloping her. Within hours, it was all over. But the controversy ignited by this heroic and idealistic woman continues to burn, and is unlikely to be soon forgotten.

The incident might have attracted but little attention in India, where sati, although technically illegal, enjoys wide respect among this nation’s half-billion or so Hindus. But urban-based women’s rights groups raised a public outcry and pressed the authorities to take drastic action.

Their concern, a genuine one, had to do with documented abuses in the past when in some instances widows were alleged to have been forced either physically or by social pressure to mount their husband’s funeral pyre. By all accounts, the plight of widows in India is a sorry one, and newly-formed women’s groups have taken the lead in a struggle for justice.

The authorities hesitated for two fateful weeks, by which time nearly a half-million Hindu pilgrims had quietly ‘voted with their feet’ by visiting Deorala village to pay respect to the spirit of Roop Kanvar, who is popularly considered to have attained the station of a goddess. Said one witness quoted in the Indian press; “She was a woman who believed her husband was a god and there could be no life for her without him.” Another, a widow who was present at the sati, reflected thus: “I often wonder why I didn’t go with my husband ten years ago. This is because she had bhakti (the power) and I didn’t. The call comes from God.”

The gulf separating popular belief and modern-educated opinion could scarcely be greater. To grass-root village Hindus, the sati of Roop Kanvar was a further confirmation of scripture. But to the nation’s Western-oriented elite, it appeared as a “ghastly practice” that “brought shame to the entire country”. Allegations circulated in the press that the whole incident was a hoax staged to cover up dark misdoings, with the added incentive of favorable publicity and eventual profits.

To demonstrate that it meant business, the Government rounded up nearly 100 people from Deorala and vicinity, from the boy who lit the pyre to the barber whose ritual task was to shave the heads of male family members in mourning, and put them into jail or juvenile home. Roop Kanwar herself, however, was already beyond the reach of the law.

After a brief, one-sided debate, Indian Parliament on December 15, 1987 passed the Sati (Prevention) Bill, which mandates:

one to five years imprisonment for any woman who attempts sati;
the death penalty or life imprisonment for “abetment of Sati”;
one to seven years imprisonment for “glorification of Sati”; and
suspension of civic rights of anyone convicted of “abetting or glorifying Sati”, i.e. disqualification from holding any public office.
Most disturbing of all, the bill contains a “special provision” so that the burden of proof is shifted from the accusers to the person accused.

In other words, those people who are merely accused under the new bill will be considered guilty until they can successfully prove themselves innocent.

The authorities here have had to drop charges and release all those held in association with Roop Kanwar’s Ball, since it was observed by India’s Supreme Court that they had been held under laws that had been passed only after the incident occurred. Perhaps there is yet hope for truly democratic institutions in India. But few are daring to speak out.

Trust in majority rule is the foundation-stone of democracy. It is precisely for such democratic ideals that millions of young people the world over, including women, have willingly laid down their lives, all to the great respect of the societies that they died defending. We Americans of the post-Vietnam era tend to forget this sometimes.

Motivated by an earnest desire to ‘keep up’ with the rest of the world, especially the governments of the elect in the so-called ‘Third World’ often end up throwing out the baby with the bath water in their drive to modernize. In the process, age-old cultural treasures are lost, including the very ideals that gave the society its cultural identity.

In a certain sense, even the highly-educated of India personally view America as a kind of rich and powerful heaven-on-earth, while publicly they scorn her. What things have we done to deserve such esteem?

Perhaps there is something for India to learn from the examples of Holland and California. And perhaps we Americana would do well to learn from Roop Kanwar’s example of living idealism. Our own integrity as a nation, and India’s as veil, could lie in the balance.

This does raise interesting questions, how far should individual freedom's be allowed, should they include the right to die voluntarily (I know of quite a few sants in India who were said to have attained mahasamadhi, Sant Jnaneshwar is an example).

Also what is the orthodox Hindu opinion on this one (say for example the late Paramacharya of Kanchi)?

I am aware that Hindu widows are under no compulsion to committ sati but we do know that even back in the day the majority of these incidences occured voluntarily, several foreign traveller's confirmed this including one who went to Vijayanagara.

I do not think anyone forced Maharaja Ranjit Singh's wives to committ sati, infact Duleep Singh's mother did not committ sati and outlived Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Should they be banned just because it is unthinkable to our "progressive" minds that a woman maybe that idealistic?

We know of thousands of Hindu women who committed jauhar to escape Muslim rapists in the medieval times, even during partition there were thousands of women who committed jauhar by jumping into wells or by urging their menfolk to kill them before the Muslim league goons could break through the defenses, the most famous incidence happened at Thoh Khalsa, some info:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The section also includes press reports and other first-hand accounts.  For example, one report which appeared in The Statesman of April 15, 1947 narrates an event that took place in village Thoha Khalsa of Rawalpindi District.  It is a story of tears and shame and also of great sacrifice and heroism.  The story tells us how the Hindu-Sikh population of this tiny village was attacked by 3000-strong armed Muslims, how badly outweaponed and outnumbered, the beseiged had to surrender, but how their women numbering 90 in order to “evade inglorious surrender” and save their honour jumped into a well “following the example of Indian women of by-gone days.” Only three of them were saved.  “There was not enough water in the well to drown them all,” the report adds.

But today we have women like Urvashi Butalia (self proclaimed progressive feminist) who tarnish the names of these brave woman, here is something from a couple of reviews of the book:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->One important criticism about this work stands out: The author repeatedly blasts the mass suicides of the desperate victims of these riots. Does she mean to say that the invading armies of the rioters are nobleness and kindness incarnate ?
The hapless victims in the face of imminent slavery in the hands of the satanical mobs have little choice. Though unfortunate , suicide appears to be the only alternative. This practice has stood the test of time. From the times when the marauding armies of Mahmud of Ghazni swept the plains of Punjab, the helpless civilian populace knows what to expect and what fate awaits them in the hands of their brutal conquerors.
And this author has the cheek to question and criticize these practices...The author has chosen to turn a blind eye to these pages in history books. Or is it mere ignorance ? With this the author has hurt the sentiments of the victims of these riots. She has desecrated the memories of these victims and insulted the history of partition. This book is of little literary value and lacks penetrative opinion.

To me it looks like she does this because she herself finds it unthinkable that there were woman who preferred honour over life.

Jauhar maybe different but the same principle comes into play, what today's progressives may find unthinkable was done by thousands of woman because of their conviction that it was better to die than be raped, the same thing comes into play during sati, just because you or me may find it unthinkable (just like many of us find it unthinkable about the self immolation of Buddhist monks as a protest against US intervention in Vietnam) doesn't mean that there aren't women who genuinely believe that it is the right thing to do, so how far should individual freedoms go (as long as they are not harming others)?
Post 70:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->how far should individual freedoms go (as long as they are not harming others)?<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Since I want the right to end my life if I ever choose to, I want the same to apply to all Hindus and Buddhists and Jains. Besides, it is not banned in the oldest scriptures of any of these religions. To stop eating is a common method for the elderly.
I'd never immolate myself, but if some Kshatriya woman feels that is the way for her, or if many women need to commit jauhar, then they should be allowed to. IMO.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->the self immolation of Buddhist monks as a protest against US intervention in Vietnam<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->During that time, many Buddhist monks burnt themselves in protest against the christian terrorism of the christian government of Vietnam.

State of Vietnam:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->a zealous Catholic trio formed by a Catholic President, a Catholic Head of the Secret Police, and a Catholic Archbishop. All were determined to impose the religious and political writ of the Church upon a non-Christian culture. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Buddhists protested against anti-Buddhist discriminatory measures of christoterrorist government.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->In the case of President Diem and his Catholic junta [in the mid 20th century] they established themselves and their authority first with gradual legal discrimination against the Buddhist majority. The unrestricted use of terror followed when the Buddhist population refused to submit. Diem's approach was not just a freak example of contemporary Catholic aggressiveness in a largely non-Christian society. It has been repeated on the Asian continent for three hundred years.
-- <i>Chapter 17 of Vietnam: Why did we go? by Avro Manhattan</i><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd--><!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>One day in early June, 1963, a 73 year old Buddhist monk</b> named Thich Quang Duc stopped in a busy street in Saigon, the Capital City of South Vietnam, and, after having been soaked with gasoline by a fellow monk, sat down cross-legged; thereupon, having calmly struck a match, he burned himself to death.

Prior to this, however, he had written a message to President Diem: "Enforce a policy of religious equality," the message read.

President Diem, a zealous Catholic, gave a prompt response. He clamped martial law upon the city, sealed most of the pagodas, ordered his secret police force to arrest Buddhist leaders, and mobilized his troops to truncheon any Buddhist monk or any Buddhist crowds who dared to protest at his increasing discrimination against their religion.

The self-immolation of Thich Quang Duc was the culmination of an increasingly virulent discriminatory campaign against Buddhism by a Roman Catholic Premier, President Ngo Dinh Diem, of South Vietnam. President Diem by this time had ruled the country for about nine years, helped by his two brothers, Ngo Dinh Nhu, head of the secret police, and Ngo Dinh Thuc, Archbishop of Hue. The trio had been inching for years toward veritable religious persecution of the vast majority of the country's population of 15 million, only 1,500,000 of whom were Catholics.

...[When] the whole country celebrated the 2,507th birthday of Buddha and the Buddhists unfurled their religious flag, the Archbishop, via the authorities, forbade them to do so. This, it must be remembered, in a country eighty per cent of whose population are practicing Buddhists.

The Buddhists staged a peaceful demonstration march against the edict. As a reply, the government sent troops and armoured cars and fired at the demonstrators, killing nine Buddhists.

The Hue massacre caused demonstrations all over South Vietnam. Buddhist delegations in Saigon demanded the removal of restrictions on their religion and the discriminatory laws imposed against them. The government arrested many of the demonstrators.

In Hue, meanwhile, when another demonstration of Buddhists paraded the city, troops dispersed them, using tear gas bombs. Result: sixty-seven people were taken to hospital with chemical burns.

...discriminations against the Buddhists continued unabated. Arrests of Buddhist monks multiplied. Pagodas were declared out of bounds, closed and at times even attacked

<b>...the Catholic trio continued in their set policy: Catholicization of South Vietnam. Hasty promotions of Catholics in the government and in the army were increased, and this to such an extent that many Buddhist officers became converted to Catholicism solely with a view to swift promotion.</b><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->(About this last statement: this is a lot like how it was in Rome when Constantine first came to power, too)
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->...with the excuse that Red elements had been found amongst the Buddhists, turned the harsh discriminatory campaign against the Buddhists into actual religious persecution.

Buddhist monks, Buddhist nuns and Buddhist leaders were arrested by the thousand. Pagodas were closed or besieged. Buddhists were tortured by the police. One day another Buddhist monk burned himself alive in public, to draw the attention of the world to the Catholic persecution. President Diem, undeterred, continued in his policy. The secret police packed the jails with more monks. The third monk committed suicide by fire, and then another. Within a brief period, seven of them had burned themselves alive in public. Vietnam was put under martial law. Troops now occupied many pagodas and drove out all monks offering resistance. More Buddhist monks and Buddhist nuns were arrested and taken away in lorries, including a large number of wounded. Many were killed.

Ten thousand Buddhists took part in a hunger strike in blockaded Saigon, while a giant gong tolled from the tower of the main Xa Loi Pagoda in protest against the persecutions. At Hue, in the North, monks and nuns put up a tremendous struggle at the main pagoda of Tu Dam, which was virtually demolished, while eleven Buddhist students burned themselves inside it.
From: <i>Chapter 23 - Vietnam, the Croatia of Asia of the book The Vatican's Holocaust</i><!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Why do the good people have to die.
Yesterday, while talking to my elderly relative, I learnt a very interesting culture of Punjab and I believe it is still prevalent in Raj, and Harayana, that is Sati worship. In Punjab before any marriage, after marriage and after child birth, people visit Sati sites of their own family to get blessing. In Punjab, small tombs of Sati’s are spread all over farmlands.
Interesting excerpt from dharampal.net - this is an excerpt from an Italian traveller.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->The Travels of Pietro Della Valle in India, translated into English by G. Havers in 1664; Reprint Delhi 1991. He was in India from Feb 10, 1623 to Nov 16, 1624. Extracts from pp 30-34, 82-83, 86-88, 122-123, 227-228, 230-232, 266-267, 273-277, 306-310, 316-321, 322-323, 326-329, 331-332, 336-337.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->[INCIDENT OF SATI]
As we return'd home at night we met a Woman in the City of Ikkeri, who, her husband being dead, was resolv'd to burn herself, as 'tis the custom with many Indian Women. She rode on Horse-back about the City with face uncovered, holding a Looking-glass in one hand and a Lemon in the other, I know not for what purpose; and beholding herself in the Glass, with a lamentable tone sufficiently pittiful to hear, went along I know not whither, speaking, or singing, certain words, which I understood not; but they told me they were a kind of Farewell to the World and herself; and indeed, being uttered with that passionateness which the Case requir'd and might produce they mov'd pity in all that heard them, even in us who understood
not the Language. She was follow'd by many other women and Men on foot, who, perhaps, were her Relations; they carry'd a great Umbrella over her, as all Persons of quality in India are wont to have, thereby to keep off the Sun, whose heat is hurtful and troublesome. Before her certain Drums were sounded, whose noise she never ceas'd to accompany with her sad Ditties, or Songs; yet with a calm and constant Countenance, without tears, evidencing more grief for her Husband's death than her own, and more desire to go to him in the other world than regret for her own departure out of this: a Custom, indeed, cruel and barbarous, but, withall, of great generosity and virtue in such Women and therefore worthy of no small praise. They said she was to pass in this manner about the City I know not how many dayes, at the end of which she was to go out of the City and be burnt, with more company and solemnity. If I can know when it will be I will not fail to go to see her and by my presence honor her Funeral with that compassionate affection which so great Conjugal Fidelity and Love seem to me to deserve.

November the sixteenth. I was told that the aforemention'd Woman, who had resolv'd to burn her self for her Husband's death, was to dye this Evening. But upon further enquiry at the Woman's House I understood that it would not be till after a few dayes more, and there I saw her sitting in a Court, or Yard, and other persons beating Drums about her. She was cloth'd all in white and deck'd with many Neck-laces, Bracelets and other ornaments of Gold; on her Head she had a Garland of Flowers, spreading forth like the rayes of the Sun; in brief she was wholly in a Nuptial Dress and held a Lemon in her hand, which is the usual Ceremony. She seem'd to be pleasant enough, talking and laughing in conversation, as a Bride would do in our Countries.

She and those with her took notice of my standing there to behold her, and, conjecturing by my foreign Habit who I was, some of them came towards me. I told them by an Interpreter that I was a Person of a very remote Country, where we had heard by Fame that some Women in India love their Husbands so vehemently as when they dye to resolve to dye with them; and that now, having intelligence that this Woman was such a one, I was come to see her, that so I might relate in my own Country that I had seen such a thing with my own Eyes. These people were well pleas'd with my coming, and she her self, having heard what I said, rose up from her
seat and came to speak to me.

We discours'd together, standing, for a good while. She told me that her name was
Giaccama, of the Race Terlenga, that her Husband was a Drummer; whence I wonder'd the more; seeing that Heroical Actions, as this undoubtedly ought to be judg'd, are very rare in people of low quality. That it was about nineteen dayes since her Husband's death, that he had left two other Wives elder then she, whom he had married before her, (both which were present at this discourse) yet neither of them was willing to dye, but alledg'd for excuse that they had many Children. This argument gave me occasion to ask Giaccama, (who shew'd me a little Son
of her own, about six or seven years old, besides a little Daughter she had) how she could perswade her self to leave her own little Children; and I told her, that she ought likewise to live rather than to abandon them at that age. She answer'd me that she left them well recommended to the care of an Uncle of hers there present, who also talk'd with us very cheerfully, as if rejoyeing that his Kins-woman should do such an action; and that her Husband's other two remaining Wives would also take care of them. I insisted much upon the tender age of her Children, to avert her from her purpose by moving her to compassion for them, well knowing that no argument is more prevalent with Mothers than their Love and Affection towards their Children. But all my speaking was in vain, and she still answer'd me to all my Reasons, with a
Countenance not onely undismay'd and constant, but even cheerful, and spoke in such a manner as shew'd that she had not the least fear of death. She told me also, upon my asking her, that she did this of her own accord, was at her own liberty and not forc'd nor perswaded by any one. Whereupon, I inquiring whether force were at any time us'd in this matter, they told me that ordinarily it was not, but onely sometimes amongst Persons of quality, when some Widow was left young, handsome, and so in danger of marrying again (which amongst them is very
ignominious), or committing a worse fault; in such Cases the Friends of the deceas'd Husband were very strict, and would constrain her to burn her self even against her own will, for preventing the disorders possible to happen in case she should live (a barbarous, indeed, and too cruel Law); but that neither force nor persuasion was used to Giaccama, and that she did it of her own free will; in which, as a magnanimous action, (as indeed it was) and amongst them of great honor, both her Relations and herself much glory'd. I ask'd concerning the Ornaments and Flowers she wore, and they told me that such was the Custom, in token of the Masti's joy
(they call the Woman, who intends to burn her self for the death of her Husband, Masti) in that she was very shortly to go to him and therefore had reason to rejoyce; whereas such Widows as will not dye remain in continual sadness and lamentations, shave their Heads and live in perpetual mourning for the death of their Husbands.
As last Giaccama caus'd one to tell me that she accounted my coming to see her a great fortune, and held her self much honour'd, as well by my visit and presence as by the Fame which I should carry of her to my own Country; and that before she dy'd she would come to visit me at my House, and also to ask me, as their custom is, that I would favour her with some thing by way of Alms towards the buying of fewel for the fire wherewith she was to be burnt. I answer'd her that I should esteem her visit and very willingly give her something; not for wood and fire wherein to burn her self, (for her death much displeas'd me, and I would gladly have disswaded her from it, if I could) but to do something else therewith that her self most lik'd; and I promis'd her that, so far as my weak pen could contribute, her Name should remain immortal
in the World. Thus I took leave of her, more sad for her death than she was, cursing the custom of India which is so unmerciful to Woman. Giaccama was a Woman of about thirty years of age, of a Complexion very brown for an Indian and almost black, but of a good aspect, tall of stature, well shap'd and proportion'd. My Muse could not forbear from chanting her in a Sonnet which I made upon her death, and reserve among my Poetical Papers.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Post 73 (Rajesh_g):
It is a most strange occurrence of Sati being described there, since in all cases I've read of, the woman had immolated herself within a day of her husband's passing.
Husky, I agree. There are many interesting things in those docs on dharampal.net.

In one other incident this Italian fellow describes his encounter with the Queen (widow) who is the defacto ruler of the "country" he is visiting. Notice the Queen's concerns on hearing that this fellow has been travelling all over..

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->[MEETING THE QUEEN]
VII - Having landed, and going towards the Basar to get a Lodging in some House, we beheld the Queen coming alone in the same way without any other Woman, on foot, accompany'd onely with four, or six, foot Souldiers before her, who all were naked after their manner, saving that they had a cloth over their shame, and another like a sheet, worn across the shoulders like a belt; each of them had a Sword in his hand, or at most a Sword and Buckler; there were also as many behind her of the same sort, one of whom carry'd over her a very ordinary Umbrella made of Palm-leaves. Her Complexion was as black as that of a natural AEthiopian; she was corpulent and gross, but not heavy, for she seem'd to walk nimbly enough; her Age may be about forty years, although the Portugals had describ'd her to me as much older. She was cloth'd, or rather girded at the waist, with a plain piece of thick white Cotton, and bare-foot, which is the custom of the Indian Gentile Women, both high and low, in the house and abroad; and of Men too the most, and all the most ordinary, go unshod; some of the more grand wear Sandals, or Slippers; very few use whole Shoes covering all the Foot. From the waist upwards the Queen was naked, saving that she had a cloth ty'd round about her Head, and hanging a little down upon her Breast and Shoulders. In brief, her aspect and habit represented rather a dirty Kitchen-wench, or Laundress, than a delicate and noble Queen; whereupon I said within myself, Behold by whom are routed in India the Armies of the King of Spain, which in Europe is so great a matter! Yet the Queen shew'd her quality much more in speaking than by her presence; for her voice was very graceful in comparison with her Person, and she spoke like a prudent and judicious Woman. They had told me that she had no teeth,
and therefore was wont to go with half her Face cover'd; yet I could not discover any such defect in her, either by my Eye, or by my Ear; and I rather believe that this covering of the Mouth, or half the Face, as she sometimes doth, is agreeable to the modest custom which I know to be common to almost all Women in the East. I will not omit to state that though she was so corpulent, as I have mention'd, yet she seems not deform'd, but I imagine she was handsome in her Youth; and, indeed, the Report is that she hath been much of a Lady, of majestic beauty, though stern rather than gentle.

As soon as we saw her coming we stood still, lay'd down our baggage upon the ground and went on one side to leave her the way to pass. Which she taking notice of, and of my strange habit, presently ask'd, Whether there was any among us that could speak the Language? Whereupon my Brachman, Narsu, step'd forth and answer'd, Yes; and I, after I had saluted her according to our manner, went near to speak to her, she standing still in the way with all her people to give us Audience.

She ask'd who I was, (being already inform'd, as one of her Souldiers told me, by a Portugal who was come about his business before me from Mangalor to Manel, that I was come thither to see her), I caus'd my Interpreter to tell her that I was "Un Cavaliero Ponentino", (A Gentleman of the West) who came from very far Countries; and, because other Europeans than Portugals were not usually seen in her Dominions, I caus'd her to be told that I was not a Portugal but a Roman, specifying too that I was not of the Turks of Constantinople, who in all the East are styl'd and known by the Name of Rumu; but a Christian of Rome, where is the See of the Pope
who is the Head of the Christians. That it was almost ten years since my first coming from home and wandering about the world, and seeing divers Countries and Courts of great Princes; and that being mov'd by the fame of her worth, which had long ago come to my Ears, I was come into this place purposely to see her and offer her my service. She ask'd, What Countries and Courts of Princes I had seen? I gave her a brief account of all; and she, hearing the Great Turk, the Persian, the Moghol, and Venk-tapa Naieka nam'd, ask'd, What then I came to see in these Woods of hers? intimating that her State was not worth seeing, after so many other great things as I said I had seen. I reply'd to her that it was enough for me to see her Person, which I knew to be of great worth; for which purpose alone I had taken the pains to come thither, and accounted the same very well imploy'd.

<b>After some courteous words of thanks she ask'd me, If any sickness, or other disaster, had happened to me in so remote and strange Countries, how I could have done, being alone, without any to take care of me? </b>(a tender affection, and natural to the compassion of Women). I answer'd that in every place I went into I had God with me, and that I trusted in him. <b>She ask'd me, Whether I left my Country upon any disgust, the death of any kindred, or beloved person, and therefore wander'd so about the world,</b> (for in India and all the East some are wont to do so upon discontents, either of Love, or for the death of some dear persons, or for other unfortunate accidents; and, if Gentiles, they become Gioglues, if Mahometans, Dervisci and Abdali; all which are a sort of vagabonds, or despisers of the world, going almost naked, onely with a skin upon their Shoulders and a staff in their Hands, through divers Countries, like our Pilgrims; living upon Alms, little caring what befalls them, and leading a Life suitable to the bad disposition of their hearts). I conceal'd my first misfortunes, and told the Queen that I left not my Country upon any such cause, but onely out of a desire to see divers Countries and customs, and to learn many things which are learnt by travelling the World; men who had seen
and convers'd with many several Nations being much esteem'd in our parts; that indeed for some time since, upon the death of my Wife whom I lov'd much though I were not in habit, yet in mind I was more than a Gioghi and little car'd what could betide me in the World. She ask'd me, what my design was now, and whither I directed my way? I answer'd that I thought of returning to my Country, if it should please God to give me life to arrive there. Many other questions she ask'd, which I do not now remember, talking with me, standing, a good while; to all which I answer'd the best I could. At length she bid me go and lodge in some house, and afterwards she would talk with me again at more convenience. Whereupon I took my leave, and she proceeded on her way, and, as I was afterwards told, she went about a mile off to see a work which she had in hand of certain Trenches to convey water to certain places whereby to improve them. I spoke to the Queen with my head uncover'd all the while; which courtesie, it being my custom to use it to all Ladies my equals, onely upon account of being such, I thought ought much rather to be us'd to this one who was a Queen and in her own Dominions, where I was come to visit her and to do her Honour.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Don't know where else this could go.
The following is not Indian culture. It is a case of christo influence finally wearing off in another area of western culture - an area where I didn't even know it existed until now:
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Women, men to get same pay at Wimbledon</b>
After years of holding out against equal prize money, Wimbledon bowed to <i>public pressure</i> on Thursday and agreed to pay women players as much as the men at the world's most prestigious tennis tournament.

The All England Club announced at a news conference that it had decided to fall into line with other Grand Slam events and offer equal pay through all rounds at this year's tournament.

"Tennis is one of the few sports in which women and men compete in the same event at the same time," club chairman Tim Phillips said.

"We believe our decision to offer equal prize money provides a boost for the game as a whole and recognises the enormous contribution that women players make to the game and to Wimbledon.

"In short, good for tennis, good for women players and good for Wimbledon."

Last year, men's champion Roger Federer received STG655,000 ($A1.62 million) and women's winner Amelie Mauresmo got STG625,000 ($A1.55 million).

The US Open and Australian Open have paid equal prize money for years.
(Note: only for <i>years</i>.)
The French Open paid the men's and women's champions the same for the first time last year, although the overall prize fund remained bigger for the men.

The WTA Tour has lobbied for years to get Wimbledon to drop its "Victorian-era view" and pay the women the same as the men.
(Victorian-era: still largely christian era.)

"In the 21st century, it is morally indefensible that women competitors in a Grand Slam tournament should be receiving considerably less prize money than their male counterparts," WTA Tour chief executive Larry Scott said last year.
(Yeah, what's up with that? Can't believe I used to watch this event while it was still treating 50% of human population as lesser individuals. But I plead ignorance here.)

The top women's players have also been at the forefront of the campaign.

"For us, it's not about earning more money or becoming any more well-off; it's really about an equality issue," three-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams said at last year's tournament.

"We're the premier sport for women. We would like to empower women around the world by showing that we are willing to fight for equality."

The All England Club has gradually reduced the pay gap over the years, but <b>held out against equal prizes as a matter of principle</b>.
(What principle you ask? It's actually founded on the good old Christo principle.)

Phillips had cited surveys showing that men give better value than the women. The men play best-of-five set matches, while the women play best of three. Also, the women make more money overall because they also play in doubles, while the top men usually play only singles.

"It just doesn't seem right to us that the lady players could play in three events and could take away significantly more than the men's champion who battles away through these best-of-five matches," Phillips said last year.

"We don't see it as an equal rights issue."

<b>The unequal pay policy goes back 123 years.</b> When the women started playing at Wimbledon in 1884, the female champion received a silver flower basket worth 20 guineas, while the men's winner got a gold prize worth 30 guineas.
(Just warms my heart. Makes conversion to christoism all that mroe attractive, doesn't it? Sick, misogynistic ideology.)

"When you've got men and women playing at the same tournament, it is ludicrous to have a difference in pay," three-time men's champion John McEnroe told The Daily Telegraph.

"It would be setting an example to the rest of society in general to have equal prize money."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Doubtless, Wienerschnitzel wants to ban the above from reaching Californian schoolkids too.
Interesting discussion on Sati here..






I've not read Chanakya's Arthashastra (Kautilya's Arthashastra - apparently the two people are the same??? I didn't know that either! Hopeless!) But I came across this interesting bit someone wrote about it. Am pasting it here unconfirmed 'cause, like I said, I haven't read it.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Chanakya recommends women soldiers as the first and innermost ring of bodyguards, commends their abilities as spies, explains property laws in case of widow remarriage and grounds on which women can ask divorce (infertility on the man’s part, poor treatment, abandonment, as well as treason by the husband). <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Good stuff.
Chanakya was certainly a shining light of un-orthodoxy in his time.

Contrary to how a 'typical' shastra would begins - that is with prayers to lord Ganesha or Saraswati - he begins arthashastra with 'Om namah shukabrihaspatibhyAm' - prayers to Shukra, the Guru of asura-s and brihaspati, the Guru of sura-s.

As Husky pointed about his thoughts on women, likewise, he has in a very strong voice set the four varna-s on the same horizonal level of heirarchy. He criticised and condemned the thought of considerig sudras as an-Arya-s or untouchables. a true liberal of his time, though he is not a very strong supporter of "secularism". He advocates the state to be actively involved to make sure 'pAshanda-s' / 'pAkhanDa-s' are not followed in name of religion. He even criticices nirgranthaka-s (a stream of Jains) in arthashastra itself. Certainly affected by Bauddha thought too, but inclines to Vedic thoughts.

Again, as a mark of clear un-orthodoxy, he considers dharma-artha-kama as essential to life (while being silent on moksha, though he does not negate it)

Arthashastra is also not his original writing. He himself says in it, that he is merely collecting, and further improving upon the treatise he had received from his ancestors and different masters of politics and economics. So all the liberal thoughts mentioned in it, might have existed even before him.

He describes the geography of Bharatvarsh, and neighbourood in detail. It is said he compiled the grandha to its entirety, while he was traveling to South India - somewhere on the shores.

Today there are found a few different versions of arthashastra. Morar Ji Desai, when Janata Govt came, encouraged Dr Raghunath Singh, a diplomat, and Sanskrit scholar, to compile an authentic version of Arthashastra. Dr Raghunath Singh surveyed various manuscripts in possession of various kingdoms at that time, consulted many scholars, traveled to countries like Greece, Thailand and Burma, and after a few years of research eventualy produced a 2-volume 'kautilIyam arthashAstram' in Hindi, and it is our time's authentic indegenous and thoroughly researched work on Arthashastra.

And yes, he was of kuTal gotra - so he was known as kauTalya, though many version and inscriptions refer to him as kauT<b>i</b>lya - which would mean 'extremely cunning' or proponent of kuTa-niti/kuTila-niti. vishnugupta was his real (given) name, while chanakya came because his father's name was chanak.
also, kauTalya / kauTilya finds glorious mention in purANa-s:

vishNu 4.24.6-7
vAyu 37.324-325
matsya 427.2
garuDa 105.18
nArada 84.19

besides, in the literary works that were created over several centuries after him, he becomes a constant character or finds some mention:

mudrA rAkshasa
abhidhAn chintAmaNI
kshIra swAmI
vaijayantI kosha
hemachandra kosha
nAma-mAlikA of bhojaraja, etc.

(source: kauTalIyam arthashAstram by Dr. Raghunath Singh)

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread: 2 Guest(s)