Sati System in India

A bit of an intro here- I usually don’t write on these sorts of topics anymore. But let’s just consider it a bonus. So here’s how it went one sort-of-soothing day in college.

For some reason, I don’t particularly remember what, but my English teacher was off the syllabus and discussing politics that day. More than the opinion he had about the government, I admired the way he cautiously avoided mentioning any name out loud.

Getting to Sati…

In fact, he just spoke the whole time by using “the current ruling party” and “the opposition party in our country”. The discussion eventually moved from governments to newspapers. It didn’t stop there either. Finally stating that the present government has actually employed 200 staff members just to monitor media… (referred to this article here).

Towards the end, we gradually moved back into time and then to Sati.

He began, “We all know what Sati is, don’t we? It was considered to be one of the ancient times religious practices. But here’s what it really was. Generally, if the ‘man of the house’ dies, then the property passes on to the wife. This wouldn’t be welcomed by families.

“So under the name of ‘religion’, Sati was introduced: It was a tradition where the wife would jump into the fire (alive) after her husband’s death…” A pause, then he continued, “Nobody would willingly jump into the fire and burn alive, would they? Hence, people would push her with long sticks in a circle towards the fire at the center. And in order to not hear the woman’s screams, deafening drumrolls would be played…”

Difference in Ideas

I could slightly agree to the ‘property’ part… but couldn’t agree entirely though. I’d my own reasons for it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t speak it out just as I never do. On the bright side, what I do have is a blog where I can share my views… I’m not certain if anyone really bothers to read all this, but yeah!

Anyway, the point was, I had a different perception of it:

First off, if we look back on our nation’s history, women have been deprived of various facilities. Apart from the Vedic period, starting right from the Post-Vedic period,  the status of women came down one way or the other.

The law of the Indian system at the time stated that “women have to be under father during childhood, under her husband during youth and under her son during old age” (Sorry, name of the scripts classified… but you’ve probably guessed it).

This was the period when the ‘caste system’ rose up. Child marriages and the Sati system were more visible. Often women were considered as liabilities or burdens rather than assets. That’s probably why in rural areas we can still find people considering having a male child- ‘lucky’.

Now, what made it worse… was if something didn’t go as planned. If a man passed away, the life of the widow would become so miserable that she’d rather choose to die than to live. Coming to terms, ‘miserable’ because of the way the whole society would look at her.

“Her husband’s gone and look at her, she’s still walking around in town.”

“She’s shameless” 

For closure…

Well, you take a look around. We’re in the 21st century and we might still find people who actually do think this way. Back on track, this was the reason why a woman would prefer dying. Sati- (iconically) refers to a woman jumping into her husband’s funeral pyre. But it would also happen in other forms.

A woman would sometimes consume poison before attending her husband’s funeral where she would eventually die too. By the way, that was just a perception. That’s all my blogs are anyway. Who knows: Maybe women were forced into the fire in some regions of ancient India and others passed away voluntarily.