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Thread: Sati (wife on pyre after death of husband)

  1. #1
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    February 2012
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    Sati (wife on pyre after death of husband)

    I have been watching the Sony series "Punyashlok Ahilya Bai", and the episodes have reached the scenes where, upon the death of the "Prince" who is her husband, the main person of the series Ahilya Bai then insists on committing Sati.
    Some discussion was made with those I know, that Sati should never be made if the widow still has children who are not considered adult age, this would be the case of the episode because in this TV show based losely on actual historical events, Ahilya has two children who are still not considered adults, thus she should not commit Sati even if others think so.
    But in one scene, preview of tomorrows episode, I see Ahilya dressed all in white, a clue that she will in the end not commit Sati. This is my thought, because it is my understanding one who commits Sati will dress in "wedding attire", never white. That a Sati never wears white, if wearing white then that would be "widow's clothes". So seeing Ahilya in the preview wearing white must mean she will not commit Sati, the "King" also argued that she should not.
    Typically when Sati was still occurring 100 to 200 years ago, the female would commit Sati wearing wedding type gown with even ivory bangles (I believe ivory "jewelry" is now banned to protect species). In the past sometimes saptalu was worn in the past, but that is not the case later as that colour became used in puja.
    Today, of course, Sati is illegal in India. In fact, even participating in watching a Sati is illegal, it is illegal to turn a Sati into a shrine in the 1990s and afterwards. However, shrines from the past are allowed and remain for religious, historical and archeological reasons.
    Upon search of the internet, I found the last Sati in modern times are very, very rare, it is illegal, it seems these were the last known Sati:
    "In May 2006, Vidyawati, a 35-year-old woman allegedly jumped into the funeral pyre of her husband in Rari-Bujurg Village, Uttar Pradesh. In August 2006, Janakrani, a 40-year-old woman, died on the funeral pyre of her husband in Sagar district. In October 2008, a 75-year-old woman committed sati by jumping into her 80-year-old husband's funeral pyre at Checher in Raipur."
    What is the opinion of Sati? The first known (recorded) Sati was actually not "ancient" but in 500 AD, not ancient times. In the case of Goddess Sati self-immolation, it was not a case of Shiva's death, it was due to outrage by Sati over Daksha's insult, Daksha her father. So it did not deal with husband's death.
    What is the opinion, statement, view, clarification of Sati on the pyre? Isn't this a more "modern" way, not ancient, not Vedic?

  2. #2
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    July 2015
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    Re: Sati (wife on pyre after death of husband)

    The Veda is metaphysics at its finest, pure wisdom, apurusheya.

    Sati is definitely purusheya to subdue women, as it is common in all religions.

    It must have been invented by men, because men are not affected … there is no Sati for husbands, only for wifes.
    Would Sati be of Vedic origin, the verse/verses would definitely be known!

    Rig Veda X.18.8 says the opposite
    Rise, come unto the world of life, O woman, come, he is lifeless by whose side thou liest.
    Wifehood with this thy husband was thy portion, who took thy hand and wooed thee as a lover.

    As you say, Sati did not commit Sati, Sita too did not commit Sati. The only wife I remember was Madri. The discussion between her and Kunti is given in Adi Parva, Chapter 125.

    Kunti intention was a a religious merit: I am the older of his wedded wives; the chief religious merit must be mine. Therefore, O Madri, prevent me not from achieving that which must be achieved.

    This was Madri’s intention: This foremost one of the Bharata princes had approached me, desiring to have intercourse. His appetite unsatiated, shall I not follow him in the region of Yama to gratify him?

    These are my thoughts.

    Dance with Shiva - live with Shiva - merge with Shiva

  3. #3
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    July 2010
    The Holy Land - Bharat
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    Re: Sati (wife on pyre after death of husband)


    First, gratification in the hereafter,
    We leave our human body on earth and the soul traverses for washing/dusting/polishing before it is returned into another body. Considering that deities are not reincarnated upon death, do we consider them to be present in the heaven in their bodily form? If every living entity goes to the hereafter ONLY in the form of soul and has no sexual organs attached to it, what does gratification mean in the heaven? Do realized souls, even during their mortal form on earth crave for gratification? If so, how are they above common creatures? Why is sexual pleasure being associated with deities?

    To the original question of 'Sati', as far as I know, it is not an ancient ritual. It started when Islamic invaders started ruling Bharat. When a Hindu king was defeated in a war with the invaders, the queen and other females present in the palace would burn themselves rather than be touched by lusty victors. It originated as a voluntary tradition to save their honor and not be molested by the starved armies. When defeat became imminent, soldiers would open the palace/fort doors and go out to get killed while fighting the enemy rather than surrender and be converted to Islam. That was the 'Male Sati'. Western writers/documentarins/movies fictionalize the sacred tradition of sati into a base ritual.

    Fast forward few hundred years and there would be some forced satis of females for different reasons - impossible for a widowed woman to get remarried thereby becoming a financial burden on the surviving family, family eliminating one shareholder for future inheritance, possible moral issues associated with a single woman in the society trying to establish relationships outside of marriage etc. But forced or voluntary satis after the country was conquered by Islamists/Brits were very few and by no means the norm. Arya Samaj, the progressive wing of Hinduism, encouraged marriage of widowed ladies so as to abolish the need for a sati.

    Next time, a picturization of this tradition shows up somewhere on TV, it would be wise to research the source of such material, agenda of the producer, the sensationalism factor, the need to show Hinduism in a bad light by highlighting this tradition (without the historical/social context and making it look barbaric) and more. If I write a book, I would have to make it juicy so as to sell more copies and make some money. If a film maker makes a movie, he needs to recoup his investment and make some profit. Why would we expect everything to be factual? There is no money in dealing with boring trivia.

    Last edited by Believer; 03 January 2023 at 09:58 PM.

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