ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Widow Burning was an Inherant part of Hinduism

Updated on October 9, 2015
women in her finery before Sati
women in her finery before Sati

The Practice of Sati

Many Hindu thinkers and writers have opined that Sati was a later day extrapolation in Hindu thought and came to the fore after the Muslim invasion of India. They point to the fact that as the Muslims defeated the Hindus; their women had no recourse to anything to save them from dishonor and thus committed sati on the funeral pyre of her husband. Die hard Hindu supporters also say that Sati was a "voluntary act" . What actully is sati?. It is a custom where a woman commits suicide by burning herself on the pyre of her husband. It was a sort of enforced death and in modern parlance is equated with murder

But a look at the history of the earliest period one finds that Sati is mentioned at each and every corner. The Ramayana also refers to Sati and the chroniclers who came with Alexander the great in 325 BC also refer to sati. Thus sati is an age old custom that has deep roots. It is possible that it was not rigidly enforced , but sati is something built into the Hindu ethos and continued for over 2 thousand years till the arrival of the English.

There was an attempt by Aurangzeb that much maligned ruler of India to outlaw Sati, but he failed. He however must take credit for being the only Indian ruler who outlawed sati, which he did by his Firman (order) in 1664.

This practice was given official buriel in 1829 by Lord William Bentick Governor General India .

Hindu Goddess of Sati is an Aberration

Sati is a timeless phenomenon and in a way it is an inherent part of Hinduism. The God Shiva who is one of the foremost gods in the Hindu pantheon was in love with the goddess Sati. She committed her death by burning and reappeared in Shiva's life as his consort Parvathi. Thus Sati gets legal sanction as a goddess and many women who committed Sati are revered in Hinduism as " Sati Mata" and temples called Sati Mandir are available all over India.

The Hindu religious reformer Raja Ram Mohan Roy a Bengali realised that Sati was an obnoxious custom and he started an agitation to ban it. His campaign had an effect and the British Governor general was convinced it was just plain and simple murder. Accordingly after the Firman of Aurangzeb, an act was passed in British India banning Sati and equating it with murder. The spirit behind this was the then governor General Sir William Bentick. The act was passed in 1829 and put an end to almost 2000 years practice, which nobody had dared to end.

Diehard Hindus however petitioned the House of Lords stating this custom was integral to Hinduism and the act be abrogated. The House of Lords and the Privy Council heard the case and by a slim majority upheld the Governor General’s contention. It was thus equated with murder. It was a great piece of reformative legislation and credit must also go to Raja Ram Mohan Roy for his tireless campaign to ban Sati. There were also many Christian missionaries who campaigned against Sati. Foremost amng them was Sir William Carey who was born in England and died in India in 1835.

The Situation Now

Aftre 200 years of British rule and efforts by reformers, this ill of Hinduism is almost 99% eradicated. Unfortunately one cannot say that there is 100% eradication as once in a way a case of sati still emerges from the vast sub continent. The perpetuators are ofcourse arrested and tried for murder, but the fact that even 1% accept Sati is a dangerous portend. This after the Indian penal code was passed by the English in 1861.

The truth is that some Hindu revivalist organizations are silent on sati. However the wheels are moving forward and one can say that Hindu women are more free now than they have ever been for the last 200 years, when Alexander the Great invaded India, in this we rememeber the 19th century when Raja Ram Mohan Roy and Lord Bentick appeared to give a new lease of life to a moribund society

Rani Sati temple in Rajasthan
Rani Sati temple in Rajasthan
Sati Pith Temple in Guwahati ( Assam)
Sati Pith Temple in Guwahati ( Assam)


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • emge profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Yes, you are right Lawrence, some good didcome from missionary work, but the main thrust was from local reformers as well

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      2 years ago from Hamilton, New Zealand


      I knew a little about 'Sati' from reading biographies of Carey and Henry Martyn but not about the local drive to change things.

      The missionaries made lots of mistakes, but some things they got right!


    • emge profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Abu Dhabi

      Thank you Oztinato for commenting

    • Oztinato profile image


      3 years ago from Australia

      There will always be those who use anything including religion money or politics for evil ends.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)