Sati-Pratha and its origins
Posted March 27, 2006
By: Prabhat Varun
March 28, 2006
Sati-Pratha is a favourite topic among Hindu-bashers. As soon as they are questioned about the validity of their own claims, goals and methods they immediately start harping on Sati-Pratha.
And lo! The trick works. The questioning Hindu becomes defensive. He never tries to probe into the origin of so-called Sati-Pratha, or at least about its rumours. So, let us try to do it here, what the typical-Hindu always refrains to.
Sati-Pratha is nowhere mentioned in Hindu scriptures. Not a hint of it. There is no case of forceful widow burning in any of our scriptures. News about Sati-Pratha started surfacing only with the advent of Christian Missionaries in India. They with their mission of converting the wretched idolaters, i.e., Hindus to Christianity started slandering Hinduism. For they quickly perceived that Hindus were an unyielding, staunch lot. They would not yield to the treacherous methods of Christian Missionaries. So they devised a new way for accomplishing their Harvest. They decided to slander Hinduism in front of Hindus, so as to shake their belief in it, and also in front of global community so as to justify their demonic agendas of Conversion. And for that they had a new tool in their hands to which Hindus had no access. This tool was the combined institution of Modern British Education System and the newly born media, i.e., the propaganda machine. (How they developed these mediums in India is another topic, related to Macaulay and many others and too long to be discussed here).
So, they started their well-planned campaign against Hinduism. A very good example of this is the English word "Juggernaut", meaning, "a huge and overwhelming force". It is originated form the Rath Yatra of Jagganath. Christian Missionaries said that there goes one evil Yatra among Hindus, in which wretched idolaters take out a procession of three idols. In the Yatra, they take intoxicating drugs, dance nude in front of the chariot, make obscene gestures to each other and then in a fit throw themselves in front of the chariot to commit suicide. Hence, the word with its meaning of an "overwhelming force".
Swami Vivekanand also mentions this at one place along with many other calumnies heaped over Hinduism and Hindu civilization by the designing Christian Missionaries. Here is an excerpt of that, "What is meant by those pictures in the school-books for children where the Hindu mother is painted as throwing her children to the crocodiles in the Ganga? The mother is black, but the baby is painted white, to arouse more sympathy, and get more money. What is meant by those pictures, which painted a man burning his wife at a stake with his own hands, so that she may become a ghost and torment the husband's enemy? What is meant by the pictures of huge cars crushing over human beings? I have heard one of these gentlemen preach in Memphis that, in every village of India, there is a pond of the bones of little babies… What have the Hindus done to these disciples of Christ that every Christian child is taught to call the Hindus 'vile' and 'wretched' and the most horrible demons on earth?" Swami Vivekananda, The Complete
Works, Vol. IV (1945 ed.)
Any person even most slightly acquainted with the Rath Yatra needs no explaining about the truth.
Similarly, they harped on Sati, and invented the very term and phenomenon of Sati-Pratha, citing some allegedly eye-witness accounts of widow burning on the funeral pyre of their husband. So, what was the truth in those accounts? If, there was any truth in those accounts, then what was their origin?
For finding their origin, we have to stretch our memory some centuries back to the Medieval Ages, the era of great unprecedented rape, pillage and looting of India by Muslims and their armies. Among the very first provinces to bear the brunt of Islamic sword were Sindh, Punjab and Rajputana. Sindh being Buddhist in majority and Punjab also having a considerable population of Buddhists, succumbed soon to the unprecedented barbarous Islamic invasions. But Rajputana being completely Hindu held out for centuries. Even now there are only 9% Muslims in Rajasthan. But this resistance cost them a great deal. They had never faced such barbarous invaders and looters. All of the wars which they fought until then, were fought with a moral ethical code. Being synonymous with the Hindu philosophy, wars were fought only between warriors and concerned only them. Civil populace was never even touched, let alone molested.
But the new Islamic enemy they were now facing was an unprecedented evil force, which did not rely on valour for victory, but instead on treachery, deceit, malice, crookedness and all other evil means. Those Islamic armies instead of fighting chivalrously with their opponents, chose to decimate the civilian populace, by laying siege to the country side, thus decimating the social, cultural and economic fabric of the nations. They massacred and butchered complete populations of Hindus, broke their idols, desecrated their temples, butchered the Brahmins, converted them forcibly to Islam (by making them eat beef!) destroyed their corps, poisoned their wells, burned their houses, abducted their children and raped their women. They took their inspiration from Quran. Ayats 2:193, 8:39, orders them to break idols. Ayats 8:12, 22: 19-22 exhorts them to massacre the religious leaders of the other religion. Ayats 33:59 and 4:24 encourages them to commit sexual transgressions without compunction with the non-Muslim women.
This, this last atrocity done to the local populace by these Islamic marauders was without precedence in cruelty. (No one in Hindu era even thought of touching another woman, let alone raping her). It was a greater calamity on women than their family men. They did not think of such calamity befalling them in their wildest nightmares. They were free women under Hinduism with an equal say in society as men. They were not used to the sexual, and mental humiliation and torture to which Muslim and non-Muslim women under Islamic rule were subjected to. Chastity for them was everything, the prime value of life. They could not imagine an unchaste life. The very concept was unthinkable to them. And for preserving their chastity they were prepared to do anything, to break every barrier, to sacrifice every tying, even their life. And so they did.
Facing these Islamic molesters, the brave Hindu women chose death. They built big cauldron like pots, lit then with fire and jumped into them, to die voluntarily and happily in order to save their honour and chastity. They chose and embraced death themselves and nobody forced them to do so. They with their very feminine bravery defied whole armies of Islamic marauders with all of their evil means and intentions. This phenomenon was called 'johar', meaning giving themselves to fire in order to be saved from disgrace.
So, this was 'Johar', later practiced by Hindu women in every part of India in order to save themselves from the dirty hands of Islamic marauders. There was no forced immolation in that process, no malign Brahmins, no cruel priests, thus no 'Sati-Pratha.' And for suicide no other person can be blamed, other than those Islamic marauders whose threat forced Hindu women to suicide.
'Sati' is an ancient Sanskrit term, meaning a chaste woman who thinks of no other man than her own husband. The famous examples are Sati Anusuiya, Savitri, Ahilya etc. None of them committed suicide, let alone being forcible burned. So how is that that they are called Sati? The word 'Sati' means a chaste woman, and it has no co-relations with either suicide or murder. The term 'Sati' was never accompanied by 'Pratha'. The phrase, 'Sati-Pratha' was a Christian Missionary invention. Sati was taken form the above quoted source and 'Pratha' was taken from the practice of Johar', (by distorting its meaning from 'suicide' to 'murder') and the myth of 'Sati-Pratha' was born to haunt Hindus forever.
So 'Sati-Pratha' (in its modern avatar of forcible widow burning) is not a fault of Hinduism but a crime of Islam. Islam is the perpetrator of crime here, and Hinduism, the victim. It is a joint crime of Islam and Christianity. The crime of Islam was transposed on Hinduism (absolving Islam in the process) by the historical connivance of anti-Hindu forces (Islam, Christianity and Marxism).
To insert a spiritual clause here, it is very important to say that in modern times whenever is there a case reported of voluntary immolation of a woman on her husband's pyre, it is never reported that the dying woman shrieked in the unbearable pain of the burning flesh. Sucha case is reported by Mark Tully in his book 'No Full Stops in India'. He tells of a woman Roop Kanwar in the village Deorala, district Sikar of Rajasthan who in Sep 1987 voluntarily died by burning herself with fire, without emitting any cries or shrieks. So what does it signify? No mortal can remain calm when his flesh is being burnt. So what is the reason of this superhuman quality of these women? The answer lies in dharma, Yoga and meditation. There are umpteen stories in Puranas and Vedas in which both men and women voluntarily accept death by immolating their mortal bodies by various means, including fire. The power of Yoga makes them oblivious of the pain of the decay of the mortal body. So women who voluntarily gave up their life in fire were empowered with the power of Yoga. Pain did not touch their chaste bodies.
Hindus being oppressed for centuries have developed a mental state called 'Dhimmitude', which means a mental slavery to its long time oppressor Islam. So, now even those Hindus who stand against Islam are timid, defensive and guilty of some hypothetical crimes, imagined for their chagrin, for them by their enemies. They still can't think freely, analyze history objectively and recognize the true nature of Hinduism, i.e., Dharma.
But, if they want to re-generate Dharma, Truth and Goodness then they will have to view History in its true light, with Courage, Resolution and with Objectivity. Then only they will be able to re-discover their Dharma and do something for its regeneration.
History being 'Dharma' itself hopes them to do so.