Sati - Widow Burning in India (Cambridge Studies in the History of)

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9780385423175: Sati - Widow Burning in India (Cambridge Studies in the History of)

Bombay journalist Narasimhan here offers an unnerving, carefully documented study of the Indian ritual whereby widows bring glory on themselves and their families by self-immolation on the pyres of their dead husbands.
 
According to the author, the Hindi scriptures, which evolved from the second millennium B.C. to the second millennium A.D., sometimes suggest or sanction sati but this endorsement is equivocal. She further illustrates how, throughout Indian history, sati rituals must be seen as part of a wider canvas of social attitudes that denigrate women; a widow’s life is particularly wretched and even today widows are routinely excluded from various religious functions and festivities. Although sati was officially outlawed in 1829, the rite persists: the book points to the 1987 self-immolation of 18-year-old Roop Kanwar in the presence of a crowd of 4,000, an act that incited nationwide pro- and anti-sati sentiment. Narasimhan demonstrates how the combination of a number of factors; lack of education, religious and economic compulsions and male chauvinism; help to explain how a culture rooted in the tenets of compassion and nonviolence can encourage the burning of its widows.

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From Kirkus Reviews:

When 250,000 people gathered in 1987 in the Indian town of Deorala to watch an 18-year-old widow immolate herself on her husband's funeral pyre, achieving glory for herself and honor for her family, the Indian government passed yet one more law against the immolation ritual of sati. The power of this brutal rite--its economic, political, and social significance--is the major concern here of acclaimed Indian journalist Narasimhan. There is no scriptural basis for sati in any Hindu text, but since A.D. 370, when it first appeared in India, it has acquired religious status and, though it was officially outlawed in 1829, is often defended on the grounds of religious freedom. In fact, Narasimhan contends, sati reflects the persistent trivialization of women: often aborted simply because they are female, or abandoned after birth, seldom educated, exchanged in childhood marriages, secluded in purdah for most of their lives, married for their dowries or murdered if their dowries are insufficient--women, in addition to all this, are, upon the death of their husbands, encouraged to destroy themselves in order to avoid being burdens and to release their husband's inheritance for their children. If they agree, they are celebrated; if they don't, they are often coerced into sati or are ostracized. Fear, male domination, tradition, lack of alternatives in a society that does not allow widows to remarry, fascination with the mystique, or simply the opportunity to appear heroic in a life of degradation--each may convince women, some highly intelligent, to perform sati, which, in turn, enhances its power. Narasimhan recognizes the irony: How can an essentially pacifist society, one that discourages the sacrificing of animals, burn women alive and justify it? Clearheaded, informed, and persuasive, Narasimhan makes her points with a quiet yet powerful indignation. (Eight-page photo insert--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

From Library Journal:

For 2500 years it was not uncommon for widows to be burned alive with the corpses of their husbands on funeral pyres in India. British officials prohibited the practice in the 19th century, but the ritual of sati has continued sporadically until the present. Publicity following the 1987 sati of an 18-year-old widow led to the passage of the Sati Prevention Act, which not only bans the burning of widows but also imposes punishments for glorifying women who have died by means of sati . Narasimhan, an Indian journalist, takes issue with pro-sati advocates who claim a religious underpinning to the practice. She argues that early Hindu scriptures do not mention sati and that this gruesome funeral rite appears only in later versions of the writings. Stripping away the mystique of noble self-sacrifice, the author paints a stark picture of women's life in India throughout its history. Even today, female infanticide and dowry burnings are still practiced. A good purchase for women's studies collections and for large area study libraries. (Note: This book was published under the same title by Viking in India in 1990.)-- Ruth M. Mara, Agency for International Development, Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Book Description Transworld Publishers Ltd, United Kingdom, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Anchor Books.. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.Bombay journalist Narasimhan here offers an unnerving, carefully documented study of the Indian ritual whereby widows bring glory on themselves and their families by self-immolation on the pyres of their dead husbands. According to the author, the Hindi scriptures, which evolved from the second millennium B.C. to the second millennium A.D., sometimes suggest or sanction sati but this endorsement is equivocal. She further illustrates how, throughout Indian history, sati rituals must be seen as part of a wider canvas of social attitudes that denigrate women; a widow s life is particularly wretched and even today widows are routinely excluded from various religious functions and festivities. Although sati was officially outlawed in 1829, the rite persists: the book points to the 1987 self-immolation of 18-year-old Roop Kanwar in the presence of a crowd of 4,000, an act that incited nationwide pro- and anti-sati sentiment. Narasimhan demonstrates how the combination of a number of factors; lack of education, religious and economic compulsions and male chauvinism; help to explain how a culture rooted in the tenets of compassion and nonviolence can encourage the burning of its widows. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780385423175

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Book Description Anchor Books. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Paperback. 216 pages. Dimensions: 8.0in. x 5.2in. x 0.6in.Sati--the burning of a widow on her husbands funeral pyre--has for centuries been one of the few ways in which women of India could achieve renown, respect, and even deification. This eye-opening work exposes what this still persistent ritual (officially outlawed in 1829) reveals about this society and about the women who choose or are forced to become sati. 8-page insert. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Paperback. Bookseller Inventory # 9780385423175

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