Sati rite

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Expressions researched:
"principles of sati" |"saha-gamana. sati" |"sati dharma" |"sati rite" |"sati rites" |"sati rituals" |"system known as sati" |"undergo a sati"

Srimad-Bhagavatam

SB Canto 1

A devoted wife, who is according to revealed scripture the better half of her husband, is justified in embracing voluntary death along with her husband if she is without issue. But in the case of the wife of Droṇācārya, she did not undergo such a trial because she had her son, the representative of her husband.
SB 1.7.45, Translation and Purport:

He (Droṇācārya) is certainly still existing, being represented by his son. His wife Kṛpī did not undergo a satī with him because she had a son.

The wife of Droṇācārya, Kṛpī, is the sister of Kṛpācārya. A devoted wife, who is according to revealed scripture the better half of her husband, is justified in embracing voluntary death along with her husband if she is without issue. But in the case of the wife of Droṇācārya, she did not undergo such a trial because she had her son, the representative of her husband. A widow is a widow only in name if there is a son of her husband existing. So in either case Aśvatthāmā was the representative of Droṇācārya, and therefore killing Aśvatthāmā would be like killing Droṇācārya. That was the argument of Draupadī against the killing of Aśvatthāmā.

Two co-wives, namely Kuntī and Mādrī, decided that Kuntī should live for the maintenance of the five minor children, the Pāṇḍavas, and Mādrī should accept the satī rituals by meeting voluntary death along with her husband. This agreement was endorsed by great sages like Śataśṛṅga and others present on the occasion.
SB 1.13.3-4, Purport:

Pṛthā: Daughter of Mahārāja Śūrasena and sister of Vasudeva, Lord Kṛṣṇa's father. Later she was adopted by Mahārāja Kuntibhoja, and hence she is known as Kuntī. She is the incarnation of the success potency of the Personality of Godhead. The heavenly denizens from the upper planets used to visit the palace of King Kuntibhoja, and Kuntī was engaged for their reception. She also served the great mystic sage Durvāsā, and being satisfied by her faithful service, Durvāsā Muni gave her a mantra by which it was possible for her to call for any demigod she pleased. As a matter of inquisitiveness, she at once called for the sun-god, who desired couplement with her, but she declined. But the sun-god assured her immunity from virgin adulteration, and so she agreed to his proposal. As a result of this couplement, she became pregnant, and Karṇa was born by her. By the grace of the sun, she again turned into a virgin girl, but being afraid of her parents, she quitted the newly born child, Karṇa. After that, when she actually selected her own husband, she preferred Pāṇḍu to be her husband. Mahārāja Pāṇḍu later wanted to retire from family life and adopt the renounced order of life. Kuntī refused to allow her husband to adopt such life, but at last Mahārāja Pāṇḍu gave her permission to become a mother of sons by calling some other suitable personalities. Kuntī did not accept this proposal at first, but when vivid examples were set by Pāṇḍu she agreed. Thus by dint of the mantra awarded by Durvāsā Muni she called for Dharmarāja, and thus Yudhiṣṭhira was born. She called for the demigod Vāyu (air), and thus Bhīma was born. She called for Indra, the King of heaven, and thus Arjuna was born. The other two sons, namely Nakula and Sahadeva, were begotten by Pāṇḍu himself in the womb of Mādrī. Later on, Mahārāja Pāṇḍu died at an early age, for which Kuntī was so aggrieved that she fainted. Two co-wives, namely Kuntī and Mādrī, decided that Kuntī should live for the maintenance of the five minor children, the Pāṇḍavas, and Mādrī should accept the satī rituals by meeting voluntary death along with her husband. This agreement was endorsed by great sages like Śataśṛṅga and others present on the occasion.

This entering of a chaste lady into the fire of her dead husband is called the satī rite, and the action is considered to be most perfect for a woman.
SB 1.13.58, Translation and Purport:

While outside observing her husband, who will burn in the fire of mystic power along with his thatched cottage, his chaste wife will enter the fire with rapt attention.

Gāndhārī was an ideal chaste lady, a life companion of her husband, and therefore when she saw her husband burning in the fire of mystic yoga along with his cottage of leaves, she despaired. She left home after losing her one hundred sons, and in the forest she saw that her most beloved husband was also burning. Now she actually felt alone, and therefore she entered the fire of her husband and followed her husband to death. This entering of a chaste lady into the fire of her dead husband is called the satī rite, and the action is considered to be most perfect for a woman. In a later age, this satī rite became an obnoxious criminal affair because the ceremony was forced upon even an unwilling woman. In this fallen age it is not possible for any lady to follow the satī rite as chastely as it was done by Gāndhārī and others in past ages. A chaste wife like Gāndhārī would feel the separation of her husband to be more burning than actual fire. Such a lady can observe the satī rite voluntarily, and there is no criminal force by anyone. When the rite became a formality only and force was applied upon a lady to follow the principle, actually it became criminal, and therefore the ceremony was to be stopped by state law. This prophecy of Nārada Muni to Mahārāja Yudhiṣṭhira forbade him to go to his widowed aunt.

SB Canto 9

When Bāhuka died, his wife wanted to accept the principles of satī, dying with her husband, but when she was about to die a sage named Aurva found that she was pregnant and forbade her to do so.
SB 9.8 Summary:

The son of Campa was Sudeva, the son of Sudeva was Vijaya, the son of Vijaya was Bharuka, and the son of Bharuka was Vṛka. Bāhuka, the son of Vṛka, was greatly disturbed by his enemies, and therefore he left home with his wife and went to the forest. When he died there, his wife wanted to accept the principles of satī, dying with her husband, but when she was about to die a sage named Aurva found that she was pregnant and forbade her to do so. The co-wives of this wife of Bāhuka gave her poison with her food, but still her son was born with the poison. The son was therefore named Sagara (sa means "with," and gara means "poison").

SB 9.8.3, Translation:

Bāhuka died when he was old, and one of his wives wanted to die with him, following the satī rite. At that time, however, Aurva Muni, knowing her to be pregnant, forbade her to die.

In the Vedic culture there is a system known as satī or saha-maraṇa, in which a woman dies with her husband. According to this system, if the husband dies, the wife will voluntarily die by falling in the blazing funeral pyre of her husband.
SB 9.9.32, Translation and Purport:

Without my husband, I cannot live for a moment. If you want to eat my husband, it would be better to eat me first, for without my husband I am as good as a dead body.

In the Vedic culture there is a system known as satī or saha-maraṇa, in which a woman dies with her husband. According to this system, if the husband dies, the wife will voluntarily die by falling in the blazing funeral pyre of her husband. Here, in this verse, the feelings inherent in this culture are expressed by the wife of the brāhmaṇa. A woman without a husband is like a dead body. Therefore according to Vedic culture a girl must be married. This is the responsibility of her father. A girl may be given in charity, and a husband may have more than one wife, but a girl must be married. This is Vedic culture. A woman is supposed to be always dependent—in her childhood she is dependent on her father, in youth on her husband, and in old age on her elderly sons. According to Manu-saṁhitā, she is never independent. Independence for a woman means miserable life. In this age, so many girls are unmarried and falsely imagining themselves free, but their life is miserable. Here is an instance in which a woman felt that without her husband she was nothing but a dead body.

Conversations and Morning Walks

1971 Conversations and Morning Walks

Vedic culture, widow should finish her life after having the husband. Saha-gamana. Satī.
Room Conversation -- August 25, 1971, London:

Prabhupāda: It is called śaṅkha. From conchshell, it is made from conchshell. Where you have purchased it?

Woman: I'm afraid this is ivory.

Prabhupāda: Ivory? Oh. There is similar made from conchshell.

Woman: Yes, I had those in Allahabad. I was going there to...

Prabhupāda: Allahabad? Conch, from conchshell? It is especially used in Bengal. A woman... that is an auspicious sign that she is with her husband, to have conchshell bangle. Śaṅkha-sari. A woman dressed śaṅkha and sari, śaṅkha-sari. They don't require any other ornament. One nice sari and śaṅkha. That is Indian conception of woman having husband. That is distinction between widow and a woman having husband. Widow will not accept sari. All finished. Vedic culture, widow should finish her life after having the husband. Saha-gamana. Satī. Yes.

1973 Conversations and Morning Walks

Satī dharma. Yes. Formerly, even Arjuna's stepmother, Mādrī, he also, she also died with her husband. That was the system. The wife voluntarily used to die along with the husband.
Morning Walk -- April 21, 1973, Los Angeles:

Prabhupāda: So the Britishers, they wanted to rule over India, and they were advertising, at least in India, that: "We are making you civilized. Before British rule, the Indians were rude, primitive natives." That's all. That is their propaganda. The whole propaganda was to make the Indians known that: "We are giving you life and civilization. Before this, you were not even human beings." That is their propaganda. So they accept this literature, but they date within one thousand years, one thousand-five hundred years. Even this rascal, Dr. Radhakrishnan, he dates Bhagavad-gītā within two thousand years. That's all. Perhaps I am the first person making propaganda that Bhagavad-gītā was spoken five thousand years ago. I am the first person. All other so-called scholars, they have dated within two thousand years. (pause) There was a book: "England's work in India," written by one rascal Indian, M. Ghosh. In that book... That was taught in the schools in our days. The theme of the book is that before British rule, India was not at all advanced in any way. The incidence of satī... Satī. That was very elaborately explained. Satī...

Svarūpa Dāmodara: Satī dharma?

Prabhupāda: Satī dharma. Yes. Formerly, even Arjuna's stepmother, Mādrī, he also, she also died with her husband. That was the system. The wife voluntarily used to die along with the husband.

Brahmānanda: Gāndhārī.

Prabhupāda: Eh?

Brahmānanda: Gāndhārī, wife of Dhṛtarāṣṭra.

Prabhupāda: Yes. So later on such devoted wife was lacking. So the system was, some cases, they were forced to die. So these things have been elaborately explained in the, that book, and Britishers stopped it. So the Indians were uncivilized. Britishers made them civilized. Everything was misinterpreted. Yes.

Lectures

Philosophy Discussions

This suicidal, this is not suicidal, that voluntarily accepting death, so that by dying, if he thinks of the spiritual life, he gets it.
Philosophy Discussion on Arthur Schopenhauer:

Hayagrīva: As an example of suicide, he gives the..., he says that at the procession of Jagannātha in 1840, eleven Hindus threw themselves under the wheels and were instantly killed. And he also mentions the satī rituals of the woman throwing herself into the sacrificial fire, the fire of her husband's funeral pyre.

Prabhupāda: This is not suicide. This is... Our life is continuation, but on account of impure understanding we are getting different types of body and you are suffering different varieties of miseries. So this suicidal, this is not suicidal, that voluntarily accepting death, so that by dying, if he thinks of the spiritual life, he gets it. Just like Kulaśekhara, he has got a poetry that... In the Bhagavad-gītā it is stated, yaṁ yaṁ vāpi smaran bhāvaṁ tyajanty ante: (BG 8.6) we get next life according to the desire at the point of death. So generally, when death takes place, one sometimes remains in coma, all the bodily functions becomes defunct, he dreams in different ways and so on, so on. So he cannot dream or think independently. Therefore sometimes the intelligent class, they think that "If I meet death in sound health, then I can think of my next life, go back to home, back to Godhead, and I achieve it. Because at the time of death my thinking will be taken into consideration. So if by thinking of Jagannātha if I die, then I go back to Jagannātha."

Hayagrīva: Yes.

Prabhupāda: That is not suicide. That is voluntarily accepting death so that immediately he can return back to the spiritual world.

Facts about "Sati rite"
Compiled byLabangalatika + and Namrata +
Completed sectionsALL +
Date of first entryAugust 16, 0009 JL +
Date of last entryJuly 15, 0012 JL +
Total quotes9 +
Total quotes by sectionBG: 0 +, SB: 6 +, CC: 0 +, OB: 0 +, Lec: 1 +, Conv: 2 + and Let: 0 +