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Sati A Historical Anthology
Sati A Historical Anthology
Description
From The Jacket

Sati, the burning of a Hindu widow on her husband' funeral pyre, has always been a sensational issue and a highly controversial act. 'Western' accounts of India since the fifteenth century, as well as the significance of sati's 'ethos', if not its actual practice, within Indian culture, have assured its place in the public eye for several centuries. This anthology explores some of the multiple meanings of sati by bringing together a wide range of both Indian and European historical sources on sati spanning many hundreds of years.

This anthology collects a wide selection of primary-source material, revealing a broad range of responses and attitudes, both Indian and foreign, on the concept and ritual of sati down the ages. Extracts from the Rig Veda and other Hindu scriptures, accounts by commentators as diverse as Battuta, Bernier, Pelsaert, Bentinck, Rammohan Roy, Sarojini Naidu and Gandhi, right up to feminist and other responses to the Deorala Sati of 1987, offer glimpses of the historical development of this rite, as well as the opinion, of travellers, colonizers, and today's thinkers thereon. The extensive introduction places the texts in perspective and guides the readers through a range of sources disparate in time and place.

Useful and enriching, he anthology delves into little-known aspects of sati and its abolition, such as the views of the Indian Princely States to the rite. Also included are accounts of a controversial sati that took place in Barh, Bihar, in 1927. such accounts shed new light on the history of sati.

The breadth and focus of this volume will make it relevant for historians, sociologists,
anthropologists, and those working in the field of gender studies.

Andrea Major completed her doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in 2004 and is currently a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Fellow at that institution. She is the author of Pious Flames: European Encounters with Sati (1500-1830) (OUP, 2006)

Preface

The material contained in this anthology is just a small sample of the vast corpus of primary and secondary sources on sati that exist in archives and libraries in India and Britain. An anthologizer on this rare, but sensational, custom suffers from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to colonial and postcolonial sources on widow-burning. A different editor might produce a similar volume on the subject without replicating any of the sources here offered. The sheer volume of material available means that while many important pieces have been included, many equally significant works have perforce been left out. I do not apologize, therefore, for the omission of any particular piece, but rather proceed in the sincere hope that the reader will find interest and value in what is offered and perhaps be encouraged to explore for themselves this vast and fascinating literature. However, in order to provide the reader with a context for the choices that have been made when deciding on the contents of this anthology, it may be helpful to provide them with some background information on how this collection came about.

Many of the sources collected here were uncovered during he course of my doctoral and post-doctoral research into British and European responses to sati between 1500 and 1947. this research resulted in the recently published Pious Flames: European Encounters with Sati 1500-1830 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006), as well as articles on sati in the Rajput States and in early twentieth century India and a monograph, currently in preparation, on the prohibition of sati in the Princely States. While preparing Pious Flames it was suggested to me that I might also like to produce an anthology based on the source material I had used for the monograph, an idea which I took up with enthusiasm. The resulting volume reflects these origins, for while I have endeavoured to include many Indian-authored writings on sati, much of the material from this volume comes from the colonial archive in which I have worked so extensively. In some cases reliance on colonial sources reflects the paucity of other writing on sati for a particular time and place, in others they are offered as representative of a particular time and place, in others they are offered as representative of a rich body of 'Western' writing on sati that is of interest in itself. In both cases I would offer the usual caveat that, as interesting and useful as these colonial sources are, they should be read sensitively and not taken at face value. The observation and depiction of the 'other' by European writers must be understood as a political act in the colonial context and all these sources on sati, Western and Indian, tell us as much about the subjectivity of the observer as about the 'reality' of sati. Similarly, though some literary accounts are included, the anthology is primarily historical in nature, designed to make both famous and less well-known historical sources on sati more readily accessible to any with an interest in the area. The choices about what to include in this volume do not, therefore, imply a value judgment about what is important in the study of sati and what is not, not rather reflect my own interests, experience, and limitations. I hope in the future others, with different areas of expertise to myself, my take up this issue and offer other perspectives on this fascinating topic.

This anthology is so closely connected with my wider research tha it is difficult to separate those who have assisted with this volume from the wider network of those who have helped and supported me in all my endeavours to date. In Edinburgh, I have received invaluable advice and encouragement from various members of the Centre for South Asian Studies, especially Markus and Umbreen Daechsel, Bashabi Fraser, Roger and Patricia Jeffery, and Crispin Bates. I cannot thank them enough for making Edinburgh such a stimulating place to carry out research on South Asia.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the staff of the various archives and libraries in which I have researched this topic, including the Oriental and India Office (British Library), the National Library of Scotland, Bodleian Library (Oxford), Council for World Mission Archive, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Baptist Missionary Archive (Regent's Park College, Oxford), National Archives of India (Delhi), National Library of India (Calcutta), Nehru Memorial Library (Delhi), Royal Asiatic Society Library (Calcutta), and Rajasthan State Archives (Bikaner). I would also like to thank Suranjan Das, Nandini Sunder, and Sudhir Chandra for their support and advice during my time in India.

Mention must also be made of the financial support that I have received from various bodies, including full MSc and PhD studentships funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board and a post-doctoral fellowship funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. In addition, various travel expenses have been offset in part by grants from the Society for South Asian Studies, Carnegie Foundation, and British Academy, and from the University of Edinburgh George Scott Travelling Fellowship.

I would also like to thank everybody at Oxford University Press (Delhi) who have worked so diligently on this book, particularly my editors for their invaluable help and endless hard work in the preparation of this volume.

Finally, I dedicate this book to my family-my parents Verena and Alan, my husband Garry, and my son Alex. Nobody could ask to be surrounded by more loving and supportive people and their belief in me is the foundation of everything I have achieved or hope to do.

Back Of The Book

'I witnessed the devotion and burning of another widow. She was by no means uncomely. I do not expect.. to convey the brutish boldness…depicted on this woman's countenance; the freedom from all perturbation… the look of confidence…she sat down upon the funeral pile, placed her deceased husband's head in her lap, took up a torch and with her own hand lighted the fire within…My recollection is so distinct that it seems only a few days since the horrid reality passed before my eyes, and with pain I persuade myself that it was anything but a frightful dream.'

-Francois Bernier, Seventeenth-century traveller
'The woman…took her seat on the pyre…Suddenly the woman's clothes were on fire…Unable to bear the agony she jumped, or fell, into the water…The unfortunate woman's pain…must have been acute…almost the whole of her back, and her legs and thighs had been burnt… in the meantime the abettors of the "sati", sent for the sandals of her husband's, which are apparently an orthodox substitute for the husband's body, with a view to a further attempts at "sati".'

CONTENTS
Acknowledgmentsxi
Prefacexii
Introductionxv
I:SATI IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL INDIA1
1Extracts on Sati from Hindu Texts3
Rg Veda3
The Institutes of Vishnu3
Vedavyasasmriti4
Angirasa4
The Kadambari of Bana5
Mahanirvana Tantra5
Harita6
The Ramayana of Valmiki6
The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayna Vyasa8
2Classical and Medieval Accounts11
Early Greek Account11
Harsacarita of Bana12
The Travels of Ibn Battuta20
Duarte Barbosa22
II:EARLY MODERN AND COLONIAL ACCOUNTS27
3Early Modern Travellers29
Francois Bernier29
Nicollao Manucci29
Albert de Mandelslo36
Francisco Pelsaert42
4The Eighteenth Century44
John Zephaniah Holwell44
Durlabh Ram51
Eliza Fay53
Tryambakayajvan54
5The Nineteenth Century62
The Times, 'Interesting Account of A Suttee'62
The Time, 'Suttee'65
Fanny Parks67
III:DEBATING ABOLITION (1805-30)73
6Missionaries and Philanthropists75
Charles Grant75
Reverend William Ward78
Friend of India86
7Official Debate97
Parliamentary Papers97
William Ewer99
William Bentinck102
Regulation against Sati115
8Indian Opinions119
Raja Rammohan Roy119
Congratulatory Address144
Petition of the Orthodox Community
against the Sati Regulation147
IV:SATI IN THE PRINCELY STATES153
9Accounts155
James Tod155
Sati at Edur163
Sati in Ahmednuggar164
Death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh167
10Official Policy172
East India Company Board of Control 172
Major Thoresby175
Lt. Col. Sir Henry Lawrence176
Henry Bushby178
11Indian Responses195
Jaipur195
Bundi196
Kota198
V:SATI IN THE ERA OF NATIONALISM201
12The Barh Sati, 1927203
Police Report203
Amrita Bazar Potrika207
Judgment of chief Justice Courtney Terrell210
Searchlight, 'The Sati Case'219
Stri Dharma, 'Sati'225
13British Ideas227
The Times, 'The Abolition of Suttee'227
Edward Thompson, Suttee228
14Indian Attitudes239
Bankimchandra Chattopadhyaya239
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 239
Ananda Coomaraswamy242
A. S. Altekar263
VI:LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS289
15Early Modern and Eighteenth-Century Fiction291
Dryden, Aureng-Zebe291
Starke, The Widow of Malabar293
16Early Nineteenth-Century Fiction295
'The Suttee'295
'The Suttee'-A Poem299
Derozio, 'On the Abolition of Suttee'305
17Raj Fiction309
Kipling, 'The Last Suttee' (Poem)309
Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days312
Kaye, The Far Pavilions321
18Indian Fiction337
The Modern Review, 'The Suttee'337
Naidu, 'The Suttee'352
VII:SATI IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA,
ROOP KANWAR, AND BEYOND
19Roop Kanwar355
Manushi, 'The Burning of Roop Kanwar' 355
Hinduism Today, 'Uproar over Rajput Sati'372
Oldenburg, 'The Roop Kanwar Case: Feminist Responses'375
Nandy, 'Sati in Kali Yuga'408
20Charan Shah432
Manushi, 'Deadly Laws and Zealous Reformers'432
21Secondary Sources452
Thapar, 'In History'452

Sati A Historical Anthology

Item Code:
IDI665
Cover:
Hardcover
Edition:
2007
ISBN:
0195678958
Size:
8.6" X 5.5
Pages:
510
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From The Jacket

Sati, the burning of a Hindu widow on her husband' funeral pyre, has always been a sensational issue and a highly controversial act. 'Western' accounts of India since the fifteenth century, as well as the significance of sati's 'ethos', if not its actual practice, within Indian culture, have assured its place in the public eye for several centuries. This anthology explores some of the multiple meanings of sati by bringing together a wide range of both Indian and European historical sources on sati spanning many hundreds of years.

This anthology collects a wide selection of primary-source material, revealing a broad range of responses and attitudes, both Indian and foreign, on the concept and ritual of sati down the ages. Extracts from the Rig Veda and other Hindu scriptures, accounts by commentators as diverse as Battuta, Bernier, Pelsaert, Bentinck, Rammohan Roy, Sarojini Naidu and Gandhi, right up to feminist and other responses to the Deorala Sati of 1987, offer glimpses of the historical development of this rite, as well as the opinion, of travellers, colonizers, and today's thinkers thereon. The extensive introduction places the texts in perspective and guides the readers through a range of sources disparate in time and place.

Useful and enriching, he anthology delves into little-known aspects of sati and its abolition, such as the views of the Indian Princely States to the rite. Also included are accounts of a controversial sati that took place in Barh, Bihar, in 1927. such accounts shed new light on the history of sati.

The breadth and focus of this volume will make it relevant for historians, sociologists,
anthropologists, and those working in the field of gender studies.

Andrea Major completed her doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in 2004 and is currently a Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Fellow at that institution. She is the author of Pious Flames: European Encounters with Sati (1500-1830) (OUP, 2006)

Preface

The material contained in this anthology is just a small sample of the vast corpus of primary and secondary sources on sati that exist in archives and libraries in India and Britain. An anthologizer on this rare, but sensational, custom suffers from an embarrassment of riches when it comes to colonial and postcolonial sources on widow-burning. A different editor might produce a similar volume on the subject without replicating any of the sources here offered. The sheer volume of material available means that while many important pieces have been included, many equally significant works have perforce been left out. I do not apologize, therefore, for the omission of any particular piece, but rather proceed in the sincere hope that the reader will find interest and value in what is offered and perhaps be encouraged to explore for themselves this vast and fascinating literature. However, in order to provide the reader with a context for the choices that have been made when deciding on the contents of this anthology, it may be helpful to provide them with some background information on how this collection came about.

Many of the sources collected here were uncovered during he course of my doctoral and post-doctoral research into British and European responses to sati between 1500 and 1947. this research resulted in the recently published Pious Flames: European Encounters with Sati 1500-1830 (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2006), as well as articles on sati in the Rajput States and in early twentieth century India and a monograph, currently in preparation, on the prohibition of sati in the Princely States. While preparing Pious Flames it was suggested to me that I might also like to produce an anthology based on the source material I had used for the monograph, an idea which I took up with enthusiasm. The resulting volume reflects these origins, for while I have endeavoured to include many Indian-authored writings on sati, much of the material from this volume comes from the colonial archive in which I have worked so extensively. In some cases reliance on colonial sources reflects the paucity of other writing on sati for a particular time and place, in others they are offered as representative of a particular time and place, in others they are offered as representative of a rich body of 'Western' writing on sati that is of interest in itself. In both cases I would offer the usual caveat that, as interesting and useful as these colonial sources are, they should be read sensitively and not taken at face value. The observation and depiction of the 'other' by European writers must be understood as a political act in the colonial context and all these sources on sati, Western and Indian, tell us as much about the subjectivity of the observer as about the 'reality' of sati. Similarly, though some literary accounts are included, the anthology is primarily historical in nature, designed to make both famous and less well-known historical sources on sati more readily accessible to any with an interest in the area. The choices about what to include in this volume do not, therefore, imply a value judgment about what is important in the study of sati and what is not, not rather reflect my own interests, experience, and limitations. I hope in the future others, with different areas of expertise to myself, my take up this issue and offer other perspectives on this fascinating topic.

This anthology is so closely connected with my wider research tha it is difficult to separate those who have assisted with this volume from the wider network of those who have helped and supported me in all my endeavours to date. In Edinburgh, I have received invaluable advice and encouragement from various members of the Centre for South Asian Studies, especially Markus and Umbreen Daechsel, Bashabi Fraser, Roger and Patricia Jeffery, and Crispin Bates. I cannot thank them enough for making Edinburgh such a stimulating place to carry out research on South Asia.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the staff of the various archives and libraries in which I have researched this topic, including the Oriental and India Office (British Library), the National Library of Scotland, Bodleian Library (Oxford), Council for World Mission Archive, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), Baptist Missionary Archive (Regent's Park College, Oxford), National Archives of India (Delhi), National Library of India (Calcutta), Nehru Memorial Library (Delhi), Royal Asiatic Society Library (Calcutta), and Rajasthan State Archives (Bikaner). I would also like to thank Suranjan Das, Nandini Sunder, and Sudhir Chandra for their support and advice during my time in India.

Mention must also be made of the financial support that I have received from various bodies, including full MSc and PhD studentships funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board and a post-doctoral fellowship funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. In addition, various travel expenses have been offset in part by grants from the Society for South Asian Studies, Carnegie Foundation, and British Academy, and from the University of Edinburgh George Scott Travelling Fellowship.

I would also like to thank everybody at Oxford University Press (Delhi) who have worked so diligently on this book, particularly my editors for their invaluable help and endless hard work in the preparation of this volume.

Finally, I dedicate this book to my family-my parents Verena and Alan, my husband Garry, and my son Alex. Nobody could ask to be surrounded by more loving and supportive people and their belief in me is the foundation of everything I have achieved or hope to do.

Back Of The Book

'I witnessed the devotion and burning of another widow. She was by no means uncomely. I do not expect.. to convey the brutish boldness…depicted on this woman's countenance; the freedom from all perturbation… the look of confidence…she sat down upon the funeral pile, placed her deceased husband's head in her lap, took up a torch and with her own hand lighted the fire within…My recollection is so distinct that it seems only a few days since the horrid reality passed before my eyes, and with pain I persuade myself that it was anything but a frightful dream.'

-Francois Bernier, Seventeenth-century traveller
'The woman…took her seat on the pyre…Suddenly the woman's clothes were on fire…Unable to bear the agony she jumped, or fell, into the water…The unfortunate woman's pain…must have been acute…almost the whole of her back, and her legs and thighs had been burnt… in the meantime the abettors of the "sati", sent for the sandals of her husband's, which are apparently an orthodox substitute for the husband's body, with a view to a further attempts at "sati".'

CONTENTS
Acknowledgmentsxi
Prefacexii
Introductionxv
I:SATI IN ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL INDIA1
1Extracts on Sati from Hindu Texts3
Rg Veda3
The Institutes of Vishnu3
Vedavyasasmriti4
Angirasa4
The Kadambari of Bana5
Mahanirvana Tantra5
Harita6
The Ramayana of Valmiki6
The Mahabharata of Krishna-Dwaipayna Vyasa8
2Classical and Medieval Accounts11
Early Greek Account11
Harsacarita of Bana12
The Travels of Ibn Battuta20
Duarte Barbosa22
II:EARLY MODERN AND COLONIAL ACCOUNTS27
3Early Modern Travellers29
Francois Bernier29
Nicollao Manucci29
Albert de Mandelslo36
Francisco Pelsaert42
4The Eighteenth Century44
John Zephaniah Holwell44
Durlabh Ram51
Eliza Fay53
Tryambakayajvan54
5The Nineteenth Century62
The Times, 'Interesting Account of A Suttee'62
The Time, 'Suttee'65
Fanny Parks67
III:DEBATING ABOLITION (1805-30)73
6Missionaries and Philanthropists75
Charles Grant75
Reverend William Ward78
Friend of India86
7Official Debate97
Parliamentary Papers97
William Ewer99
William Bentinck102
Regulation against Sati115
8Indian Opinions119
Raja Rammohan Roy119
Congratulatory Address144
Petition of the Orthodox Community
against the Sati Regulation147
IV:SATI IN THE PRINCELY STATES153
9Accounts155
James Tod155
Sati at Edur163
Sati in Ahmednuggar164
Death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh167
10Official Policy172
East India Company Board of Control 172
Major Thoresby175
Lt. Col. Sir Henry Lawrence176
Henry Bushby178
11Indian Responses195
Jaipur195
Bundi196
Kota198
V:SATI IN THE ERA OF NATIONALISM201
12The Barh Sati, 1927203
Police Report203
Amrita Bazar Potrika207
Judgment of chief Justice Courtney Terrell210
Searchlight, 'The Sati Case'219
Stri Dharma, 'Sati'225
13British Ideas227
The Times, 'The Abolition of Suttee'227
Edward Thompson, Suttee228
14Indian Attitudes239
Bankimchandra Chattopadhyaya239
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi 239
Ananda Coomaraswamy242
A. S. Altekar263
VI:LITERARY REPRESENTATIONS289
15Early Modern and Eighteenth-Century Fiction291
Dryden, Aureng-Zebe291
Starke, The Widow of Malabar293
16Early Nineteenth-Century Fiction295
'The Suttee'295
'The Suttee'-A Poem299
Derozio, 'On the Abolition of Suttee'305
17Raj Fiction309
Kipling, 'The Last Suttee' (Poem)309
Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days312
Kaye, The Far Pavilions321
18Indian Fiction337
The Modern Review, 'The Suttee'337
Naidu, 'The Suttee'352
VII:SATI IN CONTEMPORARY INDIA,
ROOP KANWAR, AND BEYOND
19Roop Kanwar355
Manushi, 'The Burning of Roop Kanwar' 355
Hinduism Today, 'Uproar over Rajput Sati'372
Oldenburg, 'The Roop Kanwar Case: Feminist Responses'375
Nandy, 'Sati in Kali Yuga'408
20Charan Shah432
Manushi, 'Deadly Laws and Zealous Reformers'432
21Secondary Sources452
Thapar, 'In History'452
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