Sivut kuvina

"If a woman ascend the pile and should afterwards decline to burn through love of life or earthly things, she must perform the penance Prazapotyo,* and will then be free from her sin." :: Goutam. "A Brahmanee can only die with her husband, and not in a seperate fine. The eldest son or near relation must set fire to the pile.”

On comparing these passages with the present practice of burning women in Hindostan, little simiiarity will be found either in principle, or in ceremonial. In many particulars of the existing custom, the Hindoos directly violate the laws of their religion.

Note by the Pundits. "There may be some circumstantial differences of a local nature in the abovementioned customs; but the general practice corresponds with what is here written."

B. Notes on the practicability of abolishing those prac

tices of the Hindoos, which inflict immediate death, or tend to produce death; collated from the information and suggestions of the Pundits and learned Brahmins in the College of Fort William.

1. It is an attribute of the British government in India, that it tolerates all religious opinions, and forms of worship, and protects those who profess them; as long as they conduct themselves in an orderly and peaceable manner.

2. If murder, robbery, or adultery be committed under the name of religion, the persons guilty of such actions may be prosecuted for civil crimes. No sanction of religion can save the offender from the punishment due for his violation of the laws, and for his offence against humanity and social happiness.

A rigid fast for some days.

“The principles asserted in the foregoing para-graphs is acknowledged by the Pundits.

3. Death is inflicted, and sanguinary rites are practised, by the Hindoos under the name of ancient tistom, or of a religious duty.

1. Children are sacrificed by their parents to Gunga.

II. They are hung on trees in baskets and devaatred by birds of prey.

!1!. Peale infants among the Rajpoot Hindoos, are destroyed by starving.

IV. Men and women drown themselves in the Ganges; at the places reputed holy.

V. They devote themselves to death by falling under the wheels of the machine which carries their


VI. Widows are burned alive with their deceased husbands.

VII. Widows are buried alive with their deceased husbands.

VIII. Persons supposed to be dying, are immersed in the river.

IX. The inhuman practice of swinging with hooks passed through the integuments of the back, called Peet Phooron.

X. The practice of dancing with threads, canes, or bamboos passed through the sides, called the Parswoban.

XI. The passing spits or other instruments of iron through the tongue or forehead, called Zubba Phoaron.

XII. The falling from a height on sharp instruments, called Pat Bhanga.

XII. The practice of swinging over a fire, called Ihool Sunyoss.

XIV. The practice of climbing naked a tree armed with horrid thornst called Kanta Bhanga.

This is practised chiefly at Juggernaut, at the Pooja of the Rutt Jattri. + The Khujoor tree.

And all the other ceremonies which are performed on the last five days of the month Chytra, under the denomination of the Chorruk Pooja, are often the occasion of death; and always tend to brutalize the minds both of actors and spectators.

To these if we add self-torture, which is practised in the most disgusting and unnatural form, some idea may be formed of the present effects of the Hindoo superstition.

4. None of these practices are sanctioned in the books, which the Hindoos account divine, except the three following; the Kamya Moron, or voluntary devotement; Sahamoron, or burning of widows; and the immersion of half the body of a dying per: son in the river. And these are not commanded. These actions are generally performed in consequence of vows, or in compliance with custom. But all vows are optional, and the committing murder in consequence of a vow, does not lessen the guilt of it. On the contrary, a vow to commit such an action, is a crime which deserves punishment. “This principle is conceded by the Pundits."

5. Most persons of erudition and influence among the Hindoos, reprobate the observance of cruel or painful rites not appointed by the Shasters.

When these persons have been asked, why they did not exert their influence to prevent such irregularities, they have always answered: “That they have no power; that the Hindoo rajahs formerly did interfere and punish those who were guilty of breaking the laws of the Shasters.” They allege particularly, that in the Sahamoron, or burning of widows, "no influence of the Brahmins or of relations should be permitted, and that such influence when suspected is a sublect for civil inquiry; that the woman should come of henown accord, and lay herself on the pile after it is kindled; that no bamboos or ropes should. bind her down; and that if after ascending the pile her resolution should fail her, she should be subject

to no inconvenience or disgrace, more than the appointed atonement,* or that, for which it may be commuted; and that every deviation from the strict letter of the law, is to be accounted murder.”

The uninformed part of the community assent to the propriety of the common practice; and there can be little doubt that family pride in many cases, lights the funeral pile. But the opinion of the learned and more respectable part of their society must have the greatest weight; and would be sufficient to vindicate any salutary measure which government might a. dopt. To reduce this rite to the strict bounds allow ed it in the Shasters, would do much towards its total abolition.

6. The immersion of half the body of a person supposed to be dying, in the water of the Ganges, must often, in acute diseases, ¡occasion premature death.

What has been observed respecting the Sahamoron, will equally apply to this practice. It is optional. Though very common on the banks of the Ganges; i: is reprobated in many places at a distance from it. T'he abolition of it would not be more difficult than that of the Sahamoron.

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C A. D. 1802. Regulation VI. “A regulation for preventing the sacrifice of children at Saugor and other places. Passed by the gove ernor gencral in council, on the twentieth August, one thousand eight hundred and two.

"It has been represented to the Governor General in council, that a criminal and inhumani pratice of sacrificing children, by exposing them to be drowned, or devoured by sharks, prevails at the island of Saugor, and at Baryah, Chaugdah, and at other places on the Ganges. At Saugor especially, such sa.

* A rigid fast; but which may be commuted or a gift to a Brahmin of a cow sud a cu's, or of five kouns of cowrtes.

crifices have been made at fixed period, namely, the day of full moon in November and in January; at which time also grown persons have devoted themselves to a similar death. Children, thrown into the sea at Sagour, have not been generally rescued, as is stated to be the custom at other places; but the sacrifice has, on the contrary, been completely effected with circumstances of peculiar atrocity in some instances. This practice, which is represented to arise from superstitious vows, is not sanctioned by the Hindoo law, nor countenanced by the religious orders, or by the people at large; nor was it at any time authorized by the Hindoo or Mahomedan governments of India. The persons concerned in the perpetration of such crimes are therefore clearly liable to punishment; and the plea of custom would be inadmissible in excuse of the offence. But for the more effectual prevention of so inhuman a practice, the governor general in council has enacted the following regulation, to be in force from the promulgation of it, in the provinces of Bengal, Behar, Orisa and Benares."

Then follows the clause declaring the practice to be murder, punishable with death.

D Report of the number of women who have burned

themselves on the funernal pile of their husbands within thirty miles round Calcutta, from the of Bysakh, ( 15th April) to the end of Aswin ( 15th October, 1804. From Gurria to Barrypore. Mahamaya

3 Bhurut Bazar


Puschim Bahine 1 Rajepore


3 Muluncha


Dhopa Gach, hi 1 Barrrypore

1 Maeenugur


From Tolley's Nulla mouth to Gurria, Lasun

1 Mouth of Tolley's nulla 6 Kesubpore

2 Kooli Bazar

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