2. Rig Veda and the Indian woman

Articles on Hinduism

In August/Sept. 2002, one case of committing suttee or sati and two failed attempts to commit suttee in Madhya Pradesh were reported in the media.

Reports also appeared that the Hon’ble Rajasthan High Court allowed prayers within premises of Rani Sati Mandir of Jhunjhunu district, but prohibited organising fairs, distribution of pamphlets and performing chunri ceremony at the temple till final orders.

Some people assert that Rigveda vide richa (X.18.7) (seventh richa of 18th Sukta of tenth chapter) commands a Hindu widow to mount pyre of her deceased husband.

One website quotes PV Kane’s translation of this richa as: “Let these women, whose husbands are worthy and living enter the house with ghee applied as corrylium (to their eyes). Let these wives first step into the pyre, tearless without any affliction and well adorned.”

One may note that even this English translation does not categorically state that let these widows first step into the pyre. This translation simply says “let these wives first step into pyre.” As per common sense, from the moment of death of her husband, a woman is no more called “a wife” but a widow (vidhawa). So phrase “these wives” in above translation of Kane cannot be interpreted to refer to “widows.”

In fact, Sukta 18 commands a Hindu widow to return to world of living beings; to return to her house to live with her children and grand children and Rigveda confers on her all the properties of her deceased husband. One should go through all the fourteen richas of this 18th Sukta (revealed to Rishi Sunkusuk Yamayan) so as to understand the true and correct meaning of (X.18.7).

The third richa (X.18.3) commands “May those who are living remain separate from dead ………..…” (Rigveda Samhita by HH Wilson & Bhashya of Sayana edited by Ravi Prakash Arya and K.K. Joshi ISBN 81-7110-138-7). Dr. Wendy D. O’Flaherty, Ph.D. in her book the Rigveda (Penguin Classics) (page 52) translates: “Those who are alive have now parted from those who are dead….” Ralph T.R. Griffith translates “Divided from the dead are these, the living:….” Shri Ram Sharma Acharya of Bareilly in his Rigveda (in Hindi) translates: “mritak ke pass se jeevit manushya laut aavey…………..” Read More…

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