In Indian society women were treated generally as maids or slaves as if they had no will or desire of their own. They had to follow their husbands in all matters. Women were given as payment for loss to a gambling opponent. To show devotion, they were forced to burn themselves alive by jumping onto the funeral pyre of their husbands after their death. This practice, called “sutti” continued until the end of the 17th century when this custom was outlawed in spite of the dismay it caused the Hindu religious leaders. Although outlawed formally, “sutti” was widely practiced until the end of 19th century and still continues in some of the remote areas of India.
In certain regions of India, women are offered to the priests as concubines, or as prostitutes to be exploited. In others, they were sacrificed to the Hindu gods to please them or seek rain. Some Hindu laws even declare that: “The predestined patience, the blowing wind or tornadoes, death, hellfire, poison, snakes and fire are no less evil than women”. It is also stated in Hindu religious books, that “When Manna [the Hindu god of creation] created women he imposed onto them the love of bed, seats, decoration [make-up], filthy lust (of all types and kinds), anger, rebellion against honor and dignity and evil attitudes, behavior and conduct”.
In the teachings of Manna Herma Sistra concerning women, one can read:
“A woman may live without a choice regardless of whether she is a little girl, a young lady or a mature woman. A young girl is under the command and choice of her father. A married woman is under the command and choice of her husband. A widow is under the command and choice of her male children, and she may never become independent (after the death of her husband). A widow may never remarry after the death of her husband, but rather, she must neglect all that she likes in terms of food, clothes, and makeup until she dies. A woman may not own or possess anything, as whatever she may gain or acquire shall go straight and immediately to the ownership of her husband”.
- Refer to ‘Hindu Inter-caste Marriage in India”, Chapter 3 [Forms of Marriage] part 2 [Polyandry], by Haripada Chakraborti.
In some rare cases, a woman had several husbands at the same time.(1) No doubt this made her as a prostitute in society.
- Refer to ‘Hindu Inter-caste Marriage in India, & Chapter 3 [Forms of Marriage] part 2 [Polyandry], by Haripada Chakraborti.