Imatges de pàgina

as inauspicious sinful creatures, destined to live miserably without the comforts and pleasures of life.

The Brahmin character is peculiar in this respect. He is. prepared to overlook the commission of the greatest of sins.

.but would not brook ( that ) his daughter or sister (should ) marry after she obtains puberty, or see her married, even if she becomes a widow when an infant, and he is the cause of her misfortune. He associates freely with a Brahmin murderer, dacoit, perjurer, forgerer, adulterer, whore-monger, drunkard, or eater of animal food, provided the latter is liberal and opens his purse freely, but the Brahmin will not associate with one who marries a virgin widow or a girl who has attained puberty, though she may be his kith and kin, in whom all his hopes are centered. He has no scruples to live with a Brahmin woman who

may be known to be unchaste, but he will not admit into his society the unfortunate virgin widow who chooses. to marry herself to a second husband. I have mentioned this anomolous state of things in order to show the strong prejudice that unfortunately exists against the introduction of the remarriage of widows among the most intelligent and powerful section of the Hindu community.

6. T. PATTABHIRAM Esq.—He (Mr. Malabari) speaks as if there are 40 million Hindu widows, while according to the latest census the figure is only 16 ( 1,61,17,135) (Census of 1881 Vol. I. page 88.)

To a Hindu caste widow who makes up her mind to resume her married state at the risk of caste, religion, and the affection and society of her relations, there now exists no obstruction to marrying a caste Hindu, if she succeeds in finding one, who is. willing, or a Christian or a Mahomedan.


7. MAHIPATRAM RUPRAM.-Without going to thejlength of charging one and all young widows with wicked conduct,

I can safely say that a large number of them go astray, and the consequences are horrible. Attempts at procuring abortions, which in some cases terminate in death, and murders of pregnant widows by their relatives, are the results. These abortions deaths and murders seldom come to light. Pregnant widows are not unfrequently taken away to distant places, and there such crimes are committed. When such attempts fail, infanticide is resorted to. I have not seen these things myself, but such is the general belief among the people, and there is I have no doubt, much truth in it. The unfortunate miserable widows excite our compassion on account of the unnatural and unjust caste rules which permit a widower to take a second wife freely, but prevent the widow under all circumstances from taking a second husband. Breaches of all other caste rules and religious ordinances are condoued, but the prohibition of widow marriage is always enforced with extraordinary severity All the high castes combine against those who disregard it, and Do penalties and no bribes to heads of castes and priests can mitigate its rigour. Hindu society prefers to wink at the crimes of the widow rather than allow her to remarry. No notice is taken of well-known irregularities of conduct; proved abortion and desertion of infants are pardoned; and even conviction in a Court of Justice does not exclude a widow for ever .from caste and society. But the marriage of a widow even with a member of her own caste is considered a more heinous crime than all these put together. It is an unpardonable offence, and all possible means are adopted to persecute the unhappy woman and man who defy the prohibition, and all who keep social intercourse with them.

8. LALLUBHAI NUNDLAL.-I am inclined to think that widowhood falls rather heavily on minors, and it may be well to allow them to remarry by all means.

9. JOTEERAO GOVINDRAO PHULAY.-She (the widow) is stripped of her ornaments, she is forcibly shaved by her near relations, she is not well-fed, she is not properly clothed, she is not allowed to join pleasure-parties, marriages or religiou

ceremonies. In fact she is bereaved of all worldly enjoyments, nay, she is considered lower than a culpirt or a mean beast.

One of my Brahman friends named Rao Sahib Sudashive Bullal Gowndey, who was an officer of the Inam Commission, employed in his house a Brahman widow as cook, whose name was Kashibai. The poor Kashibai was a well behaved and beautiful young woman of a respectable family. She was a chaste woman. She served several months in his house. But in his neighbourhood there lived a shrewd and cunning Shastriboova of a Brahman caste who tried his utmost to mislead this ignorant woman. Kashibai at first resisted his inducement, but at last she fell victim to his desire, and immediately became pregDant. Afterwards by the persuasion of her paramour, she tried several poisonous drugs to commit abortion, but all her attempts. failed. After 9 months were completed, Kashibai gave birth to a beautiful son, and for the sake of her disgrace she murdered the innocent infant with a knife, and the corpse was thrown into a well behind the house of her master. Two days after, she was arrested by the Police on suspicion, tried before the Session Court in Poona, and sentenced to transportation for lifs......... Although my means were not sufficient to defray my expense yet I was compelled to establish a foundling house in my own compound in Poona, for the Brahmin community, immediately after Kashibai's trial was over.........From its commencement up to the present time, 35 pregnant widows came to the house and were delivered of children, of whom 5 are living and thirty died from the injuries done to them while in the womb by the poisonous drugs which the mothers must have taken with a view to conceal their pregnancy. Many of the beautiful and helpless ingnorunt young widows of respectable Brahman families have turned out private and public prostitutes on account of this wretched system.

10. GURSHÍDAPA VIRBASAPA -I am a Lingayat and as such belong to a sect of Hinduism in which widow marriages are allowed.

The evils pointed out by Mr. Malabari do exist.

11. NARAYEN BHIKAJI, DEPUTY COLLECTOR, Nasik.No woman below the age of 35 gets herself shaved voluntarily; she is forcibly shaved by her relations. In consequence of this dread of disfiguration, many commit suicide and others run away

There is at present a Brahmam lady in Nasik the wife of a decsased 1st class Mamlatdar, She has not shaved herself on the ground that she does not want her body to be touched by another man. Her conduct is a model of morality. She has composed an essay to the effect 1stly that it is cruel on the part of man to disfigure wounen because their husbands happen to die, and 2ndly that it is shameful to a spirited Hindu who secludes his wife from society simply to keep her off the evil eyes of bad men, to allow his female relatives to be handled by the barbers.

12. TRIMALRAO VENKATESH.--. Many poor people allow their girls to grow up to 12 or 13 years of age. They wait for the wife of some rich old man to die, and then virtually sell their girls to him for a sum equal to about the rate of one hundred Rupees for every year of the girl's age. If the girl happens to possess personal attractions, and the old man is rich the price is increased. For fear, however, lest the seller and purchaser might be punished, the one for selling and the other for purchasing the girl, the money paid to the girl's parents is not called purchase-money, but an ordinary present. The old inan then marries the girl, and loads her with ornaments and fine clothes. Long before two or three years pass away, he dies, and the children of his former wife strip the young widow of their old father of all her ornaments and clothes, and put her out of the house. If the young widow be a virtuous woman she earns her livlihood by, begging or working for hire a8.a menial servant, or sometimes sues her step children and gets a small maintenance. But if she be not virtuous, she commits adultery, becomes pregnant, gives birth to children and kills them. It is rarely that she is found out and punished.

In 1837 my father exposed the immoral and shameful conduct of a young Brahmin widow with her step-son at Shapur a village belonging to the Chief of Sangli, and concluded by saying that any provision that might be made by the Legislature to prevent such a state of things would be welcomed. The report was fully approved by the District Judge, and sent to the Indian Law Commission, through the Sadar Adawlat.

There is no doubt that several widows are virtuous. The rest practice a good deal of immorality. I do not think that one-fourth of the offences of the latter are brought to light and punished as thoy deserve. I will here give two instances of such offences without, however, giving the names of the parties. First a rich and influential landholder holding a very responsible public employment at S, had married four wives one after another. At the time of his death the fourth wife was a young woman. As she could not agree with the children of the first three wives, she left S, came to D, and lived in the house of a priest who also belonged to a most respectable family of the holy order. An illicit intercourse commenced between the widow and the priest, and she was far advanced in pregnancy. The priest took her to H, to get the pregnancy removed. The medicinos given were of such a violent nature that soon after the abortion took place, she got dangerously ill and died. The bodies both of the deceased child and the woman were quietly disposed of. The matter got noised about in the town, but was soon hushed up. Second, the daughter of a rich merchant towards the extreme East of the Dharwar District, who had become a widow, some-how or other became pregnant, gave birth to a child, and murdered it but continued to live in her father's house. The townspeople came to know of the affair, and excommunicated the widow and her parents...... At last the mother went before the chief priestor swami of the casto, and he exacted a fine of 1,400 Rs. from the father of the widow, and re-admitted them into casto. Notwithstanding this no one up to now drinks any water or eats any food from the hand of the widow.

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