Imatges de pÓgina

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 pregnant. 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 ingnorant young widows of respectable Brahman families have turned out private and public prostitutes on account of this wretched system.

10. GURSHIDAPA 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 women 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 man 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 as 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 they 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 medicines 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 priest or swami of the caste, and he exacted a fine of 1,400 Rs. from the father of the widow, and re-admitted them into caste. Notwithstanding this no one up to now drinks any water or eats any food from the hand of the widow.

On a reference to the Imperial Consus Returns of 1881, it appears that out of the total population of 16,454,414 souls in the Bombay Presidency 12,307,773 are Hindus.

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In the absence of actual figures, it might be assumed that three-fourths (of the widows) belong to Sudras and other lower classes, among whom widow-remarriage is permitted.

13. VENAYEK WASSUDEV.-The number of widow remarriages is slowly but steadily increasing, as prejudice gives way to the march of enlightement.

14. BHIKAJI AMROOT CHOBHE.-From the (census) Report, the proportion of widows under 30 years of age per 1000 of the population is seen to be Hindu 11, Mahomadan 83, Christian 4, Jain 8, Parsi 5, Brahmo 12, and the proportion of widows of all ages per 1000 of the population is Hindu 85, Mahomedans 79, Christian 46%, Jain 6411, Parsi 73%, Brahmo 4719.

Remarriage of widows among the Hindus is the rule, and its prohibition the exception confined to small sections of the community as the Brahmans, some sects of the Baniss, Sonars &c.

In the first remarriage among the Brahmins, the first on this side of India which look place some 14 years back in Bombay, there was excommunication. But I have not read or heard of a repetition of any such thing since, though several remarriages have taken place.

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15. RANCHODLAL K. DESAI-It is undeniable that a small proportion of widows would remain unmarried if the power of the caste to excommunicate were removed.

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16. KALIANRAO H. DRSAL OF BROACH-In all household and family mattere a widow as such, enjoys a far greater

authority than a married woman. She directs the whole house as she has more leisure for such duties, and in almost all matters relating to family or caste customs she, specially if grown-up, is always looked to as a final authority. Of course her position as a widow excludes her from the performance of such religious ceremonies as require the presence of woman on auspicious occasions. As to any other social wrong to which widows, as such, are compelled to submit, I humbly submit, I fail to discover any, after a life-long experience of my community.....

With the exception of Brahmins, Khatris, and Wanias who form the upper cream of our society, all the other castes do freely admit of widow remarriages which are of every day occurrence among them.........Caste so far as it goes never uses violence or exercises any other oppression to prevent a widow from remarrying if she so wishes it.........A club or a society imposing certain rules of observance on its members has a perfect right to exclude any one who infringes them from the benefit of its membership This is exactly the case with caste the rules of which are more intricate, and consequently affect more intimately the social and religious interests of its constituents.......

The death of a daughter is to a Hindu parent a lesser evil than her widowhood........


The learned doctor ( Dr. Rajendrao Lal Mitra of Bengal ) has conclusively exploded this pessimistic theory of Mr. Malabari (as to widowhood leading to crimes) by instituting a parallel between the condition of the widows of India and the maids of England, and has thus proved beyond a possibility of doubt that there is nothing in the nature of the thing to warrant the conclusion of a frightful increase of erimes consequent on the evil attempts of the widows, and their relations.


17. BHASKARRAO BALKRISHNAJI PITALE AND NANA MOROBA-We beg to observe that in the higher castes of the

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