Imatges de pàgina

MR. VENAYEK VASUDEV.-- This is my information also

MR. BHAU MANSARAM.— Yes, the custom is gradually but surely dying out of itself.

MR. MAHDEV VASUDEV BARVE.— The tendency of the general public is certainly much opposed to it.

MR. VENKAT RANGO KATTI.--I and my brother, gentlemen, were married at twelve to girls who were not yet seven. Forty years ago marriages were of this type. But the age of the bride is now generally from 8 to 10, and of the bridegroom from 13 to 15. I have selected a girl of twelvethe daughter of a Shastri too—for my son who will shortly complete his sixteenth year. I am told, however, that child marriages are much in vogue in Gujarat.

DR. SAKHARAM ARJUN* -I too am aware that Gujarat and parts of the Mofussil—far too much removed from the beneficial influences of Western culture-occasionally indulge in the suicidal and demoralising luxury of child marriages, But this very fact rather proves the exception than the rule.

RAO SAHIB S. H. CHIPLONKAR—During the last 20 years, a great deal has been effected in the direction of discountenancing such marriages, so much so that, as justly observed by the learned writer of the Baroda Census Report, the average marriage age for girls among the Hindus is now between 10 and 11, whereas only 20 years ago, it was quite different. During the next 10 or 20 years, we shall see a still greater change in the same direction, if the Hindu mind, which is very conservative, and impatient, nay suspicious of all external influences, does not undergo any revulsion of feeling in consequence of any ontside pressure, however benevolent in itself.

MR. PANDURANG BALIBHADRA. In the Prabhu caste to which I belong, child marriages are very rare indeed.

* This gentleman-the step-father of Rukhmabai— is also no more.

Within the last decade, I have not seen or heard of any. So far as my experience goes, I think the practice has become almost obsolete.

MR. C. RAMCHANDRA AIYAR.- Well, I can't say whether child marriages are a mania at Poona or Belgaum or among the Prabhus—but my 23 years' experience of several districts in the Madras Presidency is, that in spite of liberal education and a painful consciousness on the part of educated men of the evils arising from them, child marriages are very numerous, and I should say they have become the mania of the people at large. Even graduates of the University, and educated men generally, have been disposing of their infant girls of two or three years by marriage, simply from an apprehension that they could scarcely get rich boys or sons of rich men at a future time. To substantiate my assertion, I would respectfully ask, if there is to-day any graduate or educated man who, as father of infant girls, has not got them married when they were infants, or if there is any graduate or educated man who has had the moral courage to keep his daughter unmarried until she has attained her puberty. No one will come forward to say he has done either.

A HINDU LAWYER— This reminds me of what Mr. A. Mackenzie says regarding some of my countrymen : “Many of my native friends who were sound enough in theory on the subject, failed when the question came to personal and practical issues. They could be pilots of others but sank themselves to be castaways." We are all beautiful “burning and shining lights” to others—but like the lamp in the vernacular proverb can't be such lights to ourselves.

A HINDU SOCIAL REFORM MISSIONARY.—And why is it that we can't be ? It is because we do not know what true sacrifice means. As Parásara says to Maitreya in the Vishnu Purana, “ daily sacrifice” (he uses this in the sense of rites for exoteric readers) "daily sacrifice makes a man sinless", and it is because we have disregarded sacrifice, and “cut off the path of activity” that we have “become malignant, vicious and perverse."* This is the true meaning of the Kaliyugaand it is a mournful meaning.

MR. LALSHANKAR UMIASHANKAR. -I know little of the mystery of Yugas—but I know that we had an association, at Ahmedabad, of more than 200 members, all pledged not to celebrate the marriage of their sons before a certain age; but only a few kept the pledge, while several broke it and said that their caste members in the association being few, they were unable to keep it.

H. H. THE THAKORE SAHIB OF MORVI.-I am bound to say, in our part of the country, the evil is as growing as anywhere else. I think there are not, and cannot be, in these days of civilization, two opinions as to the enormity of the evil, and that it ought to be put a stop to.

A HINDU SOCIAL REFORM MISSIONARY.-Then why does not your Highness put a stop to it in your own territory?

MR. NAVALRAM LAKSHMIRAM.—That is a consummation devoutly to be wished. His Highness's example will produce a wholesome effect in Gujarat, where generally all classes give away their daughters in marriage before they have completed their seventh year. In Kattyawar the marriageable age is a little higher, and the Rajputs also form a noteworthy exception in many respects.

BABU K. C BHATTACHARJI.—I am Head Master of the Zilla School, Noakhally, and I can say that, generally, the seeking of a bridegroom begins with the girl's stepping into the 7th or 8th year of her age. The feelings of the educated guardians in all communities are against the custom ; but no one is, in his own case, prepared yet to put up with the social ignominy attaching to the departure from a deep-rooted and time-honoured custom enjoined by the Shastras.

* Muir's Sanscrit Texts, Vol. I p. 63 (2nd Edition.)

Diwan BAHADUR MANIBHAI JASBHAI.—Generally Hindu parents do not keep their daughters unmarried beyond the age of twelve years; for education has as yet made very little progress.

RAO SAHIB V. N. MANDLIK.—I say it, with all submission, that there is no royal road to these things any more than to others. People must try to be, to live what they preach. It is a slow painful process--but what is higher education, I should like to know, if it will not prepare men for lives of self-sacrifice and noble self-abnegation ?

SIRDAR JAYASING RAO, REGENT OF KOLAHPUR.–And I say it with all submission, that the educated classes, though fully feeling the evil, have not the moral courage to take action in the matter.

THE HON'BLE MR. DAYARAM JETHMUL.*-The truth is education cannot help you much. In the first place, it will take a long time before education can effect a regular upheaval in society. In the second place, if there are some highly educated men who are thoroughly convinced of the evils arising from early marriage, they are powerless to prevent such marriage taking place in their families, either because they have elders who manage their affairs, or for fear that, owing to the prevalence of the custom of early marriages among persons of position, suitable matches will not be procurable if the children are allowed to grow up; or because of the necessity they may be under, owing to limited pecuniary means, of getting presents on accouut of their sons to transfer them to their growing daughters. Supposing none of these obstacles exists, an educated man may set an example by postponing the marriage of his son or daughter, but the example is at the best of a negative character àud will hardly act on others. Every one wants the custom to be createdfor every one wants the whole of his community to follow a certain line of conduct. Voluntary effort can, therefore, achieve but little.

* Now unfortunately no more.

A HINDU SOCIAL REFORM MISSIONARY.-It is instructive to notice that, while educated men are doing next to nothing to check the evil, it is ramifying in several directions. Have any of you, gentlemen, read a small manual called “Coorg Civil Law” published in 1871 ? The Chief Commissioner of Coorg refers to it, and says that within the last 40 years, child marriages, which were unknown before, have come into vogue, and that the Coorgs have not been “superior to the temptation of following the example set by the Brahmins, Rajputs and other caste races, who have come to settle among them in increasing numbers." These caste races ought therefore to realise their heavy responsibility, and effect some reform.

MR. BAJABA RAMCHANDRA PRADHAN.There is no doubt that any reform adopted by the higher castes will be taken up by the lower and less educated classes of the people.

MR. SHANTARAM NARAYAN.—Most certainly. The lower classes of course regulate their social procedure by the example of the higher classes. I can mention non-Brahmin communities among whom widow-marriage was allowed and practised formerly, but who within living memory declared themselves against the custon.

KUMAR P. BHUSHANA DEVA, RAJA OF NALDANGA.-In Bengal, society is led by rich men of the upper classes, the mass of the people following in their wake. The priests and the pandits watch which way the wind blows, and shape their opinions accordingly.

RAO SAHIB S. H. CHIPLONKAR.—I too do not deny that the larger and more predominant easte almost invariably sets the fashion, and thus the contagion spreads. But I maintain that this system of marriage is least prevalent amongst the Brahmins as compared with the non-Brahminical sections of the Hindu community, and that therefore the Brahmins are no way responsible for it.

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