Imatges de pÓgina

when he is unable to accompany her ; but this is very seldom. And also, strictly with his consent, she may perform and keep vows, as for instance, to do without salt in her food for a stated period or to abstain from milk or various kinds of eatables for a given time, all with the object of obtaining something desiredwealth, or children, or deliverance from disease, for herself or any one dear to her.

We have seen that, apart from her husband, the woman has no religious status whatever, and practically very little even with him. We now come to the important question as to how all this affects her state after death. Does the union and interdependence of husband and wife continue after death, and how can the one affect the other?

he other? There is good authority for the monstrous assertion, which however is, in itself, exactly in accordance with the whole of Hindu legislation and custom, as far as can be clearly made out, that whilst the good deeds of the wife can materially benefit the husband, as to his eternal state, nothing that he does, or can do, will have any effect upon her; she stands or falls by her own merits alone. If she has been a bad woman, she must expiate ber sins by numerous transmigrations, and she may be cast into the purgatorial hell.

I am aware that this matter is sometimes put in another light by writers on the subject. Ward, for instance, says :-"The merits and demerits of husband and wife are transferable to either in a future state : if a wife perform many meritorious works, and the husband die first, he will enjoy heaven as the fruit of his wife's virtuous deeds; and if the wife be guilty of many wicked actions, and the husband die first, he will suffer for the sins of his wife. In the apprehensions of a Hindu, therefore, marriage ought to be a very serious business." (Vol. I. p. 184.) Though I can find no authority for the first clause of this statement, the quotation from Brihaspati already given, shows that there may have been some such idea in ancient Vedic days. Howbeit, a Pandit friend says that whilst this quotation may express the state of things in a former Yuga, it certainly does not apply

to this degenerate period of the world's history; and
the following, which is taken from the code of
Parāsara, the most modern of the three great codes,
speaks to the contrary. The code of Parāsara belongs
to the present age, or Kaliyuga, and is of very great

योषित्कृतापराधेन पुरुषस्य
यथाप्रत्यवायः तथापुरुषा
नुष्ठितेन धर्मेण योषितोऽपि
निष्कृतिर्भवतीति न शंकनीयं ॥
पतिलोकं न सा याति
ब्राह्मणी या सुरां पिबेत् ।
इहैव सा शुनी भूत्वा
सूकरीवोपजायते ॥
या ब्राह्मणी दुष्ठा भवति
तां देवाः पितृलोकं न नयंति ।
इहैवसा भवति क्षोणपुण्या

आस्योल्का पिशाची भवति ॥
We have here a question put by Parāsara, and the
answer he himself gives.

Why, it may be asked, is the wife not benefited by the good
deeds of her husband just as the husband becomes hell-doomed
by the evil deeds of his wife? The idea that the wife can be
so benefited must not for a moment be entertained.
In support of this he gives a quotation from Yāgna-
valkya, a celebrated Rishi, to the following effect :-

To her husbands world she will not go.
Whatever brahmin woman drinks fermented liquor.
She will be born again into the world a dog;
And after that she will born a pig.

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Upon this Parāsara makes the following comment :

Whatever Brahmin woman becomes bad, she will by the gods be kept out of the ancestral heaven.

Such a woman, being without merit, will be born again on this earth as a demon with a mouth emitting flames of fire.

The Pundits of the present day appear to take these quotations as a proof that a bad woman cannot be benefited by the good deeds of her husband, and this seems to be their belief on the subject. If the woman is a dutiful wife she may obtain a share of the celestial bliss of her husband and also her good deeds may be reckoned to his account even though he is not a good man; but if she be a bad woman, nothing that her husband, or any one else can do will be for her of any avail.

We now come to deal with the Hindu woman as a widow, for her condition as regards religion becomes materially changed after the death of her husband. Although the widow is precluded from taking any part whatever in the ordinary family rites and ceremonies, and although she may be reckoned as dead to all social life, still she can, according to Hinduism, materially assist her husband after his death and by her prayers and good deeds hasten his final beatitude. It is laid down that the chief way in which she can do this is by ascending his funeral pile and burning herself alive with his dead body. Happily the Government will no longer allow these religious murders and suicides, but there is no doubt whatever that they were formerly carried out to an enormous extent, and, if the strong hand of British law were removed, it is most probable that these monstrous cruelties would be again perpetrated. A quotation on this subject is here taken from Ward's book on the Mythology of the Hindus; he takes it from the writings of Angira, a saint of the first and most holy age (Krutayugam). Other passages from Hindu authors of authority might be quoted, but this one is enough to show what the Hindu religion says on this point as to the sacred duty of women.

There are," it is stated, 35,000,000 of hairs on the human body. The woman who ascends the pile with her husband, will remain so many years in heaven.-As the snakecatcher draws the serpent from its hole, so she rescuing her husband (from hell), rejoices with him.-The woman who expires on the funeral pile with her husband purifies the family of her mother, her father, and her husband. If the husband be a Brahminicide, an ungrateful person, or a murderer of his friend, the wife by burning with him purges away his sins.-There is no virtue greater than a virtuous woman's burning herself with her husband.-No other effectual duty is known for virtuous women, at any time after the death of their lords, except casting themselves into the same fire.-As long as a woman, in her successive transmigrations, shall decline burning herself, like a faithful wife, on the same fire with her deceased lord, so long shall she not be exempted from springing again to life in the body of some female animal.” (Vol. III. p. 308).

The same writer also quotes as follows from the Brahma Purāna :

If the husband be out of the country when he dies, let the virtuous wife take his slippers (or any thing else which belongs to his dress), and binding them (or it) on her breast, after purification, enter a separate fire. (Vol. III. p. 309.)

I can

In the event of sati or self immolation not being performed, the widow may effect her husband's final good by a strict following out of the rules and regulations laid down by authority for such cases. find no authoritative statement on this point, but it is a generally entertained opinion amongst Hindus. They say that the general drift of the following quotations from Manu, and similar declarations by other authors, is to that effect. The tendency of all the legislation on the subject appears to be towards influencing or terrorising the woman into complete and abject submission to her husband; this is her religion, and only by following out these injunctions can she hope for merit here or for happiness hereafter. Not only for life is this submission to be manifested, but even death does not dissolve the bonds, as far as she is concerned; all her hopes for the future lie in her continually manifesting by a life of the most intense misery her faithfulness to the memory of her lord and master.

A faithful wife who wishes to attain in heaven the mansion of her husband, must do nothing unkind to him be he living or dead.

Let her emaciate her body, by living voluntarily on pure flowers, roots, and fruits; but let her not, when her lord is deceased, even pronounce the name of another man.

Let her continue till death forgiving all injuries, performing hard duties, avoiding every sensual pleasure, and cheerfully practising the incomparable rules of virtue which have been followed by such women as were devoted to one husband.

A virtuous wife ascends to heaven, though she have no child, if, after the decease of her lord, she devote herself to pious austerity. (v. 156-158, 160.)

This of the woman. A little further on the law is tbus laid down for the man :

Having thus kindled sacred fires and performed funeral rites to his wife, who died before him, he may marry again and again light the nuptial fire. (v. 168.)

It is not necessary here to dwell upon the miseries of Hindu widowhood, this is touched upon in the paper on Hindu Funerals and also it is a subject of which much is generally known. Our task here has been to give some notion of what the religion and religious life of a Hindu woman really consist, and it is hoped that a fair general idea may be gathered on the subject from what has been said. It is perhaps hardly necessary to mention that all here brought forward has to do with the females of the upper castes. As for the lower castes and the outcastes, there is very little to be said ; their religion, as a rule, is little more than demonolatry or fetichism, and that very often, of the lowest kind. The women are very particular to put upon their foreheads the red mark before spoken of, but of ordinary worship throughout

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