Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

of in the way best known to a young Hindu widow. All these evils proceed from the evil and pernicious custom of early marriage. Prevention is better than cure.

If infant marriage is stopped, the large number of India's widows will be diminished.

SECTION V. EXTRACTS FROM OPINIONS

GIVEN TO MR. MALABARI.

13. P. C. MOZOOMDAR, BRAHMO MISSIONARY,

With the exception of a few men who marry widows out of principle, or of a small percentage who are indifferent whether they marry maids or widows, there is a clearly defined and quite extensive objection in marriageable men to take a widow for wife. In as well as outside the Brahma Samaj one meets with this objection so repeatedly that the inference suggests itself-there must be some natural cause for it. All notions on the subject of the holiness of the marriage tie are so absolutely and constitutionally puritanic amongst Hindus, that in spite of the revolutionary training of the young men, they theoretically uphold widow marriage as a reform, but they will not themselves marry widows when their turn comes. The remarriage of widows as a separate movement has not the same moral interest for every practical reformer. It may do very well as part of a larger and more sweeping measure. To the genuinely orthodox, it is quite as revolutionary as the most radical movement, despite all quotations from the Dharma Shastras. To the genuinely heterodox it is too fractional to deserve so much shot and powder! ....

It seems to me, my dear sir, a wise economy of Providence that quite an appeciable number of men and women in every civilized people, whether in the shape of the widowed or the unmarried, should remain disentangled from the anxieties and trials of matrimony for the ministry of sorrow, suffering, and other wants of general society.

14. Rai H. C. SETH, (JHANSI).-Hindu sons and daughters being generally married at an age when they even do not get over the ordinary diseases of childhood, the result is that many girls become widows before they know what conjugal bliss is, and are forced to pass the best portion of their life in widowhood.

15. W. WORDSWORTH.-In India, where for ages the thoughts and habits of men have been controlled and dominated by religious ideas, it is easy to understand how the sacramental or mystical conception of marriage as a binding tie for time and eternity,and the inferences which have been drawn from that conception, should have taken such deep root and possess such enduring vitality. In the primitive Christian society in which this temporal life was also darkened by the overpowering vision of the hereafter, the sacramental conception of marriage was among its earliest developments, and second marriages, as you know, were tolerated and barely tolerated, as concessions to human weakness. On this subject even St. {Paul in whom practical judgment went hand in hand with mysticism, uses language which strikes harshly on modern ears. If European society had ever been as completely moulded by theological beliefs and priestly rules as Hindu society has been, I am persuaded that remarriage, or at least the remarriage of women would have also been prohibited in Europe. If this had been done, European society would certainly have suffered, but not perhaps so much in the direction which you would be inclined to suppose.

CHAPTER VII,
THE LAW ON THE SUBJECT OF

ENFORCED WIDOWHCOD.

SECTION I. MADRAS PRESIDENCY.

1-KRISHXASWAMI RAO CHIEF JUSTICE TRAVANCORE.The laws now in force contain adequate provisions for the

protection of a widow. If against her will, she is compelled to go through the melancholy ceremony of tonsure, the offenders will be liable to prosecution on charges of assault, causing hurt, using criminal force, &c., under the Indian Penal Code. Ample provision is made in Act XV of 1856 for the marriage of widows and for the protectien of their civil rights. She is also protected from wanton insults, resulting from the offensive and unnecessary publication of bulls of excommunication, by the judgment of the Madras High Court in Empress versus Sri Sankarachary Swami. If widows have unredressed grievances, their existence is entirely due to their reluctance to bring them to public notice.

2. M. TILLAINAYAGAM PILLAI.-I find the authorities on the subject to be contradictory; those against early marriage and in favour of remarriage of widows preponderating...

The following facts may, I think, be traced from the Sastras. In earlier days marriages appear to have been performed after women attained puberty or discretion, and remarriage of widows was an orthodox institution. Marriageable age

for women was then reduced to 12 or 10 or 8, and an attempt at stopping the remarriage of widows was made by holding out to them hopes of heaven if they continued unmarried, and led a virtuous life after the death of their husbands. This was probably found to be not a sufficient in. ducement, to prevent remarriage of widows. It was then restricted firet to childless widows and then to virgin widows and finally absolutely prohibited, and even death with her husband was prescribed. Even after all this widow marriage appears to have been practised. But the married couple occupied an inferior position in society.

The days of faith in the divine origin of these anthorities are fust vanishing. They are being believed to be human laws and marriage a human institution. If any Sastra, which is intended for the promoti on of human happiness, does not produce that end, but is on the other hand, found to be productive of evil, it may well be revised and a better law calc ulated to secure that end, may be substituted.

SECTION II. BOMBAY PRESIDENCY.

3. K. C. BEDARKAR LL. B. DEPUTY REGISTRAR, HIGH COURT.-I am content with expressing my conviction that those who say widow remarriage is not forbidden by the Shastras are correct ..... I would beg leave to draw attention to Sections 350, 352, 109, 89 and 90 of the Indian Penal Code. I think that the

provisions of these sections are quite sufficient to put a stop to the forcible shaving of women, who have the misfortune to lose their husbands, provided the people themselves have the courage to invoke their aid..........It must, however, be admitted that there are great difficulties in the way of going to law. The task of ascertaining whether the consent to share is given voluntarily or otherwise would be stupendous. Perjury would be unscrupulously resorted to in torturing the woman's inclination into her voluntary consent.

4. TIRMALRAO VENKATESH.—Supposing the dates and numbers of all Regulations and Acts passed up to now by the Government of India and all the Local Governments, together with the different sections in them, repealing former enactments, and stating the extent of country over which each enactment was intended to have force, were effaced, and the bare enact. ments, many of which are contrary to the others, placed in the hands of lawyers, who may in no way be personally acquainted with the order and arrangement of the Regulations and Acts, they would become quite confused, and would not know which Regulation or Act was rescinded and which was in force ; and yet the counsel of one party would take hold of one enactment, and that of the adverse party of a contrary one, and the Judge would be at a loss as to which of the two enactments he was to follow. and there would be confusion every where. Such is exactly the state of the present Hindu law books. If the Legislature were to collect all Hindu law books, examine them, and declare which of them are to be acted upon, which modified and which rejected, it would be conferring a great benefit on the country.........Many native pleaders are of this opinion

5. RANCHODLAL K. DESAI.-It may now be taken as a point beyond dispute that the Hiudu Shastras allow of the marriage of widows.

6. KALIANRAI H. DESAI OF BROACH.--Notwithstanding the feeble endeavours of Pandit Ishwarchandra Vidyasagur and Vishnu Shastri Pandit, and their few followers, both here and elsewhere, Oriental Scholarship in India is unanimous in the condemnation of widow remarriage as an institution not recognized by the Shastras.

7. VARJEEVANDASS MADOWDASS.-I believe that the remarriage of widows is prohibited in the religious books of the Hindus and as long as this belief is entertained by the people interested, I think it will be unwise that Government should interfere in the matter.

8. VENKAT RANGO KATTI.-The reformers allege that many of the authorities adduced by their opponents are fabrications and that the single authority of Parashara whose Smriti is declared to be supreme in the Kali age, allowing widow remarriage in five cases of emergency is enough for their purpose. The oppositionists set forth this very authority to oppose remarriage by changing the last word “ Vidhiyate” (is allowed) to “ Navidyate” (is not allowed) and assert that it is. their reading which is correct......... If we consult the Dharma Sindhu.........We find that the author dismisses the subject of widow remarriage by stating in a very few words that it is. prohibited in the Kali age.

Widow marriage is objected to by some writers of the Dharma Shastra on the principle that a thing once bestowed on

« AnteriorContinua »