Sati Pratha – Truth and Facts

I have met Shahnawaz Husain during a trip to Mumbai. He was my fellow traveler from London to Mumbai. He is now an Indian desi in UK with a very modern outlook. He was talking about superstitions and wrong traditions plaguing India. I have agreed to most of his observations.

Hinduism is a curse for its women – evil people were practicing SATI everywhere in India till British ruled…” he said. (‘Sati’ is a name given to the custom by the British in which the widow is placed on pyre of deceased husband and burnt alive – it was a barbaric and inhumane act)


“I agree with you regarding SATI. It is highly deplorable. But how come you blame Hinduism for that?”

“Hindu scriptures glorify Sati Pratha…”

“So far there is no word in Hindu scripture for “Bride burning”. Sati is the feminine of ‘sat’, means “true”.”

“But Hindus were practicing it and encouraging it, resulting in genocide…”

“Hmm…” I understood that he is yet another misled educated person.”Shahnawaz, Can I ask you a question…”

“Yes, please…”

“Even in modern America (African and many other countries), female genital mutilation (FGM) – also known as female genital cutting and female circumcision – is being practiced among some Muslims. They believe that females have no right to enjoy sexual pleasure….”

“That’s not true…” he raised his voice. His face became red.

“You please get your facts checked. FGM is done in the name of preservation of virginity and reduction of female desire and also to enhance male pleasure. The practice is prevalent in some of the majority Muslim countries. Many girls bleed to death or die of infection – even today”

“That’s highly deplorable. We, educated Muslims, seriously condemn such act…”

“But Islamic scholars have two opinions about this – some say no obligatory rules exist while others refer to the mention of female circumcision in the Hadith. I do not know, you tell me…”

“Sir, All Muslims are not practicing it. Don’t blame Muslims or Islam for some people doing wrong things…”

“I totally agree with you. As in any religion, wrong customs are practiced by the ignorant followers.”

“I got your point, Uday. You mean to say that just because few people among billions of Hindus practice it doesn’t mean Hinduism supports Sati…”

“Not only that – Sanatan Dharma is the only tradition in the world that gives equal importance to all without any gender, colour and race discrimination. So how is it possible to force something like Sati on females?”

“Uday, a scholar told me about mentioning of widow’s burning in Rig-Veda?”

“Yes – I have also read about it. Rig Ved, Mandala 10, Chapter 18 mentions about widowed dames. The hymn actually calls for a widow to rise from the pier of her dead husband and now move on to take the hand of her new husband. As in all cases, Hindu-bashers have misinterpreted it into a terrible falsification to signify the burning of the widows to demean Hinduism…”

“Mahabharata, Hindu epic, tells about Madri was burned with her husband Pandu”

“Pandu had another wife – Kunti – why didn’t she die? There are hundreds of characters in Mahabharata. Madri’s case was exceptional. The epic is broader in universality – it shows all evils and good things that had been prevailing in the society during that time. How can you generalize things by a singled-out example? In Ramayana, when Dasaratha died none of his three wives jumped into pyre. There is not even a single case of forceful widow burning in any of our scriptures. The story of Sati and Shiv has nothing to do with Sati Pratha…Sati didn’t die in her Husband’s funeral pyre…”

“Then what, really, is Sati?”

“Sati is an ancient Sanskrit word, meaning a chaste woman who thinks of no other man than her own husband. The famous examples are Sati Anusuiya, Seelavati, Savitri, Ahilya etc. None of them committed suicide, let alone being forcible burned. So how is that that they are called Sati?”

“But there is proof that Sati was practicing in India…”

“Yes – it began with invaders bearing Muslim names. Please note I am not calling them ‘Muslim invaders’ (as popularly known) as I know that there are good people in all religions. Rape, genocide and gross human rights violations against innocent Hindus induced victims to adopt defensive mechanisms. Hindu women in India adopted the Sati traditions to protect themselves from invaders, who perpetrated the largest holocaust in history against Hindus.”

The barbaric and inhuman invaders did record with glee their genocide on Hindus, because they felt all along that they were doing their duty; that killing, plundering, enslaving and razing Indian temples was justified. It was standard practice for cruel warlords like Ghori and Ghazni to unleash the mass rape and enslavement of hundreds of thousands of women after the slaughter of all peace-loving innocent Hindu males. The tradition of sati, where Hindu women voluntarily cast themselves onto burning cremation grounds after their husbands’ death, gained widespread acceptance during the invasions.

The haunting tales of Chittorgarh

The most famous instance took place when invaders overran Chittorgarh (Chittor) in 1568: rather than submit to the rape and slavery that would follow, eight thousand heroic Hindu women committed sati en masse. 

The word “Sati-Pratha” (forcible widow burning) was coined by British and foreign Missionaries in India to de-mean Hindus… Hindus were victims of the crime. This is a typical case of perpetures of crime are glorified and victims are penalized. Just like any other durachara (black magic, astrology, mantravada etc) Sati might have been in practice among some ignorant Hindus.

“Sorry, I didn’t know about these facts. I thought that Sati was part of your Sanatan Dharma”.

“It is NOT. Shahnawaz, Lets absorb good things in all traditions. Things that are not relevant in today’s society are anachara and superstitions. We can’t use violence or force to change this. Our dharma is to learn the truth and teach the truth. When people become aware, they will naturally stop such practices. The historians (un-forgivable criminals) in India have done gross injustice to our culture for fistful of money….” I told him.

~By Udaylal Pai



Sati… the mere mention of the word conjures images of widows burning on funeral pyres all across ancient and medieval India, right upto 1829 when it was outlawed by the reforming Britishers, and Raja Ram Mohan Roy. The impression it creates is one of a rampant and widespread practice, and one which was virtually unopposed in the society, much like that far greater social evil – casteism as experienced by SC/ST/OBC people during those times. Our education system drills in the name of Raja Ram Mohan Roy as a social reformer, and the British who voluntarily worked to eradicate it. Well, there were decent Britishers who did campaign against the practice; it is also undisputed fact that Raja Ram Mohan Roy was a reformer. But that is it; rest all is incomplete history. Surprised? I was too, when I read it. But I have read enough of history to recall references to something like this in my history; and a simple Google search completed the rest – and exposed the myth.

Sati PrathaFirst of all, 1829 and the famous sati act.

Rewind history to 1813: the reforming noble-hearted great Britishers legalized the practice of Sati. So what you say? Well, that act made them the only (I havent found a single ruler -Aurangzeb included, who legalised this barabarity) ruling power to legalize this. Fast forward to the mid-1800s, when the law was substantially diluted when murder charges could not be laid if the death was caused by own consent.

Furthermore, the official record does not state that Raja Roy initially was against official intervention – even while vociferously campaigning against the barbarity. Neither does the record state the legalization of sati in 1813. I wonder why? The official record makes no mention of a long list of anti-sati campaigners. Neither does it recognize that virtually every Mughal ruler had made strict laws against sati: including Aurangzeb. The first recorded law against this is by Humayun. That effectively puts paid to the “British eradicated sati” claim. They didn’t; it was the result of a centuries-long battle against this social evil directed and campaigned purely by Indians. That is what the entire record shows. So much for the much tom-tommed British claim of sati eradication!

The proof? Simple. These are the precise numbers – documented numbers – of sati cases around 1810-1840. These records very effectively destroy any such claim even without the lecture above.

• Between 1815 and 1828, 63% of all recorded acts of sati took place in Calcutta
• In 1824, of the 250000 women who became widows, 600 underwent sati.
• In Varanasi, there were only 125 cases in 9 years from 1820.

The British exaggerated it enormously; there is evidence of this. This was since it could be used to justify their rule over us “heathens”. William Carey, the great reformer, wrote : “For the first time during 20 centuries… the waters of the Ganges flowed unblooded to the seas”. It is impossible that the British were not aware of the precise numbers: these figures are from their own records! As further proof: what did they do against the real social evil of the time – the plight of the Harijans? Nothing, that is what. And we Indians still believe in the their fiction, written by the Colonialists to further their own economic agenda…

And this, folks, is the reality of the Sati saga, and the attendant Myth… Please correct your several impressions…

~ Becoming Indian: The Unfinished Revolution of Culture and Identity by Pavan K Varma


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  • Good to know this information. The question remains how to correct so many blunders caused by so called Historians of India and the world, only interested in damaging the truth about Bharat? Could it be corrected?

    • History is an evolving story as visualized and recorded by persons who lived in the past.

      Whether it is the truth or not can only be verified in the light of present day evidences.

      Satyamev Jayate .. truth always triumphs..

      Investigators of present day should come forward to study existing evidences available, record and publish them using modern tools like the internet and social media.

      As all evidences are verifiable , there should be no ambiguity on history .

      May the wise of this land take appropriate actions as they have always


  • Sati Sahagamana was not there in Ramayan and in Bharatham Madri choose to accompany Pandu in death.
    In Vedic times a custom is described in Atharva Veda and Rig veda Mantra 10.18-8 refers to if a woman wants to go to the same world as her husband after her death she would lie on the unlit pyre and would be asked to get up by the people around and coming down before it is lit up. It was symbolic.
    Scriptures tell that life of ordain is higher than sahagamana for a widow.
    The practice of burning a man’s possessions including wives, servants and livestock for his use in his Next World was a custom common Not in India but to many ancient cultures including Europe, Egypt, China, Ur etc.
    Its the double standards of the Britishers who have no problem in Witch burning, Jallianwala bagh to name a few. The last witch was burned in England by the Church in 1730.
    Child Marriages and Sati Sahagamana came into form to protect their daughters from immolation at the hands of Muslim Invaders. Later the greed in some Bengali families led to forcible practices to avoid sharing property to the widows.
    The Practice started to protect self from life of unspeakable tragedy.

  • Thanks. Dispels lots of wrong notions. Continue the good service, please.

  • Nice article. Can you please clarify what happend with Rama and Sita. I am not trying to fight you. I am just trying to understand and learn.

  • Sati is not practiced at the time of Ramayana.
    In Mahabharath when Pandu Raj died Madri opted for Sati. SHe wasnt forced.
    Another instance is when Lord krishna Left this planet earth in his final jounrey,
    1 or 2 of his wives commited Sati. As the place Dwaraka was under threat coz of thieves and abt to get submerged in sea.
    They were not forced either, it was their choice.

  • Hi Sunoj,

    In case of Ram and Sita in Ramayan, Sri Ram has asked Ma Sita to prove her Satitwa by entering Fire(agni pariksha). There might be 2 reason behind this.
    1- He didn’t wanted anyone to point finger ever towards Sita for being in Ravan’s captive. Even someone can blame Sri Ram today, but can’t blame Ma Sita.
    2- Ma Sita is an avataar of Goddes lami. She knew that, she would be taken by Ravan. So before Ravan abducted her, she given herself to Agni, and sent only maya Sita. Sri ram knew about it. To get Sita back, He asked her to enter fire again.

  • Amit Nayak – The reason for mother Sita doing the agni pariksha is completely on a different level.

    When Ravan tried to Kidnap Sita in absence of Lord Ram & Lakshman, agnidev appeared there and took the original sita in his protective custody. What Ravan took with him was maya Sita (maya = that which is not).

    So after the mahabharat war, when ravan was dead – the sita who was in the custody of Ravan appeared before Lord Ram. Lord Ram said this is not my Sita. So the maya sita entered agni (returned back to agnidev) & from that pyre Emerged the original Sita. Agnitdev handed over her back to her husband – Lord Shri Ram.

    So nowhere is this a case of partiality to woman or sati.

    • Sirji, what a new story ,there are many ramayans folklores ,and in each of the folklore, the story teller changed the episodes for the convenience of the locals.Like wise every one is writing what they heard or told, in this article.

      If Ravan and Ram where introduced in to Mahabharata, I wonder that will be the greatest Epic in the world.

  • However the practice of Sati was practised in some cases voluntarily as well.

    1. Johar – as many of you have rightly said, the chaste and self respecting & courageous women felt it noble to hug agni than to be raped and mutilated by the invaders.

    2. In some cases, women were so attached to their husbands, that the pain of burning in the pyre was lesser than that caused by separation from their beloved husbands.

    Madri, the wife of king Pandu of Mahabharat is one such example.

    4. Also, Ramabai, the wife of the great Maratha Prime Minister – Madhavrao Peshwe is another case. She was so attached to her that she entered his funeral pyre on his death. She must have been barely 20 years of age at that time.

    She side so voluntarily and in spite of requests from her elders and her subjects, in general.

  • While I incredibly appreciate this wonderful lay of facts, I request to please provide reasoning for including “astrology” as a durachara. It outrightly is a wrong statement just like how Sati is being used. Please edit appropriately.


  • some women who has become a widow shaves her hair never puts any jewels wear very sober colour sarees to look ugly they dont want to get attracted by others spend their life very piously.