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The third and the last point to be ascertained is, whether or not the mode of Concremation prescribed by Hareet and others was ever duly observed? The passages recommending Concremation, as quoted by these expounders of law, require that a widow, resolving to die after the demise of her husband, should voluntarily ascend* and enter the flamest to destroy her existence ; allowing her, at the same time, an opportunity of retracting her resolution, should her courage fail from the alarming sight or effect of the flames, and of returning to her relatives, performing a penance for abandoning the sacrifice, or bestowing the value of a cow on a Brahmun. Hence, as voluntarily ascending upon and entering into the flames, are described as indispensably necessary for a widow in the performance of this rite, the violation of one of these provisions
unless it has been quoted or expounded by one of the acknowledged and authoritative commentators. It is now unhappily reported, that some advocates for the destruction of widows, finding their cause unsupported by the passages cited by the author of the Mitakshura, by the Smarttu Rughoonundun, or by other expounders of Hindoo law, have disgracefully adopted the trick of coining passages in the name of the Poorans or Tuntrus; conveying doctrines not only directly opposed to the decisive expositions of these celebrated teachers of law, but also evidently at variance with the purport of the genuine sacred passages which they have quoted. The passages thus forged are said to be calculated to give a preference to Concremation over virtuous life. I regret to understand that some persons belonging to the party opposing this practice, are reported to have had recourse to the same unworthy artifice, under the erroneous plea that stratagem justifies stratagem. • Unggira.
renders the act mere suicide, and implicates, in the guilt of female murder, those that assist in its perpetration, even according to the above quoted authorities, which are themselves of an inferior order. But no one will venture to assert, that the provisions, prescribed in the passages adduced, have ever been observed; that is, no widow ever voluntarily ascended on and entered into the flames in the fulfilment of this rite. The advocates for Concremation have been consequently driven to the necessity of taking refuge in usage, as justifying both suicide and female murder, the most heinous of crimes.
We should not omit the present opportunity of offering up thanks to Heaven, whose protecting arm has rescued our weaker sex from cruel murder, under the cloak of religion; and our character, as a people, from the contempt and pity with which it has been regarded, on account of this custom, by all civilized nations on the surface of the globe.
ANCIENT RIGHTS OF FEMALES,
THE HINDOO LAW OF INHERITANCE.
&c. &c. &c.
With a view to enable the public to form an idea of the state of civilization throughout the greater part of the empire of Hindoostan in ancient days,* and of
* At an early stage of civilization, when the division into casts was first introduced among the inhabitants of India, the second tribe, who were appointed to defend and rule the country, having adopted arbitrary and despotic practices, the others revolted against them; and under the personal command of the celebrated Purusooram, defeated the royalists in several battles, and put cruelly to death almost all the males of that tribe. It was at last resolved that the legislative authority should be confined to the first class who could have no share in the actual government of the state, or in managing the revenue of the country under any pretence; while the second tribe should exercise the executive authority. The consequence was, that India enjoyed peace and harmony for a great many centuries. The Brahmuns having no expectation of holding an office, or of partaking of any kind of political promotion, devoted their time to scientific pursuits and religious austerity, and lived in poverty. Freely associating with all the other tribes, they were thus able to know their sentiments and to appreciate the justness of their complaints, and thereby to lay down such rules as were required, which often induced them to rectify the abuses that were practised by the second tribe. But after the expiration of more than two thousand years, an absolute form of government came gradually again to prevail. The first