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WRONGS y INDIAN

WOMANHOOD

ARCUS B.FULLER-

THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood

THE LIBRARY OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA LOS ANGELES

ONLY A GIRL

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood

BY

MRS.

MARCUS

B.

FULLER

Bombay, India

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BV

PANDITA RAMABAI

New York

Chicago

Toronto

Fleming H. Revell Company


Publishers of Evangelical Literature

Copyright, 1900

by

FLEMING

H.

REVELL COMPANY

THE CAXTON PRESS

NEW YORK.

\^

1742

TO
The
to

Christian

America
our

women of India, England and who owe all they have and all they are Lord Jesus Christ in whom " there is
there
is

neither
free,

Jew nor Greek,


is

neither

bond nor

there
all

neither male nor female," but in


is

whom
icated.

are one,

this

volume lovingly ded-

1500162

Contents
CHAP.

PAGE
Introduction BY Ramabai

n
15 17

Author's Preface
I.

II.

How Long? A Snap-shot at Modern


Child-Marriage

India

33
"

III.

33

IV.

Enforced Widowhood

48 76
100 112

V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.

The Zenana
MURALIS
DeVADASIS

Nautch-Girl

126
137

IX.

An Anti-Nautch Movement
Infanticide

X.
XI.

148

Chapter of Indian Testimony


Position of

...

i6i

XII.
XIII.

The

Government

175

XIV.

What Government Has Done What the Reformers Have Done


Since 1891

189
211

XV.
XVI.
XVII.

229

What the

Missionaries

Have Done

....

247

The Real Difficulty XVIII. The Real Remedy

270

284

List

of

Illustrations
PAGE

Only A Girl Hindu Home Life Grinding Hindu Home Life Spinning Hindu Gentleman and Girl Wife. , When are You Going to Get Married ?

Frontispiece

.... ....
,

Facing

26
39
51

Suttee Rite (Burning the Dead) Portrait of Ramabai Group of Child Widows Hindu Temples Worshiping the Idol

68
113

....

Nautch Girls

An Elderly Widow

128

Bombay College LucKNow College Reading of the Shastras A High Caste Girl

........

306
263

273
285
291

A Low Caste Woman A GosPEi. Wagon

Introduction
It
is

a matter of deep thankfulness to


is

Mrs.

Fuller

publishing her articles

me that on "The
a book.

Wrongs

of Indian

Womanhood"

in

The world needs such books to enlighten it. Very few people, even in India itself, know what really goes on behind the purdah. Hundreds of our Indian reformers are ignorant of the
real

condition of

women.

The Indian women

themselves do not realize the depths of degradation they are in.

Even those

who

have suffered
tell

the greatest

wrongs

are reluctant to
if

the truth

to the world, even


for fear they

they have the opportunity,

may lower

themselves and their

nation

in the eyes of other nations.


telling

A young

widow was widow


talk

me some

of the hardships she

and other widows had to

fear.

Another young
and,

heard what she said to

me

when

the

was

over, the latter took the former aside


for betraying her

and gave her a severe scolding


family and her nation at large
!

Great courage

is

required to

tell

the truth

when
as

you know

all

the nation will rise against


11

you

Introduction

one man and put you down.

So no one need be

surprised at the reluctance of India's


tell
It

women

to

their

own

wrongs, even
I

if

they

knew how.
to place
in a

is

for this reason

am more

than glad that

God

has put

it

into Mrs. Fuller's

mind

before the world the

woes

of India's

women

way

that

no one before has done.

She has taken


She has neither

the greatest pains to find out the truth on every

point she has written

down.

exaggerated nor kept back what can be said on


the

most important things connected with Indian


conditions.
to

women's
and want

All

who

are interested in

do something for the salvation of

woman
I

in India will

do well

to read her book.


in

entirely agree

with Mrs. Fuller


Let

what she
ask you,
that

says on

"The

Real Remedy."
sisters,

me

my

dear Christian

the
it

same question

she has put to you.

"Is

possible for the one

hundred and

fifty million

women
? "

of India of this

generation to hear the gospel

Will you not


say,
I

wake up

to

your Christian duty and


?

Yes;

and then act upon your convictions


of

believe

there are at least half a million Christian


all

women

castes

and colors

in India.

If

each one of

them made up her mind


Christ to one

to

tell

the story of

of her sister

women
rest,

every day,

taking the seventh day for


12

she would be

Introduction
able to preach the gospel to over three hundred

women

in

one year.

In this

for half a million Christian

way it is possible women to give the


a flood of
of India

gospel to
1

all

of our sisters in India in one year.

am

praying to

God

that

He may send

the Holy Spirit on the Christian

women

and convict them of

their sin of not giving the

gospel to their heathen sisters whenever they


can.

The Lord has given us


the gospel.
Shall

the

command, Go
not be a host
far

and preach

we
it

under His leadership to publish

and wide

Dear Christian
this

sisters of

all

lands,

do consider

most important question and

rise to

obey the

command of your great Captain, Jesus Christ, who expects you to do His bidding and to enter
into His joy.

May

this

little

book be

like the voice in the

wilderness, and be the

means of turning thoucall

sands of minds to obey the Master's


the Real

and take

Remedy, the gospel of

Christ, to millions

of India's

women
is

to heal the

deep wounds of
sister,

their hearts,

the prayer of your

Muhii Mission, Kedgaon, August 20th, i8gg.

'ffOyvvy.o^S'-vAy

13

Author's Preface

An
of

apparently

trivial

event often proves the

pivot on

which something greater and unthought


turn.

may

Last year

paid to a friend out of

the city a hurried visit


itself,

an insignificant event in
an Indian lady gave

but, while there,

me

manuscript to look over and asked


it.
I
I

my opinion of
and for days

was deeply

stirred as

read

it,

was haunted with

the query:

thing for the cause of Indian

"Can I do anywomanhood ? " It


the pubI

has been

many

years since the subject of Indian

women's wrongs has been much before


lic,

and then the public

is

so forgetful, that

finally

decided to write three or four articles for


subject.

the

Bombay Guardian on the


definite
I

Without

any
until

planning one

article led to another,

had written eighteen instead of three or

fourl

They were written under work and responsibilities.


pressed
publish

the pressure of other

Kind friends ex-

much
them

interest in

them, and urged

me
I

to

in a

more permanent form.


all

have

taken great pains to verify


15

my

statements,

Author's Preface
and have often understated
myself
facts rather than lay

open

to

the

charge of exaggeration.

European writers are accused of not understanding Indian thought and custom.

To

avoid this

charge

procured

my

information largely from

Indian sources.

This has laid

me am

under a debt

of gratitude

to a host of Indian friends, both


Christian.

Hindu and
debted to

But

especially in-

my

friends, Professor N. G. Velinkar,

who

has been most generous and unwearying in

his assistance,

and Ramabai, whose counsel and


value.

sympathy have been of great


It is

true that

my

scenes, incidents

and

illustra-

tions

may have
I

given a slight Marathi coloring to

some
that

of the chapters.

This

is

due to the fact

have spent

many

years in the Marathi

country, but this does not hinder the

book from

representing the whole of India, and calls for no

apology.
After careful revision of the articles,
I

send
a

them

forth

in their present

form

to,

trust,

larger audience,
all

with the hope


readers

that,

in spite of

defects,

my

may

catch the message


heart has burned to

they contain, and which


give.
Bombay,
India,

my

Jenny Fuller.
Sept. t,

1899.

16.

HOW LONG?
For four hundred years Cuba, Porto Rico and
the Philippines bore the iron

yoke of Spanish
For years the
fair islands

misrule and priestly oppression.


inhabitants have revolted,

and these

have

known

nothing but rebellion and suffering


attempts to throw off this galling

in their vain

oppression.

Days went by, moons waxed and waned, but


the suffering remained as real and deliverance

seemed

as far off as ever.

Men saw
never

their

homes

destroyed,
killed.

loved

ones

wronged, starved and

Would freedom
Libre an idle

come

Was

Cuba
It

dream and

jest ?

was February 15th, 1898. The day had dawned like other days; and was filled with woe
and suffering
as other

days had been.

There

seemed no end
died in

to such days.

Hope had almost


bay of Havana
at anchor.

many

hearts.

Out

in the

an American war ship lay riding

The
its

waters of the bay lapped and curled against


sides as idly as at other times.

Suddenly there

was an awful

explosion, and the


17

Maine had gone

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood

down

a total wreck.

Again the waters of the


above the

bay lapped and


grave of over

curled, but this time

two hundred men.

This disaster, sudden and awful,

was

the cloud

"no

bigger than a man's hand "that rose that

day, the forerunner of the heavy

war cloud
it

that

soon hung over the islands; and when

broke

away, the

brilliant
its

"bow
disaster,

of promise" of free-

dom spanned
It

dark shadows.
but
it

was an awful

set in

motion

forces that broke forever the

yoke of oppression
the
of

that had so long rested upon the necks of the

people.

The world, now


is

that

strain

sympathy

broken, says they are not ready for

freedom and are only children.


freedom, and
their
it is

Their right
let

was

our duty to

time work out

problems for them.

What has this story to do with the wrongs of Indian womanhood ? Nothing, save that it gave us courage and hope. An Indian lady had given
us a manuscript

book

to

read concerning the

wrongs of Indian women, saying, "I do not

know
had
a

that

it

can be published, but

feel these

things ought to be

known."

We

thought

we
like

known much
it,

before, but this


to us.

book was

book of horrors

We almost wished we
to shut out

had never read

and hid our faces


18

How Long?
the scenes
help
?
it

had depicted.

What can

be done to

we

repeated over and over.


marriage,

Child

enforced

widowhood,

the

Zenana, the Muralts and the Devadasis (temple

women) seem
ever.

to flourish
suffer

as

deeply rooted as they have


so

Women

on

just as

long done.

Only

now and
and

then does the public

hear an agonized shriek of the sufferings of


child-wife.

some

Now
in

then, the public reads a

paragraph

some paper

of the suicide of a girlit

widow, with no
all.
It

hint of the tragedy behind

has not been

many
still

years since

Rakhmabai
She

made

her brave fight for her rights.

won

in

a way.

The law The

forbids her to marry; but

perhaps her struggles did more for

women

than

we know.

miracle
it

was
all.

that she ever

had

the courage to

make

at

Then came

the tragic suffering and death of


in Calcutta,

Phulmani Dasi,

which aroused the


story of Phulmani
still

public and government, until they raised the age of consent to twelve.

The

Dasi

is

repeated over and over


it,

in the land.
it,

The neighbors know


editors
'

educated
is little

men know

know

it

yet there

public protest.

An

adult husband in Calcutta committed rape

child-wife,

upon his Phulmani Dasi, aged eleven, causing her death.


19

The Wrongs of
If it

Indian

Womanhood
are not these facts
is

were

in

England or America, the whole

world would

know
?

it.

Why

brought forward
the evil reformed
It

until the

world

stirred

and

looks hopeless.
years.
It

It

has gone on so many,

many
hope.

was

here that the story of the

Maine came
It

to our

minds and spoke courage and


tragedy deeper

may

be that some social Maine will

come

to our help
terrible

some

social

and more
just than

than Phulmani's, or more unstir

Rakhmabai's, that will

men's hearts

and

set

such forces

in action as will in a short

time bring to Indian


liverance.

womanhood
say that

a glorious deare

Men
fit

still

women
aught

not

ready or
children;

for a

change; that they are only


will be
else in

and they never


position.

their present

Make

the change and

then, better the mistakes of freedom, a thousand

times over, than the cruel wrongs of oppression

and degradation.
There are hundreds of
these questions deeply,
as they dare,

men in India who feel who go as far in reform

who

measure that would be brought up,


alone.

would nobly stand by any if they were


and friends

But any action on their part involves a

large

number of

relatives

who

have

not their convictions, but


20

who must

share the

How Long?
reformer's ostracism and ill-repute.

We

would

not be too hard on them.


Mr.
Malabari

who

has said and written so


is

much on

these subjects

a Parsee, and

Ramabai

a Christian.

Both of them can date the begin-

nings of their interest to sad scenes witnessed in


their childhood in their native place. In a sketch

of Mr. Malabari the writer


shrieks of a
little
still

tells

how

he heard the

girl

like

Phulmani Dasi, and


his
soul.

those shrieks
tells

ring in

Ramabai

how

in

one part of her

father's

house

when

she

family.

was but nine years old, there lived a poor The family consisted of a man of thirty
The mother-in-law was
that
all

years of age, his girl-wife of sixteen and his old

mother.
plied

that

is

im-

by

name

in this country, a heartless old

hag, always beating, abusing and cruelly treating

her daughter-in-law.

was
this

spinning, a
carelessness

One day when the girl monkey stole her cotton. For the girl was abused by the
the husband on to

mother-in-law
beat her.
to
all this.

who nagged

Ramabai adds: "I was an eyewitness


Her piercing
I

cries

went

right to

my

heart,

and

seem

to hear

them now

after nearly

thirty years.

My

childish heart
1

indignation, and though


I

was filled with was powerless to aid,


girl's cries

have never forgotten that poor


21

for

The Wrongs of
help,

Indian

Womanhood
first call
I

and

suppose

it

was

the

received

to enter
sisters
I

upon the sacred duty of helping


little

my
But

according to the

strength

had.

never realized the extent of the

grief, suffering
I

and need of

my

sisters,

so long as

remained

in

darkness, and had no love of

God
felt

in

me."

The

public so soon forgets, and needs to be reoften,

minded so
could do

that

we

perhaps

all

we

was

to review these evils

one by one,

and

stir

men's hearts afresh to remember the


in

wrongs of Indian womanhood, and perhaps


this

way

give an added impetus to prayer and

effort.

22

II

A SNAP SHOT AT MODERN INDIA

The mail steamer


deck,

lay at the

wharf

at Brindisi.

As we leaned against the

railing

of the upper

we saw

in a bicycle suit

young Indian gentleman dressed trundling his wheel up the plank


to the ship.

that reached

from the shore


to

When
the
told us

we went down
he had been
in

luncheon,
at

we

found

steward had seated him

our table.

He

England for several years pursuing

a course of studies, and before

coming on ship-

board, had just completed a tour of the continent.

An
the

indulgent father had supplied him with

all

money he had needed without murmuring


which had enabled him
gentleman.
like a

or

question,

to live while

abroad

Now

he was returning

home.

He had

evidently had a royal time.

One
I

afternoon on deck he said to us; "I have

written a pamphlet on the freedom of women; when have published it, will send you a copy." And as he talked on of his hopes for his sisters,
I

we

got a glimpse of
in

how the

beautiful English

homes he had been


that he

had affected him, and saw


23

had felt the influence of refined and cultured

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


ladies.

He had seen

real

homes with women


for.

reverenced and chivalrously cared

He had
all

found them educated and interested

in

that

interested father, brother, or husband: and not

only that, but they were treated as companions

and were even allowed to advise and


had been an enchanting vision to him.
not

help.

It

We

did

wonder

that under
It

its

spell

he had written
but what a

his pamphlet.

was

delightful;

wide gulf
to

lay

between the vision and the home

which he was returning!

We
when

tried

to

picture

it

all.

We

knew

that

our ship entered the harbor, and the tug

carried us to the pier, his

mother would not be


the shore, lean-

found standing

in the

crowd on

ing on his father's arm and trying to catch the


first

glimpse of her boy


there followed
letter

among
all

the passengers.

Had

him
his

these years the tender


?

weekly

from

mother

Had

there been

constant chatty letters from his sisters giving

him

all

the

home news,
were

telling of their studies

and of the good times they were having, and

saw and wrote about, and of the plans they had made of all they would do when he got home ? Had he carried their pictures, and, when homesick or weary, Had looked at them with longing eyes?
interested they
in all

how

he

Hi

Snap Shot

at

Modern

India
these years
living
?

mother's picture stood on his desk

all

and been an inspiration

to study

and pure

No! he
not to a

is

coming back
as that
is

to his father's house,

but

home

regarded in the Western


front part of the house

sense of the word.

The

may be
style,

furnished comfortably, even in English


it

but

does not contain the apartments of

the family, but those of the

men and their friends;


rear.

while the women's apartments are in the

There will be no happy family gathering


first

at the

meal.

The

traveller will not offer his

arm

to

his

mother and escort her to the


mother

table;

and

though the son has been gone so long, yet the


father will not help
first

to food,

and then
no! but

the sisters before he helps his son. the mother and the
sisters will

Oh

stand and wait upon


eat.

men

until they

have finished before they

The mother
ters,
if

in her great

joy to see her son has


sis-

no doubt greeted and caressed him, but the

they have not gone to the homes of their

husbands, will stand timidly in the background,

and

if

spoken

to,

cover their faces with their

sarees, or else laugh

and run away.

They ask no

questions, as he

tells

of Paris, Vienna and Dres-

den; of the pictures and the beautiful scenery he


has been privileged to behold.
terested in

They may be
to eat while

in-

what he has had


25

away,

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


and
his descriptions of

English ladies and customs.

When
them
?

he opens his boxes, what has he brought

Dainty souvenirs of his travels and his

English home, that will be as treasures to them


for years
?

No

if

anything, perhaps

some silken
That
for;

fabric for a garment, or a


is
all

bit of jewelry.

Indian
else.

women
And

are

supposed to care

nothing

the mother,

how

he used to cling to her

who remembers skirts, and how she


what
is

indulged him in dainty bits of food, and helped


to win his way with his meed after all these years ?
father,

her

Yes, he has appreci-

ated the food she had prepared for him with unusual care; he
is

well and alive; his reformed


little,

ways

startle

her a

and she hopes he


is

will

not go too far; but there

such a difference beto her as a

tween him now, and when he clung


little

boy.

He

lives in

another world from hers,

and there

is little

fellowship or aught in
In the evening, the

common
:

between them.

thought of

the day comes out as she says to the father

"He
It

must be married soon," and suggests a

little girl

of ten, the child of a wealthy casteman.

has

long been the dream of her heart to see the


families united;

two
sat

and again and again has she

and, in a kind of day-dream,

gone

all

through

the marriage festivities.


26

HINDU HOME LIFE GRINDING

HINDU HOME LIFE SPINNING

A
And
Iron

Snap Shot

at

Modern
?

India
a rough

the

young man himself


all

What

dispelling of

the bright dreams he has had.

custom

rises

before him hke a wall.

He
ex-

faces again the joint family system,

and the revat the

erence for elders enjoined even

if it
:

be

pense of

all

personal convictions
all

then the host

of relatives of
families

degrees of nearness with their

whom

he must regard.
his

age to propose
will
it

plans to them.
it

He has no courAnd what

avail to talk
all

over at the club, for his

sympathizers are
self ?

in the

same box with him-

Reform looks impossible.


his

With

sigh

he lays
aside,

manuscript on the freedom of

women
"

and
"

we

hear the whispered sigh:


I

Kya

Karun (What can do ?). He knows instinctively what plans his mother He knows he can evade has for his marriage. He desperately her for a time, but not for long. He knows declares he will not marry a child.
the heavy weight of public opinion.

Are there
to

no

girls of

suitable age,
?

who

are

fit

be com-

panions to a husband
of the storm that

No, not one.

He thinks
his

would break over

head

if

he thought of a young
age.

widow

near his

He remembers young
all

Krishnarao,
;

own who
re-

did brave

and marry a
too well,
27

members,

all

widow and he how the lot he had

to

The Wrongs of
bear finally broke his
suicide.

Indian
spirit

Womanhood

and he committed
a sigh Bhimabai,

Then he
sister of

remembers with
so bright

one

of his schoolmates,

who was

such a
just a

beautiful

girl,

and

intelligent,

few years younger than

himself.

She was widher and


tell

owed
They

at eight.

He could have loved


is

been happy: but what

this

they

him?

say that there has just been a great public

scandal, that she has killed her child

and been
Poor
girl,

sentenced to imprisonment

for

life.
!

what

possibilities

she had

in

her

He

feels des-

perate enough

to defy
is

all

public opinion

and

show

that there

one man that has the courage

of his convictions; but there

comes back upon

father

him with renewed power the thought of his and mother. He is their only son. They
have never denied him anything.

They do not
is

mind

his

being reformed,
If

if

only he

not too re-

formed.
it

he breaks

will

break their

away from old customs, And then his sister is hearts.

just to

be married to a boy belonging to a very

wealthy, but orthodox family.

And

that

would

be broken
tions.

off if

he were to follow his convicfights the battle, only


in

Over and over he

at last to
call

succumb, to walk
28

what

his parents

"the good old way."

He

despises himself,

A
and
feels

Snap Shot
he
is

at

Modem

India

hypocrite.

His perorations

at the club
If

on reform seem to himself a mockery.

these customs

which he hates

are based

on

Hindu
to

Shastras, then he does not

want anything
himself an
?

do with the Shastras, and


infidel.
Is it

calls

agnostic or an

any wonder

Are the

old people blameless for the irreligiousness of the

young men
ligion

of India

If

these

young men hate

the customs, are they not going to despise the re-

on which the customs are based and de?

fended

But

we
is

have digressed.

Our

friend

on the

deck

still

talking of the freedom of


that the

women.
of India

We

saw he longed

women
to

should have the same opportunities as Western

women
home.
formed

for unfettered

growth

womanhood
men
are re-

and education; and


But
it

for the possibilities of a real

can never

come

till

The mass of men in India do not respect or reverence woman. She makes no appeal to chivalry in them. Only a few days ago a fine young woman, a widow, was condemned to imprisonment for life for the murder of her infant. We are told she was exceptionally intelligent, and educated to some extent. The men, her partners in the crime, escaped. Is this going to make no appeal to Indian
in their

view of women.

29

The Wrongs of
manhood ?
If

Indian

Womanhood
should be the pro-

the men,

who
it

tectors of helpless girlhood

and womanhood, are

themselves not free to


in the aid of

act,

seems

better to call
let

government rather than


If

woman

suffer

on and on.

this

must go on
this

until all the

old

orthodox

element of

generation has
is

passed away, then the rising generation


to

going

be so much weaker and unfitted to cope with

these social questions.

Men who have

not been

allowed to

live after their convictions,

who

have

lived hypocritically, and, to be able to be consistent,


tics,

have been forced to be

infidels

and agnos-

are not going, in the

supreme moment of

opportunity, to rise into strength and aggressiveness.

We

feel

it

to be a critical time for India's

manhood
the

as well as for her


is

womanhood;

for the
it

downfall of

womanhood downfall of manhood

sure to bring with

also.

Our steamer

at last lay

anchored

off

Bombay.

We bade good-bye to
more
to the

our Indian friend and have

never heard of him since.

hundreds of

He has added one young men in India who

hope and long

for a chance, but feel powerless to

make any movement toward its accomplishment. He was no doubt met at the railway station on
30

A
his arrival

Snap Shot

at

Modern

India
friends,
until

home by

his father

and male

but

was

not allowed to eat

with them

he
his

had performed prayaschitt (atonement) for

stay abroad; part of which consists in swallow-

ing a disgusting mixture composed of the five

products of the cow, viz: milk, curds, butter,

dung and
no
sin,

urine.

Cleansed by this and a few

other ceremonies from

what he knows has been


Per-

our friend

is

reinstated into caste.

haps he protested, or maybe he yielded to the


inevitable with another

gasp of Kyd Karun.


his conscience

The prayaschitt will be no bar to


in dining in a private

way

occasionally a I'Anat the railway

glaise

or in buying tea

and cake

stations

on

a journey.

Later on

we may

perhaps

find
in

him a middle-aged man serving as a judge some country district, having buried two childand convictions
sacrificed;

wives, and married a third of ten years of age;


his aspirations

an unfind

happy, discontented, cynical man.

We

may

him occasionally on Congress platforms,


quence reserved for
political

his elo-

questions which re-

quire no self-denial, and

which bring about no


is

ostracism; while as to social reform, his plea


still,

Kyd Karun, and

his

hope

is

deferred to the

next generation.

Government,

too, joins in the refrain of


31

Kyd

The Wrongs of
Karun and
the

Indian

Womanhood

says to zealous ones " wait "; but in


is

meantime who

to be responsible for the

hundreds of girl-wives

who

will perish, as victims

of the system of child marriage,


physically for
life;

or be ruined

for the suicides of girl-widows


for the moral

and the moral ruin of many;


Again

and

physical ruin of hundreds of Muralis and temple


girls ?

we

ask,

who

is

to

be responsible,

while

men
?

wait, for

all

this

moral wrong and be allowed to

suffering

And how

long

is it to

go on?

33

Ill

CHILD MARRIAGE

*The Story of creation

is

simply

told.

Of
from

woman,
fall

it

is

said,

God

caused a deep sleep to


his ribs

upon Adam, and took one of


"

his side.

And

the rib

which the Lord God had

taken from man,

her unto the man."

made He a woman and brought And Adam said: "This is


bone, and flesh of

now bone

of

my

my

flesh;

she shall be called

woman."
He

"

God

did not take


rule

woman

from man's head, that she should


Neither did

over him.

take her from his feet,

that she should be his slave, or that he should

trample on her.

But he took her from his side

that she should be his

companion and help-meet."


is

The word
riage

child marriage

misnomer.
children.

Mar-

was never meant

for

When
all

Khanderao Gaikowar, the Maharaja of Baroda,


married his

two

favorite pigeons with

the

pomp, ceremony and expenditure bestowed upon


the marriages of his
India
it

own
;

children,

all

educated

was scandalized but to the outside world was no greater mockery than the marriage of a
of eight to a grey-head?d old
33

girl

man

of sixty j

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood

or a baby girl of nine months to a boy of six; or

even a

girl

of nine to a youth of sixteen.


life

What

conception of

and

its

duties can such

brides have?

Marriage has been suggested to

them ever

since they

knew

anything, and

is

assofire-

ciated in their

minds with plenty of sweets,

works, gorgeous dresses, and for a few days to

be the centre of attention, with a possible ride on


a horse or in a palanquin in a gay evening procession.

Marriage to the bride

is

synonym

of

a grand tamasha (show). agrees with the child.


is
It is

The
a

outside world
It

grand tamasha.

not marriage.

We remember
friend called
his knee.

how, on one

occasion, a

Hindu

upon us, and took our little girl upon He wanted to say something to her
and he said the
first

suitable for a child,

thing he
girl.

would

naturally have said to a

little

Hindu

He looked
ried?"
great

her in the face, and said in a laughing


are

way, "Well, when

you going

to get
at

mar-

Our

little

maid looked

him with
silence
fell

wondering

eyes,

and a confused

over the room, until the subject

was changed.

The

little

lass

soon forgot the query, but

we
in

never did; and

many

a time as

we

tucked her

her bed at night, or watched her eager enthusiasm

over her studies, or noticed her guardianship over


34

Child Marriage
her brother, or
felt

her loving care that saved us

some burden, have v^e thanked God that no iron custom had power to take lier from our sheltering love and care, until she was able to stand She was our firstalone, or choose for herself. in our hearts for the first time born, and awakened
that rich, parental love before

which "there
is

is

neither male

nor female." but for years

It

true she

was

" only a
fort."

girl,"

we called

her "

Com-

Her father did not announce

to his friends

that

"nothing" had been born, and motherhood

was not embittered by her birth. Knowing the heart of the parent, we often wonder how Hindu mothers feel when they send a winning little girl of eight away from their care
and love
to a strange

home,

to take the risk of

an unkind mother-in-law or a worse husband.

And
body,

as they

tell

her never to forsake her husreturn to

band's

home and

them save as a dead


words do not

we wonder

that the very

freeze on their lips.

What loneliness must fill a child-wife's heart, when sent away from play with happy brothers and sisters, away from a loving mother's care
and sympathy, as she takes up her
life

in

her

new home with

the companionship of a grave


thirty-five

husband of perhaps

or forty in a

35

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood

household of elderly women, and perhaps with


stepchildren older than herself!
to picture our
instinctively

We

have

tried

own child in such a position, and we have covered our eyes with our

hands to shut out the awful scene; and have


said:

"Impossible!"
consider child marriage the greatest of

We
caste
like a

woman's wrongs; and when accentuated by


and the
joint family system,
it

confronts us
at least five
It

very Gibraltar.

The custom

is

hundred years older than the Christian Era.


is

not the fruit of the

Mohammedan

invasion as

some contend. The Zenana system is, but child marriage is woven in with the Hindu religion,
and was inaugurated and sanctioned by
givers.
its

law-

Child marriage leads to manifold


lead to

evils.

It

may
her

much

unhappiness, to

much

physical sufto

fering of the child-wife,


death.

and possibly
tribe

We

have been told of a

whose

wives are never able to walk upright?


the efforts that

Through

were made

after

the death of

Phulmani Dasi, the age of consent was raised to

may defend girls from strangers, but can be made most ineffectual in the case of husbands. To prove that the case of Phulmani was not an isolated one, we ask our readers to
twelve.

This

36

Child Marriage
turn to the awful facts that

were brought

for-

ward
bar!. "

at that time; to the

"Indian Medical Juris-

prudence," and to the "Life-work of Mr. Mala-

^An Indian lady asked an Indian medical

student for a copy of the Medical Jurisprudence.

He
it,

curtly replied that she did not

want

to read

that,

and when she did get a copy and perused

she did not wonder that he did not want her


it.'

to read

It

may

be well to remember that the


year's

husband of Phulmani got only one


prisonment as punishment!
^

im-

Again, child marriage

is

naturally the

direct

cause of

much widowhood.

Considering the

fact that of the


in

whole number of children born

any given

year, only about one-half the


it

numbe

ber ever reach the age of twenty,


strange
scarcely
if

will not

we

have hundreds of widows


they were ever wives.
It

who
also
their

knew

is

a great bar to the education of


full

women

and

development.

It

leads to pauperism
it

and to

national degeneracy, and


cruelty.

often leads to great

AVe

personally

know
She

a fine Indian

woman,

in-

dustrious, careful,

and with more than ordinary

was married at nine months to a boy of six! They grew up together as playmates and knew no discord. As she apexecutive
ability.

37

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


preached womanhood, her father-in-law made

improper proposals to her which she resented

and

rejected.

This so angered him that he be-

came her enemy and turned the heart of his son Then, what might have ripened against her.
into a lifelong affection,

was turned

into hatred.

The young husband was most


hands upon.
it,

cruel, beating her

with fire-wood or anything he could

lay

his

Once her mother, unable

to bear

took her away, but soon repented and started to take her back to her husband, saying, " When
I

gave her
let

in

marriage, she
will

became

as

dead to

me;

what

happen now."

But fearing

she would be killed by her husband's violence, a

remoter relative took her away;

kind friends

have shielded

her,

and she has never returned to She


is

her "loving lord."


ful,

now

leading a use-

honorable, but lonely

life.

Occasionally her husband tries to get her back.


If

he appealed to the law, she would have to go.


not get a case against him for cruelty?

Why

She could not get witnesses.


casteman or neighbor would

No

relative

or

testify against

him.

She would have to go back, the victim of a contract

made when she was

nine months old.

Marriage should be optional, but religion and

custom decree that Indian


38

girls

must be married.

Child Marriage

Twelve years
If

is

the

maximum

age for marriage.

the girl

is

not married then, her friends are

disgraced as well as herself.

But a boy can


all if

marry

at

any age

after five, or not at

that
is is

pleases

him

better.
still

Though
if

the latter course

not approved,

he does not marry, he


Cardinal

never persecuted or ostracized.

Man-

ning justly says: " By the law of nature, marriage

is

a voluntary

and perpetual contract of which the contracting


parties are the true ministers.
It

is

an abuse of
life

language as well as of moral and social


call

to

these

marriages.

Moreover,

infants

have

natural rights of

which no parent can deprive


of England protects the rights
Liberty to

them.

The law

not only of infants, but of minors.


dispose of themselves
all."
is

right

inherent

in

Rakhmabai fought the matter out


of
a

in the courts

Bombay. boy

In

childhood she

was betrothed

to

relative of her

own
at

caste.

She, for vari-

ous reasons, was kept


till

home and

well educated

she

was

nineteen.
in

illiterate

and was

The boy had grown up many ways repulsive to her.


felt it

When
a

he came to claim his bride, she

was

cruel

custom that made an infant betrothal

binding, and refused to go.


39

The nusoand

insti-

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
the results

tuted a suit against her.


vast issues.

On

hung

Eager

men

all

over the country con-

tended with the


Persia

spirit

of the seven princes of

and Media
if

in the

days of Esther.

They
this
all

too, felt that

she were victorious,


shall

"Then

deed of Rakhmabai's

come abroad unto

women,

so that they shall despise their husbands

in their eyes

when

it

shall

be reported."

Rakhmabai, and her friends


felt
it

who

stood by her,

was not
If

for herself alone that she con-

tended.
the

she had

won
It

her case,
it

wrongs of womanhood

what a rift in would have made!


that
it

All India

was

roused.

showed
?

could be

roused.

There were eager


the results

men on

both sides.

And what were


At the
first

trial
it

Justice Pinhey dismissed

it,

declaring that "


volting to
to
all

would be barbarous and

re-

sense of justice to compel a


a marriage that had

woman

consummate

been ar-

ranged without her


will."

consent

and

against her
this,

There was an appeal from


English

and an-

other

judge

decided

that

she

was

Dadaji's wife,

and

to his

house she must go,

or else go to prison.

Another appeal was made,

but

compromise was effected. Rakhmabai two thousand rupees to her husband with which he could marry another wife; she also
a

paid

40

Child Marriage
bore the cost of the
trial

which was

several

thousands more, and

in the sight of

her country-

men remains
Dadaji
is

a wife and can never marry.

But

a man. Fearful

a home.

He can have another wife and men went back to their homes

in security,

while those
wait,
if

who

fought for Rakh-

mabai

still

"hope deferred" has not


it all

made
was
VIII.,

their hearts sick.

But the bitter irony of


not

was

that this case

won

under Hindu law, but under an

English law, {Restitution of Conjugal Rights, Act


1895)

imported into India and enforced

with imprisonment; and this same law was obsolete

in

England when
to

this

case

was tried!

While Hindus deplore


declare
it

this

imported law, and


all

be foreign to

Hindu ideas and


earnestly
Art. 8),

wishes, and leaders


tried to

among them have


Chap,

have

it

set aside (See

xiii..

yet Dadaji and his friends


in

saw no
it.

inconsistency
it,

prosecuting Rakhmabai under

and were

glad to avail themselves of

We know
who
offer,

of

many women
felt

in

Western lands

have not married, not because they had no


but because they
that there
it.

were claims

upon them

that forbade

And

the earth has


lives.

been the richer for their self-denying


recall

We

one young

woman who was


41

engaged to

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
died,

be married, when her mother


father

and her aged


all

of a

was left home for


till

alone.
herself,

She gave up

thought

and

lived

on with her

father, tenderly caring for


frail

him through years of

health

he passed into the beyond.


is

One

of the most beautiful sights on earth


unselfish

a noble,

woman, whether

she be wife, mother

or sister.

Hindu law gives no


allows
it

divorce,

though custom
year

in

some low

castes.
last

Swamis
by a

that visited

America

One of the was asked


if

New York

lady in our hearing,

marriage

was

held sacred in India.

"Very," he added,

"far more that in

this country,

madame."
it

And
in
?

he sneeringly referred to divorce as

exists in

America and added:


India."

"We
is

have no divorce
the

Why
it,

did he not

tell

whole

truth

For

woman

marriage
as she
is

irrevocable.

She has no

choice in

usually married before she


is.

knows what marriage


treat her, beat
her,

Her husband may


kill

ill-

almost

her,

but she can

get no divorce from him, or from a contract that

she never

was

a party to.

If

she runs

away

to

escape his cruelty, she must, for the rest of her


life,

be regarded as a
noble man,

widow and
home

disgraced.

But

he,

can marry another,


if

or he can

bring other wives into the


42

she stays, or

Child Marriage
if

he choose, he can desert her entirely.


is

But

there

no remedy for

her.

-We know
father
little

another Indian

woman who was


The boy's
After a year the

married to a young boy of sixteen.

was
to

Brahman

priest.

was taken with much pomp and cereThe girl's appearance did not suit the young husband. There was an aunt in the family who spared nothing to work against the child, finding fault with all she did. If she went near the husband to serve him with food, he would hit her hard on the crown of her head with his knuckles. Though
bride

mony

her husband's home.

she

was but

ten,

yet they expected her to do

every kind

of work.

She did the household


all,

work, brought water for

cleaned the utensils,

cleaned the floor, did the washing, milked the

cow and
punished.
girl

kept the stable clean.

If

the

cow

did

not yield the proper quantity of milk, she

was

The

relatives in the
evil

house said the

was possessed by an
of

spirit,

and would

bring misfortune to the family.

-The course
enough

treatment she received

was

to turn her into a

demon.

Her father-

in-law would hang her up to the


roof and beat her pitilessly.

times suspend her to the

beam of the He would somesame place by her ankles

43

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood

perhaps
in
it,

for variety.

Under her head, thus


live coals

suspended, he would put a vessel with

on which he would throw red peppers and

almost suffocate her.

Sometimes when he had


for fear she
fall,

hung her

to the

roof,

tempted to break the rope and


neath her, and
her.

would be he would

spread branches of prickly pear on the floor belet

her hang

till

he chose to relieve

cruel
relate.

Once or twice this man inflicted on her a punishment which decency forbids us to
In

both these

stories,

it

has been the

father-in-law

who

has been the aggressive one,


She, our

and not the proverbial mother-in-law.


friend said,

was

usually very kind to her, only

once

in a

while did she punish her by shutting

her up in a room where red peppers were kept

burning!
died,

When

she

was

fourteen, her

husband

and she was subjected to greater hardships.

Her head was shaven, her bright colored dresses


and few ornaments were taken away, while she
lived

on one meal a day and


of

toiled hard.
all

The neighbors knew


evil.

this

cruelty

and

suggested to her to run away, but their motive

was

The

old hag of an aunt tried to perevil

suade her into

connections, but the

girl reit,

mained

firm.

When

her father heard of


it,

he

exhorted her not to do


44

but to stay and

die.

Child Marriage
This had been her commission
father's

when

she

left

her

house as a bride.

The

father-in-law's

priestly career

was not

disturbed by his cruelty.

the least.

The pubUc did not feel that it disqualified him in Had he been in a Western land, public

opinion would have

and the old aunt.

made it unbearable for him They would have been cast


fell

out from decent society.


*In

time other misfortunes

on

this

house-

hold.

The kind-hearted mother-in-law

died.

The
in

father-in-law then

seems to have repented

a measure, and before his death, put the

young

woman

into safer

and better hands.

The old hag

of an aunt followed her, and tried to get possession of her through the law, but she

not a minor, and escaped.


face of this
all

was declared Need we add that the


bears the trace of
?

young woman

still

this suffering

and cruelty had

She says that she

never once planned to escape, but just nerved


herself to suffer, for
it

not always been taught

and impressed upon

her that she

must
?

die rather

than forsake her husband's house

We

have not told

this story of cruelty for the

purpose of being sensational, nor to convey the


idea that
all

Hindus
it

treat their

wives

in this

way.
still,

We are glad
we

is

not the general

way: but

are told, such cases are not rare. 45

Nor have

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood

we added

stories of

wife-murders of which often


because there are no so-

the neighbors and relatives are silent witnesses.

Neither have
cial

we told

it

abuses in other lands.

There

are,

but they

are never vindicated as religion


Public sentiment
tors,

and custom.

makes

it

lively for the perpetra-

and protects woman.


because
it

But

we

have told

this story,

reveals the helplessness and

unprotectedness of
neither protected

woman,

in

India.

She

is

by the

chivalry of

men

nor by

public opinion.

-What avenues were

there through
?

which

this

woman
her

could escape such cruelty


life

The

nearest

tank or well, or a

of shame.

No

one near

girl

would give her honest employment. The would be disgraced in their eyes for leaving her husband. No public disgrace would be atDid she go
place
far

tached to the husband or the family for cruelty.

enough away, she might get a


as

somewhere

cook, but that

is

all

that

would be open to her. There is so little employment open to women, while as a lone woman she would be exposed to untold temptation, and
find but
little

respect.

To many women,
life

suffer-

ing on seems far preferable than to venture on an

unknown, uncertain
and
loneliness.
If

of disgrace, temptation

parental love
46

and pity can no

Child Marriage
longer bear to witness her position and shelter
her, then the parents

have also to suffer disgrace

and

their

daughter must be in their house as a

widow.

-The

story reveals the

wrong

of the joint family

system.

The

patriarchal

system has many beauti-

ful features,

but

was

better suited to primitive


It

times than to the nineteenth century.

leaves
indi-

but

little

room
as

for personal conviction

and

viduality.

A young

bride does not go to


heart,
live,

her

new home

queen of her husband's

and
rear

mistress of his house; but she

may

children and die, subject to her mother-in-law,

widowed aunts and elder sisters-in-law. She may never talk with her husband openly and
frankly before
first

them

and never understand the


or the

syllable
;

of her rights

freedom of

women
tion of
If

and even
is

to resent the slightest sugges-

them

regarded as the deepest heresy.


is

the family and her husband are kind she

contented and happy.


that suffers
'

May God

pity the

woman

and understands as well.

The

story reveals the abominable condition of

public opinion, the need of modified legislation


for

women, and man and woman.

the awful inequality between

47

IV
ENFORCED WIDOWHOOD

Widowhood, as well as kind of shame and reproach


gathered from the words,

barrenness,
in Israel, as

was

may be
not re-

"And

shalt

member
more."

the reproach of thy


Isa.
liv.

widowhood any
it

4.

This thought prevails in


is

eastern countries

to-day, but

left

to

the

Hindu

to excel in

wronging and oppressing the

widow.
In the

Old Testament tender provision

is

made
afflict

for

widows.

They were permitted

to remarry.

God

charged the people;

"Ye

shall

not

any widow or

fatherless child" (Ex. xxii. 22),

and then follows the solemn warning, coupled


with a promise: "If thou
afflict
I

them

in

anywise

and they cry


cry;

at

all

to

Me,

will surely hear their


hot,

and

My

wrath will

wax

and

will kill
shall

you with the sword; and your wives widows, and your children fatherless."
"Leave thy
fatherless

be

Again,
preserve

children,

will

them

alive;

and
these

let

thy

widows

trust in

Me."

What balm

words have been


4a

in times of

bereavement to many hearts

in Christian lands.

Enforced

Widowhood
the night that

We
family

well

remember

our

own
grief,

circle,

sobbing and shaken with


a loved father

knelt in the

room where

had

just

passed away, and a neighbor solemnly and tenderly addressed

God

in prayer as

"The

Father of

the

fatherless

and the widow's


light

God."

The

words stood out with new


first

because for the

time they covered our need.

How many

times that scene and those words have returned


to us as

we

have beheld the sad face and shaven

head of some widow, and made us long to lead


her to trust in the

same God.
to the Israelrai-

Then God makes many charges


ites,

that they

"should not take a widow's

ment

to pledge,"

Deut.

xxiv. 17;

"the glean-

ings of the harvest field


ger, the fatherless
19;

were

to be for the stran-

and the widow,"


to pervert
19;

Deut. xxiv.
to take a

"they were not

judgment of the

widow,"

Deut.
. .

xxvii.

and "not
If
I

widow's ox

for pledge."
.

"

ye oppress not the

widow

then will

cause you to dwell


I

in this place, in the

land that

gave to your faJob pleads


I

thers forever
his

and ever,"

Jer. vii. 6.

own

righteousness by saying, "


heart to sing for joy,"

caused the
13.

widow's

Job xxix.

Ezekiel's complaint against the people

was
7.

that

"they vexed the widow,"


49

Ezek.

xvii.

God

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


through Malachi declares Himself a swift witness
against those "that oppress the
iii.

widow,"

Mai.
xii.

5.

In the

New

Testament are the touching


poor widow,"

passages:
42,

"A

certain

Mark

and "The only son of


a

his mother,
12.

and she

was
these

widow," Luke vii. few words tell! Paul


I

What volumes
indeed and

gives a touching de-

scription in

Tim.

v. 5:

"A widow

desolate."
religion

James gives the closing word: "Pure


Father,
in

and undefiled before God and the


the fatherless and the

is this, to visit

widows

their affliction,

and to keep himself unspotted


In the light of these tender

from the world."

promises, this loving care, these solemn warnings,

how

awful the treatment of Hindu widows

appears!

-A Braham convert to Christ said to us very


earnestly a

few

years ago: "I used to feel very


I

hot toward the English government over what


feel are

our wrongs.

But
Bible,

when
I

came

to

know
I

God, and read the

understood.

saw

God was
low
-"In

letting the English

make

return to us

for our long neglect


castes,

and down-treading of the

and of our oppression of the widow."


Lord William Bentinck enacted the
that prohibited the Suftee-nte

1829,

now famous law

within British dominions whereby a wife could


50

Enforced

Widowhood
For more

ascend the funeral-pyre of her husband and perish in the flames

with the dead body.

than
in

two thousand
It

years this custom had been

vogue, in which countless lives had been de-

was not compulsory, but optional; though no doubt great pressure was brought upon the widow to do it, and it was considered
stroyed.

sublimely meritorious by
the
If

all

classes.

But once
retreat.

vow was

taken to do

it,

there

was no
last,

her courage failed her at the


if

or as the

flames folded about her; or

she managed to

escape; she could never be reinstated into her

family or caste,

'As

a precaution against a failure of courage,

women were often drugged, tied down upon the body so


be impossible.

or the

wood was
would
tells

that escape

An

eyewitness to a Suttee

how
the

as the burning

woman

fled

from the pyre,


the dead

bystanders

among whom were


a

man's brothers, shouted out: "Cut her down:

knock her down with

bamboo;
in

tie

her hand

and foot and throw her

again."
a

And
into

this

would have been done, had not


istrate
river,

humane magfled

interfered.

The woman

the

and he had her carried to the

hospital, as-

suring her, that as she

her people,

would now be cast off by should be the ward of the state. she
51

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
all it

Other widows approached the pyre with the


greatest heroism and with the lofty idea of

would mean.

Had not

their

later

law-books
thus burns

promised that "every


herself shall remain in

woman who

Paradise with her husdestiny, also that she

band 350,000,000 years by

would
and to

secure salvation to herself, her husband


their families of the seventh generation ?
is

"

And

there

no doubt that many preferred

it

to

the lot of a

widow. momentary agony of

One

writer says,

"The
"

suffocation in the flames


to her lot as a
that,

was nothing compared

widow;

and others have affirmed


turn to the custom.

were the hand of


re-

law once removed, many would be glad to

The custom was not


by

practiced in Vedic times.


it,

There was not a single text authorizing


a willful mistranslation, of

but

which

a part

was

forged, the priesthood introduced the custom,

and

later writers

sanctioned

it.

The early missionaries to India petitioned gov-

ernment

to

abolish

the

crime;
religious

but they were

told "that the social

and

customs of the

people constituted no part of the business of


the government and that their rule in India might

be endangered by such interference,"


Matters

went on

till

in the early part of this

52

Enforced
century,

Widowhood
Bentinck,

when Lord William


India,

who was

Governor-General of

had the courage to

enact the law referred to above,

which rendered
and
threat-

the Suttee a case of culpable homicide

ened with severe penalties


in

all

who

encouraged or

any

way

assisted at

the ceremony.

A petition
by eightrepresented

was

sent in to the Privy Council, signed

een thoysand people,


the best families
practice

many

of

whom

of Calcutta, asking that this


al-

might be allowed to continue; and


this

though
take

law was enacted


till

in

1829,

it

did not

full
it

effect

1844.

In

some
longer.

of the native

states
his
last

lingered on

much

Wilkins

in

book on "Modern Hinduism," records the


case he had heard of, as occurring in 1880.

Says Ramabai:
partly

"Now
is

that

the

Suttee-rite,

by the

will of the people,

and partly by

the law of the empire,

prohibited,

many good
ter-

people

feel

easy in their minds, thinking that the

Hindu widow has been delivered from her


rible fate;

but

little

do they

realize the true state

of affairs."

A
ings

leading reformer refers to the present sufferof Indian

widows
think.

as

"cold

suttee,"

and

rightly, too,

we

-The very word widow,

that should excite the tenderest

compassion

in

the hearts of men,

is

in this land a

synonym

of

63

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


sorrow,
grief,

shame, wrong,
for

contempt, and

desolation?
is
it

Even the word

widow, "rand,"

common word for harlot also. What does if the common people add to it the compound, "mund,"and call a widow "rand-mund,"
the

matter

for

the

"mund" means shame. Among

shaven, and but intensifies


the Marathi people, she
is

called

"bordkee," a contemptuous term meaning

bareheaded, or shaven.
-

She

is

also an inauspicious thing, especially beif

cause of the belief that

one sees her the

first
is

of
in-

any object
augurated

in the

morning,

"bad luck"
is

then for the entire day; or

if

she

crosses the path of one

who

just starting

on a

journey, he will postpone his journey, but will

not deny himself the luxury of uttering imprecations

on her defenceless head.


says Pandita Ramabai, "is re-

"Widowhood,"
the

garded as a punishment for sins committed by

woman
is

in her

former existence on earth; and

that sin

described as disobedience or disloyalty

to the husband, or murdering


existence.
If

him

in a

former

the

widow

be a mother of sons,

she
she

is is

not usually an object of pity.

Although

a sinner, yet social abuse and hatred are


is

mitigated by the fact that she


superior beings."

a mother of the

64

Enforced

Widowhood
on the child-widow,

-A widow whose
not fare so well.
or childless

children are only girls does


it

But

is

hatred of the

young widow, that the abuse and community falls, for "a. husband
There
is

having died sonless has no right to enter heaven


or immortality.

no place for a

man
If

who is destitute of male offspring," ^Of the young widow what shall we
she
is

say?

mere

child,

the cloud passes over her

head and for several years leaves no shadow.

She
of

is,

in her

happy, innocent

glee,

unconscious
plays,

what has happened.

She romps and


nestles

and makes/' mud-pies,"


side, or

by her mother's

clambers up on her father's knees as con-

fidingly as to

any other

child;

though she may

live

know

the bitter truth that,

some

day, custom

and

religious faith will

have a stronger hold on

them than

parental love.

Now
It

and then, some

one says some


if

bitter thing or defiling.

pushes her

away

as

her touch

was

jars her child-heart,


it

but childhood
forgotten in
childlike,

is full

of spring and

may soon be

some absorbing game. Some day, she runs to some neighborly scene of
be sent away, as a

festivity only to

bad omen.
should go,

She does not

widow understand why


She
cries

is

she

and hence, says Mr. Ragunathrao,


force.

"she

is

removed by

and

is

re-

55

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


warded by her parents with
a

blow accompanied
a

by such words
ful

as these:

'You were
birth,

most

sin-

being

in

your previous

and you have

therefore been

widowed.

Instead of hiding your

shame
ferent

in a corner of the house,


It

you go and
her that she

injure
is

others.'

begins to

dawn on

dif-

from other
a priest

girls.

She cannot bathe as they

do:

if

comes around, she may be shaven

and dressed in widow's garb and stood before him.


She often asks
During the

why

these things are done to her.

earlier part of her life

she

is

appeased

with some story or other.


fail

Later,

such devices

and the truth breaks

fully

upon her mind."

''At fifteen or sixteen her beautiful glossy wealth

of hair must be shorn; her bright clothes re-

moved; no ornaments allowed


and must never join
lees.

her; she

must

eat

but one meal a day; must fast twice a month;


in the family feasts or jubi-

She

is

frequently the family drudge; must

never think of remarriage; must bear the taunts

and suspicions of others and be guarded


bring upon the family disgrace by
step; she
is

lest

she

some improper

never to wear the bright red paint on

her forehead that other


right to

women

wear; she has no


if
is

be bright and happy; and


that she

she weeps
crying for

much, she may be taunted


another husband.
66

Enforced
--Her
life

Widowhood
intolerable.
It

becomes hopeless and


in a

sometimes ends
of shame, or

neighboring tank or well, or


life

launches out desperately and defiantly into a

becomes entangled

in

some

social

infamy that

may

or
risk,

may
if

not reach the public

gaze; but, at any

the family must be shielded

from

disgrace, even

crime be resorted

to.

A
and

wide

difference

is

made between
all

the disgrace

the crime.

At the disgrace,

tongues wag; at

the crime, the neighbors

"Who
come
If

may be mute and say: knows how soon such a trouble may

to our

own

house."
is

the

young wife
dies,

sixteen or seventeen

when
her

her

husband

and without children, the

trouble engulfs her without delay.

When

husband
is

lies

dying,

if

his parents are there, she

not the one that tenderly ministers to him in

his last

moments.
the
is

//

would not
by
as

be proper.

If

she

is in

room
gone,

at
it

all, it is

sufferance.

And

when he

is

if

the sun

were sud-

denly blotted out of the clear sky.


in-law's grief

The motheris

may be
all

blended with bitter curses,


the one that

and with the declaration that she


has brought
hold.
this

misfortune on the house-

-The village barber's desecrating hands are laid

upon her

hair,

and womanhood's glory and cov57

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


ering
is

removed

for her husband's

body cannot

be borne
his

away till this is done. work roughly and with no

The barber does


pitying hand, and
si-

she endures his coarse taunts and insults in


lent agony.
her,
is

Her ornaments are stripped from


red,

and a coarse widow's garment, white or


her.

brought

How
its

the very iron enters her

soul as she touches

coarse texture; and she

remembers her

lot

and disfigurement with a fresh

shriek and wail.

What

a wide,

wide chasm

this dear soul crosses that night

between the past

and the future


"It
their
is

but those about her simply say


is

our

custom," and that


hearts.

what nerves
depends upon

hands and
is

And what
herself,

her future

It all

and her circumstances.

If

she remains
soft-

in her parents' house, her lot

may be much

ened, but they do not always dare to defy

all

for

her sake.

If

she

is

independent, with some darif

ing and a fund of animal spirits, or

she accepts

her fate stolidly, she


deal of comfort out of
relatives

may
life.

still

extract a

good

Cruel and unkind


to heat the fur-

have

it

in

their

power

nace seven times hotter for her.

Men of

her
her the

own household, or strangers may desecrate womanhood, and complete her ruin. But in
case of the high-spirited, sensitive girl
68

who

feels

Enforced
that
it

Widowhood
her,

is

God's curse upon

we

can only say

God

pity her!

-We know
eight and

one such

case.

She was married

at

widowed
in

at nine.

As she began

to

comprehend her
She was
her

situation,

she began to suffer.

own

father's house,

and treated
priest

kindly, but her father

was an orthodox

and

she
lot.

was
She

not allowed to deviate from a widow's


felt

she

was cursed
spirit

of God, and that


all.

was
was

to her sensitive

the hardest of

What had

she done?

From

the day her head

shaven, she never put foot outside the front

door, and never appeared before a stranger.


heart and spirit

Her
fast

were broken, and she

is

now
is

sinking in consumption.

A few more months


and when she
laid

will complete the sad story;


in the

grave her coarse widow's garb will be her

only burial robe.

We
owed
was
glee,

know
at ten.
ill,

another young

She did not

who was widknow her husband


girl

so

and he died while


part
in

she, in her girlish

was taking
She
tells

neighbor's

wed-

ding.

how, when those about her


cut with their contemptu-

heard the news, they were in a procession, and

how

her heart

was

ous looks and manner.

She could not compre-

hend what

it

meant.
59

She

is

only thirteen

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


now, but her
blighted.
spirit is

breaking, and her

life

is

The

alternative to the Suttee

was for the widow

to live, but to never

mention the name of another


life

man, and by an austere

of piety, she might be

reunited to her husband after death.


life

This austere

of piety, of fasting and devotion, no doubt also


in a

atoned for the sin


the

previous birth that brought


her,

widowhood upon
it

and she would

also es-

cape by

the

same awful
to

fate in a birth to

come.

Middle-aged widows are much better able to


hold their

own and

meet and live out

this alter-

native to the Suttee.


desolate, as they

They

are not left entirely


left to

have their children


in

them,

and are comforted and keep


in the

them, and are often loved,

their old place of authority

and respect

home.

Even

if

she have no children, her

age, in addition to her piety,

may win

her a place

and

respect.
streets

We know
in a

no more touching sight

on our
pious

than the sad face of some elderly

widow
wan and

group of happy, well dressed


Her
face,

daughters-in-law, sisters and nieces.


often

pinched with repeated fasting, her


in coarse

shaven head, and her bent form clad

garments, speak volumes as to her attempt to

make an atonement for a widowhood she was never to blame.


60

for

which

Enforced

Widowhood
widowhood
is

--The custom of enforced


fined to
castes.
tile

con-

Hindus, and that chiefly to the higher


of the lower castes allow

Many

widows

to remarry,

though some of the low castes copy

the custom even to the head-shaving.

Among

Mohammedans, child marriage is not common: and widows remarry as they do in any land: but they heap up wrong against woman in their customs of polygamy and divorce. The Koran allows four wives, while a man may divorce
wife
at pleasure,

his

on any pretext, by breaking her

marriage necklace and bidding her depart.

When we consult we find that of the


India,

the Census Report of 1891,

287,000,000 inhabitants of

207,000,000 are Hindus and 57,000,000 are


are

Mohammedans; while the remaining millions distributed among the other races living in
land.

the

These figures

will

help us to proportion of

the
is

wrongs of women.

The number

widows

and of this number, many are mere and girls, and many of them never knew what it meant to be a wife.
23,000,000,

children

Hon.

P.

Chentsalrao says:
a puzzle to

"-I

confess
a

it

has
in-

always been

me how

system so

country

human and cruel among a

has found existence in this


class of

men who have

culti-

vated their feelings of kindness to such a nicety


61

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


that they dread to
kill

an ant, or cut open an


is

egg."
of

At what antipodes

the cruel treatment

widows and

the panjarpole! (the hospital for

aged and disabled horses, dogs, bullocks, monkeys).

Rao Bahadur
large

C. H.

Deshmukh

says:

'lit

must

not be forgotten that the priests derive a very


benefit

from perpetual widowhood.

widow
former

thinks that her misfortunes arise from

her not having attended to religious duties in


lives,

and therefore she must devote her

time and wealth to pilgrimages, and so on.

The

wealth of most
It

widows

is

devoured by

priests.

is

the widows, rich and poor, that maintain

the priests in luxury."


I.

What is

to

be the remedy

We would have remarriage


it

made
to

optional.

Manu, the greatest authority next


says that
the
is

to the Vedas,

unlawful for a

woman

mention

name

of another

man

after her husband's

death; and that by remarriage, she brings dis-

grace on herself in this world, and shall be ex-

cluded from heaven.

He
is

also says:

"Nor
edict

is

second husband anywhere prescribed for a virtuous

woman."
is

There

no choice, the

from

which there
-In

no appeal says, "Once a widow,


Lord Canning legalized the re62

always a widow."
July,

1856,

Enforced

Widowhood
It

marriage of Hindu widows.

is

called

the

"Widow
marriage a
property

Remarriage Act of 1856."


civil

But he did

not preserve to them their

rights.

By

re-

widow

forfeits her life-interest in all

left

her by her husband, both movable Provision


is

and immovable.
that
if

made
life

in this

law

widow

depart from a

of rectitude
if

she does not forfeit this right.


marries
it is

But

she re-

forfeited,

"as

if,"

says the Act, "she

had then died."


offspring of a

The law

also declares that the

widow by

a second marriage shall

not be held to be illegitimate or incapable of inheriting property.

There

is

not sufficient explicitness in the act

about the widow's stridhan (her


property).

own

personal

To

avoid giving occasion to her late

husband's relatives to bring against her at the

time

of,

or after marriage, the charge of theft,

she either abandons this stridhan, or else has to

go before
respect to

a magistrate
it.

and make a declaration

in

-The government was


marriages, but
it

right in sanctioning such

did not

go

far

enough.

The
but

code says to the widow,


caste says,

"you may marry,"


life,

"you

shall

not;" and caste triumphs.

A widow may

lead an immoral

and

if

she

gets into trouble, caste

winks while she gets out


63

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


of
it,

even by crime, and the

widow

is

retained

in caste.

Real sin has not unfitted her for society,

nor has the crime lowered the social standing of

who committed it. But let widow remarry; a perfectly lawful


those
society.

virtuous

step in the

eyes of the state; and caste hounds her out of

The

loss of property

is

not the only

loss.

Both

husband and wife are excommunicated, and perhaps their nearest relatives with them; and these
relatives
cost.

can only be reinstated at an enormous


this
all

Europeans can hardly judge what


is

social ostracism

that separates a

man from

that he holds dear.

No

one,

on the pain of exeat

communication themselves, can


no one
at the
is

with them;

willing to marry their children; no one,


is

time of death,

willing to bury them; nor


in the public temples.
is

are they allowed to

worship

To

the clannish Hindu this


Caste,
if
it

an awful price to
its

pay.

chooses, can keep up

petty

persecutions and

make

a man's

life

unendurable.

Mr. Malabari in speaking of this says: " In

human

custom, caste
cutions than

is

more potent

in its secret perse-

was

the inquisition of Spain."


little

At the beginning of remarriages, the


secutions

per-

were even

sorer than

now.

No one

was allowed

to trade with them, 64

no barber would

Enforced

Widowhood
Rao Bahadur was
gov-

shave the man, they were not allowed to use water


out of the public wells.
a

ernment

official,

being a judge of the

Bombay
one to

Small-Cause Court.

He was

the

first

marry a widow

in

the Purbhu caste.

short

time after his marriage, the corpses of both hus-

band and wife were found

floating in a well.

None

could

tell

whether they had committed


it

suicide, or

whether

was

the

work

of villainy.

So deep was the feeling of


sense of

bitterness,

and the

shame and

disgrace, against

marriage, and against the parties

widow rewho broke the


man
in

old custom, that the latter

was not improbable.


Cutch

Ramabai

tells

of a high caste

who,

feeling unable to endure the persecutions

that followed his marriage with a

widow, comis

mitted suicide.
familiar to
all

At present the subject


classes,

more
one

and even

in villages,

can express his sympathy with the subject of re-

marriage without rebuke.

But the

lot

of those

who

do remarry

is

still

sore enough,

and the
lightly

penalties of

excommunication can never be


the

despised.

Hindu

Madhowdas Ragnathdas, to marry a widow,


is

first

Guzerati

says his experience

has taught him that "the

Widow

Remarriage

Act of 1856

nothing more than a pronounce65

The Wrongs of
ment of pious
poses
it

Indian

Womanhood
all

intentions.

For
letter,

practical pur-

has proved a dead

and will remain


it

so unless the legislature will introduce into

special clauses for the protection of the parties to

widow

remarriage

from caste persecutions.


existing

The unfortunate couple becomes, under


excommunication by
caste,

circumstances, not only the victim of a formal

but also of dark deit is

signs and secret plottings, and

impossible to
In proof,

bring the authors of them to book."

one has only to read


Story of a

his interesting

book,

"The

Widow

Remarriage," and see how, for

eighteen years, influential castemen never forgave

him but sought


Once, after

to injure

him on every occasion.


of
Sir

the

resignation

Richard

Temple

as

Governor of

Bombay, the Acting

Governor, Hon. Mr. Ashburner, held

two even-

ing parties at government house to which he and


his

wife were invited.

This was too

much

for

some
mined

of his fellow-castemen

who were

deter-

to stop future invitations,

and they even

to the length of having

one gentleman wait on


that

Mr. Ashburner and


ble

tell

him

many

respecta-

gentlemen had

been displeased with the

presence of excommunicated persons at govern-

ment house

parties.

The
66

latter

agreed that he

would make

inquiries

and then do what he

Enforced
thought
proper.

Widowhood
Madhowdas
Ashburner

Friends of Mr.

took up the matter, and

when

Mr.

understood the case, he said he saw no reason

whatever

to

remove

his

name from

the

list

of

guests of the government house.

Mr. Justice Rande estimates the number of

widow
and
Social

remarriages to be about five hundred;


before the Eleventh Indian
last

in his address

Congress which was held


all

year at

Amraoti, Berar states that in


there

India last year


cele-

were twenty-five widow remarriages


In the

brated.

Punjab there were ten;

in

BomMa-

bay, six; in the Central Provinces, four; in


dras, three;

and

in

the Northwest Provinces and

Bengal, one each.


total

He
partly

said the paucity of the

number was

due to the calamities


the year, and partly to

plague and famine


the prohibition of

of

all

marriages on account of the

year being a Sinhast year.


that
it

And may we add


fact that at pres-

may

be

in part

due to the

ent, there is a

decided retrograde

movement on
are glad to

the subject of reform in India, and a disposition


to return to the old

ways.

But
is

we

say that

Bombay

presidency

said to average

six remarriages a year.

The congress
in itself a

also passed a resolution

which

is

running commentary on the defective


67

The Wrongs of
working of the
in

Indian

Womanhood
resolution

act of 1856.

The

was
al-

substance that a
civil

widow on
left

remarriage be

lowed

rights in regard to her late husband's

property that had been

her; that there be a


in respect

better understanding as to her rights

to her stridhan or personal


pair

property; that the


in

be allowed religious liberty to worship

the public temples; and lastly, a protest against

the disfigurement of

We

devoutly

widows by head shaving. wish that the work of the Social


in resolutions.

Congress did not end

Perhaps no

one says harder things of the inconsistencies of


the congresswala, than
ber.

some

of their

own numto the

Says an editor in a recent issue; " Educated

India at any rate


rescue,

was expected

to

come

and give a

new

direction to the trend of

public opinion; but the hope has


realized.

never been

Speaking from congress platforms and


political rights

loudly

demanding

and

privileges

from government, might certainly

direct their at-

tention with great effect to social matters."

But what of the reformers whose practice does


not
tally

with their preaching

Ramabai says
effect that

"I have known


reputation

men

of great learning and high


if

who

took oaths to the

they were to become widowers and wished to

remarry again, that they would not marry a child


68

Enforced

Widowhood
But no sooner had
all

but would marry a widow.


their first

wives

died, than they forgot


little girls.

about

the oaths and married

Society threat-

ens them with excommunication, their friends

and

relatives entreat

them with

tears, others offer

money and maids


to resist
all

if

they will only give up the


able

idea of marrying a
this."

widow. Few have been

A
life,

better authority than Mr.

Madhowdas Rag-

nathdas could not be found on this side of Indian


for he not only married a

widow

himself,

but openly identified himself with the cause.


His

home became an asylum


to remarry;

for those

who

wished

and he assisted them not

only with his sympathy but with his substance.

He

says there have been

this province

both

widow remarriages in among Gujerati and Marathi


The edu-

Hindus, but in almost all cases the bridegrooms

came from

the uneducated classes.

cated have not led the way."

We

would not be

unfair.

The

verbal agitation

of the subject has no doubt done


the atmosphere, but

much
it

to clear

how much

greater a

power
The

would

the agitation have been had

been backed

by the personal action of the reformers.


back of the
this time.
difficulty

might have been broken by


69

The Wrongs of
In the
is

Indian
is

Womanhood
This thought
in other

world money

power.

borne out by the names of the coins

lands.

We

have the

British

"sovereign," the

French " napoleon," and the American "almighty


dollar; "

and so

in India the silver

rupee can atone


not an inviting

for

much.

Widow

remarriage

is

prospect for a poor man.


influential
culties

But the wealthy and


diffi-

have been better able to bear the


live

and

them down.

Money can
alleviate the

get

husbands and

little

wives for the children of out-

casted parents; and

money can

com-

mon

lot;

though

we

have heard of

men who
off,

have gone back to


or five years,

their villages and, after four

when
ask
is,

their anger
in caste

had cooled

they were reinstated

without a word.

What we
made
still
it

that

government, having
to remarry, should

lawful for a

widow

feel

she

is

government ward and protect


Caste should

her from the persecutions of caste.

not be allowed to defy law with such a high

hand

as to deter

one of

its

members from

acting

according to law.

A man may
likes,

refuse to eat

with another

if

he

or to marry his children,

or refuse to associate with him; but he should

have no power to prevent others doing so


so choose, nor
injure the

if

they

power

to persecute or hinder or

man

or such of his friends as

may

Enforced

Widowhood

choose to support his cause.


the duty of
individual
lands.

We feel
is

that

it is

government

to protect the rights of

members

of society, as

done

in other

To men whose only crime


their

is

that they followed

own

convictions of right, convictions which

the law has sanctioned, there should be

some
reli-

means of
gion.

redress.

This

is

not a matter of

It is

downright iniquity to allow any

class

of people in these enlightened days to deprive


their

fellow-men of

all

social

and

religious liberty.

to Spain,
that,

Had America handed back the Philippine Islands it would have been on the condition
throughout the islands, there should be reThis would have been one of the
If

ligious liberty.

very

first

conditions.

the facts

were known,
and
social tyr-

as they really are, of the religious

anny existing among the Hindus under English


rule,

there

would be much
is^

greater indignation

than there
within.
the

''Reform will

never come from'

Among
B

the Hindus and

Mohammedans
is

of religious and social liberty

un-

known.
2.

Head shaving

is

a cruel

wrong.

Men have

no right to disfigure a

woman

without her wish

and consent, simply because she has borne a


great sorrow

and

lost

her natural protector.


71

It

The Wrongs of
must be done
if

Indian

Womanhood
years or

the wife

is fifteen

more
un-

of age, before the

body of the husband can be

carried to the burning-ground.

A
its

priest

is

willing to burn the

body without

having been

done.
It

The

hair

is

burned with the dead body.


if

is

popularly believed that


it

the

woman
done
to

keeps

her hair on her head, that


soul in hell.

binds her husband's


it is

Others say that

make
but
it

her less attractive to other men.

An

increasing
it,

number
is

of

widows

refuse to submit to

considered a shameless and disgraceful thing

to do.

Perhaps none are harder upon young


than old shaven widows, although they

widows

have suffered themselves.


After the
first

shaving

it

is

periodically done.
it

Among
escapes

the Deccan
If

Brahmans

is

done every

two weeks.
till

the
is

widow

be a mere child she

she

fifteen or sixteen,

and then the


illustration

hour can no longer be evaded.


of

As an
is,

how

deep-rooted

this

custom

we knew

of

an old couple, of sixty and seventy years of age,

who were
yet

both smitten with the plague

last year.

The wife survived

the husband but four hours,


laid its

when

he died, iron custom

hand upon

the aged wife, though she

was unconscious and

dying, and shaved her head!

woman's

hair

is

her covering and crown of


72

Enforced
glory,
it.

Widowhood
see that the custom

and

it is

a cruel indignity to deprive her of


is

Government must
if

not

enforced
at least

the

widow is

unwilling: that

it

should

be optional.
protest against the social position given

3.to

We

widows

the
If

ban that

is

put upon them for


is

widowhood.
coming
to a

a plain dress as a

considered beit

woman

widow, why should

be of a coarser texture than that of her

sisters ?

Why must she fast and


pleasures of the family

other

women not ? Why


should she not

should she not share freely in the comforts and


?

Why

be allowed a part
family festivity
to eat
feasts
?

in the religious portion of

any

Why

should
at

widows be made
guiltily

by themselves

weddings and other


back as
fear of being a

Why
to

they cross

must they shrink some one's path, for


him
?

bad omen

Why

should the

widow be
?

so often an object of suspicion and solicitude for


fear she bring disgrace

upon the family


a

Why

should
ried

men

treat her as

they dare treat no mar-

woman ? Would
?

man be
Is it

willing to live

under such a ban

Never!

strange then

if

many widows
this

lose heart

and ambition; or that


?

very ban increases temptation for them


lose self-respect,
less

They
them

and men more


73

oft respect

than other

women.

The

Wronj2:s of Indian *t>


It

Womanhood
is

Says Mr. Madhowdas:


'it

contended that

tends to the spiritual exaltation of the widow.


lord,

Deprived of her

she renounces the fleeting


life

joys of the world, and consecrates her

to

works of piety and benevolence.


street.

She

is

a sister

of charity and of mercy in her house and on the

She

is

by the bedside
she

of the sick; she

comforts the weary and miserable; she has a

word
which

of advice for

all;

is

the centre from

radiates a divine light.

Her heart

is full

of happiness and she looks forward with eager-

ness to the day

when
.
.

her

life

of devotion and

unselfishness will be ended and she

her husband.'

may rejoin There may be a widow

whose beauThe unnatural tiful life approaches this ideal. restraint put upon them cannot make angels of them. There is nothing to exalt and uplift them
here and there, one in ten thousand,
there
is

doubtedly
lives;

much to debase them. There are unmany who are leading exemplary
it.
I

but they are good and pious, not because

of the custom, but in spite of

do not sug-

gest for a

moment
1

that

all

young widows go
is

wrong, but
lated to lead

do say that the prohibition

calcu-

them wrong, and

not to their spirit-

ual exaltation, as has been vainly supposed."


If it is

true that this treatment of the 74

widow

is

Enforced

Widowhood
why must
if

for her spiritual exaltation, then

the

ban follow her even

after death; for


is

widow
reli-

dies without children, she

not allowed a

gious ceremony

at

her funeral!
the

When we remember
beginning of
say that

words quoted

at the

this subject,

we

do not hesitate to
is

we

believe that India

suffering to-day

in part for her

treatment of the widow.

75

THE ZENANA

As

we

alighted

from the Bombay mail one


one of
genthere

morning

to the platform of the station of


cities,

our northern

we saw a Mohammedan
Then

tleman hurrying about the platform.


appeared four

men

bearing a palanquin, who,


it

under

his direction, placed

opposite the door


its

of a second-class carriage that had


all

windows
and

closed.

There was a good deal of

bustle,

finally servants

held up a cloth on each side of

the carriage door, thus

making
to

a covered pass-

ageway from What was it,


this

the carriage
that

the

palanquin.

had arrived

in the train for

man

that he so zealously shielded

from the
?

gaze of the people crowded on the platform

Had some one


he afraid
it

sent

him

Mysore
?

tiger,

and was
carefully

would get away

We

watched the proceedings, and


cloth,

lol

beneath the

stepping out of the carriage,

we

beheld
In a

the feet

not

of a tiger, but of a

woman.

moment

the servants dropped the cloth, and the

bearers picked up the palanquin on their shoul-

ders and walked

off.

Its

doors were closed, and

76

The Zenana

we saw
meet

no one but the gentleman and the servit.

ants that followed


his wife,

He had probably come


reached.

to

and

their greeting could

remain

until their

home was
is

She, in her seclu-

sion, is

what
veil,

popularly called in India a

Zenana
and

or

Purdah

lady.

"The

as instituted

by

Mohammed
says Sir

prescribed in the

Koran
all

is,"

William
the

Muir, "obligatory on
authority of

who acknowledge
Taken
in

the book.

conjunction

with the other


domestic
life, it

restrictions

there

imposed on

has led to the institution of the


is,

Harem and Zenana that


of the

the private portion


are,

home

in

which

women

with more or

less stringency in various lands,

secluded from

the outer world."

The harem

is

an Arabic term meaning any-

thing forbidden or not to be touched.


fully acquainted

And

as

tem,

with the syswe become more we find how fitting the name is. The seclusion of women has existed among other peoples,

" but

it is it

among

the

modern Mohammedan
its

peoples that

has attained

most

perfect de-

velopment; and the harems of the Sultan of Tur-

key and the Shah of

Persia,

most elaborate and best


type;
"

may be taken known specimens

as the

of the

and to these

we
77

might add the Zenanas

The Wrongs of
of the
India.

Indian

Womanhood
states in

native rulers of

Mohammedan

The word Zenana, confined


is of Persian origin.

in its use to India,

word for women and Zenana means pertaining to women. The word Zenana, as popularly used, means the

Zan

is

the

apartments devoted exclusively for the

of the household of an Indian gentleman.

we
one

use the term

women When "Zenana woman," we mean


The word purdah
is

who

lives

in seclusion.

means
used

a veil,

and a "purdah lady"


sense.

a term

in the
veil

same
or

The

purdah
at

as instituted
history.

by Moham-

med, has the following

Mohammed
But
a
in

was married

the age

of

twenty-five to a
of Khadija.
it

widow
union.
in

of forty by the

name

spite of the disparity of years,

was

happy

She believed

in

him, in his visions and

his call;

and was a great source of strength


to him.

and encouragement

Two
little

months

after

her death he married Sauda, another

widow, and
of six or
his favorite

was betrothed
seven who,
till

to

Ayesha a

girl

his death,

remained

and most beloved wife.


It

was

after his flight to

Medina, that his dogeneral character,

mestic

life,

as

well

as

his

underwent so great a change.


78

He had

married

The Zenana
five

wives since the death of Khadija.

Muir

says:

"He was now


weakness
his years,

going on to threescore
for the sex only

years: but the


to

seemed
his

grow with

and the attractions of

increasing

harem were

insufficient to prevent his


its

passion from wandering beyond

ample

limits.

Happening one day


knocked, Zeinab,

to visit the dv^elling of his

adopted son, Zeid, he found him absent.

As he

wife of Zeid, started up to

array herself decently for the prophet's reception.

But her good looks had already, through the


half-open door, unveiled themselves too freely
before his admiring gaze, and

Mohammed,

smitten

by the men!'

sight,

exclaimed: 'Gracious Lord!

Good

heavens!

How

thou dost turn the hearts of

"Zeinab overheard the prophet's words, and


proud of her conquest, told her husband.

He

went

at

once to Mohammed, and offered to di'

vorce his wife for him.


self,'

Keep thy wife


lips.

to thy-

he answered,
fell

'and fear God.'


Zeid

But the

words

from unwilling
and

was
his

ten

years younger than

Mohammed, and he was

short and ill-favored;

now

that

wife

seemed

to court so distinguished an alliance, he

probably did not care to keep her any longer as


his

wife,

so he formally divorced her.


19

The

The Wrongs of
prophet hesitated.

Indian

Womanhood
his

Zeid

was

adopted son,

and

to

marry the divorced wife of an adopted son


of in Arabia and

was unheard
scandal.

would

create a
stifled.

But the flame would not be

And

so, casting his scruples to the

winds, he re-

solved

to to

seemed
said,

The prophetic ecstasy come upon him. As he recovered he


have
her.

'Who

will

run and

tell

Zeinab that the


marriage
?
'

Lord hath joined her to


this

me

in

and

was done without delay." The marriage caused no small obloquy;

and,

to save his reputation,

Mohammed

had recourse

The Almighty sanctioned it, and the scandal was removed by the revelation, and Zeid was no longer called the "son of Mohamto revelation.

med,"

as the revelation

had included the admoni-

tion that adopted sons

were

to

go by the names
"the
veil

of their natural fathers.

"About
for
its

this time," says Muir,

was

established for the female sex."

"The

reason

imposition

was

said to be that

Moslem

women were
prophet's

exposed to rude remarks from

men

of the baser sort as they walked about.

But the

own

recent experience in the iinwilling

sight of Zeinab' s

charms was perhaps a stronger

reason."

He

then promulgated the following


80

command;

The Zenana
'*

Speak unto women

that they restrain their eyes

and

pre-

serve their modesty, and display not their ornaments, excepting


that

their

which cannot be hid. bosoms and not show

And
their

let

them

cast their veils over


to their hus-

ornaments saving

bands, their fathers, their sons, nephews, slaves and children."

"Out of this command of Koran have grown the stringent usages of Harem and Zenana, which, with more or less
Muir adds:

the the
se-

clusion, prevail throughout the Moslem world.

appear, yet, with

However degrading and barbarous these usages its loose code of polygamy and divorce, some restraints of the kind seem almost
if

indispensable in Islam,

only for the maintenance

of decency and social order."

Mohammed was wives. "No one,

even severer with his


unless bidden,

own

was

to enter

their apartments; they

were not

to be

spoken to
last

but from behind a curtain; and, to slake the

embers of jealousy, a divine


According to Muir,
wives, including

interdict

was

de-

clared against their ever marrying again."

Mohammed had
slave girls.
limits
it

eleven

two

The number
to fifteen,
it

seems uncertain.

Abulfeda

while other Arabian historians


as twenty-five.
ever, to four
facility of

make

as

He

limited his followers,

many howa

wives each; but on account of the

divorce

among them, though


81

man

may

never have more than four wives at one

The Wrongs of
time, yet he
traveller
either,

Indian

Womanhood
many
times.

may be

married
Arab,

once met an

not an old
fifty times.
first

man

who had

been married

We

knew

of a family

where the

and second

wives were permanent, but the changes kept


taking place in Nos. 3 and
4.

When
They

the

Mohammedans invaded
forcibly

India, they

brought the custom of the Zenana with them.


often

added a beautiful Hindu


though she had

woman
their

to their households, even

a husband.

Hence, to protect themselves from

unscrupulous
to

Mohammedan
their

neighbors, the
indoors, and

Hindus began
to
veil

keep

women
Miss

them

carefully.

Thoburn says:

"Oriental
less
in

women

have always lived more or


but

the background,

Mohammed

shut

them within four walls and turned the key."

The custom

prevails

among
in

Mohammedans
except the

wherever they are found


well as the husbands

India,

very poor whose wives are forced to labor as


;

and they often have only


in.

one room for

all

the family to live

But, here

and

there,

you

find a poor

man who

even

in his

poverty clings with great pride to the system as


tenaciously as his wealthier neighbors.

Among

the Hindus the system prevails largely

in Bengal, the North,

and the Northwest; es83

The Zenana
pecially

where Mohammedanism

is

the strongest,

and

in the old

Mohammedan
native
states,

capitals,

and

in the

Mohammedan
to a
certain

in
it

the

Western

and Southern portions of


extent

India,

only prevails

among

the better classes.

With the exceptions of

the royal families in the

Marathi native states, the Zenana does not exist

among
of

the Marathi people.

That no doubt ac-

counts for the freedom of the

women

in the city

Bombay.

lady

who

lived in

North India

for several years, told us that she

had seen more


in

women

on the

streets in
all

Bombay

one day than

she had seen during

her stay in the North.

The thing
the North

that struck us

most on our

first visit

to

was

the small

number

of

women we

met on the

streets.

While the Zenana system has not been adopted

by the lower
ally

castes in the North,

and not gener-

adopted by the Hindus of the West and


yet
it

South,

has affected public opinion and

thereby restricted the liberty of

women to

a great

extent throughout the country;

and when you

speak of the
it

women

of these sections being free,


are

must be remembered there

many limitations

to their freedom.

We
who

have no idea of the number of


it is,

women
are glad

thus live in seclusion, but


83

we

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
whole number
in

to say, a small proportion of the

of

more than 140,000,000


this fact

of

women

India.

But

does not lessen the

wrong
liberty

of the

institution.
I.

It

deprives

them of outdoor
affect

and rec-

reation,

and

must

not only their


It

own
die of

health, but that of their children.

is

asserted

that a large percentage of

Zenana

women
is

consumption.
kept, as
at

Where

the Zenana

very strictly

Hyderabad, the

women

and

their

young

slave-attendants are practically prisoners,

servants guard the front entrances to their apart-

ments, and

if

the ladies

make

a
is

call,

or take a

journey, the greatest precaution


their

taken to secure

seclusion.

In

Lucknow

we

have

seen

ladies

borne past

in closed

palanquins over which

was spread

a covering of cloth.

How
in

stifling

it

must have been!

A Mohammedan
customed
to

gentleman
laxity in his
in

Bombay,
India,

ac-

some

own

household,

told us that

when he was

Northern

he

saw, on one occasion, a lady put

in a closed rail-

way
a

carriage

and then over the whole carriage


a tent.

was thrown
little

"That," he added, "was


for

too

much Zenana

me."

Hindu

gentleman

who

has lived in Hyderabad for

many

years, told us that

when
84

a wealthy

Zenana lady

The Zenana
wished
her,

to

make

call,

the street

was

cleared for

and she was conveyed

to her destination in a

palanquin shielded by a cloth on both sides.


also said that once he

He

had some workmen repair-

ing a house, and as they worked on one high


corner,

they were discovered by the occupants

of the Zenana

below

in the

next house.

The

husband rushed out with a gun and would have


fired,

had not our friend

interfered.

They were

suspected of climbing to that point so as to look


into the Zenana.
2.
It

makes

woman
is

constantly conscious of
to shield her
if

her sex.

All this

done

from the
a waterinto the

gaze of man.
carrier or other

In ordinary Zenanas,

workman
is

has to

come

Zenana
can

court,

warning

given so that the lady


servants hold up a
till

flee to

her room, or

two

cloth before her


out.

and screen her

the

man

passes

The Koran,

as quoted above, allows her to

see her father, brothers and


to her husband, and,

nephews

in addition

as one lady
is

added

to us,

"and an
But
in

uncle

if

he

older than our father."


this liberty, even, is

very

strict

Zenanas

much

limited.

We know
she

of a

Mohammedan
Through
85

lady

band was absent.

a lattice or

whose huswindow,
think, in

saw

her

little

boy, an only child

we

The Wrongs of
physical danger.

Indian

Womanhood
On
told
to

Mother-love forgot every ban

and she rushed

into the street to rescue him.

her husband's return that evening, he


of
it

was

and expressed no displeasure but spoke


Another husband, of

her " words of honey."


after that night.

But she was never seen

whom
the

we know,

killed his wife because a

man by
it.

merest accident saw her back through an open


door, though she

was unconscious
all

of

lady

described to us a pilgrimage to Mecca.

She was

confined to her cabin

through the voyage,


breezes

while her husband enjoyed the ocean

from the deck and had the monotony of the voyage


broken by whatever there was to
3. life

see.

The confinement
If

limits their experience of

to a very small horizon

and keeps them

chil-

dren.

they cannot read, their knowledge of the


If

outside world depends on hearsay.


is

husband

so minded, he can greatly misrepresent events


to her.
in a

and the world


statement
terests

We

recently heard of the


in the in-

made

paper conducted

of the Zenana, that the

Western world

was beginning to adopt the system. The segregation of the sexes is a great evil. 4. It was never the Creator's plan, but, guaging human nature, it was man's plan to save the purity
of his wives and the sanctity of his home.
86

But

The Zenana
like
all

man's remedies for man,

it is

a failure.

An

author quoted in

Dr. Murdoch's book says:


it

"Instead of promoting virtue,


render
the

has tended to
Dr.

imagination prurient."

Fallon

scandalized the Anglo-Indian press with the quotations


lish
is

and proverbs used

in his

Hindustani-Eng-

Dictionary, but in defence he said:


to

"There

much
is

be learned from
if

many
is

an otherwise

objectionable quotation,
It

one

willing to learn.

of the greatest importance, for instance, to


to

know

what depths human nature can sink

in

the vitiated atmosphere of enforced female seclusion, as contrasted

with the purity to which


with-

men and women


pure
air

rise as social restraints are

drawn, and they are permitted to breathe the


of liberty and indulge in free social in-

tercourse."

Miss Hewlett says:

"The

idea that because a


is

woman
or
in
fact,

is

kept in seclusion she


is

more modest more


the

womanly,
as

a sentiment without foundation

frequently

where purdah

is

strictly observed, the greatest impropriety pre-

vails

behind

the

scenes."

"God meant

home," says Murdoch, "to be a place of


course,
sisters,

inter-

where husbands and wives, brothers and


male and female
87
relatives

and

friends,
in loving

gather together round the

same hearth

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
It

confidence and mutual dependence."

is

the

only safeguard of domestic happiness, and even


of national blessing.
sible

Says Muir: "It

is

impos-

for a people

who, contrary
life

to nature, ex-

clude from their outer


materially to
rise

the whole female sex,


civilization.

in

the scale of

Men
of
to

suffer

from the

loss of the refining influence

woman's society. In such society they cease talk of what they do not want their wives and

daughters to
the basest

know and hear. man to check his

We

have

known
jest,

oath or coarse

and drop

into a reverential, confused silence in

the presence of a refined


intermingle,

woman. Let the sexes and many men will become what

they want their

women

to be."
after residing

A
in

"Kashmiri Pandit,"
thus

some time

England,

gives his

experience in the

Indian Maga:(ine:

"To
slaves,

live for three or

four years in a society in

which men and

women

meet, not as masters and

but as friends and companions

in which
which the

feminine culture adds grace and beauty to the


lives of

men;

to live in a society in

prosaic hours of hard

work

are relieved

by the

companionship of a sweet and educated wife,


sister,

or mother,

is

the most necessary discipline


in order that they

required

by our Indian youths,


68

The Zenana
may be
salt

able to shake off their old notions

and to
as the

look upon an accomplished


of

womanhood

human

society

which preserves

it

from

moral decay.

There

is

a very pernicious notion

prevalent in India, that a free intercourse between


the sexes leads to immorality.
I

confess that,

before

came

to England,

believed there

was
no

some

truth in this notion.

But

now

believe

such thing.

My own

impression

is,

that the

chief safety-valve of public


is the
is

and private morality


This

free intercourse between the sexes."

the sore need of India, and


in

dah will soon be rent


emancipated.
It

we hope the purtwain, and woman be

is

often suggested to us that the different

denominations

among

Christians

must be

a great

hinderance and stumbling-block in India.

Some

of our Indian contemporaries have learned this


objection,

and occasionally

assail the missionaries


it,

and the cause of Christ with

as

if

sects

were

unknown

in India

and unity of mind was

a char-

acteristic of the country.

The

difficulty

should

not be an incomprehensible one to an Indian mind.


India
is full

of sects, so that in writing an article


it

for the press,


that covers
all

is difficult

to

make

a statement

India, or

even one of

its

divisions.

The Hindus

are divided into innumerable sects 89

The Wrongs of
that vary
in

Indian
in

Womanhood
customs and even
consists of

from one another

dress.

The Braham community


and subdivisions that
This
is

divisions

will

not inter-

marry or eat together.


Indian Reformers.

also true of the

We have the
the

Brahmo-Samaj,

the Arya-Samaj,

Prarthna-Samaj,

and the

Adi-Samaj.

The Arya-Messenger has complained

most

bitterly of late of divisions in the

of the danger of greater splits; but

camp and when it was

hinted that the Arya and Brahmo-Samaj unite,


the

thought

was most
the
is

indignantly resented.

"Never!"

said

Messenger,

"why,

the
"

Brahmo-Samaj

only a kind of Christianity!

When we turn to the Mohammedan commuTrue, nity we find the same conditions there.
the pious
Allah,

Moslem

cries,
is

"There

is

but one God,

and

Mohammed

His prophet," but with

this general creed

and the Koran

we

find

them

divided into Shias and Sunnias, and these are di-

vided and subdivided until

it

has passed into a

proverb that there are seventy-two sects of Mo-

hammedans.

Hence

it

is
it

easy to see that


is

in

speaking of the Zenana,


general statements that

difficult

to

make
whole

would cover

the

Mohammedan community.
The customs and
often
practices in

North India are

very different

from
90

those of

Bombay;

The Zenana
while a different state of
affairs

from

all

other
State,

sections of India exists in the

Hyderabad

where perhaps the Zenana


ity

in its strictness, sever-

and

style

corresponds more with that of other


countries.
In

Mohammedan

Bombay

the Zenana
all.

can be hardly said to have taken root at


Strictly speaking,
it

does not exist


sects

Khojas.

The women of other

among the move about

more

or less freely.
is

glance at the house in


In

Bombay
are built

proof of

this.

with reference to

Lucknow houses the Zenana. The


you
will

front of a house

may

look most unpretentious,


into the rear,
its

but

if

you pass through

find an

open court surrounded on

four sides

with the women's apartments.


tall

four and five story houses in

In our rows of Bombay, where

do

we

find

the court, and the Zenana.?

The

land that makes the square court up north,


represent too

would
Parsee,

much money

to a

shrewd

or a speculating

Hmdu

investor;

and he would
it.

run up a four or five-storied chawl on

It is

only in the bungalows with more or less of a

compound,

that the wealthy

Arab, and the Persian finds


his

Mohammedan, a proper home


is

the
for

Zenana among

us.

Perhaps our free Marathi


unfavorable to

atmosphere of Western India


the Zenana's growth.
91

The Wrongs of
In

Indian

Womanhood
Sir

speaking of the Zenana,

William Muir

its being a command Mohammed, that it may be a necessity to the He says: "With polygamy, concusystem.

suggests that in addition to


of

binage, and arbitrary divorce,

some such

restraint

may be

necessary to check the loose matrimonial

standard which might otherwise undermine the


decencies of social
life.

But the institution of


all

the veil has nevertheless chilled and checked


civilizing influences,

and rendered rude and bar-

barous the Moslem world.


other relations that

The

veil,

and the

make

it

necessary, are

bound

it is

up together with the Koran, and from the Koran impossible for the loyal and consistent Moslem to turn aside."
It

would be much
as
it

easier for the


is

Hindus to give
their
In

up the custom,

not

commanded by

sacred books and

is

only custom with them.

speaking to an Indian gentleman of Muir's suggestion that the Zenana holds the social fabric of
the

Mohammedans

together, he said

it

was not
did

true; that thousands of poor

Mohammedans

not keep purdah, and that

some communities

were very

lax in

its

observance, and yet there

was no medans
tions,

difficulty.

"But," he added,

"Mohamso."

are considered the most immoral of nait is

and

the

Zenana that has made them


92

The Zenana
The
seclusion of

women

is

bad enough, but

when intensified by polygamy, it is much worse. A man is allowed by the Koran, if he wishes and
can support them, to have four wives and as

many concubines as he likes. Perhaps the larger number of Mohammedans have only one wife,
and an increasing number oppose polygamy; but

many

still

avail

themselves of the privilege.

It is

an expensive luxury. have been polygamists.


last

Most of the native princes


It is

said that

when

the

King of Oude was deposed,

that there

were

seven hundred

women
his

found

in his

harem.

The some

majority of this

number were no doubt

servants

and attendants of

wives, for even in

homes
If

of one wife there are from ten to twenty

attendants and servants.


the polygamist has the means, he usually sets
for each wife:
/.

up a separate establishment
suite of

e.,

rooms,

a set of attendants,

and

a separate

courtyard, though one large wall

may
it

enclose the

whole.

But where there can be no such arrangelive together,

ment, and the wives

does not re-

quire a very great stretch of the imagination to

know
strife
if

that there

must often be unhappiness, and


:

among them
is

as jealousy

must play a

part

the husband

more

attentive to

any one wife

than to the others.


93

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


Mohammed
Ayesha.
himself,
is

had

his favorite

wife

in

There

an inherent desire in a woman's


first in

heart that, next to God, she shall be

her

husband's affections, and she naturally resents


the thought of a rival.

The system

of

polygamy

has never been able to eradicate this desire.


fact

The
live

that

some polygamous

families

may

happily and peaceably under the rule of the head


wife,
is

no proof to the contrary.


official told

A Moham-

medan government
first

us once that he

had three wives: that

his parents

had chosen the

one; that she had no children, and they

chose a second, and that he was so dissatisfied


that he chose a third himself.

" But," he added,


a
life

"between
parents of

the three,

live

of

it."

The

young

girls

before they are married

often take a written promise from the intended

husbands that they will not take another wife.

One young
is

girl

added

in telling of this

promise

they had obtained:


a

"And my

intended husband

good man and he

will never

do

it."

Said her
is

friend in reply:

"Yes, but a pious Mussalman

allowed four by the Koran."

We

knew

of a

wife

whom

the husband deceived for a long time.

She thought she was the only wife, but was almost
heart-broken

when

she discovered that he had


in a little

another wife living

house not

far

away.

94

The

Zenana.

Mrs. Isabella Bird Bishop, the celebrated traveller


in
all

lands, speaks

even yet more strongly: "I

have lived in Zenanas and can speak from experience, of

what the
intellect
is

lives of

secluded
that a

can be

the

so dwarfed

women woman
all

of twenty or thirty

more

like a child,

while

the worst passions of

human

nature are developed


hate,

and stimulated; jealousy, envy, murderous


intrigue running to such an extent that
in

countries

have hardly ever been

in a

some woman's

house, without being asked for drugs to disfigure


the favorite wife, or take

This request has been

away her son's life. made of me nearly one


a natural product of a

hundred times.
system that
ago."

This

is

we

ought to have subverted long

Among

one sect there

is

a shameless

custom of
contracted

temporary marriage, which

may be

for six, nine or twelve months, or for

any period

that

may

suit,

ment,

we

even for a day. In our astonishasked: " And are these marriages legal,
?

and does the Ka^i unite such couples


reply

"

The
Ali.

came

in

the affirmative.
Jaafel,

It

was

instituted

by Mohammed

sixth
it

Iman from
speaks of
it

Some

writer in referring to

as a

great blot
cial life.

upon

the morals of

Mohammedan

so-

95

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


In addition to

polygamy

there

is

the custom of

arbitrary divorce.

A man may

divorce his wife

on any pretext and he need give her no reason if In reading through the divorce it so please him.

law of Mohammedans, we were baffled and bewildered by what seemed to us the petty discriminations in the terms used in divorcing a
wife.
tence;

The

first

chapter opens up with the sen-

"There

are thirteen different kinds of sep-

aration of married parties, of


a judicial

which seven require

decree and
this, that

six

do not."
a

We

at last

understand
the

when

man had

repeated
it

words

of divorce, " talaq," three times

was

irrevocable.

And
first

not until the wife had been

married
could

to

another

man and

divorced
her.

again,

the

husband remarry

wife

cannot usually divorce her husband, but she can


ask him to divorce her; and unless he choose to

do

it,

she cannot be released.

There are
that the

many checks
is

to divorce,

and one

is

husband

required before marriage to


called

make
and
this.

a settlement

upon the bride

"mahr,"
fixed at

that he cannot divorce her without paying


In well-to-do

communities,
to fifteen

it

is

from one thousand


but to

hundred rupees;

make

it

impossible to divorce her

we

have

heard of the

sum being
96

put at a very fanciful

The Zenana
figure.

We

read of one case where

it

was

set at

twenty-six tliousand rupees; and

tlie

other day

we

lieard of a

young

clerk

on a salary of ten

rupees

per

montli signing an agreement to a

"mahr" of three lacs of rupees. Though Mohammedanism sanctions a loose system of divorce, yet in India as
it is

greatly limited in practice


countries.

compared with other Mohammedan


its

There are whole sections of


it

society in

which

is

rarely
this

found; and
is

in certain portions of the

country
If it

true even

among the

better classes.

did not affect the lot of

woman

so sorely in

making domestic happiness


altogether.
In

insecure,

we would

have been glad to have overlooked the subject

conclusion

aside
is

from

its

we must say that the Zenana, being a Mohammedan institution,


custom, a fashion,
respectability.

at present in India largely a

and a standard of
of

The majority

women

in

the Zenanas

do not look upon

themselves as martyrs to an evil custom; but, says a writer, " It has now become to Indian ladies part

and parcel of
to

their creed.

Modesty,

in a

word,
trils.

is

them

as the very breath of their nosis

of the

To do away with it virtues of a woman."

a violation of one

They even take

a great pride in their seclusion. 97

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood

The custom has become a token of great respectDr. Murdoch quotes Miss Bielby, as sayability.
ing:

"A

man's
in

social standing in his

own

class

depends,

a great measure,
his

upon whether he
in

can afford to keep

wife and daughters

Zenana or not."

We

have

known

of families

who

have

lost

wealth and become very poor;

and the

women
It

have been forced from behind


suffering to seek to earn a

the purdah
livelihood.
their

by great

has been to them like parting with


to

respectability

do

it.

We
left

knew

of a

Hindu lady
once,
as a bride.

who had

never

the house but

and that was to go to her husband's house

With what
have a

pride she

must have
laxity than

viewed such intense

respectability.
little

Hindu

women
in

more

Mohammedans
bathing ghauts.

going on pilgrimages and to

The chadar well drawn down


It

over the face preserves the purdah for them.


is
is

amusing

to

know

that in Benares the purdah

most

strictly kept.

prime-minister of

some

native state

came

to Benares

and drove about


he was asked
Marathi and
live,

with

his

wife

in a carriage,

when
it.

by the Hindus to

desist

from

Guzerati ladies on going to Benares to


into seclusion.

go

We
to

know
98

of one such Guzerati


a visit

lady

who came

Bombay on

and went

The Zenana
about the city
in
freely.

On
I

her return to Benares

the seclusion of

her purdah she laughingly

told a lady:

"Oh, when
streets

was

in

Bombay,
in

went about the


just as
in

with a bag

my

hands

you do."

friend writing

from Guzerat,

speaking of the seclusion of Hindu ladies there

says:

"Amongst Hindus
Kunbis
is

other than Rajputs and

the better class

(cultivators), the

Zenana
there
is
all

custom
a

very

little in

vogue.

However

tendency among

the wealthier families of

classes to affect the

Zenana seclusion.

It is

com-

ing to be considered fashionable and good form


for the ladies in the houses of the rich."

But

it

is

said that

women
is

are contented in

their seclusion.

This
in the

true.

So

is

the canary,

that

was born

cage and never tasted the


It

sweets of the free


the

air.

is

also asserted that

women

are not clamoring for emancipation.


true,

But these statements, though

do not

in

any

way

lessen the evil of the system to

woman and
that
it

to society;

and

we

earnestly

hope

will

soon be done away.

99

VI
MURALIS

We

have

in

our possession a small band of

black cloth on which are

the necklace of the Murali.

of this class of

sewn seven cowries, Our first knowledge persons was given us years ago
way.

in a very practical

servant in
little

whom we

were much
sword.

interested

had a

niece of about

nine years of age

who had
all

been married to a
about the wedding,
at
last,

We
the

had heard

and

how

wee

child

had,

fainted

through sheer fatigue during the long


But

festivities.

why was

she married to a sword, and

whose sword was it ? Slowly the truth dawned upon us. We found that the sword or dagger belonged to the god Khandoba, and that ineviShe was a table moral ruin awaited the child.
Murali.

We

were

greatly shocked, but to our

remonstrances, the servant had but one reply:


"It
is

our custom."

We became

possessed with
life

a desire to save the child from the

that surely

awaited
us,

her.

The

servant finally brought her to


in a school.

and she was put

few years
it,

later, in spite

of our efforts to prevent


100

the girl

Muralis

was removed by her young woman living a


her,

relatives,
life

and

is

now

of shame, supporting

her mother with her earnings.

We

never see
been,

but

we

think of

what she might have

and the words come unbidden:


" Of
all

sad words of tongue or pen,

The

saddest are these,

it

might have been.' "

Now

what

are Muralis
?

and

who

is

Khandoba,
and

this Indian

Blue-beard

There has been considlate,

erable agitation
will try to

on the subject of

we

answer these two

questions for our

readers.

Khandoba
and
is

is

a deity of the Marathi country,

popularly believed to be an avatar, or in-

carnation of Shiva.

Muralis are

girls

devoted to

him by
hood.

their parents in

infancy or early child-

The custom

is

confined to the Marathi

country, with the exception of the Konkon, but


it

has

its

counterparts under different names in

other parts of the country, as in the Devadasis of

South India, and


others.
I.

in

the Jogtins,

Bhaoins and

The headquarters
is

of the worship of

Khanis

doba

at Jejuri in the

Poona

district.

There

also another place of

worship
101

called Pali in the

Satara district; and

we

have been told of a third

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


at

Agalgaon,
;

sacred

to

one

of

Khandoba's
little

wives

but of the

latter

we

could get but

information.

friend

who

is

an authority on

this subject
is

has given us the following account: " Jejuri


small village situated at the foot of a

little hill.

The temple on
ings,

its

top,

and the general surroundat

remind one of Parvati

Poona.

The temgold-

ple of

Khandoba

closely resembles the temple of


its glittering,

Parvati with the exception of

plated crown.

"The shepherds
special favorites of
his

of the Marathi country are

Khandoba, because one of


girl.

wives was a shepherd

She was proba-

bly a

shut up for
wife.

young widow whom he secured and kept some time, calling her his brother's
But after a while he
his

and carried her to


back.

wooed and won her, home at Jejuri on horseis

"A
wife.

little

temple on the stairway

sacred to

Banai, the shepherd girl


In the

who was

his favorite

courtyard facing the inner temple

stands a big image of a


Bali Malla.
It

demon who

is

named

god Shiva took


and
little

was to kill this Bali Malla that the a Khanda or dagger in his hand,
received the
title

in this

way

Khandoba.
tells

A
the

book

called

Malhari Mahatmya
103

Muralis

same story

in a

more

elaborate manner.
to

Malla

was

a terrible

demon wlio used


this hill

vex

tlie

Rishis

living

on the top of

now crowned

with

Khandoba's temple.

They complained

to the

king of the gods, but he was powerless.


all

Then

the gods went to Shiva, and besought pro-

tection

from Malla.

Shiva plucked a lock of hair

from
fury,

his head, struck the

ground with

it

in great

and created a female demon to

fight

with

the Malla and this army of powerful demons. But this fury required some one else to help her.

So Martand Bhairav, one of Shiva's


fered to fight Malla.
lions

chiefs, of-

He took

his

seventy milthe battle.

of evil spirits to help


is

him

in

This

the origin of the phrase,

'Khandoba's

yelkot'
vorite

which means seventy

millions.

The

fa-

title

of Khandoba, the head of the seventy


is

million evil spirits,

very appropriate, consider-

ing the deeds ascribed to him,

and what

is still

done through his devotees.

"There
marks

is

a stone in the courtyard that has


it

seven cuts in
left

which

are

supposed to be the

by

the blows of his

struck at his elder wife, Mhalsai,

sword when he who was angry

with him for marrying and bringing


the shepherd
his
girl.

home

Banai,
in

Khandoba punished her


103

anger by striking at her seven times with his

The Wrongs of
sword; but she hid

Indian

Womanhood
a

herself

under the rock and

was

saved.

So

we

see that
is

Khandoba

is

model

husband whose example


our Marathi people

so often imitated

by

who

offend their wives in

many ways, and

then punish the poor

woman

for being angry with them.

"The

present temple
It

is

not the original resi-

was built by Ahalyabai, the Queen of Indore, (who also has become a goddess, because she was so very good, and is
dence of Khandoba.

now
more

worshipped

all

over the country, though

especially in the Marathi country).

She be-

sought him to come

down from

the top of the

Kade Pathar
temple
built

(the old Jejuri hill) to reside in this

by

her, so that

he could be easily

reached by the weak, blind, and lame pilgrims

who
ited

visit his shrine.

The

old temple

is still

vis-

by some, but

this

modern shrine

receives the

general pilgrimages which take place four times


in the year

when

great bodies of pilgrims visit

the temple and pay


2.

homage

to

Khandoba."

Who

are the Mitralis ?

"Outside the main entrance of the temple


court, a stone

column stands against the wall on


It is

the

left side.
it is

about three feet high, and on

the head of
is

cut a filthy design.

The column
is

called

by the name of Yeshwantrao, who


104

Muralls
supposed to be a great god that gives the
grims
"
all

pil-

they want.

He

it is

who gives

children

to barren
It

women.
to this

is

image that poor deluded

women
if

promise to

sacrifice their firstborn

daughters

Khandoba will make them mothers of many chilThen after the vow, the firstborn girl is dren. offered to Khandoba and set apart for him by
tying a necklace of seven cowries around the
little

girl's

neck.

When
is

she becomes of mar-

riageable age,

she
of

formally married to the


his

khanda or dagger
nominal wife.

Khandoba and becomes


is

Henceforth she

forbidden to

become
is

the

wedded wife
by
sin.

of man, and the result

that she usually leads an infamous hfe, earning

a livelihood

Some

of these girls

become
ordinary

wandering
public

miiralis.
in

Others become

women

any town

or city; while a

few

are said to live for years

with some one man.


girls

" The parents of such


to

do not

feel

ashamed

take

her

earnings,

because they belong to


is

Khandoba, and what they do


eyes

not sin in the

Kunbis, Mahars, Mangs of his devotees. and other low castes make miiralis of their
daughters
people
in this fashion.

Not

visit Jejuri to

pay
105

their

never give their

own

girls to

few high-caste vows; but they Khandoba, but buy


a

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
sum
thing to do,
children."
their

children from low-caste parents for a small

of money, which

is

not a

difficult

and

offer

them instead of
is

their

own
and

The vow

frequently

made
if

in
is

own
made

homes

in their native villages,

often

in the case of sickness, that

the

god

restores

the sick one, their child shall be offered to

Khan-

doba.
is

When

the

vow

is

made, yellow powder

rubbed on the child and the cowrie necklace

put on.

When
made

a suitable time arrives, there


to Jejuri

is

pilgrimage

and the marriage takes

place there with the dagger of the idol

which

is

kept in the temple.


to
at

But

if

the family are unable


is

make
home.

the journey, the

ceremony

performed

" The business of the murali

is

to sing impure

songs

in praise of

Khandoba;
in

to perform night
their

worship and song-services


at different places; this

honor of

gods

and they earn

their living in

way.

manuscript book purchased from a


of these filthy songs, which are

murali was

full

sung

in the night services

and are

called Jagrane,

or night watches.

" From earliest childhood their minds are corrupted by singing these songs in Khandoba's
praise.

To

these they add other similar songs

for the entertainment of their patrons at


106

whose

Muralis
houses they are invited to hold night services.

So long as they are young and attractive there


are

many
life

calls for

them, and their parents receive


other presents.

large

sums

of

money and
its

But

the

soon stamps

awful mark upon them,

and

their sad, pale faces can but excite the pity

of the compassionate."

Boys are
called

also

devoted to Khandoba and are

waghyas.

They wear

little

tiger-skin

wallet suspended from their necks.

They

are

popularly spoken of as Khandoba's dogs.


are allowed to marry,

They

and do not necessarily lead

a wandering

life

unless they choose.

The wan-

dering ones are usually disreputable.

We have been
the
told

unable to get any

statistics as to

number

of muralis.

At

Jejuri alone
girls

we
In

are

that about

one hundred

are offered

every year, and in

some

years more.

one

town where we

lived for years, in the midst of a

population of ten thousand people, there were

two hundred and


the police.
to

eighty muralis registered by

the

These two facts give many hundreds of girls,

us a
all

little

clue

over the
this

Marathi country,

who

have been devoted to

shameful

life.

You may

search far and wide, and the only


1U7

reason for this awful crime against young girls

The Wrongs of

Indian
"It

Womanhood
is

that Just

you

will

receive is:
is,

our custom."
It is

how

old the custom

no one knows.
in the sacred

said not to be

mentioned
under

books,

but the principle,


existed
in

different

names,

has

India

from time immemorial.

The
to

Puranas mention nautch-girls, and


of public

also speak

women

at certain places

who seem

be identical with the present devadasis, or temple


girls.

Custom and

religion cannot
is

be separated
Present cus-

in this land.

Custom

religion.

toms, however ancient or modern they

may

be,

make up popular Hinduism.


At the
last

yearly

meeting of the Christian


in

Woman
matter

Workers' Union, held


up, with the

Bombay, the
calling the

was taken

view of

attention of

government

to the facts.

Carefully

collected information as to the

custom has been

laid before a firm of solicitors in this city

by a

committee from the Bombay Missionary Conference, to

whom

the ladies of the Union referred


if

the matter; and the questions asked

any

ber of the public could rescue a " murali

"

memwho
also,

was under age from


if

the

life

to

which she had

been devoted, through a court of law; and


a

member

of the public should succeed in get-

ting possession

of the person

of a "murali"
else take

under age, could her parents or any one


108

Muralls
the child

away

again,

if it

had been proven that

the sole object of the one


to save her

who

rescued her,

was

from

life

of sin.

The

solicitors replied that

they thought the ob-

ject could

be attained under Section 372 and 373 of the Indian Penal Code in cases of minors
under sixteen years of age.

These sections proevil

vide that

persons disposing of minors for

purposes,

"or knowing

that

any minor

will

be

so used," shall be punished with imprisonment


of either description for a term

which may exfine.

tend to ten years, and shall also be liable to

The committee add


reply "will be

to this the
of,

hope

that

this

made use

on the one hand,


their

to

deter those purposing to

marry

daughters to
to

Khandoba; and, on the other hand, by leading


the rescue of girls from the sad
It is

life

before them.

an exceedingly important point to be kept in


that, in the act

mind
to ship,

of marrying their daughters


lose the right of guardianin to

Khandoba, parents

and a third party can step


it

assume the

place, provided

is

for the girl's rescue."

The

difficulty in the

above

is,

that

it

will re-

quire time, a great

deal of disinterested effort,


it.

and the expense attendant upon

Who
a

will

make

the prosecutions

Will

it

be

left to

few

missionaries?

Or

will the educated classes co109

The Wrongs of
operate
?

Indian
half

Womanhood
prosecutions
in larger

Perhaps a

dozen

will break the

back of the custom

towns

and cities, but what of the hundreds away from such influences ?

of villages

But the matter should not be allowed to rest

The custom is a blot on society and a wrong to women, and should be abolished.
here.

Laws
is

in other lands protect

the rights of infants


the Murali question

and minors.
or while

The crime of
infants

that thousands of girls, before they are born,


still

and

mere

children,

are

placed in a position that compels them to

become

moral and physical wrecks; and the heinousness


of
it

is

enhanced by

its

being done in the name

of religion.
In

one

district

where missionary work has exand where there


is

isted for fifty years,

a large

number of Christians from the Mahar community,


the custom has almost disappeared.

Over and
have

over again, as

we

have penned

this chapter,

we
all

thought of the promise

in Ezekiel:
all

"From
I

your

filthiness

and from

your

idols will

cleanse you."

An

Indian lady,

who
I

has recently written on


felt

this subject, says: "

have

sick at heart, as

have thought of the thousands of muralis whose


blood has been shed on the
altar of the leader

of

no

Muralis
seventy million devils.

Khandoba

is

truly the

Beelzebub of the Marathi country.


to

Let us pray
all

Him who
and

has promised to cleanse us from


all

our uncleanness, to cleanse the land from


cruel
filthy

its

customs."

To

this

prayer

we

are sure our readers will say,

Amen

Ill

VII

DEVADASIS

Many
of

people outside of India,

when
to

they hear

Hindu temples, imagine them

be houses of

worship, where the people of the town, men,

women and
ship.

children, regularly assemble for

worworthat

They suppose
that

that here the idol

is
it;

shipped;

offerings

are

made
sung

to

prayers are

made and

praises

to the image;

and that the

priests instruct the people

from the
this

Hindu shastras or
idea from their

scriptures.

They form

knowledge of
It

Christian churches

and worship.
church or

is

true that in the different refind

form movements
hall,

we

them gathering

in a

with a service modelled

after the

Christian form of worship; assembling on stated

days and at stated hours.


Prarthana Samaj
afternoon,

We
in

have often passed

Bombay on a Sabbath and through the open window witMandir

nessed a gentleman preaching to the audience

from

a pulpit or stand.
this ideal of
is

But of Hinduism, pure and simple,


worship, held by

many

of our Western friends,

as far from the truth as the North from the South


112

Devadasis
pole.

The
with

vast majority of

Hindu temples
eight

are

small, usually not


size,

more than
In

by ten

feet in

just

room enough
it.

for the idol

and the

priest

who

cares for

many

a village the
paint,
in a

god
set

is

a shapeless stone,
tree,

daubed with red


or in

up under a green

some niche

wall,

and the withered flowers and broken cocoa-

nut shells scattered about

may be

the only indi-

cation of worship to the casual passer-by; but,

says Wilkins,

"it

is

as carefully treated

by

its

priest as the elaborately carved idol in a beautiful

temple, and
villagers."

is

as devoutly

worshipped by the

To more
assemble to
cited

pretentious temples there


hall,

may be
Kathas

at-

tached a large mandap, or


listen

where the people


re-

to the Kirtans or

by the haridas.
and
and doings of

These Kirtans and Kathas

are dramatical
ploits

historical recitations of the ex-

different gods.

If

there

is

not this mandap, the people gather under a tree


in the

temple yard on a raised earthen platform

and

listen to the
is

puranik read the shastras.


one, the idol
is

If

the temple

% large
The

always

in a

smaller inner room, or shrine, with an open door


in front of
it.

point to be observed
is

is

that

the worship in the temple

never that of a com-

munity or body, but of the individual.


ils

Each per-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


son comes, brings
or whatever
is

his offering,

makes

his

vow

in his

mind

in

coming, and then

makes the
zeal.

circuit of the shrine

any number of

times from five to a hundred or more as suits his

Low-castes are not admitted to the tem-

ples.
is

The

priest

must always be
only

Brahman, but

often

illiterate,

Sanskrit texts

knowing by heart a few and majitras. He never instructs


is

the people in the shastras, and

often avaricious

and unscrupulous.
cent issue of the

Rev. Dr. Bradford, in a re-

New
as

York Independent, quotes


from
India,

one of the Swamis

who was

in

America

last

year,

acknowledging to him
and vices connected

that there are immoralities

with the temple worship in India, but he added: " The temple worship is one thing, and religious
teaching
In
is

another thing."
cities,

addition to the local temples in the


villages, there are
all

towns and
cred places

temples

at the sa-

over the country visited by thouall

sands of pilgrims from


in the visiting of
is

parts of the land,

and

which

special merit or salvation

supposed to be attained.

With

the

names of
others,

many

of the most noted, Benares, Kali Ghat at


Puree,

Calcutta, Gya,

Rameshwar and
In Dr.

our readers are familiar.


scription of Puree,

Murdoch's de-

we

find that the temple of

114

Devadasis
Jagannath, the "lord of the world,"
is

composed

of four distinct buildings opening one into the


other.

The

first is

about eighty feet square and


feet in height.
is

one hundred and twenty

This

is

the cook-room, where food

cooked before the


This

god and sold

to

the pilgrims as holy.

building opens into another called the dancing


hall,

where the musicians and dancing-girls


This opens
is

amuse the god.


next building that

in turn

into the

called the audience

chamber,

from which the pilgrims look


ing which
self.
is

into the last buildsits

the shrine, where

the idol him-

Many
of

of the large temples

we

have seen are


figures,

covered with sculptures of different

some

them very
the

finely executed,

some

of

them fanof the


indecent.

tastic,

and some quite rude.


figures
are

On some

temples

extremely

There are a great number of statues of men and

women
to

in

the niches and recesses of the audi-

ence chamber at Puree, a few of which are said

be disgustingly obscene.

Similar sculptures

are said to be

found
In

in

many

of the temples in

South

India.

proof of this

we

have only to

quote Section 292 of the Penal Code:

"292.

Whosoever

sells

or distributes, imports or prints


or willfully exhibits to public
115

for sale or hire,

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
figure,

view, any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, drawing,

painting,

representation, or
shall

or at-

tempts or offers so to do,

be punished with

imprisonment of either description for a term

which may extend


or with both."

to three months, or with fine,

But the following exception

is

made:
to

"This section does not extend


wise represented on or

any repre-

sentation sculptured, engraved, painted or otherin

any temple, or on any

car used for the conveyance of idols, or kept or

used for any religious purpose."

The Indian

Social Reformer, according to Dr.

Murdoch, makes the following excellent commentary on the above: " With Edmund Burke
geographical morality.
land
is

we have no notion of a What is immoral in EngThe


Calcutta Legisla-

immoral

in India.

tive Council,

however, seems to be of a different


believes in a local morality.
is
It

opinion.

It

has

solemnly decided that what

immoral

in the
is

shop

is

not immoral in the temple; that what


in

immoral

a carriage

is

not immoral in a

car.

One would almost suppose


were orthodox Hindus of the

that our legislators


first

water.

"There

is

a saying in the

Hindu shastras that


It is

*the mighty are not to be blamed.'


116

on

this

Devadasis
ethical

formula that Hindus exculpate their gods

from the charge of immorality.


have,
it

Our

legislators

seems, adopted this principle.


is

What

is

a punishable crime in us poor mortals,


ishable crime in the gods.
If

no pun-

an obscene print
should be impris-

were stuck on our


vinity, dignified

carriage
if

we

oned or fined or both;

the ugly

stump of

a di-

with the appellation of 'the lord

of the world,' were to exhibit a thousand libidi-

nous pictures on

its car, it

would not be recognizgo on corrupting


taste,

able as a punishable crime in the proprietors of

that divinity.

They could

still

the

public morals,

offending the public

under the sanction of the Legislative Council."


In

connection with this temple there


Dr.

is

quite an

establishment.
six

Murdoch

says:

"About
to
fill

hundred and forty persons are required


all

up

the appointments, of

which a few may be

mentioned.

There
his

is

the officer

gannath to

bed; another

who takes Jawho wakes him;


a

one

who

gives

him water and


and cleanse
his

toothpick to
officer

wash

his face

mouth; an

to give

him washerman
another to
sides
all

rice;

another to give him betel; a


his

to

wash

clothes; an officer to

count his robes; another to carry his umbrella;


tell

him the hours of worship.


117

Be-

these there are about four hundred fami-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


lies

of cooks

and one hundred and twenty danc-

ing-girls."
It

is

to these

women

that

we wish
that,

to direct

attention.

Dubois says of them

"next

to

the sacrificers, they are the

most important perare

sons about the temple."

They

known by the
Notwith-

name
of

of Temple-girls

or devadasis.

standing these at Puree, and a few in other parts


hidia,

the real

South

India.

home of the devadasi is The word means the servants


They

in

or

slaves of the gods.

receive a certain allow-

ance, usually small

and nominal, from the revTheir duty


is

enue of the temple.

to sing
in

and

dance before the temple gods, and


processions.

the idol

Madura, Trichinopoly, Srirangam,


Tripati,

Shrirangapatan,

Kumbakonam, Udapi,
in

and many other towns


large

Southern India, have

and ancient temples dedicated to various

gods, and have devadasis connected with them.

According to the Madras census report of 1881, there were 1,573 women " dancers " in the Pres1

idency.

friend writes to us as follows:

"The gods
with hav-

in the

Hindu heavens are not

satisfied

ing one or more wives of their own, they also

have a number of public women, called Apsaras,

who

dance and sing and add to the comfort of


118

Devadasis
the gods.

According to Hindu

belief,

men who

have performed meritorious deeds go to heaven,

and

their chief

happiness consists in the enjoy-

ment

of the society of the Apsaras.

The devada"

sis are

the counterpart of the Apsaras on earth!


in

Whatever may,
gods and temple
for centuries, a

the very beginning, have


girls

been the conception of thus devoting


service,
it is

to

now, and has been

most debasing custom.

They

are

invariably courtesans sanctioned


society.

Dr.

by religion and Murdoch quotes the dancing-girls


''

of Orissa as saying, in a memorial to the Lieu-

tenant-Governor of Bengal, that they

are greatly

needed

in pujas

and the auspicious performances,


is

and the entertainment of them

closely connected

with the management of temples and shrines;

from which

it is

evident that their existence


religion that
its

is

so

related to the

Hindu

ceremonies

cannot be fully performed without them."


also quotes

He

The Hindu as affirming "that the


it

demoralization

causes

is

immense.

So long as

we

allow

it

to

be associated with our temples and

places of worship,
ligion

we

offend and degrade our re-

and

nationality.

The
a

loss
is

and misery

it

has entailed on
scribable."

many
the

home

merely inde-

These

girls are

common
119

property of the

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


priests.

Wicked men
but
shall
in

visit

the temple, ostensibly


to see these

to worship,

reality

women.

And what
power ?

we

say of the simple-minded,


fall

but well-to-do pilgrim, should he

under their

He

will probably return to his

home

ruined man.

That a temple, intended as a place

of worship, and attended by hundreds of simple-

men and women, and that in the name of


hearted

should be so polluted,
religion, is

almost be-

yond
up
to

belief;

and that Indian boys should grow


to see immorality

manhood, accustomed
hearts

shielded in these temples with a divine cloak,

makes our

grow

sick

and

faint.

Along with

this

sad story of

wrong

to Indian

womanhood from South

India,

we
in

have

an

equally dark one, though in different dress, of

the yaishnavis from Brindaban

the

North.

This city

is

one of those places held sacred to the

god, Krishna.

When

the reader recalls the

aw-

ful character of Krishna,

our story will easily be

From childhood to old age he was morally bad; he was disobedient, dishonest and untruthful; as a man he was the incarnation of impurity. He is said to have had eight queens
accredited.

and
is

sixty

one hundred wives.


dedicated
is

In

Benares there

a temple

to

Radha-Krishna, and

" Radha-Krishna "

the formula you will hear


120

Devadasis

men
tiiis

repeating in their religious exercises.

But

Radha was not

his wife,

but his mistress.

Is it

strange, then, that his followers are


all

amongst
Bishop
of

the most immoral of

the Hindus.?
stories

Caldwell
Krishna's

says
life,

that

"the

related

do more than anything to destroy

the morals and corrupt the imaginations of

Hindu
be

youth."

At the door of

this god,

too, can

laid the corruption

and

ruin of

thousands of

women. One of
Chaitanya

the sects of his followers


sect.

is

called the

Chaitanya lived four hundred


for his learning and
all

years ago.

He was famous
and above

poetical abilities; to Krishna.

for his devotion

His followers believed that he

was
at

an incarnation of Krishna.

He

chiefly

dwelt

Nuddea.

Reformers sometimes try to interpret

his writings in the most sublime and spiritual

manner; but the


and Brindaban,

practical

working out of

his

teachings in the lives of his followers at


is

Nuddea
His

the best interpretation.

followers worship Krishna, and try to be like

him

in

every respect.

Men
live in

forsake

home and

relatives to

come and
lives.

these sacred places.

They

live chiefly in the temples,

and many lead


all

most immoral

From
121

these places, like

sacred places, agents are sent throughout the

The Wrongs of
make

Indian

Womanhood
Said a

country by the priests to induce the people to


pilgrimages to the several shrines.
to us:

widow
And

" These emissaries of the priests


destitute

hunt for poor

widows at

the

same time."
railway
filthy

she added:

"When we

arrived at Brindaat the

ban, the priests of the place


station,

met us

and got us a house which was so


it.

we

could not endure

We

then sought for


to a

another, and found a

good one belonging

Mahant.

When
left

he saw us

anxious for us to stay,

women, he was very but we knew what it

meant and
in a dirty

immediately.

We

finally

stayed

house where many respectable pilgrims


their abode.

had taken

These agents

tell

the

widows whom
will only

they seek in the villages and the


if

towns, that they will go right to heaven

they

go

to these sacred places


saints,

and

live there

and serve the sadhus or


Krishna.

and worship
are easily

The poor ignorant women


unhappy
go and
in

persuaded to leave their homes, as


are very

many

of

them
it is

them, and they think

far better to

live

and

die there serving

and

pleasing Krishna.

Thus hundreds of widows,


to

young and
and
fall

old,

go

Mathura and Brindaban,

into the snares of the priests.


little

They

soon spend the

they have
122

in

giving alms
all
is

and presents

to

the priests.

And when

Devadasis
spent, they cannot return to their native places

even
to

if

they wish to do so.

Their

last resort is
if

go about begging

for food,

and

they are

young and
after
first

tolerably good-looking,

the priests,
all

the mahants, the sadhus and mendicants are

them, and get them


as servants,

to live in their

houses,

and then

as mistresses; or they
in

hire

them out
If

to other

men

towns and

villages

near.

the

women

are unwilling to lead imit

moral

lives,

they are told that

is

no sin to

live

thus in these sacred places, for these places are


the chosen abode of Krishna, and he
is

always

pleased with those followers

who

imitate him,

who
these

live

happily as he and Radha lived.

When

women

get old, or displeasing to the men,

they are turned out and have to shift for themselves; ragged, helpless, physical wrecks,

seemalmost

ing forsaken of
like dogs.
all

all.

They

are often left to die


at

We

went around the town

saw the condition women. There were hundreds of widows who had come mostly from Bengal. The sin and misery, and the heartless cruelty of man to woman which we saw there on every side, is
hours with open eyes and
of these

beyond description!

We
daily

marvel
beholds

at the long-suffering of

this

God as He modern Sodom. And we


123

The Wrongs of
wonder
long
at

Indian

Womanhood
these

man, even,
silent.

who knows
It

wrongs
is

and can keep

is

true,

Brindaban
if

way from many


then
?

of us.

But what

your

sisters

and daughters were among these widows ?


another class called

What
In

Western India there

is

Bhavins,

who

are peculiar to the

Konkon and
is

Goa; and the name, says a Hindu


plied to

writer,

"ap-

women

in the service of the idols in

temples in Goa and places round about, and in


parts of the

Konkon.

Some

of these

women
is

are

presented to the gods in infancy by their parents,


as the muralis are.

Their business

to attend
to

the temple lamps, and keep

them trimmed;

sweep and smear the


tion;

floor;

to turn the chauri

over the idol; serve the hunka to the congrega-

and

to serve

the visitors of the temple.


their fingers,

They always trim the lamps with


and not with small

sticks as other

Hindus do.

The trimming of the lamp with


any other than a Bhavin
poverty; and this
is is

the fingers

by

supposed to bring
all

particularly observed in

Hindu houses."
These

women
all

are descendants of pure

Mara-

thans, but of

these different classes of

women

they seem to be the lowest, and to be held in

such contempt, that

it

has passed into a proverb;


124

Devadasis
and because "they have degraded themselves to
the post of 'temple cats,' they have seats allotted
to

them behind the temples, while the Naikhi or

nautch-girl dances before the gods, in the gather-

ings of the great, and has a seat allotted to her

before the gods."

Some

of

them

are in posses-

sion of landed property

which has been given

to

them

for their

maintenance.

These Bhavins,

Muralis, Jogtins and others, seem to be considered a lower order of being than the devadasi or
the nautch-girl; but, under whatever

name

these

women

pass,

the customs
ciple is the

and however much the among them may differ,


in
all,

details of

the prin-

same

immorality under the

shelter

of religion and custom.

125

VIII

THE NAUTCH-GIRL

The

institution of the nautcli-girl

is

a very an-

cient one,

coming down

to

Hindu society from


custom an

very early times.


uity

In confirmation of the antiq-

and

religious sanction of this

In-

dian friend
us:

who

is

competent authority writes


of

"The
talcing

description

Krishna performing

pilgrimages, going to bathe in sacred rivers or


seas,

with him thousands of harlots to


in his

dance and sing

presence, establishes the

fact that nautches

and nautch-girls were favored

by him.
are

In the

Mahabharata and Puranas there

many

instances

where reference

is

made

to

this practice

having been countenanced by incar-

nate gods and holy men."

We
in the

also find, in

an old issue of the Indian So-

cial Reformer, the following paragraph:

"Even

days of Krishna, the nautch-girl had her


For

place.

we

read in Bhagavatam (in the de-

scriptions given

by the poet regarding the wel-

tive
.
.

come given to Krishna on his return to his natown after the wars of the Mahabharata) 'And there also advanced in chariots,
.

126

The Nautch-Girl
hundreds of courtesans, fairest of their
with
their
class,

cheeks glowing with the reflected


all

brightness of their earrings,

eager to behold

him; and also

actors, dancers, singers, scholars

in antique lore, eulogists

and bards chanting the

wonderful achievements of him whose praise


dispels darkness.'"
In
girl

South India the devadasi and the nautchare


identical;

but not so
girls

in

Western and
to

Central India,

where these

seem
but

form a
the

separate class or caste called Kalawantin, and are


identified

with the temple

service,

visit

temples only by invitation of the temple authorities

for a performance.

They

are professional

singers and dancers, and their performances


consist of singing

may
and

and dancing, or singing alone.

They
differ

are said to be invariably courtesans,

from the

common

public

women, and even

from the Murali, Fogtin, and Bhavins,


also devoted to the gods, in that

who

are

from time imand


social

memorial they have had a


status given them,
in the

religious

and are considered a necessity


in the

temple and

home on marriage and


begins her career
of

other festive occasions.

The
age.

nautch-girl

often

training under teachers as early as five years of

She

is

taught to read, dance and sing, and


127

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
Her songs are
is

instructed in every seductive

art.

usually amorous;
girl,

and while she

yet a

mere

before she can realize fully the moral bearlife,

ings of her choice of


a nautch-girl in the tion

she makes her debut as


the observais

community by
which
the

of a shocking custom
to

in

itself

enough

condemn

whole system.

As
of

large

proportion of these

women

are

childless, their
little girls

ranks are reinforced by adoption


are

who

bought or obtained

in other

ways.

Illegitimate children are often passed


in the periodical

on

to them, and
in

famines that occur


girls

this

country, large

numbers of

find a

home with
them.
girls

this class of persons.

Besides

we

are
to

told that occasionally

young widows go over


sees these
richly

The young widow


honored,
gaily

dancing with

and

dressed,

plenty

of jewels, their presence propitious at

weddings, while they, poor things,


their

know

that

own

presence

is

often unpropitious and not

desired, that they are not honored, that jewels

and bright clothes are denied them, and


strange that they should be tempted to

it is

not
this

make

exchange of

life.

For centuries dancing-girls had the monopoly


of
all

the education

among women.
were taught
128

They were
to read

the only

women

that

and

/fi>^^,^

The Nautch-Girl
sing in public in the country; and hence these

two accomplishments were


for

so associated with

the nautch-girl as to be considered disreputable

respectable

women.

In

the early days of

female education in this century, one of the stock


objections of the opposers was: "It
is

not re-

spectable for girls to be educated."


then,

Now

and

you may

still

find an old person that clings

to that feeling and associates learning in his

mind

with the nautch-girl.

Over twenty years ago,


She was a thorough

we

called

on the wife of a prosperous Brahman


official.

government

woman

of the old type, but she had a beautiful of about seven,

little girl

who

gathered her skirts tight


her, for fear

about her as
touch ours.

we

passed

they might

In the course of conversation,


if

we

asked the mother

the child might learn to read:

and

we

shall

never forget the look and tone of

scorn of the
It

woman's
all

reply at the suggestion.

embodied

that the

words would have conI

veyed:

"Do you

think

girl for a nautch-girl ? "

am going to train my And yet, strange to say,

had
her

this
little

very mother been arranging to marry


girl,

she would have readily assented

perhaps, that a nautch-girl should be invited to

give touch and finish to the

wedding
is

festivities.

That particular form of prejudice


139

now becom-

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
musical education,
this art

ing a thing of the past as regards learning, but

no Hindu

girls are receiving a

and thus redeeming and rescuing


the hands of courtesans.

from

friend of ours
girls,

Indian

who has a and who has them


if

large

school of

taught singing,

has often been asked

she

is

going to teach
association
in

them

to dance also;

showing how the


is
still

of singing in public

connected

many

minds with the


party which

nautch-girl.

At a recent Zenana

we

attended, a

young

Christian girl

whose father had been a Brahman, stepped forward


solo.
in the bright
It

company and sang

a Marathi

was

a beautiful

hymn, and her sweet

clear voice, carried

without break through each

verse,

accompanied by an exquisitely modest

manner, gave us a hint of what Indian

women
is

may
It

accomplish

when once

trained

singing

divorced from immorality.


frequently happens that these dancing-girls
rich,

are

beautiful

and very

attractive, besides

being witty and pleasant in conversation; and


they are the only

women
Dr.

that

move

freely in

men's society

in India.

Murdoch quotes the

Indian Messenger (a Calcutta paper), as saying: " have seen with our own eyes these women

We

introduced into respectable circles in open day130

The Nautch-Girl
light,

and men

freely

associating

with them,

while the ladies

of the house were watching the

scene from a distance as spectators and not taking part in the social pleasures going on before

them,

in

which the dancing-girls were the only


Could anything more
detri?

female participators.

mental to the cause of morality be conceived


In

the Punjab,

the dancing-girls

enjoy public

favor; they

move more

freely in native society

than public

women
In

in civilized countries are ever


fact,

allowed to do.
respect
In
is

greater attention

and

shown

to

them than
Provinces

to married ladies.

the Northwest

we

have

seen

a
if

dancing-girl treated with as

much

courtesy as

she were a princess descended from a distin-

guished royal

line."

A few
girl,

years ago, a writer in The

Times said:

"The ample
lives,

earnings obtained by the dancingin

and the comparative luxury

which she

unfortunately renders the profession an atIt is

tractive one.
in

said in reference to this class


first-class

Lucknow,

that a

nautch-woman

may have

jewels and lace of value from one

thousand to ten thousand rupees; that her fee for


singing for one night
is

fifteen rupees;
it

and that

on the occasion of a
as

birth or marriage,
In

may

be

much

as

two hundred."
131

Bombay

a nautch-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


girl

commands from

twenty-five to sixty rupees a


Dr.

night for singing.

Murdoch

tells

of a

man
have

who

squandered 10,000 rupees on a wedding of


for

which 2,000 went

nautch-girls.

We

heard of them receiving as high as 300 rupees for

one entertainment, but

it

must have been by

some "star"

in her profession.

girl

may also,

by her beauty

or special accomplishments, be-

come famous. A few years ago, such a girl came to Bombay from Central India and set the native community all agog to hear and see her. They are as a rule avaricious, and Dr. Murdoch
says:

" Very large sums are often wasted on these

women by men who


female education.

will

not give a pice for


a jewel, set

Some time ago


at

with precious stones valued


pees,

about 2,000 ru-

was presented

to

a dancing-girl in the

neighborhood of Madras.
ever,

Such payments, howsight of one of

form only a part of the expenses connected

with such women.


a public

The

them

at

performance creates a desire for private

intercourse.
less

Such

visits are

never welcome un-

accompanied

by
the

gifts.

well-informed

correspondent of
writes:
cratic
'

Indian Social

Reformer
aristo-

It is

saddening to see royal and


irretrievably

families

ruined

by

these

133

The Nautch-Girl
women.

Many

a wealthy

man

has had to court

poverty and disgrace on this account.

Even

in

middle class society,

many

fritter

away

their
thirst

youth and money to quench the insatiable


of sanctified immorality.
in this district, a
. . .

Not long ago,


a present of

Brahman

lad

made

4,000 rupees worth of landed property to a danc-

ing-woman, while another spent


of bankruptcy and ruin.

his extensive

property, and stands to-day on the awful verge

Be

it

remembered

that

such occurrences take place

in

every important

town

in India.
is

When

the poor victim has lost

everything, he

rejected, as the skin of a fruit


is

which has been sucked

thrown away."
been ruined, and

Many

a family's happiness has

estrangement made complete between husband

and wife, by the husband coming under the

power and
readers

influence of the nautch-girl.

But our

may

say that this

may

occur in any land.

That

is

true; but the nautch-girl has a recognized

place in society and religion that gives her a peculiar

vantage ground.

In

South India she has


In

her right and place in the temple.


India she
is

Western

there

by
is

invitation;

and

in society, all

over India, she

everywhere.

Never having

married, she can never be a

widow.

Hence her

presence at weddings

is

considered most aus-

133

The Wrongs of
picious.
if

Indian

Womanhood
the one

And
the

in

Western

India, in certain circles,


is

her presence can be afforded, she

that ties

wedding necklace; (equivalent to putting on the wedding ring with us), thus her dehands become a bright omen that the
girl-

filed

bride

may

never be a widow.

Aside from wed-

dings, she graces

many

another festive occasion,

such as the tread ceremony, house warmings,

and evening
It is

parties

and entertainments.

in his

own

father's house,

where her presand mother,

ence sanctioned by his

own

father

and by the presence of the company and applause


of the leading
a

men

of the community, that

many

young man has become fascinated with

a bright

dancing-girl; a fascination

which has become the

stepping-stone to his moral and financial ruin as

he seeks her further acquaintance.


ters
is
it

if

his

young
in
it }

wife's heart breaks

What mat} What

the

harm

Father and mother and the

best society, and the temple authorities sanction


this course.
It

is

not sin and wrong, but simply

custom.

view of the character of these women, it seems like the keenest irony to say that they are
In

often in requisition to complete the


to bid farewell to

programme
official,

some government

or

to entertain the viceroy, governors 134

and other of-

The Nautch-Girl
ficials,

or to honor

some European
say that

traveller.

In

extenuation
ladies

we

will

many European
real

and gentlemen do not understand the

character of the nautch-girl

who

performs before

them, or they

feel

it

is

a Hindu's idea of giving

them
to so

pleasure; and after he, their host, has

gone

much

expense, they shrink from offending


displeasure.

him by expressing

Besides they do
girl

not understand the songs the

sings,

and

hence are not shocked.


Quite a breeze

was

created last August at the


official in

entertainment of a high English


jore,

Tan-

when two
in English

nautch-girls began to sing a

low

song
If

which

called for a strong protest.

Europeans, both ladies and gentlemen, from

the viceroy
festivities

down, would

refuse to attend

any

in

which the nautch was part of the

programme, great courage and strength would


be given to the cause of moral reform.

We
who
tour.

know

of

two

friends in a lonely station

were invited

to a dinner given

by some Indian on

gentlemen to the

officers of the district

At the close of the dinner, as they returned to


their seats in the tent, they
girls

found two nautch-

seated on the carpet while the players were

thrumming and tuning their instruments.


diately our friends arose to depart,
135

Immeand when

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
official sit-

pressed to stay, they clearly stated their reason


for going.

An

English government

ting near, whispered to the husband, "

You

are

doing quite right


here,
I

in going.

If

my

wife were

would do the same."


the

These friends

would not have gone to known the nautch was on

the dinner, had they

programme.

If

few high

officials

were

to

make

inquiries before

accepting invitations, and refuse to go unless the

programme omitted
but would relegate
ally
it

the nautch,

it

would not
mor-

only be a check to that kind of entertainment,


to the place

where

it

belongs

outside of decent society.

136

IX

AN ANTI-NAUTCH MOVEMENT
In

1892 there

Anti-Nautch

was organized, in Madras, an Movement by educated Hindus.


Social
its

The

Indian
in

Reformer

supported

the

movement
Servant
ally,

columns.

The Lahore Purity


other
papers.

3i\so

advocated the cause; and, occasion-

articles

appeared

in

The
in

movement

has

done a great deal of good


in enlisting

educating public opinion, and

men

to

refuse to attend nautch parties, or to have


at

them
Also,

the

festivities

in

their

own

homes.

later,

Anti-Nautch and Purity Associations have


in different parts of
is

been organized

the country, a

recognition of which

always found

now

in the

resolutions passed at the annual Social Confer-

ence.

The

action taken in 1899

was
is

as follows:
all

" In the opinion of the Conference, the Reports of Associations

the
all

show

that a healthy

change

taking place, in

parts of the country, in favor of the Anti-Nautch

Movements, including in the


tically to

last,

and Purity the condemnation of the


entertains

practice of devoting girls, nominally to temple service, but prac-

life

of prostitution

and

it

no doubt that

public sentiment favors both these movements, as tending to


purify our personal, family,

and public 137

life

and the Conference

The Wrongs of
trusts that

Indian

Womanhood

these efforts will be continued, and that a vigilant watch will be kept by the organs of Public Opinion upon all

attempts to violate this healthy sentiment."

To

this there has

been added, for the

first

time,

the clause expressing disapproval of the dedication of girls to temple service,

and defines

it

to

be practically a

life

of immorality.

In spite of

the optimistic tone of the resolution,


that the Anti-Nautch
nov;^

we

consider

Movement

is less

aggressive

than formerly.

In its beginning, in the latter part of 1893,

an

appeal

was made

to the Viceroy

and Governor-

General of India, and to the Governor of Madras,


in

the shape of a memorial


of

which bore
educated

a large
class,

number

signatures

of

the

with the hope of gaining their practical help and


influence in so great a moral question.

As the

memorial

also defines the position of the Anti-

Nautch Movement,

we

give

it

in full:

" The humble memorial of the undersigned

members of the Hindu Social Reform Association of Madras, and others,


'
'

Most Respectfully Sheweth:


I.

That there exists

in the Indian

community
as nautch-

a class of
girls.

women commonly known


138

An
2.

Anti-Nautch Movement

That these

women

are invariably

prosti-

tutes.
3.

That countenarice and encouragement are

given to them, and even a recognized status in


society secured to them,
prevails
tent,

by the

practice

which

among

Hindus, to a very undesirable ex-

of inviting

them

to take part in marriage


to entertainments

and other
That

festivities,

and even

given in honor of guests


4.

who
not

are not Hindus.

this

practice

only

necessarily

lowers the moral tone of society, but also tends


to destroy that family
life

on which national sound-

ness depends, and to bring upon individuals ruin


in

property and character alike.


5.

That

this practice rests

only upon fashion,


re-

and receives no authority from antiquity or


ligion,

and accordingly has no claim


is

to

be con-

sidered a National Institution, and

entitled to

no respect
6.

as such.

That

strong feeling

is

springing

up

among the educated among


lic

classes of this country against


practice,

the prevalence of this

as

is

evinced,

other things, by the proceedings at a pubin

meeting
7.

Madras, on the 5th of May, 1893.


realize

That so keenly do your Memorialists


that they have

the harmful and degrading character of this practice,

resolved neither to invite


139

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


nautch-girls
to

any

entertainments

given

by

themselves, nor to accept any invitation to an

entertainment at whicli
girls are to be present.
8.

it is

known
feel

that nautch-

Tiiat

your Memorialists

assured that

Your Excellency
means, those
social evil.
9.

desires to aid,

by every proper

who

labor to

remove any form of

That your Memorialists accordingly appeal


as the official

to

Your Excellency,

and recognized
Madras, and as

head of society

in the Presidency of

the representative of Her Most Gracious Majesty,

the Queen-Empress, in

whose

influence and ex-

ample the cause of purity has ever found support,


to discourage this pernicious practice
to attend

by declining

any entertainment

at

which nautch-girls

are invited to perform,

and thus to strengthen


are trying to purify the

the hands of those


social life of their

who

community."
"Viceregal Lodge,
Simla, Sept. 23d, 1893.

To

this

memorial came the following replies:

Sir,

am

desired

by

His

Excellency,

the

Viceroy, to acknowledge the receipt of a


rial

memo-

signed by yourself and numerous other perin

sons,

which you appeal


140

to His Excellency to

decline,

for the future, to attend

any entertain-

An
merit at

Anti-Nautch Movement
are invited to perform.

which nautch-girls

You base your request upon the statement that


these
it
is,

women

are invariably prostitutes,

and that

therefore,

undesirable to countenance, or
in

encourage them,

any way.

The Viceroy
jects

desires

me

to say in reply that,

although he recognizes the excellence of the ob-

upon which you have addressed him, he

does not think that he could usefully

make any

such announcement as that which you have suggested.

He

has,

on one or two occasions, when


been present

travelling in different parts of India,


at entertainments
part,

of

which

a nautch

formed a

but the proceedings were, as far as His Ex-

cellency observed them, not characterized

by any

impropriety, and

the

performers

were present

in the exercise of their profession as dancers, in

accordance with the custom of the country.

Under the circumstances. His Excellency does


not,

on the eve of

his departure

from

India, feel

called

upon

to take

any action such

as that

which

you have recommended."

"Government House,
Madras, 4th October.
Sir,

In reply to the memorial recently received


the

from
I

'Hindu Social Reform Association,'

am

desired to inform

you
141

that although His

Ex-

The Wrongs of
cellency
fully

Indian

Womanhood
good
intentions

appreciates the

which have actuated those

who

have joined with


if

you
the

in

issuing the memorial, yet, he doubts

any advantage would be gained by


obligation

his accepting

which

the

memorial

wishes

to impose upon him.

H. E. has been present on

several occasions

on which nautches have been


remotest degree, be

performed, at none of which has he ever seen

anything which might,

in the
it

considered improper; and

has never occurred to

him

to take into consideration the moral charac-

ter of the

performers at these entertainments,


at per-

any more than when he has been present

formances which have been carried out by professional dancers or athletes either in
India.

Europe or

H.

E., the

Governor, therefore, regrets


to the

his inability to
in the

conform

wishes expressed

memorial."
these replies the Indian Social Reformer
1893),

On
cellent

(October 14th,

makes the following exstate that at the enter-

comment: "Both

tainments given to them they have witnessed


nautches, but so far as their Excellencies could

observe there was nothing improper


formance.

in the per-

Both lay stress on the nautch-girls


it

being professional dancers, and


143

has never oc-

curred to them to look too closely into the moral

An

Anti-Nautch Movement

character of these

women.

Now

it

was

never suggested by the Memorialists that in the

performance of the nautch there

is

any open im-

propriety visible to the casual eye.

Even

if

it

was

there,

it

is

hardly to be expected that

it

should be
. . .

displayed before their Excellencies.

Their Excellencies should not forget that

they represent in this country a sovereign


respect for purity and piety
great.
is

whose
is

as great as she

The people of India cannot but look with wonder on the representatives of Her Majesty
being
present
as
at the

performances of

women

who,

everybody knows, are prostitutes; and

their Excellencies, hereafter, at least,

must know
specially

to be such.

'

Do

they get prostitute dancers to


in

perform

at

entertainments given
in

honor of the royalty

Europe
it

woman
ple

is

invited to perform,
is

The nautchmust be remem?

bered: which

a very different thing from peo-

going to theatres or other places where peo-

ple of

bad character may be engaged

to entertain

the

public.

The nautch-woman,
company."
it

thus,

gets a

status in the

Most Englishmen look upon

as a

Hindu cus-

tom

that

has existed from time immemorial,


its

without a thought of
society.

moral bearing on Hindu

The

fact

is

that English 143

and native so-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


ciety

are

so

widely separated, their customs,

moral standards, and the position of


different, that the average

women
fails to

so

European

un-

derstand the struggle that has begun to right


matters in India, since
its

contact with Western

education

Many
ance,

of

and the Bible standard of morals. them would watch a nautch perform-

as they

would

a snake charmer's feats, a


as

travelling juggler's

tricks,

something novel

and

curious, or perhaps tiresome,

and to be en-

dured with the best grace possible.


it

Out of sight

would

be out of mind.

But should an Eng-

lish

host bring for their entertainment into the


similar class of

drawing-room a

Englishwomen,

they would leave the house scandalized and insulted.

They would regard


Is

it

as a recognition

of immorality and vice that could never be en-

dured.

not

what

is

immoral

in

England, im-

moral
the

in

India as well;

and can any custom of


?

people

make
if

it

otherwise

We

are con-

vinced that

the highest officials in India

were

to refuse to attend nautches on moral grounds,


their action

would be an

object lesson in moral

education to the whole country.

Hindu hosts

would soon be ashamed and drop the nautch


from the programmes of
ments.
their public entertainis

The

fact that

no protest

made, only

An

Anti-Nautch Movement
is

encourages the idea that there


or disgraceful in the custom.

nothing wrong

Again

the nautch-giri

is

continually

said

by

many
ily

to

be only the counterpart of the European

ballet-dancer.

The

ballet-dancer
it is

is

not necessar-

immoral, though
is

true that

by her profesBut the

sion she

thrown

into great temptation before

which character often breaks down.


dancing-girl
is

a recognized immoral character,


into her career as such.
is

and launched

Even

if it

were

true that the ballet-dancer

invariably im-

moral, she has no religious or social standing;

she never conducts any part of religious service;


or graces any

wedding

or other festivity.

Again, in her public capacity, the ballet-dancer

can choose her profession, or


leave
it

if

she wishes can


in life for

and enter into any other walk


is

which she

fitted;
is

and lead a useful

career.

But the nautch-girl

born into her profession,


as

and must follow


smith, or farmer

it

just

a carpenter,

goldfol-

is

born into his caste and


his father.
If

lows the trade of


into
it,

she

is
is

adopted
a

it

is

usually done while she

mere
in
its

child,

and unconscious of what the


is.

life
is

moral bearings
nized
caste.

The
is

nautch-girl

a recogit.

This

the

iniquity of

We

would not be hard on the


145

nautch-girl herself, al-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


though she
for she has
ciety
is

a pest

and bane

to

Hindu

society,

been made such; and "on Hindu sorest the


lives."

must

awful responsibility of these

abandoned
If

nautch-woman's children were boys, they


a change

used to be brought up as drummers and fiddlers;


but

now

is

coming over
But the

this class,

and

they are educating their


into higher

boys and getting them


girls

walks of

life.

must

in-

variably follow in their mother's footsteps.

With
prece-

the dancing-girls, a daughter takes

the

dence of a son, and an adopted daughter takes the

same
son

place,

and has the same rights

as an

adopted

in

other castes.
of

The custom
caste has

adopting a daughter
in India,

in

this

always prevailed

and has been

recognized and sustained by Hindu law.


reason
usually given for adoption
is,

The

that the

nautch-girl being childless,

wishes to have some

one to inherit her property.


the statement; but

We

do not question

we know
when

that

many

of these

women

do adopt

girls

they already have

natural children,
for them.

and

this claim

cannot be

made
heir,

In addition to this desire for

an

there

must be added the


their earnings;

desire to have

some

one, in case of adversity in old age, to support

them by

and

that, too,

adoption

146

An
for

Anti-Nautch Movement
is

by such women
crease

only a cloak to secure children


will in-

immoral purposes whose earnings


the

family revenue; for most of them


all

have to pass
or

they earn over to the " mother,"

mistress as she might in

some

cases

more

properly be called.

We

cannot agree with the Memorialists

when

they say,
fashion,

"that this practice rests only upon

and receives no authority from antiquity

or religion;" for

some of

the sacred books give


it is

accounts of this class as existing then, and


this

very ancient usage with religious sanction,

that

makes

evil

so hard to deal with

now.

Let

the Memorialists keep knocking at the doors of

Viceregal

Lodge,

and

at

the

minds and conlaw


be put

sciences of the people,

till

government knows
to
in

that the better classes desire the

execution, and that there

is

change

in

popular

opinion to warrant the demand.

147

X
INFANTICIDE

" Murder

is

the

first specific
fall

crime brought to
its

our notice after the


of infanticide,
it

of man, and in

form

has been more or less practiced


religion,
all

and approved from motives of corrupted

and mistaken
tribes

social

economy, by almost

the

and nations of the world.


the grand objects of sacrifice, the ear-

"When
liest

prescribed rule of religion, the acknowledg-

ment by the worshipper of a guilt deserving suffering and death, and the foreshadowing of the
offering of the

promised substitute and Saviour,

were forgotten or obscurely remembered, the maxim that the "fruit of the body should be
given for the sin of the soul," obtained a wide
currency in
the

human
in

family.

Speedily the
for that

character of the Divinity

was mistaken

of a

demon; and

the conception formed

by

man
was
sin

of God, a malevolent thirsting for blood

substituted for a love of holiness seeking to

impress on the intelligent creation the dread of

by pointing
its

to the great

redemption needed

for

absolution.

Children of tender age be148

Infanticide

came

the

most manageable,

precious of victims.

as well as the most They were not only deevil,

stroyed to deprecate and avert apprehended

but were offered up as the price and purchase of


desired good.

"The

Phoenicians and Canaanites


fire

made

their

children pass through the

to Moloch,

The
fre-

Jews who entered the land of Canaan were


rid

quently tempted to become imitators of this horiniquity.

Manasseh
(2

actually
xxi. 6),

sacrificed

his

son to Moloch

Kings

Even
in

after the

good King Josiah had


ticed

defiled

Tophet

order to

put a stop to the infantile sacrifices there prac(2

Kings

xviii.

10),

the crime

was

revived

and

called forth the

solemn denunciations of the


the

prophet.

God solemnly warns

Jews not

to

give their seed to this false god on the penalty


of death (Lev. xx. 1-5; Deut. xviii. 10-12).

The

Carthaginians, the Greeks, the


Persians, in
sin.

Romans, and the

some form
the
to

or other, practiced this

Among

Israelites

alone

sacrificial

in-

fanticide

seems

have been absolutely forbid-

den.
"Infanticide, in one
vailed not

form or another, has preover the heathen world;


149

among
was
it

barbarous nations alone, but,


all

generally speaking,

and so

far

from being prevented by the

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood

boasted wisdom, civilization and refinement of

Greece and Rome, that these very qualities were

employed

in cherishing, regulating

and perpetuto

ating the crime.

The conclusion which seems


facts,
is

be warranted by these
little

that

we
is

have

security against

infanticide,

or any other

crime against nature, where Christianity

un-

known.
way.

It

is

only before the direct or indirect

influence of the Bible that infanticide has given


It

was

Christianity,

and not philosophy,

that first lifted

up

its

voice against the crime of

infanticide as practiced

by the Romans, through

Constantine."^

With
son,
cial
it

this

review of the subject, by Dr. Wilthis

will

be seen that
the

crime

is

not a spe-

crime of
certain

Hindus.

When
is

considered
a country

from

points of view, India


least

where you would


wrong.
It

expect to find this great

is

irreconcilable
life

with

their

tenets

about the sacredness of


the transmigration

and the doctrines of


soul.

of the
is

In

a country
to

where the
sacred;

life

of a beast

supposed

be held

where

a high-caste

Hindu used

to

shud-

der at the thought of an egg being broken in his

presence; and

who

used to go out of

his

way

Suppression of Infanticide in Western India, by Dr. Jno.

Wilson.

150

Infanticide
rather than pass a butcher's stall in the bazaar;

how

did so

inhuman and wicked a custom gain

a footing ?

cide to the

Some have tried to trace the origin of infantiMohammedan invasion that scapeevil.

goat for more than one Indian

But

it

can

be clearly proved that


that time.

it

existed centuries before

The custom is Mohammedans. A recent

not found

among

the

writer has said:


is

"A

Mohammedan
of affection

treats

whatever

given him by

Providence, son or daughter, with equal feelings

and regard; and, however poor, he

will never think of depriving

them of
them."

life,

but

would
India:
I.

rather

beg alms

to support

Infanticide

has existed under

two forms

in

The dedication of

children to the

Ganges
Soon
he

to be devoured
after

by crocodiles and sharks.


India, in

William Carey came to

1794,

discovered this crime, and the discovery weighed

upon the heart of himself and fellow-workers so


constantly, that in addition to continual protests
to the people, steps

were taken

to call the atten-

tion of the

English authorities to

the

matter.

Says Smith: "Since 1794,

when Thomas and


tree,

he

found, in a basket hanging on a


151

the bones of

an infant that had been exposed to be devoured

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


by the white
ants,

by some mother too poor

to

go on
had

a pilgrimage to a sacred river-spot,


this unnatural horror."
festival
at

Carey

known

There was a great annual


Sagar (near his home).
this place

Ganga
geofor

The supposed
to arise
is

virtues of
its

were thought

from
the

graphical situation.

Ganga

word
sea,

Ganges, and Sagar for sea; and as at


ticular place the

this par-

river

flowed into the

the

confluence
sanctity.

was

held to be a place of special

Here mothers not only threw their

children into the sea, but

widows and even men


and secur-

walked

into the sea


it

and drowned themselves,

esteeming

a special act of holiness,

ing immediate heaven.

Carey represented the matter to government


and,

continues Smith,

"the

result

of

Carey's

memorial was the publication of the Regulation


for preventing the sacrifice of children at Sagar

and other places on the Ganges, saying:


been represented
to

"

It

has
in

the

Governor-General

Council, that a criminal and


sacrificing

inhuman

practice of
to
. .

children

by exposing them by sharks,


prevails.

be
.

drowned

or devoured

Children thrown into the sea at Sagar have not

been generally rescued


fice

but the sacri-

has been efifected with circumstances of pe152

Infanticide
culiar atrocity in
is

some

instances.

This practice

not sanctioned by the Hindu law, nor counteIt

nanced by the religious orders."


ingly declared to be
death.

was accord-

murder and punishable by


each gathering to see

This was in the rule of Lord Wellesley.


at

Sepoys were stationed


the law observed.

Strange to say the people

quietly assented, the practice

soon

fell

into disuse,

and

this special

form of infanticide has so com-

pletely disappeared

from sight that

it is

often de-

nied that

it

ever existed.

One
It is

of the

Swamis who

visited

America pro-

tested that he had never heard of such a thing.

no doubt thought by some to be an instance

of missionary exaggeration.

The French lady


said
in

Swami,

Abhayananda,

recently

this

country that "in India children are thrown into


the Ganges and under the wheel of the car of

Jagannath;

and that she has been

constantly

asked

how

such things are possible in the land


It is

of the beautiful Vedanta philosophy."

per-

haps true that uninformed people


that because
ists.
it

at

home

think

once was a custom, that

it still

exthe
it, it

But
"
;

missionaries

do

not

circulate
refer to

"calumny
is

and whenever they do

to give thanks that the gospel's influence has

caused so inhuman a custom to cease.


153

The Wrongs of
2.

Indian
it

Womanhood
has,

Rajput infanticide as
extent
still

and does to
of

some

exist in India.

The custom
in
it

throwing

cliildren into the

Ganges had

the

sacrificial idea,

the appeasing of Deity; and was,


of the Ca-

in this

respect, like the infanticide

naanites and other peoples from a mistaken idea

of God, and the belief that they


a pleasure

were doing Him

and service; and

also to purchase bless-

ings or avert evil from themselves and families.

But Rajput infanticide


simple.
It

is

selfishness

pure and
rather
in-

is

preference for murder,

than
ferior

to

run the risk of having to

make

alliances for their daughters; or the dis-

grace of their remaining single should they not be


able to find suitable husbands for

them

or to es-

cape providing the large dowry which foolish

and extravagant customs have fixed

and de-

manded.

"And," says

a writer,

"the practice

of infanticide

was

often based on the

recommen-

dation of the
Rajputs,
tion,

Suttee; for surely,

reasoned the

we may

destroy a daughter by starva-

suffocation,

poison or neglect, of whose


of caste and
if

marriage in the line


family there
is little

dignity of

prospect,

widow may be

burned to save her chastity."


This crime has been the besetting sin of the
Rajputs, though

some other
154

tribes

have copied

it;

Infanticide
and, as Dr. Wilson says:

"Had

it

not been for

the merciful intervention of the British Govern-

ment, there

is

no saying to what extent


all

it

might

have spread through

the provinces of India."

The word Rajput


Rajas and princes.
to the ancient Solar

literally

means the sons of

They

trace their genealogy

and Lunar dynasties which


poor Rajput holds himself as

ruled in India.

"A

good

gentleman as the most powerful land-

holder.

Each one
There
is

is

a free citizen,

and

all

are

peers."

a certain dignity

and pride of
his

manner about
dition in
life

a Rajput;

no matter what
all

con-

may

be.

But, with

their martial

spirit, their

notions of honor, and the great re-

spect they give their often of


Suttee

women, who

are said to be

singular beauty,

infanticide

and the

rose to the

highest pitch
in

among them.
mentions
that

Major

Murdo writing

1818

among
For

the offspring of 8,000 Rajputs probably


alive.

not more than thirty females were


this barbarity there is

no

religious sanction

to plead, as in the case of the Suttee ; nor are the

Rajputs inferior to the other races in India in


feelings

of humanity;

but

it

is

the laws that


that

regulate

marriage

among them
its

have

so

powerfully promoted infanticide.

marry except within

No clan can own hne; and the fear of

155

Thfc

Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood

dishonor by having to marry a daughter into an


inferior
clan,

or that

she

should remain unlife

married, induces her parents to take her

rather

than run the

risk.

Besides, the foolish extrava-

gant marriage customs are feared and dreaded,

and help
girl.

to settle the fate of the


is

newborn baby
into

Her death

affected

by strangling her impill

mediately; by

an

opium
do
its

forced

the

mouth and

left to

silent

work; by coveris

ing the mother's breast with a poison which

taken in by the child


or

in its first

draught of milk;

by neglect and

starvation.

The
story:

Jarejas of

Guzerat

clan of

Rajputs

give as the origin of infanticide the following

"A
He

powerful Raja of their caste had a


singular

daughter of
ments.

beauty and accomplish-

sent his family priest to search for a

prince of equal rank and wealth as a husband for


her.

Failing to find such an one,

and seeing the

Raja's sorrow, he advised

him

to avoid the dis-

grace of having her remain unmarried by putting


her to death.
self to do;
all

This the Raja could not bring him-

but the priest volunteered to assume

the consequences of the sin, and he put her to

death."

The custom
British

first came to the knowledge of the Government in 1789. Jonathan Duncan,

156

Infanticide
of the Bengal Civil Service, and afterward Governor of Bombay, v^hile residing at Benares, dis-

covered the practice of infanticide

among

the

Raj kumars, originally denominated Rajputs, who were the most influential inhabitants of his
district

and supposed
In a

to be about forty

thousand

in

number.

putting

down

the

few months he succeeded in practice, and on being made

Governor of Bombay he discovered the same


practice

among

the Rajputs of Kathiawar and

Kutch.

Here, likewise, he spared no effort for

its abolition.

The Cathedral
first

of St.

Thomas,

in

Bombay, the
is

Protestant church built in India,

a very fitting place for a

monument
It is

covering

the grave of Jonathan Duncan.

surmounted

by two children holding


scribed,

a scroll on

which

is

in-

"Infanticide abolished in

Benares and

Kathiawar."

But

this

suppression

was only
it

temporary, especially

at Benares,

where

broke

out with fresh power.

This destruction of fe-

males
that

may be better realized if we state the fact among the Jarejas of Kutch there was, in
one female to eight males.

1846, only

Ever since the days of Duncan the English

Government has
culties.

dealt firmly

with

this evil.

It

has met with tremendous and persistent

diffiits

Ten years

after

government began

157

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


efforts in

Guzerat,

only sixty-three

girls

were

known
English

to

have been saved.


that

The names

of

some

officials,

might have otherwise been

soon forgotten, will always be remembered for


their noble

and persistent

efforts to suppress this

crime.

From some
is

districts the

custom has
girls

dis-

appeared; in others the proportion of

and

boys

more nearly equal; while


is

in a

few the
only

custom

apparently as

rife as ever.

"The

difference lies in this," says a recent writer, " that,

while before the British

rule, or

before the intro-

duction of the Indian Penal Code, the offence

was

perpetrated either openly, or without recourse to

much

skill

and ingenuity to conceal

it;

it is

now,

through fear of the law and punishment, committed with the utmost secrecy, and with such
cleverness
detection."
It

as

to

avoid

all

possible

chance of

would

require a separate

volume

to give an

adequate idea of the efforts and expedients gov-

ernment has adopted

to suppress the crime,

and

of the obstacles that have frustrated their efforts;


of their entreaties with the chiefs of the clans and

the rulers of the native states to abolish the crime

among them, and through them


opinion against
it;

to create a public

of the attempts to get the

leaders of the people to fix the 158

maximum

of mar-

Infanticide
riage expenses, (which
is

one of the greatest


or
to

in-

centives to

the crime),
practice
it
it.

excommunicate

those

who
it

Much

has been accom-

plished, but

has taken hundreds of years to

bring
In

about; and

much

yet remains to be done.

1890,

an Infanticide Act (Act VIII.)


for
its

was

passed that required

workings

special

police surveillance of the suspected villages; that


is,

villages

where the census returns showed a


between boys and
in
girls

vast disproportion

of the
eighty

same

age.

For instance,

one

tribe,

boys under twelve years of age were found and


only eight
girls;

and

in

one

district

one hundred

boys to eighty-seven
failure in bringing the

girls.

One great cause of offence home to the perpeall

trators

is

the combination or union of


It

the vil-

lagers to conceal the crime.

baffles detection

because of their sympathy with the perpetrators


of the crime

who, most presumably,

are fully

known
native
if

to them.
tells

The writer quoted above


Deputy Inspector of

the story of a

Police

who was

asked
I

he had any children, and replied: "Yes,

had

the misfortune to have

two
one
159

daughters, but

have
bless

dispatched both of them.

May God now


district, a

me

with a son!"

In

few years
as

ago, several hundred children

were returned

The Wrongs of
having been carried

Indian
off

Womanhood
all

by the wolves

of

whom were girls I We know of a Rajput woman who told a friend of ours that eight girls had been put out of the way in her family.

We trust that not many


past.

years will elapse before

infanticide, like the Suttee, will be a thing of the

160

XI

A CHAPTER OF INDIAN TESTIMONY


Europeans,
often

and

especially

missionaries,

are

accused of making erroneous and exag-

gerated statements about India and India's people,

particularly about the condition of

women.

We do

not resent the charge.

Perhaps some do,


"Missionaries

for as the Indian Witness says,

may sometimes
even

err in describing particular cases

as typical of the whole, and, being

human, may

exaggerate.

But

it

is

hardly possible to

portray the sad condition of Indian


erally, in

women, genwoes

too sombre colors.

Indians themselves

are our

most

reliable authority as to the

they

suffer,

and the disadvantages under which


For
this

they labor."
special pains,

reason

we

have taken

with few exceptions, to quote In-

dian authorities in these pages.

We

believe

some

of our Indian friends

statements out of ignorance of facts.

deny They have

been happily circumstanced themselves, and have


not

come

into close personal contact

with much

of the suffering of

which

we

write,

and hence

are unwilling to believe it exists. 161

Ramabai has

The Wrongs of
told us that

Indian

Womanhood
was
in

up

to the time she

sixteen or

seventeen years of age, although she had visited

almost every sacred shrine in India,

company

with her parents, and afterward with her brother,


she

was

so shielded that she

knew

nothing of the
till

evils

that existed in these places

long after-

ward.
Miss Thoburn says:
Joshi,

"The

late

Mrs. Anandibai

who

studied medicine in America,

willing to admit that child marriage

was unwas an evil.


relative,

Her

own

marriage at nine had been to a

her teacher and best friend; and with this experience, and the traditions of her people, she

had been unconscious of the suffering of

others.

She would have changed her mind, had she lived


to practice her profession in India."

Then people may


their

live

so exclusive a

life

in

own

caste, as to

be ignorant of the customs


castes.

and practices of other


this to

We believe that

some degree, accounts for the different statements made to travellers. The traveller argues thus:

"Now
know
?"

here

is

a sensible Hindu.

If

he does not
should

about his

own

people,

who

know muralis, we
it,

In

our investigations about the

asked questions of

many Hindu

friends, only to find

some knew nothing about


162

and though others knew there was such a

Chapter of Indian Testimony


it

custom, yet they had never paid attention to

and could give no information.

On
facts.

the other hand, there

is

sometimes an unto

willingness on the part of

some

admit the

real

Mr. Malabari in speaking about India re-

forming herself says:

"And what
in this

is

the present
?

phase of Indian patriotism

connection
first

Whenever
ceal.

a defect

is

pointed out, the


is

im-

pulse of our average patriot

to justify

and con-

How

can he be a witness to a cause,


it

when

he

is

anxious to hide the truth of


?

from the

world's gaze
is

The only way


is

to reach perfection

by getting
In

rid of

imperfections at any cost."


often said against European
it

view of what

writers and speakers,

has seemed best to have

a chapter of Indian testimony concerning these

wrongs, and thus

set forth

the

opinions

our

friends themselves hold concerning the evils in

question.

Take

first

the matter of custom:


C.
I.

Dr. R. G.

Bhandarkar,

E.,

Vice Chancellor of

the

Bombay

University, in

an address delivered in
a

1894, said

"Custom

is

god

whom

our race de-

voutly worships, and religious sanction

was

ac-

corded to these practices by the insertion of


texts in the later books.
. .
.

later

The question
liberalized

now

is,

whether with our minds


163

by

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


English

education

and contact with European


continue to worship custom

civilization,

we

shall

and be

its slaves,

and allow our moral sentiments and our unjust and


If

to remain dead,
tices to flourish.

cruel prac-

an education does not lead

us to protest against them, that education must

be considered to be merely

superficial.

Custom has been and


our religion."

is

an authority; custom

is

The Indian
the

Social

Reformer declared, about


is

same

time, that "It

futile to
ills,

suppose that

India can herself heal her


is

if

only more light

given her.

The

history of Social

Reform

for

the last twenty-five years attests to this.

Re-

formers

have published the injunctions of the

shastras on the subject of the disfigurement of


the

widow.

They have shown


is

that the

custom
all

has not the sanction of the shastras.

But

the

same, the Hindu community

heedless of their

words.

Is

it

not foolish to expect that a com-

munity

like

ours can be reasoned into


sense
?

wisdom

and

common

the motive

power

to

The community has lost initiate, or welcome any

wholesome reform."
Mr. B. N. Das, an Indian lawyer of high repute,

writing

to

the

"

We

are living in a

Lucknow Advocate says: stormy epoch. We want a


164

Chapter of Indian Testimony-

stormy patriotism, a patriotism independent and


uncompromising, reckless of consequences, and
ready to do battle with every social
of political evils
iquities
is
ill.

The cup

full,

the burden of social in-

has

become

so intolerable, and the tyranny


foul, that a

of custom stands out so red and

mil-

itant uprising of the better spirit in

men

against

them has become one of the


of national salvation."

essential conditions

The

editor of the Bengalee,

commenting on

letter of

" Prof.
in

Max Muller's, says: Max Muller writes

a letter to the Times,


for the child-wid-

which he eloquently pleads


of India.

ows

Theirs indeed
all

is

a pitiable

lot,

and

should

move the hearts of He very properly points

good men and


it is

true.

out, that

a part of

the existing Hindu

law, that child-widows should

be consigned to

this life of

misery

and that the

law should be changed.

The manners of men


This
so

changed with the times, and laws should change


with manners and modes of thought.
obvious and elementary a principle, that
der our countrymen do not see
it,

is

we wonit,

or seeing

do

not act upon

it.

Laws which

are antiquated

and

behind the manners of the age must impede the

march of

society.

Laws should
;

not be modified,

or changed too soon

but
165

it is

a fatal

mistake to

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


refuse to change them,

when

the necessity for

such change has become apparenj.

We

have

been committing
gether.

this

mistake for centuries toourselves to be guided

We have allowed
rules,

by ironclad

some

of

which

are

wholly un-

suited to the circumstances of the times,

and to

our present environments, and


slaves of

we

have become

customs which have tyrannized over us

with a rigor surpassing the rigor of the most


despotic Governments in the world.

The worst

form of slavery
his chains

is

that in

which the slave hugs

and does not

realize his true condition.

We
our

are afraid

we

have become the bondsmen of


victims in

own

creation,

many

cases of in-

stitutions,

which the great


founders
they were

legislators of the past,

the illustrious

of the

Hindu system,
declare to be

would,

if

now

living,

wholly unsuited to the circumstances of the present day.

The

institution of enforced

widow-

hood, and the prohibition to sea voyage are cases


in point."

At

meeting of the Madras Social Reform As1894,

sociation in

one of the speakers, Mr.

B.

Varada Charlu,
is

said,
all

"Custom
autocrats,

in

Hindu Society
will tolerate

the autocrat of

and

not the least sign of a spirit of inquiry.


a religion

Surely

which has been allowed


166

to so far de-

Chapter of Indian Testimony

generate as to give every prominence to mere


externalities
life

without any reference to the inner

of

its
It

votaries,
is

must

either

mend

or end very

soon.

poor consolation to be told that our

present social customs had a religious significance


in

the past, and should, for that reason,

if

for

no

other, be preserved intact for future generations

to unravel

the forgotten mysteries and infuse


into them.

fresh

life

By

all

means,

if

one

is

so

inclined, let

him preserve old customs where they him


not, at this fag

are of an inocuous or indifferent character, but


certainly let

end of the nine-

teenth century, deny the right of the individual,

even though he be a Hindu, to act according to


the dictates of his conscience and of his reason
especially

when

those customs are unsuited to

present circumstances and pernicious in their effects

on society."
present,
also,

We
A

few testimonies on

the

matter of Enforced Widowhood.


recent correspondent of the Indian Social Re-

former, writes on the subject of enforced widowhood, as follows: " In the days of my early
childhood," writes a friend from the mofussil,

" in those days


trate

when

the

mind can hardly pene-

through the thick folds of mystery which

shroud half the things of the world,


167

my

simple

The Wrongs of
mind was drawn
widow.
head,
in

Indian

Womanhood
Hindu
her disfigured

to the subject of the


attire,

Her melancholy

her careworn appearance, the rude


is

way
these

which she

handled by our society,

all

created in

me

the impression that the

widow
two
of a

somehow belonged

not to the ranks of the

recognized sexes, that possibly she might be a

being of a third sex, or


totally

else

member

different

species

of the animal

world!

Nearly twenty-five years have elapsed since that

crude notion entered

my

brain,
I

and yet not

all

the education and experience


totally

have gained has

erased that belief of mine, though they


it,

have considerably modified

as they

do so

many

of our childish vagaries

and

crudities.

Verily the Hindu

widow

belongs to a separate

sex, a different order of living beings!

Widowin this

hood anywhere
injury."

is

tormenting enough; and

glorious land of Arvavarth, custom adds insult to

Another Indian writer

testifies thus:

"At

the

recent Akola Sessions, the judge passed a sentence

of transportation for

life

on one, Tani,

for having

killed her infant child.


tale of a

...
.

It
.

was
.

the usual

Hindu child-widow.
accused

Says the

Judge:

"The

whose husband died

was a Brahman widow when she was still a child.


168

A
woman

Chapter of Indian Testimony


that of a desperate

The crime she committed was

bent on hiding her shame, and with the

loss of caste staring her in the face.

Such crimes,

although they must be severely punished, are to

some

extent venial, and


to

shall

move

the Local

Government

commute

the sentence to one of

six years' rigorous

imprisonment."

bewailed the fate of the Hindu


noted case after case
creatures are, for
in

Many have widow and have


to

which the unfortunate

mere shame, compelled

com-

mit serious crimes.

mere

perversity,

The Hindu widow has by blindfoldedness of those most


inhuman

concerned, been long a suffering, though unwilling


victim at the sacrifice of inexorable and

customs.

Now and

then comes to light a serious

case like the present; but

how many more may


cases,

be occurring which are never brought to public


notice!

These occasional

however, hardly
stolid, indifferent

excite public opinion,

and the
any

communities again relapse into


ness.

their usual
rate,

drowsi-

Educated

India, at

was expected

to

come

to the rescue,

and give

new

direction

to the trend of public opinion; but the

hope has

never been realized.


present day
is

The educated man of the


but
in all other depart-

a person entirely without a backin this,

bone, not only

ments of

public

activities.

Persons speaking

169

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


from Congress platforms, and loudly demanding
rights

and privileges from government, might


with greater
effect

certainly direct their attention

to matters social.
ovi^n

To
is is

rectify social evils one's

moral courage

a necessary ingredient and

no extraneous help
matters;
to very

necessary as in political
little

but politics means very


social

sacrifice
real

many, while

problems involve

self-sacrifice

and personal suffering by

loss of

caste

and excommunication."

Mr. K. Subba Rao, in a lecture on the remarriage of child-widows,

made

this
is,

statement:

"The widow's

presence

on certain occaThere are even


educated and un-

sions, regarded as inauspicious.


yet, in the year of grace, 1895,

educated

men by hundreds and thousands who,


from
their

while

starting

homes bent upon

achieving

some cherished
reptile,

end, pass a
if

few

steps

and suddenly
coming
contend
in

retrace their steps, as

stung by

some venomous
that,

because they see a widow

front of them.
in

Some

of

them even

their

everyday experience, the

ominous presentment which the presence of the

widow
While

suggested to them, was verified by sub-

sequent occurrences in the course of the day.


it

is

not within
all

my
170

province to offer ex-

planations for

the chapter of inexplicable ac-

A
cidents,

Chapter of Indian Testimony

what

wish

to

impress

upon your

minds
of a
is
I

is

the existence of this deep-seated preju-

dice, the

widely prevalent belief that the presence


forebodes
evil or failure.

widow

This belief

transmitted from generation to generation, and

am

not sure that even the most polished and

cultured
it.

among
is

us have been always free from

This

a living evidence of the centuries that

have elapsed since the degradation of

women

be-

gan

in this

country.

Sometimes the most

affec-

tionate of sons

and brothers have had the sor-

rowful duty of imploring their

widowed mothers
movements on

and

sisters to

be careful of

their

festive occasions like marriage,

when bad and


of the famine

good omens play an important


says: "Nature

part."

The Poonah Siidharah, speaking

would be

herself again,

and the
There

unfortunate people

who have suffered severe losses


lot.

would soon be would


still

reconciled to their

be a very considerable number of

miserable beings

who

will not forget their mis-

fortunes because the society to which they be-

long will not allow them to do

so.
is

The helpless
dark misery,

pTire

Hindu child-widow, whose lot and simple, unmixed with


of
bitter

the slightest ray

of hope or escape, will continue


tears

sorrow.
171

to mope and shed The number of these

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
will

poor victims to the bigotry of their community


is

always

large,

but this year

it

be three or
Let the
at
all,

four times as large at the smallest.

Hindu community move,

if

it

can

move

and do something for the amelioration of

their
at

own

sisters

and daughters.

Let

them show

least that

they are alive to the fact that the poor

sufferers are their

own

flesh

and blood.

We wrote

a series of articles in our Vernacular

columns, on the desirability of approaching gov-

ernment with a view


law, so as to

to

amend

the existing penal

make

the disfigurement of

Hindu

widows under the age of twenty-one punishable."

We

turn

now

to the nautch-girl,

and on

this

point a couple of testimonies must suffice.

Dr.

Bhandarkar

said, a

few years

ago, in a public ad-

dress: "I have always been of the opinion that

he

who

patronizes dancing-girls does not suffi-

ciently hate the

immoral

life

which they professwhich the noinstitution

edly lead, or value as highly as he ought to do,

female purity, which


ble qualities of

is

the soil on

women

grow.

The

of

Nautch cannot but have

a debasing effect
I

on

the morality of

men and women.


in a
if

shall

not,

without strong proof believe


faithful

man's being a
in

husband

he takes delight
172

giving

A
Nautch

Chapter of Indian Testimony


parties

and attending them.

To have

nautch at one's

own

house

is

to give an object

lesson in immorality to the boys and girls in the

family; and especially to the former.


as the

As long
us,

Nautch
our

is

fashionable
it

among

and

is

freely indulged in,


rality of

is

impossible that the

mo-

men

should greatly improve, or that

our respect for M^omen should increase; and in a

country in which

women

are

trampled upon,

there can be no great advantage in social and

moral matters."

The Indian
to

Social

Reformer of June

9th, 1894,

asks very pertinently:

"What
?

has a prostitute

do

in a

marriage ceremony

How

does her
?

presence add grace or sanctity to such occasion

virgin-widow, pure as
is

the dove,

snow and innocent as an unwelcome guest to a marriage

pandal.
sold her

But a shameless prostitute


all,

who

has

must

tie

the

mangala sutra round


inconnotions of immorality
to say

the neck of the bride.


sistency
!

What monstrous

What degraded

Has Annie Besant or Vivekananda naught


to this
}

We

say that the dancing-girl and the

child-widow are the two great blots on our social

system and our Hinduism."


the question of Child Marriage Mr.

On

Mun-

mohan Ghose

says: "I look


173

upon the system of

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


child marriage as the greatest curse of our country."

And

Mr.

S.

N. Tagore adds:

"It

is

canker that eats into the vitals of our national


existence,

and which,

if

not removed in time,

may

lead to the degeneracy


race."

and decay of the

whole

Sir T.

Madhaw Rao
it

says: "

And

also

am

of

the opinion that such limit should

be

fixed.

Even
good.

if

is

fixed at ten,

it

will

do considerable

It

may be

fixed at fourteen or fifteen for

non-Brahmans."
Mr.
B.

M. Malabari writes
as old as

as

follows:
in

"A

Madras native paper reports a marriage


the bride
is

which
years,

from seven to eight


!

and the bridegroom only sixty years old

Well
is

may

the reporter ask

if

such a marriage

not

worse

than slavery for the child-wife.

Madras

friend told

me

last

year of a marriage

in

which

the bride

was

eighteen months, and the brideyears.


in

groom about twenty-two


riages heard or

Are such mar-

dreamed of

any other part of

the world.?

So much for our progress."

Surely these brief but clear and pointed testimonies

from members of the Hindu

race, will

show

that

we

have not

in

any

way

overstated the

matters with which

we
174

are dealing,

but have

rather understated the facts than otherwise.

XII

THE POSITION OF GOVERNMENT

NATIVE once said "that the British rule


in

was

good

every way, only that we cannot treat our

wives as we used to."

We
and

wish

to consider just

how

far this is true,

just

what the govern-

ment has done


dition of

for the amelioration of the con-

women.

The

old East India


Elizabeth,

Company was
December

incorporated

by Queen

31st, 1600, just as

the sixteenth century passed away.

Up

to 1773,

the government of Calcutta, Madras and

Bombay
In

had been that of Independent Presidencies.


1773 the Regulating Act
presidencies

was adopted,

the three

were united under one government,


all

and a Governor-General was appointed for


India,

with a Supreme Council and a Court of

Judicature.

Warren Hastings was the

first

Gov-

ernor-General.
In
1

78 1 another Act of Parliament

was passed
which

which authorized the Governor-General and the


Council of Bengal to

make

regulations

should have the force of law.


East India

The

policy of the

Company was

to leave the people un175

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


disturbed in the exercise of their religious, do-

mestic and social customs.

Hindus were judged


their sacred books,

by Hindu law framed from


from the Koran.
But

and Mohammedans by Mohammedan law derived


in all other matters,

such

as contracts, civil wrongs, crimes or " wherever

any question arose which affected the followers


of
all

religions alike,

it

was

necessary to have a

common

code to
all

which there could be an equal


parties."
In
this,

appeal from

1781

government
in

began to give attention to


Macaulay was sent out to Lord Bentinck, as a
legal

and

1834 Lord

India,

in the

days of

member

of the

Gov-

ernor-General's Council, to prepare a penal code


for the use of the

government of

India.

During the

rule of

Lord Canning, came the


This was the deathblow
the birth of

Indian mutiny in 1857.

of the old East India


the

Company and

new

empire.

The
India

story of the mutiny roused

the whole British nation, and in July, 1858, the

government of
East India
1858,

was

transferred
In

from the

Company to the Crown.


all

November,

a proclamation in

the different Indian

languages

was

issued, declaring that


direct

Her Majesty

had assumed the


Empire.

government of her Eastern

The Governor-General ceased to rule in the name of the East India Company, and became
176

The
the

Position of

Government
was

Viceroy of India.

This proclamation
civil

read publicly in every station,

and

military,

with

every

accompaniment

of

ceremonial

splendor, and

was

received by

all

classes through-

out India with the greatest enthusiasm.

Among

other things promised, were the following:


to the natives of our Indian terby the same obligations of duty which bind us to all other subjects ; and those obligations, by the blessing of Almighty

"

We

hold ourselves bound

ritories

God, we shall faithfully and conscientiously fulfill, " Firmly relying ourselves on the truth of Christianity, and acknowledging with gratitude the solaceof religion, we disclaim
alike the right

and

the desire to impose our convictions


it

on any

of our subjects.
that none be by reason of
in

We declare

to

be our Royal will and pleasure

anywise favored, none molested or disquieted,

their religious faith or observances; but that all

shall alike enjoy the equal

and impartial protection of the law


all those
all

and we do

strictly

charge and enjoin

who may be

in

authority under us, that they abstain from

interference with

the religious belief or worship of any of our subjects, on pain of

our highest displeasure,


"

When, by

the blessing of Providence, internal tranquillity


it is

shall be restored,

our earnest desire to stimulate the peace-

ful industry of India, to

promote works of public

utility

and imof

provement, and
all

to administer its

government
and

for the benefit

our subjects resident therein.

In their prosperity will be our


in their gratitude

strength, in their contentment our security,

our best reward.


strength
to

power grant unto us carry out these our wishes for the good of our
the

And may

God

of

all

people."

This proclamation has been called the

Magna

Charta of the Indian people.


177

Nineteen years

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


later,

January

ist,

1877,

Queen
it

Victoria,

with

great

pomp, and

certainly

can be said

in these

modern
perial

days, with unparalleled

splendor,
brilliant

was
Im-

proclaimed Empress of India.

The

Assemblage

at

Delhi
in

was
every

repeated with
civil

greater or less

ceremony

and

mili-

tary station in India.

Sixteen thousand prisoners

were

set free,

and public works were inaugurated


in

by the benevolent
this celebration

memory

of the day.

And

was understood

to be a renewal

of the proclamation and promise of non-interfer-

ence with the religious and social customs of the

people that
for the
first

was made

in 1858,

when

the

Crown

time took over India from the East

India

Company.

"Since i860, the Legislative Council of India


has from time to time enacted
as necessity has
cently,
'

many wise
them
;

laws,
re-

seemed

to call for

and

it

has been said by Sir Henry Maine, that


set of codes

British India is in possession of a

which approach the highest standard of


lence
In

excel-

which

this species of legislation

has reached.
"^

form,

intelligibility,

and comprehensiveness,
all

the Indian code stands against

competition.'

The proclamation
tion of the pledges
'

of 1858

was but

the reitera-

made
178

to the people

by the

India

and Malaysia, by Bishop Thoburn.

The
East India
faith

Position of

Government
article

Company, whose "firmest


that
all

of

was

the customs of the natives

should be scrupulously respected, and that nothing should be done to give

umbrage

to their reli-

gious prejudices."
tently

This policy has been consis-

adhered to throughout the rule of the

English in India.
it,

says a writer,

The only departures made from "have been taken under some
that an outrage not sanctioned

paramount sense

by God, and disapproved of by the higher conscience of the Indians themselves,


petrated,

shocking

to

the

was being perhuman mind and


legislation.
.

amounting

to a scandal

on our

But respect and protection for the special

reli-

gion of the Hindus cannot and must not allow


us to be blind to acts which are in contravention
of
all

religion,

and opposed to the most

clearly

established rights of humanity.

No

religion can

justify the sacrifice of innocent persons.


ilized

civ-

government
reputation.
this

is

bound

to protect

them or

lose
It

its

is

pledge to the people, reiterated in the

proclamation of 1858, and freshly emphasized in


the proceedings of January, 1877, that, as
ularly
is

pop-

believed, ties
justice

the hands of government

when

and humanity clamor for action on

the behalf of

women.

And
179

it is

also the cry of

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


the orthodox and opposing elements

amongst the
the English

Hindus against
Says Sir

legislative interference.

W. W.

Hunter:

"When

assumed the government of India, they gave emphatic pledges that they would leave the religious and domestic customs of the people undisturbed.

By degrees they found out


terrible
First, that as all

that there

were three very

customs affecting Hindu

women.

women

ought, accord-

ing to the religious law of the Hindus, to be

married; and as an unmarried daughter

is

con-

sidered a disgrace to a family, cliild marriage

was universal among


fillment of the law.

the higher castes in order to

avoid the possible disgrace and to secure the ful-

Second, that as

in certain

castes

it

was
all

difficult to find

husbands of equal

rank for

the daughters, and to defray the ex-

travagant cost of the


infanticide

wedding ceremonies, female was common. Third, that amongst


husband's funeral pile prevailed;

the highest castes the cruel rite of burning wid-

ows on

their

and that a
thus

widow who
to

did not burn herself


lifelong

was condemned

celibacy and

penance.

As the English

rulers realized the

inhumanity

of the domestic system

which they had under-

taken to perpetuate, the more conscientious of


180

The

Position of

Government

them were pricked


solemn and
explicit.

to the heart.

On

the one

hand, their pledges not to interfere had been

On

the other hand, they


to

found themselves compelled

be the daily ac-

complices of acts of abominable cruelty, and to recognize by law the organized murder of the

most
tion

helpless

classes

of

their

subjects.

two The

widow and

the infant,
in a

made them

whose defenseless condispecial manner the wards of

the State, were precisely the persons to


the State refused protection.

whom

For three-quarters of a century after Bengal

had
the

legally passed

under English administration,

new

rulers felt their

hands

tied

by the pledges

which they had given.


a

But during that period


in

maxim
was

of interpretation

regard to those

pledges had been acquiring precision and force.


It

at length

admitted that the British govreli-

ernment could maintain the customary and

gious law, only so far as that law did not conflict

with

its

higher duty

to protect the lives

of its

subjects."

Has
is

it

been an accident that the sovereign head of


this great

who

at the

empire should be a

woman; and
produced; as

that that

the noblest and best


if

woman should be one of women that the century has


181

Providence had decreed that the

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
women
the

people of India should have a living, standing


protest against their treatment of
in

person of their sovereign


to the census of

In India,
is

according

1891, there

a population of

over 287,000,000 under her rule; of which over


140,000,000
are

women
are
in

more than twice


all

as

many women
composed of

as

Great Britain and

America taken together.


Christians,

This large number is Mohammedans, Jains,

Parsees, Hindus, Buddhists

and Aborigines; but


are Hindus.
find,

the larger proportion of

them

Among

these

women we

by the same
Eliminating

census, nearly 23,000,000

widows.

widows of other religions, aged widows, widows with families, and widows of all but the two higher castes. Sir W. W. Hunter said, in
1886,

" Broadly speaking,

believe that there are

about 1,000,000 young

widows

of the

Brahman

and Rajput
celibacy

castes, to

whom

the system of forced

must be held

to be a cruel infringement

of their natural rights."

"adding these

to the

He further says young women of

that,

other

high castes, there are not less than 2,000,000

widows
law
is

in

India to

whom

the existing Hindu

an injustice and a wrong."

This Hindu
accepts.

law the

government recognizes, and


this

To make

mass of 2,000,000 injured


182

women

The
real to

Position of

Government
say that
it

our readers,

we may

is

equal

to the

whole population of the


has

women

of Scot-

land.

"This
Hindu

evil

its

root in child marriage.

All

girls are either

wives or widows before

they reach the age of fifteen; " and,


a large proportion of

may we

add,

them

are

mothers when
should be

they should be playing with


in

dolls, or

school.
girl

In

one of the Bombay hospitals a

young
little

of twelve years of age

was brought
birth to a

into the maternity


child,

ward.

She gave

but

in its birth

her sufferings were so


in

extreme that the doctor and nurse


quailed at the sight of
it.

attendance
said with

The doctor

much emotion and


ment should put
Again,
in

great indignation:

"Governare

a stop to such a thing."

every

other

country

women

found

in excess of

men; but

in India,

according

to the census in 1891, there are nearly six

and
In

one-quarter million less

women

than men.

our

estimation

this

large

number cannot be
to

wholly accounted for by the practice of female


infanticide; or

from an unwillingness

make

returns of the
taker; but

women

of the family to the census

by other wrongs against womanhood

that tend to shorten life as well.


It is

often said that the Acts bearing 183

upon these

The Wrongs of
matters
letter,

Indian

Womanhood
and a dead
It

are
in

practically inoperative

and

advance of public opinion.

is

true that in

some

respects they are; but on the

other hand they are not, and the result of

them

has been on the whole good; both as educative,

and

in strengthening the cause of reform.

Government often seems


ity,

to evade responsibil-

by throwing

it

upon the people with the exis

cuse that the measure proposed


opinion, or that
it

ahead of public
for

must be " asked

by

a sec-

tion sufficiently important in influence or in

numif

bers to justify the course proposed."

But
it

any

reform can be practically promoted, be by government identifying


itself

can only
it.

with

To
is

expect any unanimity, or anything approaching


it

among Hindus on any


and
if

social question,

an

impossibility;
till

government wishes
reached,
it

to wait

such unanimity

is

will

be impossi-

ble to

promote any reform however needful.

There are hundreds of

men

in India

be glad of legislative interference, and

who would who have


is

said of late, in a sort of despair, that there

no

hope of help from government.


educated
ence; yet
their

There are other

men who oppose


if
it,

legislative interferit

government would do

without

seeming to sanction
J84

they would be glad,

for then they could say to their people:

"What

The
can

Position of

Government
has done
it,

we do ? Government

and

we

must submit."

Government must be prepared


tiative

to take the ini-

in

any reform measure


its

if

they are con-

vinced of

necessity, without waiting for the

people to indorse their action.

Some

of these

wrongs

are a great iniquity and a scandal to any

government.

when
it.

it

was done they would acquiesce.


if

The people would grumble; but Hindu


else,

fatalism,

nothing

would help them


are

to

do

The

Indian

people

convinced of the

power

of the government, and

we
is

feel that all

it

needs to promote any reform


courageous; and

to be simply

we do

not believe there

would

be any resistance to any of their righteous measures.


is

With governments,

as with individuals,

it

always right to do right without regard to


in his "

consequences.

Kaye,

Administration of the East India

Company," speaking of the Suttee Act, says what we believe is equally true now: "It was a
great experiment and a successful one.
cess
Its

suc-

was fraught with a great lesson. The prime want of human governments is a want of faith.

bold policy

is

generally a successful one.


is

It is

always successful when the boldness


sult of a strong

the reis

determination to do what
185

right

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
to

and to leave secondary considerations


selves.

them-

We

have been continually conjuring up

bugbears in the distance, only to discover, upon


a nearer approach, that they are the merest con-

ceptions of the brain.


that a righteous policy

If is

we would

only believe

sure in the end to be a

successful one,

unnecessary

how much groundless alarm and anxiety we should be spared in all

our dealings with our fellows."

We
1.

summarize our thought upon these points


Sooner or

as follows:
later,

government

will

have to

face the question of fixing the marriageable age

of

girls.

We

feel that

it

made

a great mistake in

refusing the recent Madras


that
2.
it

Bill,

with the excuse

was ahead

of public opinion.
the enactment

We

trust that, very soon,

relating to the Restitution


will

of Conjugal

Rights
so as to

be abolished, or

at least

amended

make imprisonment
3.

impossible.

We

trust the forfeiture-of-property clause

may be
rights.
4.

modified, so that a

widow,

in the

event
civil

of remarriage,

may

be able to retain her

We

do not plead for a divorce law


that the

for the

wife, so

much

as that the "rights" of the hus-

band may be modified, and


186

two may be

The
put
in a

Position of

Government
position.
If

more nearly equal

the wife

has no redress, then the husband should not be permitted to discard her.

Hindu law does not

regard even flagrant immorality on the part of


the husband as ground for a judicial separation

between husband and wife.


5.

We

plead that government disallow the


little

adoption of

girls

by Nautch

girls;

and that

the dedication of girls to gods or temples be distinctly

brought under the law

in

such manner as

to enforce punishment for every such offence.

Says Justice M. G. Ranade to his fellow-countrymen: " If we are to abjure government help

under

all

circumstances,
the

we must

perforce

fall

back behind
Christians,

Parsees,

Mohammedans and
arrangements.

who
it

have freely availed themselves of

such help
Further, as

in recasting their social


is

likely that foreign rule will last

over us for an indefinite length of time,

we

re-

duce ourselves, by accepting

this policy, to the

extreme absurdity of shutting out a very useful


help for
ters,

many

centuries to come.

In

such mat-

the distinction
is

of

foreign

and domestic
It

rulers

a distinction without a difference.

has a meaning and significance

when
but

foreign in-

terests override native interests;

when

the

foreigners have no interest to serve, and the ini187

The Wrongs of
tiative
is

Indian

Womanhood

to be
is

all

our own, the recognition of

State help

not open to the stock objection

urged by those

who

think that

we

forfeit

our inlines

dependence by seeking such regulation on


approved by us."
It

has not been our desire to do any injustice

to

government, because
situation
in

we

fully realize the peit

culiar

which

is

placed by the

pledges which have been given; but, at the same


time,

we

dare not ignore the great opportunities

and

responsibilities of

government
the

to the millions

of oppressed

women
rise to

under them; and


full

we

plead

with them to

height of their op-

portunity and responsibility, and to be true to the


trust given

them when God allowed


their rule.
In

India to

come under
sity
is

view of

this,

we

are

impressed with the fact of


for the divine

for

all

those in

how great the necescommand that we "pray authority," that they may rule in
failure
it

righteousness:

and what a

is

for

all

Christians to neglect this

command.

188

XIII

WHAT GOVERNMENT
Let us

HAS DONE
for

now

see

what government has done

the mitigation of these wrongs:


1.

While the Female

Infanticide Act of 1870


first

does not properly come


ginnings,
it

here, yet, in

its

be-

was one

of the earliest forms of the

wrongs
tion.

of

woman

to

engage the public attendiscovered by Carey and

Sacrificial infanticide,

his

fellow-workers

in 1794,

was soon completely


but
is

abolished

by government;

the
still

complete
in the fu-

abolition of Rajput infanticide

ture tense.

Rules have been passed under the


in

above Act which are working well

the local
is

government of the Punjab, and our prayer


it

that

may
2.

not be long

till

the crime ceases to exist

in India.

The enactment secured by Carey for prohibiting the sacrifice of children at Ganga Sagar
and on the Ganges, was soon quoted as a precedent for further reform.
the
first

Lord Wellesley took

steps in

1805 in

answer

to Carey's

me-

morial for the abolition of the Suttee, and had he


189

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


remained
in
office a

year longer, a prohibitory


in

Act would have been passed


clined to

1808.

He

de-

notice the

"prohibitory regulations"

recommended by civilian judges; but these were adopted by Lord Minto, in 1812, who issued the
following instructions to his magistrates: " Thie

government
pundits,

after considering the rephes of the


tlie

premised that

practice,

generally

speaking, being recognized and encouraged by


the

Hindu

religion,

it

appears evident that the

course which the British Government should fol-

low, according to the principle of religious


eration already noticed,
in
is

tol-

to allow the practice


it

those cases in which


religion,
it

is

countenanced by
it

their

and to prevent

in

others in

which

is

by the same authority prohibited."


to interfere

The magistrates were then ordered


under the following conditions:
(i)

To

prevent undue influences on the part

of the relatives of the Brahmans, or any one, on

the

widow

to induce her to burn,

(2)

To prevent
it

the criminal practice of drug-

ging her to have


(3)

done.
if

To

ascertain

she had attained the age

fixed

by Hindu law

at

which they were permitted

to burn themselves.
(4)
If

pregnant, she

was not allowed


190

to burn.

What Government Has Done


The
police

were required

to inquire into cases

to see that they fulfilled these regulations, or to

otherwise forbid the burning.


In
that,
1

817 these orders were further modified; so


the

if

widow were

not in

good
if

health;

if

she had a child under four; or

she had chil-

dren under seven for

whom

she could not pro-

vide a suitable guardian, she


burn.

was forbidden
and that
it

to

Also the family were to give due notificait

tion of the burning to the authorities,

was
the

not to be

left

to the police to find

out.

Magistrates often attended in person to see that

widow had

fair

play

if,

at the last, she

wished

to escape.

At

this apparent

government sanction of the


officials

Suttee

many high-minded

revolted.
in their
in

Carey and his colleagues never ceased


agitation of the subject both in
India.
In the

England and

twenty-one years that elapsed bein

tween Lord Wellesley's departure


tinck in
policy

1808,

and

the final prohibition of the custom by Lord Ben1829,

perhaps no question of Indian

was

ever so thoroughly sifted and so miIn

nutely discussed.

1824,

when Lord Amherst


was
again

was

Governor-General, the question

submitted and was one of the most pressing importance, and he came, says a writer, "to the
191

The Wrongs of
mortifying conclusion
to authorize

Indian
tiiat
it

Womanhood
would not be wise
with a hoary

any

direct interference

custom

in

which the priesthood had an immeIt

diate interest.

appeared to him that the wisest

course would be to trust to the progress of education,

and to
in his

let

Suttee die a natural death.


'I

He
not

wrote

minute on March, 1827:

am

prepared to

recommend an enactment

prohibit-

ing Suttee altogether.

...

must frankly
that

confess, though at the risk of being considered


insensible to the enormity of the inclined to
ress
evil,
I

am

recommend our trusting to the prognow making in the diffusion of knowledge


suppression of this detestable
it

for the gradual


superstition,
I

cannot believe

possible that the


will long

burning, or burying alive of

widows

survive the advancement which every year brings

with

it

in

useful and rational learning.' "

The

next year he prophesied, "the progress of general instruction,

and the unostentatious exertions

of our local officers will produce the happy effect of a gradual diminution, and, at

no very

dis-

tant period, the final extinction of the barbarous


rite

of Suttee."

His prophecy came true

in

very short time, but in a different way from what

he prophesied.

Before that year closed


192

Lord

Bentinck was occupying the regal-chair, and on

What Government Has Done


December
4th, 1829,

an Act was passed prohibit-

ing the Suttee under stringent penal enactments


in the territories of British India.

The widow was thus rescued from the flames, but was left for the next twenty-seven years to the fate of what a leading reformer has
3.

appropriately called " cold Suttee."

In 1856, after

much

agitation,

Act XV. was passed by Lord

Canning.

This Act legalized the status of Hindu


contracting a second marriage, and their

widows
children

by such marriage.

There were upwards


bill,

of forty petitions against the


fifty

signed by from

to sixty

thousand people, while there were


bill

only twenty-five petitions in favor of the

bearing five thousand signatures.


did not preserve to the the
all

But

this

law
as

widow

her

civil rights,

widow on marrying

a second time, forfeits


if,"

property from her husband "as

says the

Act,

"she had then died."


that
is

The change

urged

is this,

that the

widow
re-

who
civil

remarries shall be equally protected in her


rights

by the law, with the widow


have been

who

mains unmarried.
of the
bill

The difficulty with the framers


to
that,

seems

under Hindu

law, a
dition

widow

inherits

from her husband on con-

of fulfilling

certain religious duties as a

widow, which

are for the spiritual benefit of the 193

The Wrongs of
husband and
do
if

Indian

Womanhood
slie

his ancestors,

which
is

could not

she remarried.

There

much

said for

and

against this phase of the case, but, says Sir

W.
the

W.

Hunter,

"It

is

questionable whether
to

time has not


clause of the

now come
law of

modify the
from

forfeiture

1856, in regard to property

which
will."

widow

inherits

her

husband's

In the forty-three years since the enactment,


is

it

estimated that about five hundred

widows have
It

remarried.
it,

But caste excommunicates them for


all

and sometimes

their friends

with them.

is this

awful persecution, and the public stigma


still

that

is

attached to remarriages, that

makes

the Act practically inoperative up to this time.


Is

there no

way

that government, having given

her permission and

made

it

lawful for her to re-

marry, can protect her from persecution after

marriage?

Could not excommunication for do-

made illegal ? Could it not be made criminal to injure the rights of a member of the community in this way ?
ing a lawful act be
4.

As

early as 1856, Dr. Chevers in his

book

entitled

"Medical

Jurisprudence

for

Bengal,"

called attention to this question

and showed that

the law, as
child wives.

it

stood,

was

insufficient to protect

He

reverts to the question in a later 194

What Government Has Done


edition in 1870,

and recommends an increase of

the age of consent by an

amendment
years.
in

of the penal
in

code which, since


i860,

it

had become operative

had stood

at ten in

Tiie revelations

Mr. Stead

made

London,

November,

1885,

which formed one of the factors


sixteen, called attention to tiie

in the raising of

the age of consent in England from thiirteen to


Indian Criminal

Law on
Service,

the

same subject

in this country.

Mr.
Civil

Dayaram Gidimul, of the Bombay Statutory


wrote a
series of articles in the

Indian

Spectator,

and brought the question more promiand made

nently before the Indian public, exposed the defects in the present law,

a proposal for

amending
lished
circulated

it.

These

letters

were afterward pubpamphlet form, and

by Mr. Malabari

in

among

the leaders of native society;

and, in this way, he elicited a large

opinions in favor of the


elicited the private

number of amendment. He also


remedy and published
legislation

opinion of the late Sir Maxwell

Melville in favor of a legal

the fact.

This led to the public meeting held in


in 1886, to

Bombay
toms.

oppose any

what-

ever affecting a reform of Hindu marriage cus-

The pundits

of Poona also took up the

matter about the same time, and waited on Lord

Reay

to protest against the proposal. 195

The sub-

The Wrongs of
ject

Indian
rest.

Womanhood
The

was

not allowed to

W.

C. T. U.

ladies memorialized government on the subject.


In

December,

1889, the social

Conference held

its

annual meeting in Bombay, and after

warm

dis-

cussion passed a resolution to government asking that the penal code be so

amended

as to ex-

tend protection to

girls,

married as well as un-

married, at least up to the age of twelve, and to


treat

any violation of

it

as felony. horrible death of Phul-

In June, 1890,

came the
girl

mani

Dasi, a

little

under twelve years.

Her
story

husband got one year's imprisonment.


of this
little

The

girl's

death roused both the Indian


In

and English and

public.

August, 189 1, the Social

Conference sent
this,

in their

memorial to government,

with the rumor that the Phulmani case

was
the

likely to lead to a revival of the proposal of

amendment
held

for raising the age of consent,

were among the immediate causes of public


meetings
against
it.

in

Madras,

Satara

and

Poona

Phulmani Dasi's death, one among

hundreds of such cases, brought matters to a

sudden head and

led the

way

to

immediate

action.

On

reading the account in the papers,

Mrs.

Mansell, an American lady doctor at

Lucknow,
which

got up that memorable memorial to government signed by fifty-five lady doctors


196
in India,

What Government Has Done


went
far

toward securing the amendment.


us,

A
I

noted Indian gentleman said to

"I thought

had known a great

deal,

but the facts that the

petition of the lady doctors

brought out were "

he shivered, his face contracted, and then he

added: "horrible."

The Indian Witness


"These
their
public.

of October,

1890, says:

cases are too horrible and sickening in


details to

awful

be given to the general


hilt
all

They prove

to the

the heavy

charges brought against the system of child marriage

on the ground of suffering


for
life,

inflicted.

Death,
torture

crippling
that
here.

agony

indescribable,

would put
If

a fiend to

shame

these

are

all

the officials of the Indian government


this

can read

memorial without blenching,

their

hearts are turned to stone."

The memorial confacts, the

cludes: " In

view of the above

under-

signed lady doctors and medical practitioners appeal to your Excellency's compassion to enact or

introduce a measure by which the consummation


of marriage will not be permitted before the wife

has passed the

full

age of fourteen years."

very interesting memorial

was

sent in signed

by eighteen hundred native


India,

ladies

from

all

over

addressed to Her Majesty, the Queen


to
this
effect:

Em-

press,

"We,
197

the

undersigned

The Wrongs
women

of Indian

Womanhood
this

living in India,

beg most reverently to

approach your Gracious Majesty with


ble petition, in the

hum-

hope

that your Gracious Maj-

esty will respond to our prayer,

and

direct such

steps to be taken as

may
is

appear meet to your

Majesty to prevent a cruel

wrong

to

which the

womanhood
was
of
in

of India

now

subject.

case

recently tried in Calcutta, the circumstances


are too horrible to relate; but,

which
the

coming
it

wake

of several such previous cases,

emphasizes the necessity for legislation


terests of child

in the in-

wives and other female minors.


interest

Well aware of the keen maternal


fare of

your

Gracious Majesty has always evinced in the wel-

your people,

we

venture to appeal to

your Majesty for redress, and


that our appeal will not be

we

feel confident

made

in vain.

The

remedy we seek
teen

is

that the criminal

law may be

so altered as to protect at least girls under four-

from

their

husbands,

as

well

as

from

strangers."

And

then followed an able and ex-

haustive argument for the passing of the

amend-

ment.
In the early part of 1890, Mr. Malabari

had gone

to

England hoping that the change would benefit


His presence there at this juncture
to bring the
198

his health.

was most opportune, and helped

What Government Has Done


pressure of public opinion in the home-land upon
the Indian government in the matter of this
Sir
bill.

Andrew

Scoble introduced the

bill

into the

vice-regal

council,

January 9th,

1891.

In

the

discussion

that

followed the introduction, the

Viceroy, Lord Lansdowne, said:

simply to afford protection to those


protect themselves; protection

"Our object is who cannot


a

from

form of

physical ill-usage

which

believe to be reprobated

by the most thoughtful section of the community,

which

is,

to the best of

my

belief, entirely

unsupported by religious sanction, and which,

under English law,


vitude for
ervations,
life.
I

is

punishable with penal serres-

Without any exceptions or

trust that the

measure thus limited


support of public
it

and

restricted, will receive the


I

opinion, and

cordially

commend

to the fa-

vorable consideration of the council."


After the most thorough sifting, as regards the
religious authorities

and prejudices of the people,


bill,

as well as the points in their objection to the


it

became law on March


5.

19, 189 1.

up
of

British

Aside from the Provinces that go to make India, there " are hundreds of native

states,

which

still

retain a greater or less degree

independence, and

are ruled over


called

by

their

hereditary princes.

These are
199

Feudatory

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


States.

The

traditional policy of the Indian

gov-

ernment has been for the Viceroy


British resident

to appoint a

who

resides at the Capital of the


is

Indian prince.

Nepaul

the only state in India

which
tance.
million.

is

really

independent.

Many

of these

states are insignificant

both

in size

and impor-

Only twelve have

a population of over a

Hyderabad and Mysore

are the largest,

the former with a population of about ten million

and the
This

latter of
last

about four million."


Mysore,
is

state,

in

Southern India;

and

in

1894, the Maharajah, since deceased, sechis very able

onded by
sellor,

and well-known coun-

Mr. Chentsalrao, passed an act prohibiting

the marriage of girls under eight years of age,

and forbidding the marriage of old men over


fifty

years with
act

young

girls

under fourteen years.

The
six

went

into operation six

months

after-

ward, and the punishment of any violation was


months' imprisonment, or a fine not exceeding five hundred rupees.

There was not much agitation, though

it

was

brought into force greatly against the wish of

many

of the people, even of


It

some

of the edu-

cated sections.
himself,

was

the act of the Maharajah

who was an enlightened man. A friend who has lived many years in Mysore writes us:
200

What Government Has Done


"The Act
is

on the whole working well.

There
inflict

has been a tendency for magistrates to


lenient fines.
I

fear the Act


I

is

not always fear-

lessly carried out.

know

of one case

where an

old

man

married a child wife, contrary to the

provisions of the Act, but, because he

was conhad a

nected with
place.

the

palace,
is

no prosecution took
that the Act has

My own

opinion

very beneficial effect upon the people.

"The
believe

chief influence has been educative,


will

and

it

soon become a custom to marry

at

the time fixed by government.


realized that
it is

The people have

not necessary to have their chil-

dren marry so early.


to

Those

who were
had

anxious

move

in that

direction have

their

hands

strengthened; and those eager for

early marriages

have been restrained.

But the Act only touches


If

the fringe of a great subject.

the true mar-

riageable age could be raised to thirteen or fourteen, a great

advance would have been made."

The

secretary to the

government of Mysore
and twenty-six

reported that in 1895-1896, thirty-nine persons

were prosecuted

in sixteen cases,

persons were convicted in thirteen cases.


Social Conference that

The
workit

met

in

1898, at Madras,

congratulates

itself

on the
201

fairly successful

ings of this

Act, and expresses the hope

will

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood

encourage other native states to follow the ex-

ample of Mysore.

The Maharajah

of Jeypore, a small Rajput state,

after consulting the highest religious authorities


at his court, has also fixed the marriageable

age

of girls in his state at fourteen.


6.

bill

has been proposed for the prevention

of child marriage in the presidency of Madras.

movement began The Madras Presidency


This

to take
is

shape

in

1897.
all

the foremost on

subjects of reform of any part of British India.

The

different social conferences in the presidency

expressed a conviction "that the time had come


for applying to

government

for legislation

on the

subject to fix at least the marriageable age for

boys,

if

not for

girls;

and to lay down a maxi-

mum
young

limit of
girls

age for old persons

who marry

on the plan adopted by the Mysore

government."

The Hindu
the

Social

pointed a committee to

same

subject.

Reform Association apdraw up a memorial on "The province of Mysore


is

borders on this presidency, and

inhabited

by

people

most of whose

institutions,

customs,

manners and
Madras of

religious observances are identical


in

with those of the people


all

Madras.

People of

castes have largely settled 202

them-

What Government Has Done


selves in Mysore,
riages

and vice versa, and intermarthis presi-

between people of Mysore and


If

dency are not uncommon.


like

a useful measure
at-

the present
in

one could be successfully

tempted
dency,

any part of

British India, this presiin

which has so much


is

common

with

Mysore,

best fitted for

its

introduction."
bills.

So

writes the framer of one of the

Two bills

were drafted proposing the marriageor both, for

able age of girls to be eight years, with an im-

prisonment of three months or a

fine,

any

violation of the Act.

This proposal the govin

ernment rejected as being


opinion.
It

advance of public

is

a question that, sooner or later,

government

will

have to face; and

we

believe

it

made
bill.

a mistake in refusing its sanction to this

resolution

was passed

at the last

Annual

National Social Congress that says:


" The Congress learns with regret that the government of
India has refused to sanction the introduction of the Infant Marriage Prevention Bills in the Local Legislative Council of

Madras, on the ground that in

its

opinion the measures proposed

were in advance of public opinion. As both the Marriage Bills were drafted on the lines of the Mysore Marriage Resolutions, and fixed the minimum limits below the ages which are now observed by most classes of the people, the Conference hopes
that, if the facts are properly

placed before the government,

it

will be satisfied that the bills

taken to them.

were not open to the objection The Conference, therefore, recommends that 203

The Wrongs of
early steps should be taken
to

Indian

Womanhood
it

by the Social Reform Association

memorialize government with a view that


to appoint a

may

be per-

suaded

Commission of Inquiry to ascertain the advance made by public opinion on this subject, and to advise
it

government on the action

should take in this matter."

7.

Though

affecting only the natives of the

district of

Malabar, in the Madras Presidency, and

dealing with a sectional difficulty, the Malabar

Marriage Law, passed in 1896,


importance.
It

is

a measure of

was introduced and conducted

through the Madras Legislative Council by the

Hon. Mr. C. Sankarao Nair, to whose perseverance, tact and moderation the success of this, the
first

attempt

at social legislation

on the
is

initiative

of a non-official
due.

member

of council,

entirely

marriages between

The law provides for the registration of members of the Malabar com-

munity, thus giving a legal basis to what has


hitherto been a purely social institution.
8.

There has also been passed an Act bearing


restitution of conjugal rights.
is

upon the
is

This law

not native to India;


is

neither

Hindu nor Mo-

hammedan; but
ment.
In

an English law that was imIt

ported into India.

is

enforced by imprison-

1885 the celebrated

Rakhmabai case
dismissed

was

tried

under

this law.

One judge
all

the case, as revolting to


204

sense of justice to

What Government Has Done


compel a

woman

to

consummate

a marriage that

had been arranged against her


her consent.

will,

and without
in fa-

But the High Court decided


In 1890,

vor of the man.


in

when

Mr. Malabari

was

England, he got up a very influential commit-

tee

on the subject of Reform of Indian Marriage

Laws.

They

sent in a memorial to the Indian

government, asking for four reforms.

One was
which
the
is

that the age of consent be raised to twelve,

was done; and


founded on
pudiated in

resolution three

was "that

suit for Restitution of

Conjugal Rights, which

ecclesiastical law,
its

and has

been re-

coercive

form

in all countries

of

Europe, and ought never to have been intro-

duced INTO India; that the continued prosecution


of such a suit
that
is

likely to

produce

injustice;

and

the whole requires

reconsideration at the

hands of government with a due regard to the


marriage laws and the habits and customs of the
people of India."
In

1894 a

bill

came before the

Legislative

Council proposing an
that

amendment
left to

to the effect

imprisonment be
It

the discretion of the


it

judges.

did not touch a

Hindu custom,

was

a ruling imported from England, and the opposition of a part of the Bengal press to the

amend-

ment

is

inexplicable.
305

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


The
day.
in
bill
It is

was not

passed.

The law remains

to-

an injustice to womankind, and exists

no other country.

No woman
It

can be imprisis

oned

in India for debt.

Truly, this

law that
in defer-

disfigures the statue-book.

was not

ence to Hindu law, or custom, that Rakhmabai


lost her case;

but under this English law that

was

practically obsolete at the time in

England;

and by the defeat of this case, the hand on the


dial of the

cause of

womanhood was

put back-

ward
9.

ten years.

The

India Universities, of

which there are


Calcutta, Lahore
fact of

five, located at Madras,

Bombay,
and

and Allahabad, are

all

open to women; a
in

which we
Perhaps

are justly proud,

which

we

are

ahead of the history of Western Universities.

we

reaped the

fruit of the agitation that

opened the

door of Western

Universities

to

women.
tions,

On

the page referring to


" in the

"Examinacalendar of

Honors and Degrees


University,
is

the

Bombay
'

the following unique

sentence: " In the following regulations the pro-

noun
glad

he

'

and

its

derivatives are used to denote

either sex, the

male or female."
be removed
206

We

shall

be

when

the heavy inequality between


shall

man

and

woman

in other depart-

ments of

life,

and when the

rights of "she, hers

What Government Has Done


and her"
his
shall

more nearly equal those of "he,


of Dufferin's scheme, or the

and him."

10.

The Countess

National Association for supplying medical aid


for

woman,

has also received gratifying atten-

tion.

The government
find hospitals

of India has a fully equipped


all

medical department for

India;
in

and you will


every

and dispensaries
But
as

town

of

almost

any
live

size.

nearly five

million

women

behind the purdah, and would not


practitioner;

see a male

and as

many more,

though not behind the purdah, are of the same


opinion; consequently, they often suffer severely

from the malpractice of ignorant


superstitious midwives.

doctors,

and

especially at the hands of the ignorant, bungling,

Said a lady doctor re-

cently in a distant city, with great indignation

"

should like to hang every one


1869,

in the city."

In

the American

Methodist's

Foreign

Missionary Society sent Miss Clara Swain to India,

the

first

woman

physician with a diploma


Later the Indian Fe-

that ever set foot in Asia.

male Normal School Society sent Miss Bielby to

Lucknow, whose name


with the origin of Lady

will ever
Dufiferin's

be associated
scheme.
For

many

years, lady missionaries alone carried


207

on

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


medical

work

for

women

in India.

Then came

the following break:

Miss Bielby

was

called to Punna, to attend the


ill.

Maharajah's wife

who was

She devoted herto return to

self to the sick lady,

and was about


In

her

work

in

Lucknow.

the meantime, the

Rani had learned that Miss Bielby was about


leaving for England.
In bidding her

good-bye,

she dismissed

all

her ladies and attendants so that

she could be alone with Miss Bielby, and said to


her:

"You
to tell

are going to

England, and

want

you

the

Queen and the Prince and Princess


of India suffer

of Wales, and the

what
sick.

the

women

men and women of England, when they are

Will you promise

me?"

She then ex-

plained that she asked for no change in their social


condition, but relief from cruel suffering;

and

begged Miss Bielby


son.

to give the

message

in per-

Miss Bielby explained the great difficulty

she would have in getting access to the queen.

"But," insisted the Rani, "did you not


that our queen

tell

me

was good and

gracious; that she

never heard of sorrow without sending a message to say


help.?"

how

sorry she was, and trying to

The Rani insisted on dictating a message: "Write it small, for want to put it into a
I

locket,

and you are

to

wear

this locket

around

208

What Government Has Done


your neck
it
till

you see our great queen, and give

to her yourself:

you

are not to

send

it

through

another."

When

the queen heard, through

some

of her

court ladies, of Miss Bielby's v^ork and message,

she determined to see her and hear

all

for herself.

Her Majesty
asked
said:

listened

with great

interest,

and

many

questions; and, turning to her ladies

"We

had no idea

it

was

as

bad as

this;

something must be done for these poor creatures."

a message

The queen accepted the locket and gave which might be given to every one
Miss Bielby spoke on the subject of

with

whom

such suffering of the

women
it

in India:

"We
we

should wish

generally

known that
InDIA."

sympathize with every effort made to re-

LIEVE THE SUFFERING OF

THE WOMEN OF

The
sail

subject attracted

much

attention in
just

Eng-

land; and, as Lord Dufferin

was
in

about to

for India as the viceroy-elect, the queen de-

sired

Lady Dufferin
This
is

to

do

all

her

power
story

in this

direction.

the touching

of

the

origin

of the National Association

which was
for India

organized after Lady Dufferin reached India in

August, 1885.
that

It

was one movement

was

received by Hindus and


209

Mohammedans

with acclamation, and which received their sup-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


port,
it

both
not a

in

sympathy and money.


Act,

And though

is

Government

and does not prop-

erly
it

come under

the heading of this chapter, yet

has had the patronage of the Queen-Empress


fitting

and of the Viceroy, and seemed

to

be

classed with the other efforts for reform.


II.

Female Education: government has done


deal in this line in establishing schools
for

good

and encouraging education


chapter.

women;

but

we

expect to treat this matter more fully in a

later

Besides

all

these enactments, there are a


in the Penal

few

minor provisions, both

Code and the

Criminal Procedure Code, which protect


especially Sections ^72
in

woman,

and 373. Besides, widows the Bombay Presidency have greater privileges

in the line of inheritance

from

their husbands,

and

in the disposal of the

same, than
is

widows

in

other parts of India.


influential

This

due probably to the

part

played by Mahratta Princesses

during the time of Shivaji and his successors.

The Mahrattas were once


like race

a freer

and more war-

than most of the peoples in India, which

probably insured greater freedom to their

women.

210

XIV

WHAT THE
Sir

REFORMERS HAVE DONE

Monier Williams says that " as often as


and
polytheistic

pantheistic

ideas

have been

pushed to preposterous extremes


action

in India, a re-

has always taken


that

place toward simple

monotheism;
the twelfth,
centuries,
all

the

reformers,

Ramanuja,
arose in

Madhva, Vallaba and Chaitanya,


thirteenth,
fifteenth

who

and sixteenth

taught the existence of one supreme


infinite

personal God, of

power, wisdom and


of
all

goodness, maker and

preserver

things,

whom

they called Vishnu, and

whom

they be-

lieved to be distinct

from the human soul and

the material world.

But none of them succeeded

in counteracting the corrupt tendencies inherent

in the

Vaishnava system, and notwithstanding


reformation accomplished, the tide
practices
set
in

the

partial

of degrading idolatrous

more

strongly than ever.

"Then followed
by Kabir

the monotheistic reaction, led

in the sixteenth century,

upon

shortly afterward

and improved by Nanak, the founder


in

of the Sikh religion.

These movements were,


211

The Wrongs of
a great measure,

Indian

Womanhood
influences.

due to

Mohammedan

Both Kabir and Nanak did their best to purify


the

Augean
the

stable of corrupt

Hindu

doctrine.

They even
dans on

tried to unite

Hindus and

Mohamme-

common ground
In the

of belief in the

unity of the godhead.

former they had


latter

only a limited success and in the

were

wholly unsuccessful."

Close upon the heels of the

Mohammedan

in-

vasion which had induced the reaction led by

Kabir and Nanak

in the sixteenth century, there

entered, through the arrival of the English in the

seventeenth century, the beginnings of a power

and influence destined


eventually

to

lead to reform,

and

we

believe to transform India, namely,

Christian truth.

Says

Sir

Monier Williams:

"Everywhere

at

the great centres of British authority, a mighty


stir

of thought began to be set in motion, and

able

men

educated by us made no secret of their

dissatisfaction

with the

national

religion,

and

their desire for a purer faith than that received

from

their

fathers.

At

the

moment when
appeared.

thoughtful

Hindus were thus asking for light


right

and leading, the

leader

The

Hindu reformation inaugurated by Ram Mohun


" Religious Thought and Life in India."
(1883.)

212

What
influences,

the Reformers
first

Have Done

Roy, was the

reformation due to Christian

and

to the diffusion of

European ideas

tlirough

English
theistical
^

modern
This

He was the first reformer of what may be called


education.
in

British India."

man was born

North

India, in 1774; a
offices

Brahman, whose father held

under the
rise

Mogul Emperor.

That

his

son might

to
in

some such

place, the father

had him educated

Persian and Arabic,

which of course included

tiie

Koran, and which startled his mind into questions of religious reform.

At the age of sixteen

he wrote a spirited attack against idolatry; and in


later

years he

attacks

was most vigorous upon the same evil. On


and
in January, 1830,

in

his public

his

advent in

Calcutta, he gathered about


thetic spirit,

him men of sympahe organized

the Hindu Unitarian church and set on foot the


Theistic

movement now so well known in India. He was the contemporary of the Serampore missionaries and Dr. Duff. He was the first
He was one
articles

prominent reformer that battled for the cause of

women.
and wrote
practice,

of the leading spirits in

the agitation for the abolishment of the Suttee,

and booklets denouncing the


it

and proving that


213

had no Vedic sanc(

" Religious Thought and Life in India."

1883.)

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


tion.

Besides,

when

he

the

first

native of rank

and

influence,

who had ventured to break through

the inveterate prejudices of centuries

arrived in
when
the

England

in

1831,

he was

present

famous memorial " affirming that the act of the


Suttee

was not only

a sacred duty, but an exalted

privilege,

denouncing the prohibition as a breach

of the promise that there should be no interfer-

ence with the religious customs of the Hindus,

and begging
Lord

for

its

restoration,"

was

sent by

Wm.

Bentinck to the Privy Council.

When
to the
in

presented to His Lordship, he had refused to rescind the act, but offered to transmit Privy Council.
it

Ram Mohun

Roy's presence

England

at the

time was a good antidote to the


in its defeat, as

memorial, and no doubt helped

did also the influence of Lord Wellesley, Grant,

and others.

Those
data; but

early days in India


is

were

stirring times
little

of which there
it

little

history and

reliable

was

the birth time of the reform


all

thought that has spread

over India.
find

Only here
trace of
it;

and

there,

now, can we

much

here an article written

by some enthusiast on the

condition of widows, and there a strong denunciation of child marriage, or of

some

other evil

that enthralled

women.
214

What

the Reformers

Have Done

Dr. Duff one evening

found the subject of de-

bate in a debating society of

some

fifty

Hindu

students to be " Wiietlier females ought to be

educated."

As

to the theory of the subject, they

ended

in

being unanimous.
Is it

One married youth


is

exclaimed, "
prohibited,
spirit
if

alleged that female education


letter, ?

not by the

at least
If

by the

of

some

of our shastras

any of the

shastras be found to advance


to reason,
feet."
I,

for one, will trample

Says Dr. Duff's

what is so contrary them under my biographer: "It was of

societies

where such questions were discussed,


newspaper exclaimed: 'The
is

that a vernacular

night of desolation and ignorance

beginning to

change
fate, is

its

black aspect, and the sky, big with

about to bring forth a storm of knowledge


will

which
that

sweep those
so

airy battlements

away
of

have

long

imprisoned

that

tide

thought.'

The next
ASAGAR,
the
bill

in

order

is

Ishwar Chandra Vidi-

who

led the agitation out of

which rose
in

for the remarriage of

widows,

1855-

1856.

He was

the learned and eminent principal

of the Sanskrit College in Calcutta.

He was

the

son of a poor Brahman, but he had a remarkable


mother, and
received
it is

said that

the inspiration
215

was from her that he to work for widows.


it

The Wrongs of
On

Indian

Womanhood

one occasion a child

house, and she

with tears

in her

widow came to her was so moved with pity that eyes she said to her son " Thou
:

hast read to the end of the shastras, and hast thou

found no sanction yet for

the remarriage of

widows ?"

This question

first

turned the atten-

tion of her son to the great subject that engrossed

much

of his

life,

and led

finally to the

passing of

the above Act.

His espousal of the cause of

women was

very earnest, and his proving that


remarriage to

the refusal of

widows had no
his
In

Vedic sanction had great weight because of


reputed
position
as a

Sanskrit scholar.

pamphlet on the subject of the remarriage of

widows he
of the

pathetically exclaims, after speaking

power mere custom

has:

"When men

consider the observance of mere forms as the


highest of duties and the greatest of virtues, in

such a country would that


born.

women were
thy
lot
is

never
in

Woman!
!

In

India

cast

misery

"

Such language to-day would be


C. Vidiasagar remained a
all

called

sentimental and exaggerated.

But so far as

we

can learn, Mr.

I.

most

orthodox Hindu

his

life,

and to him, possibly

more than any other man, is due the existence of the Act whereby a widow can remarry, provided
she and her friends are brave enough.
gl6

What
His statue

the Reformers

Have Done
Govern-

was
is

recently unveiled at the

ment Sanskrit
of the statue
a

College, Calcutta.

The unveiling

a significant incident inaugurating


life in

new

phase of public

India in

commemoBut constill

rating the lives of useful


link

men, and of making a


present.

between the past and

sidering the fact that the majority of Hindus


practically refuse remarriage

to

their

widows,

there

is

touch of irony

in the

action.

The

abolition of the

custom would have been

enduring and

fitting

monument

to his

a more name than

any block of sculptured marble.


Later on

came the wonderful


In

career of return

Keshub
his

Chunder
visit to

Sen.

1870,

on

his

from

England, he inaugurated a number of re-

forms.

When

in

England the

Times and the

Echo had struck him with the


couraging
people.

irresistible

power

of English public opinion in exposing wrong, enright,

and

educating

the

common

With
in

the ready instinct of a true re-

former, he started the Sitlav

Samachar {Cheap

News)

November,
first

1870.

It

was

weekly pice

paper, the
it

enterprise of

its

kind in India, and

made

a great sensation,

meeting with unex-

pected success.

Three or four thousand copies


classes

were sold weekly, and

who had

never

handled a newspaper before, began to eagerly


217

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


read and pay for
it.

This stimulated repeated


all

imitation, not only in Bengal, but


till,

over India,

at the present

moment, cheap journalism has


and has created
itself is

become

a widespread institution,

a public opinion which the government obliged to respect."^

Keshub Chunder Sen was so delighted with


the intelligence and refinement of the

women

of

England that he did


status of

all

in his

power

to raise the

women

in this

country.
ladies,
fifty

He

started a
at-

normal school for native


tended daily by nearly
ladies

which was

high caste

Hindu

from the Zenanas.


give an

Government was so
grant
of

pleased as to

annual
its

two

thousand rupees toward

support; and the im-

provement of women's condition took on a


impetus from that time.

new
in

kind of Ladies' Club


ladies read

was

also started,

which

and discussed papers.

Similar
Per-

societies

now

exist in

Madras and Bombay.

haps the most important measure he brought


about, that affects

marriage

Bill

that

women, was the Brahmowas passed largely through Mr.


which
is

Sen's efforts, on March 19th, 1872;


tically a

prac-

way

for the

performance of a

civil

marof

riage

between any two natives regardless


218

'"Life of Keshub Chunder Sen," by Protap Moozamdar.

What

the Reformers

Have Done
to
it is

caste or society.

The only drawback

that

the marrying parties have to declare that they do

not profess the Hindu,


Parsee,

Mohammedan,

Christian,

Buddhist,
it

Sikh,

or Jain religion.

This
it is,

has kept

from being more popular than

though a number of very interesting marriages


have been made possible by
2d,
1898, a
it.

On December
ocpossible
will

most
Madras,

interesting intermarriage

curred at

which

was

only

through
to be

this Act;

and which

we hope

prove

a forerunner of

many more.

The brave

couple, of different castes,

were Dr. Govindara-

julu Naidu, M. B., C. M. (Edin.) Medical Officer

to

His Highness the

Nizam's Imperial Service

Troops, Hyderabad; and Miss Sarojini Chatto-

padhyay.

As an

illustration of the possibilities

of present day reform,

we

quote a paragraph

from an Indian newspaper:


" Mrs.

Ram Mohan

Roy, a Brahmo lady of culture and

re-

and beauty to the solemnity of the occasion. The ceremony opened with a prayer by Mr. S. Somasundarum Pillai, B. A. and after the prescribed rituals had been gone through, Rao Bahadur Pandit
;

finement, acted as the bridesmaid and added grace

Veerasalingam Pantulu Guru,


sacred occasion.

officiated as the minister for the


to

After the minister's charge


life.

the

happy

couple regarding the responsibilities of

Dr. Aghorenath

gave away the bride and united the pair in holy wedlock in due form, the marriage being solemnized in the presence of Mr. F. D. Bird, the Registrar of Marriages of Madras Town. Rao

219

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood

Bahadur Pandit Veerasalingam Pantulu Guru then pronounced the benediction. Before the several guests dispersed, some refreshments were served and partaken with very great cheers amidst toasts and replies in perfect harmony without any disDuring the short time they spent in the tinction of caste. Brahmo Mandir the couple received the hearty congratulations of all friends present and drove off to Capper House Hotel, where Dr. and Mrs. Dr. Govindarajulu Naidu has been staying. Govindarajulu left Madras for Hyderabad on Sunday evening. "This interesting event must be regarded as unique in many respects, and as marking an epoch in the history of the reform movement in this country. The bridegroom belongs to the
Balija

community, whereas the bride


is

is

a Brahrnan by birth
is

the

former
are

a Madrasi, whereas the latter

a Bengali

and both
Naidu,

England-returned

Hindus.

Dr.

Govidarajulu

M.

B. C. M., completed his medical course in England,

and

his

wife, a Matriculate of the

Madras University, spent a couple of

years there to receive higher education."

Mr. Sen also set on foot another agitation on


the subject of ascertaining the proper marriageable age of

Hindu

girls.

As President of the
he
addressed,
in

Indian
April,

Reform
1871,

Association,

a circular letter to the


in India

most eminent

medical authorities

wishing to have their


This agitation and the

opinion on the question.

medical opinions obtained were most helpful in

educating public opinion on the subject.

In a

speech in the

Town

Hall in Calcutta,

he thus

summarized the views received:


" The medical authorities in Calcutta unanimously declare
that sixteen
is

the

minimum marriageable age


220

of girls in this

What
country.

the Reformers

Have Done
:

makes a valuable suggestion he holds commencement of adolescence, may for the present be regarded as the minimum age at which native girls may be allowed to marry, and may serve as a starting
Dr. Charles
that fourteen, being the

point for reform in this direction.


gestion,

In conformity with his sugreferees,

and the opinions given by the other


to follow the

we have

come

to

the conclusion that, for the present at least,

be expedient
fourteen the

provision in the

bill

it would which makes

minimum marriageable age


into maturity

of girls in this country,

leaving

it

in

the hands of time to develop this reform slowly

and gradually

and

fullness."

Thus, under the

Brahmo-Marriage
to the

Bill,

that

was afterward changed


Marriage Act, (and
Bill)
is

name of the Native

in

substance a Civil Marriage


to complete the age

the husband

was bound

of eighteen, and the wife fourteen; and also un-

der this Act, bigamy,


riages

polygamy and
in

infant

mar-

were made impossible


tide of

the

Brahmountil 1881,

Samaj.

The

reform kept swelling

when

new

reformer appeared on the scene.

This time not a Hindu, but a Parsee, Mr. B. H.

Malabari,
of

who

right royally espoused the cause

women, especially in respect to "enforced widowhood and child marriage." The next dec1

ade, 188 -1 89 1,
far the

forms what

we

feel

has been so
in India.

"golden age

" of social

reform

"It was the widow," wrote Malabari in 1885, " who first set me thinking about the whole
221

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


question."
tell
It

will

be best to

let his

biographer

his story.
like

"Malabari was not a Sanskrit scholar

Ram

Mohun Roy,
Hindu.

or Vidiasagar;
felt

and he was not a

But he

vividly the sin, the folly, the

unnaturalness of this custom of infant marriage,

and traced the woes of widowhood

to this cause.

How

this pernicious

custom could be abolished

was a question which long perplexed him. He knew full well the economy of Hindu homes; he was not unaware that many of these were happy homes in a way. But was there not a
large

amount of misery which could be


?

easily

avoided
stacle

tional

And was not this practice a dead obin the way of female education and of naprogress ? The evil was universally admitit

ted;

and surely
?

could not be an

evil

without a

remedy
"

He was thoroughly
difficulties

familiar with the tremen-

dous
fate

of the Hindu reformers and the

which had overtaken some of them.


easily put an
their

Hindu sovereign could have


such
practices
if

end to

convinced of
texts.

illegality

from the Shastric

But an alien govern-

ment was

Kumbha karan
its

(A Sleeping Giant)

in social matters, extremely difficult to

awaken

to a sense of

responsibility; while the strong222

What

the Reformers

Have Done
was harder

hold of Hindu usage and superstition


to conquer than Ravan's Lanka.

"What,

then,

was an

outsider to do for the


?

victims of these baneful customs


fold his arms,

Was

he to

and do nothing because he was an


as a
.
.

outsider
siders

Had humanity
.

whole any out-

within itself?

Was

it

not the

plain duty of every

man

to

do what

lay in his

power

to mitigate the hard lot of his brothers

and

sisters ?

Were

not the suffering child-brides, and

the suffering Hindu

widows, with

their

heads

shaved for the

sin of losing their

husbands, his
?
. .

own Was
never
girls

sisters,
it

though he was a Parsee

not clear that female education

would
?

make any

appreciable progress so long as


in their

had to be married
not

tender years

Had

Keshub Chunder Sen proved by the

opinions of medical experts in India that infant

marriage led to an unnaturally early development


of functions that

were

in the

long run ruinous to

the physical, and therefore to the mental strength


of the nation
?

Was

it

not infant marriage again

that led mainly to enforced

and unhappy widow-

hood

" Having resolved to devote himself to the


eradication of these evils, Malabari next thought

about the ways and means, and about the plan


223

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


of his campaign.

Suttee and Infanticide.


lation

He knew who had abolished He was averse to legis-

on the subjects which had interested him

so deeply; but he thought the moral support of


the
State

was
in the

essential.

Jotting

down

his

thoughts

form of

'notes,' he presented

himself one day in

May

or June, 1884, to Lord


^

Ripon the Viceroy,


Mr.
Malabari

at Simla."

received

most

sympathetic

hearing not only from the Viceroy but from


other
large
lated

members number of

of the government.
his " notes
"

He had

printed and circupersons.

among

official

and

non-official
freely,

The

press discussed

them

and they were


almost
all

translated

by the native papers


India.

into

the

vernaculars of

For the

first

time

the

wrongs
all

of Indian

women were

thus put before


representative.

India, or that In

which would be

September, 1884, the supreme government


to
all

forwarded the " notes"


for their opinion,

local

governments
October

and that they might consult


In
8,

representatives of native opinion.


1886,

government replied

in the

negative to the

measures proposed for

legislation in his "notes,"

some

of which, after a lapse of years,

seem un-

practical,
'

and
Life

justify the negation.

Government

and labors of Mr, B. H. Malabari.


224

What
policy in all

the Reformers

Have Done
its

in its repl3% after stating

the case, and

usual

such matters, added:


is

" Although there


vised,

much

to

be said in favor of each of these

suggestions, the Governor-General in council, as at present ad-

would prefer not

to interfere

even

to the limited extent


is

proposed, by legislative action until sufficient proof

forth-

coming

that legislation has

portant in

by a section, iminfluence or number, of the Hindu community itself,"


been asked
for

The events
have had no

that followed the publication of

Mr. Malabari's "notes," from


parallel in

1884 until

1891,

any period of

social re-

form

in India.

In the following January, 1885,

came
Shett;

the Surat

widow's appeal
widows'

to the

Nagar
to

the

Nowsari

appeal

the
in

Gaikwar
subjects.

in April; the

campaign of Malabari

the Punjab in September and October on these

The

effect

produced by the revelations

of Mr. Stead, in November, led to a series of


articles in the

Indian Spectator by Mr. Dayaram

Gidumul, which called attention to the Indian


Criminal Code on the same subject, pointing out
its

defects,
raised,

and proposing that the age of consent

be

which Mr. Malabari afterward pubtheir distributation

lished in

pamphlet form; and


India
elicited

throughout

large

number
Then

of
fol-

opinions in favor of the proposal.

lowed the strong advocacy of


225

legislation

on the

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


subject of Infant Marriage

by

Justice

Renade

in

December,

in

an able preface to a collection of


15,

papers bearing on the enactment of Act


1856.

of

bari

The following February (1886) Mr. Malamade another tour throughout the northwest.

This led to the memorial of Sir T. Madhavrao and


other leading citizens of Madras to the Viceroy

(Lord Dufferin),

in

March, 1886, for fixing the

marriageable age of Hindu girls at ten; and the

Meerut Memorial,

in

August, 1886, praying that

the limit of age be fixed at twelve for girls and


sixteen for boys; the

Madhav Bagh meeting

in

Bombay,
any

in

September, 1886, to protest against


an interview of the
later,

legislative interference;

Shastris with Lord Reay, a

few days

on the

same

subject:

The

publication of an article on the


in

Hindu widow by Mr. Devandranath Das

The

Nineteenth Century, and another in The Asiatic

Quarterly Review by Sir William Hunter; the


resolution of the
bari's

final

government of

India
in

on MalaOctober,

"notes," refusing legislation

1886: the publication of the opinions of

Hindu
form

gentlemen consulted on the subject in the


of

Government

Selections, in January, 1887; the

attacks on Mr. Malabari and Justice Renade,

by

some

of the Poona lecturers in February; and the

publication of opinions given to Mr. Malabari in


226

What
ment

the Reformers

Have Done
to the

the form of a

companion volume
to

Govern-

Selections.

We
Hindu

must not forget

mention the
first

efforts of

Mr. Madhavdas Raganathdas, the


to

Guzerati
his perse-

marry a widow

in

Bombay;

cutions from his castemen; his brave stand in

opening the
financial

Widow
and

Remarriage Hall; and his


social

help

protection

of other

couples

who wished

to remarry.

These events,
in these

keeping up an intense public interest

questions proposed for social reform, were generally

accentuated

by the celebrated case of


all

Rakhmabai
dia,

that occurred in 1885, stirring


into

In-

and bringing

great prominence the

whole question of
for the

child marriage; also, the

form-

ing of the National Social Congress of India, held


first

time

in

December,

1887, in

Madras;

and public

interest culminating in the

awful case

of Phulmani Dasi in Calcutta.

This led to the


to govern-

famous memorial of the lady doctors


ment, which was in
itself a

great public educator;


fifteen

and the memorial of the


ladies to the

hundred native
visit to

Queen; Mr. Malabari's


passing of the

Eng-

land that helped to rouse English public opinion:

and
Bill,

finally the

Age

of Consent

in

1891,

whereby

the age of consent


227

was

raised

from ten to twelve, which completed a

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
as India

decade of public agitation on the subject of child


marriage and enforced

widowhood such

had never seen before; and,


ness, has never seen since.

we

add with sad-

JS28

XV
SINCE
In the
1

89

preceding chapter

we were

able to give

only the merest outline of reform

activities,

giv-

ing only the names of the prominent leaders, and


leaving unmentioned

many men whose names

are very familiar throughout India on these subjects,

and whose writings and words are quoted


But

as authoritative.

we would

not altogether
to the
its

overlook the individuals, often


general
favor,
public,

unknown

and unsupported by any of

who

in

personal matters have made at-

tempts to

live

out their convictions.

Some
his
little

years ago, a
girl

Brahman
till

friend of ours kept

unmarried

she

was twelve

years

of age, an unheard of thing at that time in so

small a place.

When

he desired to marry her, a


liked,

bridegroom of the kind he would have

and
to

which

his position

would have

entitled

him

procure, could not be found, as the girl old to be an eligible match.


to a

was too

So he married her

boy of poor but respectable parentage, and


at his

then had him educated

own

expense.
gentle-

We know

of a well-known
229

Bombay

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


man who
was
real

kept his daughter unmarried


;

till

she

sixteen

and of another marriage that was a


will prove an earnest of

marriage for love, and an ideal one, and

which

we trust

what

is

yet to be in India.

Her father was one of

India's
at

most enlightened men.


fifteen.

She was widowed

Three years

later

an Indian gentleman

saw

her and sought her hand in marriage.

But

the parents and the girl

had not the courage for

the difficulties that the remarriage of a


their family

widow

in

would plunge them


like,

into.

But the

man, Jacob
his bride,

waited patiently seven years for


consent

and

finally

was

gained.

The

bride at marriage

band
ward;

thirty-five.

was twenty-five and the huscan be said of them that It


lived

"they were married and


" for
it

happy ever

after-

has been a happy union.

After ten years of wonderful activity, the curtain

dropped with the closing on

act,

the raising of

the age of consent, in 1891.


tain has risen again

Since 1892, the cur-

different scenes,

and with
is

different actors

on the stage.

There

a very

evident retrograde

movement
political

in

matters of social
religious

reform; and matters


taken their place.
the

and

have

Government, since passing


Bill,

Age

of Consent

has been intensely conto

servative

and

disinclined 230

move

in

matters

Since 1891
social.
Bills

The Mysore and the Malabar Marriage


Bill

have been the only special advance steps.


unhappily was rejected.
is

The Madras Marriage

In place of agitation there

on

all

hands a

feel-

ing of discouragement and conservatism. ing over the English columns of the

Lookof a

files

number

of

leading native journals in Western

India, for last year,

we

found not a half dozen change of

references to matters of social reform in them.

What
front?

has been the cause of

all

this

ment ?

What Up to

has caused this retrograde


the close of 1891-92, so

move-

much was
it

hoped from the reformers.


ripe for a great

Everything seemed

movement.

How

did

happen
?

that the reformers lost so great an opportunity

Since 1891,

almost another decade has been

completed, and
will be

we
in

believe a key to the situation

found

reviewing the events of these

years.
In
in

1894,

came the

great and cruel religious riot

Bombay, between the Hindus and Mohammespirit


it

dans; and the

engendered throughout

the country between these

two

races resulted in
It

one or two smaller

riots in other places.

was

a time of great anxiety,

and was probably treated

by government
take place
if

as an illustration of

what might

there

was
231

legislative interference

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


with customs
people,
tiiat

were held

as religious

by the

no matter

how

necessary the reform

might

be.

The

interests of the years 1895-96

were

chiefly

political.

great

stir

and a great deal of feeling

was caused by the Exchange Compensation Allowance that was sanctioned by government to English officials. It was looked upon as unjust Then in Western India, Lord to native interests. Sandhurst, the Bombay Governor, refused to
have any further dealings with the Sariva Fanik
(Universal) Sabha, because
tures to a memorial

some
to

of the signa-

from

it

government were

not genuine.

During

this

period the National

Congress was more

influential than

now, and
im-

heavily criticised the government expenditures

both military and

civil,

which,

it

was

said,

poverished the country.

There was also

at this time, in

Western

India,

a marked revival of the Gunpati festival, which

had both a

political

and

religious

significance.

Mr

Tilak, the editor of the

Mahratta, made a

public lament that the place


Shivaji

where the body


to

of

the

founder of the Mahratta kingdom

had been cremated had been allowed


ruin.

go

to

He upbraided

his

countrymen
that
it

for

want of

patriotism,

and suggested
232

be repaired.

Since 1891
This proposal the governor thought might be a

good

thing,

and favored

it.

The anniversary of
Gunpati
festi-

Shivaji's death, occurring near the


val,

was incorporated

into

it,

and both were

cele-

brated with unheard of display, and also

became
gov-

the occasion of speeches and songs, that, to say


the least,

were not

flattering at times to the

ernment.
riot

The

religious element arose out of the

of 1894,

when

the Hindus determined

if

pos-

sible, in

the Gunpati festival, to outrival the


festival.
it

hammedan Mohorrum
is

MoThe movement
episode the

now

dying away, but

was an

widespread impressions of which were not altogether pleasant or helpful.

At the close of

1896,

the famine, which like a great vulture had been

hovering over the country for


finally settled

many months,

down upon

it.

In

1897-1898, the famine and the plague overinterest; discouraged, disheartall

shadowed every

ened and paralyzed


time quite engulfed
this,

movements; and
other questions.

for the

all

Add

to

the distressing earthquakes in Eastern India;

the

murder of the two European

officials,

Mr.

Rand and Lieutenant


ditious

Ayerst, in Poona; the arrest

of Mr. Tilak, the editor of the

Mahratta for sethe Nathu


the
frontier

writings;

the

detaining of
trial;

brothers in

custody without

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


war; the measures taken by government
gard to the plague, which greatly
people and led to another
execution of
riot in

in re-

irritated

the the

Bombay;

recent arrest of his

Damodar Hari Chapakar, and the two brothers, and their conPoona murders which
it is

fessions concerning the

have made

all

parties shudder; and,

feared

that the cold-blooded

murder of these

officials

has put back the cause of national and social


progress
for
a

quarter

of

century.

These

events of the
still

last three

years,

with the plague

stalking about

and threatening the whole

country, have absorbed the attention of the people

and the papers, and have so taken up the

at-

tention of the

government

that the miseries

and

wrongs

of

woman

have almost seemed forgotten.

Some

of these events have had a most disas-

trous effect on the relations between the govern-

ment and the

people.

Government has suspected


and the people, for
irritated

the people of disloyalty;

many

causes, have been much

toward

government.

Then another

cause,

which these events have


and
to be recognized as

only accentuated, has been a growing desire for


individuality as a nation,

such by the civilized nations of the earth.


liberal

The

Western Education
234

that

government has

Since 1891
so freely given, has been one of the factors in

bringing this desire "for a conscious political

whole"

into prominence; while contact with the

outside world has

made

it

inevitable.

This state of mind has

made
what

possible the en-

trance of another disastrous check to social re-

form, in the beginnings of

is

now

called a

" Hindu Revival."


causes, but the
present,
is

It

has arisen from a variety of


in
it,

most prominent actor

at

Mrs. Annie Besant, an English lady,

who
On
is

has already passed through a variety of re-

ligious beliefs previous to her present career.

her

visit to

India, in

1893,

we
is

believe, she

reported to have said in Bangalore "that she


a

was

Hindu

in a

former

birth,

and

visiting her

own
was
istic

land after a sojourn in the west, where she


reincarnated to

know

the nature of materialin

civilization of the
is

west;" and

Tinnevelly
civiliza-

she
tion,

reported to have said:


all its

"Western
is

with

discoveries in science,
civilization."

nothing

compared with Hindu

In her present visit, she has settled at Benares,

and has been the means of


college there.
cutta),

starting the

Hindu

In a letter to the

Statesman (Calin

she speaks of the "religious revival


I

which

am

myself

sufficiently fortunate to

be

allowed to take a part;" of a "truly national


235

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


Hindu education;" and of the
college she says:

"The movement

is

one of national importance,

combining western culture

and

religious

and

moral teaching according to the Hindu shastras ;


that the college aims at reproducing the ancient

type of the Aryan gentleman; pious, dutiful,


loyal, strong,

brave and industrious; with healthy

body and well balanced mind."


fact,

The

college

is

while the hope exists of starting similar


all

colleges

over the country.

Says the Indian

Witness :

"We

imagine the leaders of Hindu society


heart these days in

must have deep searchings of


contemplation of the
gious and social system

straits to
is

which

their reli-

reduced.

The hercusomnolent

lean efforts of Mrs. Besant to galvanize

Hinduism

into

appeal to the
ful

some degree of animation must sense of the humorous in thoughtchill

Hindus.

Imagine the situation: a foreigner,


seeking to avert the
politic of

woman!

of death

from the body

Hinduism!

A woman
to start a

endeavoring with might and main to extort from


apathetic Hindus the funds with

which

Hindu college which


of

is

expected,

among

other

feats, to extirpate all disloyalty

from the bosoms

young Hindus! Then came the

arrival of

Swami Vevekanand,

236

Since 1891
in 1896,

who was
was

received in India as a conquer-

ing hero by many, and his journey from Ceylon


to Calcutta a sort of triumphal march.

We

consider his notoriety a free and unsought gift

from the Parliament of Religions

to India; for he

was
cess

practically

unknown

till

then,

and the sucin

he was reputed to have achieved


has

the
dis-

West
ciples

won him

reverence here.

Two

have joined him.

One, a Miss Noble, said

to be an American,

and

who

has recently been


in

advocating the worship of the goddess Kali

Calcutta; the other, a very recent arrival; Miss

Marie Louise, or

who

is

said to

Swami Abhayananda, a lady have had as many spiritual changes


and

as Mrs. Besant,

who

has been described by


extraction,

a native journal as

"French by

Amerin

ican

by

domicile, Shaiva

by

faith,

Vaishnava

neck ornamentation, Vendantin by philosophy,

and a sunnyasm

(ascetic), in her

mode

of

life."

We
the

do not see any public utterances on the

part of these ladies concerning the condition of

women

of India.

Being

ladies,

we

should

expect they would be deeply distressed at the


social condition of

women

in this country,

and

the disabilities under which they suffer.

We
be,

should think the

first

question that

would conwould

front them, as they see the situation, 237

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


IVhy has not
this beautiful

philosophy, which
its

we

have come so far to study on

native

soil,

done more for Hindu

women

Where
In

did these three ladies get their freedom,

their religious liberty ?

Was

it

from Hinduism

December, 1893, a committee of seven from

the Madras

Hindu

Social

Reform Association
She

wrote Mrs. Besant, asking for an interview to


obtain her views on these social questions.
replied

that

"any

questions of the important

character
at

you suggest, could not be wisely made

an interview between myself and a body of

gentlemen; the

memory

of each

might

easily

prove unreliable, and so misunderstanding and


controversy as to what

was
wish

said might arise.

If
I

any questions are submitted to


will read them,

me

in writing,

and

if
I

to express

any opinpromis-

ion on any of them,

will

do so

also in writing."

The gentlemen renewed


hand reporter
to take

their request,

ing that they would furnish a competent short-

down what was


what was

said,

and

to allow her to revise

written.

They
which
This

also furnished her ten written questions

she might have time to ponder over before the


interview, and not be taken by surprise.

Mrs. Besant refused to do, saying,


238

"Hasty or

imperfect expression of opinion on these matters

Since 1891
is

dangerous, and

widely read, repreiiensible.


permit

me

to

whose views are so You must therefore choose my own time and way of
in a

person

expressing

my thoughts
them

on these
in

subjects,

and to

decline to express

answers which would

necessarily give a very imperfect,

and therefore

misleading idea of

my

attitude

toward these

problems."

The question began with


in all castes are illiterate.
girls are,

a preamble stating

"that ninety-nine per cent, of the Hindu

women

Among the

Brahmans,

on

peril of

excommunication, married

before they reach puberty, often very


fore.

much

be-

They

are married

between the ages of


a marriage takes place

three and twelve.


it

Once

cannot be dissolved under any circumstances,

as far as the

woman

is

concerned.

Thousands

of girls are

widowed

before they attain age, and


In

cannot re-marry without social ostracism.

some

of the

non-Brahman
Is

castes these conditions

also prevail.

the position of

women
be
?

in

these

respects consistent with your conception of

what

the position of
2.
Is
it

women

ought

to

right for a

man

to take a

second wife

when
3.

the

first is living,
?

on the sole ground of her

being childless
Is
it

proper that

girls

below twelve years

239

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


of age should be given

away

in

marriage by their
of
fifty,

parents or guardians to

men

sixty or

seventy years of age


4.
Is
it

desirable that a class of

women

called

dancing

girls,

who

are

invariably

prostitutes,

should be given a status in Hindu temples during worship, and in Hindu homes on festive occasions, as singers or dancers ?
5.

What do you

think of the system prevalent

in parts of this

country called the zenana-system,


are compelled to keep out of

by which
sight of

women
men

all

except their husbands, and their

nearest male relatives;

and are not allowed to

move about except


veiled

in closed carriages, or

when

from head

to foot ?

After

two

or three other questions as to caste; of low-castes;

the condition

and voyages by

Hindus; the

list

was

closed with the following

pertinent question: "Is there

any connection bein poliis,

tween
tics,

spiritual greatness,

and greatness

commerce,
latter

literature

and science; that


?

does the

depend on the former

As they

are at present situated,

which of the two countries


is

India
Indian

or England
is

spiritually
latter,

superior?

If

the former
is

superior to the

how

is it

that

inferior to

England
240

in

politics,

com-

merce, literature and science?"

Since 1891

A month

ago, one of the seven told us that as

yet no replies had been received.


that the condition of
its

Considering
the test of a

women

is

nation's civilization,
In a recent

we wonder
was
a

at the silence.

London

paper, in response to the

question

whether she
is

Hindu or

not,

Mrs. Besant

represented as replying: that she


vegetarian; and that

was almost a

when

she

lived in Benares, she lived as a Hindu, excepting

as regards certain laws

and

restrictions

which

apply to

women!

What

better
this }

reply to these

questions do

we

need than

We

hear a great deal nowadays, about "the

spiritual

supremacy of

India,"

and "the gross


There has

materialism of western civilization."

been a great stimulus

in later

years to the study

of Sanskrit literature, partly due to the researches of English Oriental scholars and the translations

they have made; and partly to the enthusiasm

awakened by the
visit to

return of

Vevekanand from

his

America and the parliament of

religions.

Every year

new

translations of the sacred

books

into English

and the important vernaculars apratio.

pear

in

an increasing

There

is

also

much
and of

talk of the glorious past of the

Aryan

age,

a desire for a national religion.

Says a recent Hindu writer:


241

"We

do not un-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


derstand the claim of spiritual supremacy that
is

made on

behalf of India.

Mrs. Besant, with her

usual assurance, proclaims on public platforms


that India has

been ordained to be the

spiritual

teacher of the whole world.


this point
is,

Her teaching on

that our mother-land

was

the reif

ligious

guru

of the world in the past, and

the

present generation of
teaching,
will

Hindus

will

accept her

and mould

their actual lives

by

it,

India
. .

once again resume her old position.

Was India a teacher of the world Was the Adwaita philosophy, on


Besant's teaching rests,

in the past ?

which Mrs.

ever accepted by the


.

whole of India

From

the history

it

has been possible to get out of the mass of


Indian literature, India

was at no iime an
it

in-

tegral whole, either politically,


itually."

seems, or spir-

Another, an Indian writer, refers to this revival


of the Hindu religion, and asks, "Is
it

not a fact

that as the revivalist sentiment has spread

wider

in the land, a sort of anti-foreign feeling has also

deepened?"
In spite of the

absorbing subjects of the years


filled to

which we have enumerated, which have


interest in the condition

so large extent the public mind, and eclipsed the

and position of women,

242

Since 1891
there
is
still

a root cause

why

the reformers are

not

more successful

in their efforts.

They have

no moral motive power.

When

one uses the word reformer, the mind

instinctively turns to

men

like Wycliffe, Luther,

the Huguenots, the sturdy Hollanders, the Pilgrim


Fathers, Wilberforce, Garrison

and

others.
its

Vifiery

sions of flame

come before

us,

enfolding in

embrace,

men

like Latimer,

Ridley and Cranmer.


is

The

dictionary says a reformer

one

who
all

effects

reform.

How

shall
It is

we

define the

word

in

its

usage

in India }

often applied to

the edu-

cated class indiscriminately.

A man may possess


are prepared to suf-

the highest culture, and yet be far from the ranks


of the reformers.
fer a little

Some men

for the cause of reform, but not too

much.
fer

Until Indian reformers are willing to sufall

even to the loss of


lives

things

to order their
;

own
right

according to their convictions


it

to

do

because
;

is

right,

regardless

of conselegitimate

quences
sense.

we do

not use the

word in

its

Some one

has said, that India has never

yet seen a real reformer.

An instance
reform
:>ds
is

of the hollowness of

some

so-called

illustrated

by the four reformatory meth-

enunciated a few years ago by a well-known


:

Indian reformer in a public meeting


243

The Wrongs of
1.

Indian

Womanhood

By

the S/mstras.

\Maen they agree with the reformers,


Interpret the

quote them.
2.

Interpretation.

Shastras so as to

make

them agree with you.


3.

When
When

interpretation

fails,

appeal to reason and con-

science.
4.

that fails, ask for legislation.

We
M.

also

have the anomaly of


B. A.'s,

men who

are

A.'s

and

some
the

of

whom

have studied

abroad and have also travelled

in other countries,

who

are versed in

all

modern questions of the

day, and yet

some
at
all

of

them have wives who have

been mothers
against which
lization

twelve and thirteen, a wrong


present-day education and civiprotest.

must unceasingly
official,

We

knew

of

a government

gentlemanly and popular,

who drew
of
life,

a salary of five hundred rupees per


in

month, yet when he died suddenly


he
left

the prime

young widow

of eighteen

who

had three
age.

children, the eldest being five years of

We do

not see

or retain self-respect,

how men can ever be happy who do not live up to their


we
feel the

own
fail

convictions.

Again,

we

repeat, that

reformers

for the lack of a moral motive

power which
ex-

would give them


amples of

a spirit of real sacrifice, true

courage and perseverance, and


their teaching.

make them

lack of conformity

244

Since 1891
to

our talk makes


is

it

useless.

The

Social

Con-

gress

accused of only passing resolutions.

The

highest moral influence that can be exerted by

any being

is

through example.
all

Advice, precept

and sanction,

have moral power, but are only

rendered operative by example.


this

The

v^^orld

has

ment of Jesus
that

moral motive power manifested in the atone" God so loved the world Christ.

He gave
because

His only begotten Son " for


it

its

re-

demption; and
love,

is

argued, " Hereby

know

v^e

we ought

He laid down His life for us; and down our lives for the brethren." The protest is often made that Europeans are
to lay
difficulties

not patient enough with the reformers, and do

not understand their awful social


complications.

and

We

believe
;

these sore difficulties


will never rise

but

we do understand we fear the reformers


until

above them

they

such relations with

God
laid

as will enable

come into them to

meet the conditions

down by
of

Christ

when
dis-

He

said:

"Whosoever he be
all

you

that for-

saketh not
ciple."

that he hath, he cannot be

My

"Whosoever
is

loveth father and mother


"

more than Me

not worthy of Me:


fall

and " Exdie,

cept a corn of wheat


it

into the
it

ground and

abideth alone,

but if

die

it

bringeth forth

much fruit."
245

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
and compensates
This
is

Nothing but the love of Christ gives men

power
them
and

to

suffer

for

others,
all

for

the

loss

of

things.

the

moral motive power that has made reformers


martyrs
in

Christian

lands,

and without

which the reformers

will never

accomplish any
in India.

thorough or lasting amendment

246

XVI

WHAT THE
There
first
is

MISSIONARIES

HAVE DONE

a tradition that the apostle


India.

Thomas

brought the gospel to

There are three

places in the neighborhood of Madras that claim


his grave.

The

Syrian church on the Malabar

coast
to

numbering four hundred thousand, claim

be the descendants of his converts and of the

Syrian colonists

who

joined them.

They

stoutly

cling to that tradition,

and are often


If

called the

Christians of St.
true,

Thomas.

this

tradition

be

then the

movement

that

formed the Syrian


England.

church, or in other words, Christianity in India,


is

older

than

Christianity

in

Rev.

George Rae,

in his

book, refutes this claim, and


is

asserts that the Syrian church

an offshoot of

the Nestorian church in Persia,


ries

came

to India in the fifth century; thus

whose missionamakis

ing the Syrian church fourteen centuries old; and


the missionary,
suffered

Thomas, who
at St.

said to have a suburb of

martyrdom

Thomas,

Madras, lived several centuries after the apostle.

About 70 A. D., there was a sea-trade established between Egypt and the Southwest coast of India,
247

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


famed
the
for
its

spices.

At

this time, the rulers of

several

independent states of South India


settlers

wisely encouraged the

who came

to

them and enriched them


Alexandria
in

in

many ways.
their
far

Some
to

Indian merchants, probably Jews,

who went
spices

Egypt

to

sell

and

"the

gems, found there something


pearl

of

great

price."

more valuable They became


to the

acquainted with the


Jesus Christ.

way

of salvation through

petition

was addressed
180 a.
d.,

Bishop of Alexandria,
Christian teacher to be

about

for a

sent to India,

and he

wisely selected Pantaenus for such an important


field.

How
he
is

long he
travelled,

was
or

in India,

or

how

far

inland

Egypt,

not

Christians the

known. Hebrew gospel


later,

when he returned to He found among the


of

Matthew which
surnamed

formed the basis of the present Greek gospel.

About
Indicus,

century
visited

Theopolis,

India,

where he found Chrisfixed

tianity already planted in several places.

The year 1500 has been


of the founding of the
in India,

upon

as the date

Roman

Catholic Missions

along with the advent of the Portuguese.

Vasco de
India,

Gama

discovered the maritime route to

landing in Calicut,

May

20th,

1498;

and

within the next half century, the Portuguese had


848

What
India.

the Missionaries

Have Done

planted trading forts along the Northern coast of

With them came

the priests, but

it

was

not

till

the arrival of Francis Xavier, in 1542, that

anything was done beyond the limits of the


Portuguese settlements.
great impulse to
India.
It

was he who gave

the

Roman

Catholic Missions in

Akbar,

the

Mogul Emperor,

ascended
is

the

throne in 1556.

One

of his wives

said to

have

been a Christian.
as far as Nephaul,

The

Jesuit missionaries

went
all

which they entered

in 1661.

There are
over India.

now Roman

Catholic missionaries

Their directory for 1894 gives the

number

of European (Catholic) missionaries in

India as six

hundred and nineteen, while the

census of 1891 gives the whole number of Ro-

man

Catholics of all races, European and Indian,

in the

whole of India (by which

we

include the

French and Portuguese possessions as well as


British India) as 1,594,901.^

The beginning of Protestant missions in India came from the heart of the good king of Denmark, who sent two young Germans, Ziegenbalg
and Plutschau, to the Danish settlement
quebar, on the southeast coast, in 1705.
'

at

Tran-

In 1750

The author

is

greatly indebted for these statements to Dr.

Murdoch's History of Christianity in India. 249

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
to India.

these brethren were followed by Schwartz, one


of the

most useful men that ever came


the baptism of the
first

"From

convert in 1707,"

says Smith,

"and

the translation of the


till

New

Testament into Tamil,


in

the death of Schwartz


laid

1798, the foundations

were

around Tan-

jore,

Madras and Tinnevelli of a native church

that

now numbers

over a half million."

These

Danish missions were never permanent, but were


later

taken over by the English agencies.

They

were a John the Baptist movement, " a voice in


the wilderness," that preceded the establishment
of our
tury.

modern missions
last

of the nineteenth cen-

During the

year of Schwartz's

life,

God

was preparing another missionary who was destined to begin a


effort,

new

era in the history of mission


in all lands.

not only in India, but

This

was William Carey, the founder of modern missions. As he sat in his work shop and made and mended shoes, he studied a rude map of his own making on the wall, and thought and prayed

how

the heathen nations of the earth might be

reached.

How

little

he dreamed of the

way
The

in

which

his prayers

would be answered!
250

East India

Company was

singularly hostile to missionary

What
effort,

the Missionaries

Have Done
would
arrived
flag

and claimed that

their preaching

create a rebellion, so that Carey,


in 1793, at

when he

had to take refuge under the Danish

Serampore, thirteen miles north of Calcutta,


missionaries

Some
land.

were not even allowed

to

Wilberforce, at the renewal of the


in

com-

pany's charter

1793,

tried to insert a clause

SECONlifHAND

OUGHT
y^ ^
that

would make such despotic proceedings imtill its

possible, but he did not succeed


in

renewal

1813,
it

and then

in

spite of great opposition.

" But

was

not

till

1833," says Bishop Thoburn,

"that the

last

restrictions

were removed, and

every Christian missionary in the empire


clothed with the freedom which
is

was

now

enjoyed

by

all

persons bearing the Christian name."

Carey was a sort of John


of the East India
251

Knox

to the officials

Company, and he did much

to

The Wrongs of
purify

Indian
India;

Womanhood
while his
letters,

English

life

in

his appeals, his writings, his

work and

his

life,

were the seed whose


and for which

fruitage

we now

behold,
the

we

praise

God,

With him
in 1793.

English Baptist Society has the honor of being


the
first

to enter India.

This

was
or

The
Mis-

English

Congregationalists,

London

sionary Society

came

in

1798; the Church Mis-

sionary Society in 1807; the American Board in


1812; the
dists in
1

American Baptists and English Metho8 14; the Scotch Presbyterians in 1830;
1834;

the American Presbyterians in

the Irish

Presbyterians in 1841; the American Methodists


in

1856;

and from year to year other

societies

have entered, the largest societies of

later

years
in

being the Christians and Missionary Alliance


1892; the
in
in

Kurku and

Central Indian Hill Mission

1892; the Ceylon and Indian General Mission 1893;

sion in

and the Poona and Indian Village Mis1895; in all over seventy societies and
There are 2,797 missionaries, and

associations.
at a

census in 1890 there were 648,843 Protestant


Christians,

Indian
ratio

and

if

they increase at the

they did the

last

decade, fifty-two per cent.

in

1900 there will be over 1,000,000 of Protes-

tant Indian Christians.


In

view of

all

this,

we may
232

well ask,

what

What
India?
1.

the Missionaries

Have Done
women
of

have the missionaries done for the

his fellow-workers, the

Through the representations of Carey and custom of throwing chilabolition of the Suttee.
life,

dren into the Ganges forever ceased.


2,

The

Earfy in his

missionary

Carey witnessed the burning of a


the

widow.

He begged
life.

woman
people

not to throw
his

away

her

"After remonstrances," says


the

biographer,

"which

met

first

by

argument, and then by surly threats, Carey wrote:


'

told

them I would not

go, that

to stay

and see the murder, and that


it

was determined would cerI

tainly bear witness of

at the tribunal of God.'

And when
the

he again sought to interfere because

two

stout

pose of
pressed
levers,

bamboos always fixed for the purpreventing the woman's escape were
the

down on
'

shrieking

woman

like

he adds,

We

could not bear to see more,

but
der,

left

them, exclaiming loudly against the murfull

and

of horror at

what we had
left

seen.'

The remembrance
dignation
all

of that sight never

Carey.
to in-

His naturally cheerful spirit

was inflamed

his life through, //// his influence,

more than that of any other one man, at last prevailed to put out forever the flames of the murderous pyre."
253

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


He and his fellow-workers spared no labor. They enlightened the minds of the English and
Indian public on the subject
fully gathered;
;

statistics

were

care-

with the help of

his pundit

he

searched the Hindu shastras, and the results of


his researches

were

laid

before the government,


sacrifice

and the recent enactment prohibiting the


of children

was quoted as a precedent for further Had Lord Wellesley remained GovernorGeneral a year longer, Carey would have sucreform.

ceeded
years,

in 1808.

But he had to wait twenty long

and as "he waited and prayed, every day

saw

the devilish

of the

smoke ascending along the banks Ganges." In 1829, when Lord Bentinck's

prohibition

people, the

was ready crown of

to be published
all

Carey's efforts
it

privilege of translating

into

among the was the Bengali. He is


Sunday sermon
to him.

said to have been preparing his

for the afternoon

when

it

was handed

He

sent for another to do his preaching, and takofficial trans-

ing his pen in his hand, wrote the


lation,

and had

it

issued in the Bengali Gazette,

that not another

day might be added to the long

black catalogue of
3.

many

centuries.
Bill

During the agitation over the

for rais-

ing the

Age

of Consent, the awful case of Phulat Calcutta.

mani Dasi occurred

An American

254

What

the Missionaries

Have Done

medical missionary, Mrs. Mansell, seized the opportunity, got


v^hicii

up a
cases

petition to

government

in

were

cited a

number
that

of similar and almost

equally awful

had come under the

notice of different lady practitioners,


tition

and

this

pe-

was signed by
result that

nearly

all

the lady doctors in

India,

the majority of

whom

were missionaries,

with the

it

greatly aided in forming

public opinion, and helped to


4.

win

the day.

Missionaries,

from

the

beginning,
all

have

greatly

moulded public opinion upon

phases of
eternity

the treatment of

women; and perhaps

alone will reveal the influence that the home-life

and the
respect.
5.

lives of lady missionaries

have had

in this

Missionaries have been the pioneers and the

chief promoters of education for

women

in India.

This fact is generously and unreservedly conceded

by government and all Indians. To Mrs. Hannah Marshman belongs the honor of having
started the
first

effort.

She established a day-

school for girls in 1807. In 18 19, a company of young Eurasians who had been educated by the
Baptist missionary ladies,

formed a society

for

the

education

of

Indian

women; and

in three

years they had six schools and one hundred and


sixty pupils.

What became
255

of this juvenile so-

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


ciety

we

do not

know

but

we

believe

it

to

have

been an earnest of what God meant to have

done through

this race for India.

In 1818, the Calcutta

School Society was started,

and was composed


dians.

of both Europeans and Inat the fact that,

They were appalled


only about one

among

the 40,000,000 women that then constituted British


India,

woman

in

100,000 could

read; and, in 1819, they appealed to the


British

London

and Foreign School Society


William

to

send out a

lady to form a school for training female teachers


for further effort.

Ward
it.

of Serampore

was

at

home when
his

the appeal reached London,

and added
heard him
pool,

influence to

Miss Cooke

make an

appeal to the ladies of Liver-

and volunteered for the work, reaching Her work was changed and
after

Calcutta in 1821.

precipitated very soon

her arrival by a

touching incident.

On

January 25th, 1822, as she was going to

one of the boys' schools to improve her pronunciation, she

saw

little

girl

outside the school-

room
child

crying.

On

inquiry, she found that the

had for three months besieged the master


to

with her desire to be taught, only

be driven

away.
day,

This so
she

started

moved Miss Cooke that, the next The work a girls' school.
25G

What

the Missionaries

Have Done

spread rapidly, until in 1825, thirty schools had

been formed with four hundred pupils.

Both

Lady Hastings, the wife of the Governor-General


at that time,

and her successor. Lady Amherst,


in these schools.
It is

took the deepest interest

said that the Marchioness of Hastings, in her zeal,

traversed the gullies and back streets of the city


in

which some of the schools were


At
this time, 1825, the

situated,
all

and

thereby produced a great impression on

classes.

wives of the American


a similar

Board missionaries

in

Bombay opened

work; and, four years later, they were followed by Mrs. Stevenson and Mrs. Margaret Wilson. Because the Mahratta people are not hampered

by the zenana, and the Parsees by caste, the work here, for a time, seemed to make greater
strides than elsewhere,

and was an encourageboarding-

ment
In

to other parts of India.

the different

presidencies,

too,

schools for Indian Christian girls were started;


also orphanages,

which

are continually multiplied

over India by the periodical famines that occur,

and orphan and render homeless thousands of


children.

But to return to Calcutta.

The day-schools

for

Hindu

girls

had only touched the lower


257

castes.

How

were the upper-class ladies hidden behind

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


the

purdah

in

the zenanas ever to be reached,

was

the constant burden on

many

hearts.

In

1840, Mr. T.

Smith of the Free Church Mission,

proposed a scheme for the

home

education of
it

women

of the upper classes, but at that time


practical response. In 1850,

met with no
Council,

Hon.

Drinkwater Bethune, a member of the Legislative

opened the Bethune


provided
a

Institution at his

own

expense;

closed
their

carriage to

bring the

girls to

and from

homes

to the

school; paid for a lady superintendent;


ised that

promFor

no Christianity should be taught; and


this
it

hoped by

to reach

many

of this class.

many

years

was not very prosperous, and


Here and there,
in isolated

could not have been.

instances, missionary ladies taught the families

of the

more liberal-minded men.

Some

of

them

taught their

own

families; English education be-

gan

to spread;

and interesting incidents were

constantly occurring that added

momentum

to

the slowly accumulating public opinion on the


subject.

Soon

after the

establishment of the Bethune

Institution

thrilling

event occurred:

"The

highly educated son of an influential Hindu gen-

tleman had privately instructed his gifted young


wife, with

whom

he read,
258

among

other books,

What

the Missionaries

Have Done
to his

the English Bible.

He was under promise

mother never

to

become

a Christian: but he read

the Scriptures because they were interesting as

an historical study.

The entrance

of the

Word

gave

light to the heart of the

young

wife, and

she besought her husband to accept Christ as his


Saviour.

A widowed

cousin of fourteen read

with them, and she also believed, but the hus-

band
died

resisted.

The young wife grieved and

died

trusting in jesus for salvation,

the

husband's heart yielded and he and the cousin

were baptized.

These conversions made a deep

impression on Christian hearts, and, combined

with other circumstances, led to effective

effort

which took the form of founding an


born
in India

institution

for training the daughters of Eurasian

parents
It

and familiar with the language.

was believed that such teachers for Hindu ladies would ere long be needed, though at that time
they were
cutta
still

inaccessible."

'

In

1852 the Cal-

Normal School was

established.

In 1854, Rev.

John Fordyce, of the Free Church

Mission,

enthusiastically took

up a scheme for
or three

zenana education.

He persuaded two
to

Hindu gentlemen
pay
for,
'

open

their

houses

to,

and to

the instructions of his ablest teacher,


The

Women of

India, by Mrs. Weitbrecht.

259

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


a European governess
fectly.

who knew
"a

Bengali per-

He

also printed

series of fly-leaves

which were widely

circulated throughout India.

They contained
peals to

short,

strong and striking apfathers,

Hindu husbands and

and pro-

duced an impression which deepened year by


year; so that, at
first

one by one, and afterward


until

in increasing ratio,

zenana doors flew open

the question became,


stead of
lens

how

to supply laborers, in-

how

to get in."^

Mrs. Sale, Mrs. Mulladies

and

other devoted

developed the
it.

scheme by
In

their special fitness for

1861,

"The

India

Normal School and


in

In-

struction

Society "

was formed
in

London, to

cooperate with the ladies


1862 sent out
its first

Calcutta;

and

in

zenana missionary.

In the

same year Miss


Calcutta,

Brittian

came from
of

New

York

to

the

representative

the

Women's

Missionary Union, an undenominational Ladies'


Society for

work among women.

" In ten years

she reported eight hundred


struction

women

under the

in-

of

the

missionaries of that society,

while
taught
ties."
'

nearly

seventeen

hundred
ladies

were being
other
socie-

by missionary

of

1 "

The

Women of

India, by Mrs. Weitbrecht.


its

The Orient and

People,

by Mrs. Hauser.

260

What
The

the Missionaries

Have Done
In a
all

result has

been truly phenomenal.

quarter of a century from that day, nearly


Societies

the

Woman's Boards and gaged in work for women were formed, and zenana instruction became a part of the work of
especially

en-

almost every mission.

Dr. Duff's constant theory

had always been that a generation of educated

men, that

is

educated after the English model,


a generation of educated

must be the precursor of

women, "and," says was the day of small


been
of
in boys'

his biographer,

"even 1850
as 1830

things in

girls',

had

education

in Bengal,

but the boys

1830 had

become
Duff

the fathers of 1850, and

made
in

the time ripe for advance."

1830

Dr.

opened an

institution

in

Calcutta, in

which English was taught instead of


government
India,

Sanskrit and Arabic, as in the


leges.

col-

Lord Macaulay, then

in

adopted

Dr. Duff's
in India

views and did much to put education


its

on

present basis.
of Sir Charles
in

The despatch

Wood,

in

1854,

marks an important epoch

Indian education.
to

Complete Educational Departments were


organized, and a national system
to be

be

comwhich
and

menced.

In

1857, the Universities of Calcutta,

Madras, and

the Punjab University

Bombay were founded; was added in


261

to

1882,

The Wrongs of
the

Indian

Womanhood
1887.

Allahabad University in

These are

simply examining bodies.

network of schools has been extended over


rising

the whole country,

gradually from in-

digenous schools to the highest colleges.


sionaries

Mis-

were

the inspiration to government

for establishing girls' schools, as well as to Indian


effort.

Miss Carpenter

first

visited India in 1866,

and
This

urged government

to

open training schools for


girls'
all

the training of mistresses for

schools.

they did, but they were not


also

a success.

She

originated the National Indian Association


to foster

which seeks

and help private


its

efforts for

female education as one of


Parsees control their

objects.

The
girls.

own
high

schools for their schools


B. A.'s

They have seven

in

Bombay.

There are only two or three

among them,
cent, of the

and about a dozen lady graduates from medical


colleges.
girls

About seventy-seven per

can read.
feel

As an evangelizing agency, we

that the

high hopes of Dr. Duff and the promoters of

zenana education have never been realized; and


that,

sooner or
of

later,

education will pass into the

hands
selves,

government and the Hindus themwill largely confine their

and missionaries

262

What
increasing

the Missionaries

Have Done
young men and

efforts to the education

and training of the ever

number

of Christian

women, though such


It

non-Christians as prefer a

Christian school will not be refused.

would

require a separate

volume

to write
it

the history of female education in India as

should be written.
is

We

must omit much

that

deeply interesting, skip over

many

years,
It is

and

give a peep at the present situation.


less to

needfifth

say that the Christians, though the

race in India, have led the

way

in all

matters of

female education; and the Parsees, the smallest


of the Indian races,

come

next.

There are two Christian Colleges for


in

women

India,

the

Lucknow

College in North India,

an institution of the American Methodist Mission;

and the Sarah Tucker College


South
India,

in

Palam-

cottah,

under the Church Missionary


a

Society.

There are
classes.
its

with college

number of high schools Of the Lucknow College,


there. Christians in
in

Miss Thoburn

founder and principal, says:

"There were, here and


circumstances

good
high

whose sons were studying


with the

schools and colleges, reading and talking English,

and

living in touch

new

life

of the
their

empire.

They asked

for a school

where

daughters might have

like opportunities.

Some

263

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


of them lived in remote places, hence a boarding school

was

necessary.
to

They were not

rich,

but
all

had money enough


incidental expenses.

pay boarding fees and

We

opened the school for


a grant

such children.

The mission, with


ideal in that

from

government, has paid for teachers and buildings."


all

This school

is

it

has received

pupils sent without regard to race or lanin

guage; and has combined

one happy family,

Hindustani, Bengali, English and Eurasian girls;

while
school

all

are trained to

work

for Christ.

This

is affiliated

with the Allahabad University,

and the Sarah Tucker with the Madras University.

The Bethune

Institution,

formed

in
is

1850, beaffiliated

came

in

1879 Bethune College, and


in

with the Calcutta University


B. A. standard
;

Arts up to the

and

is

the only fully equipped colthe


is

lege

in

Bengal
Its

for

higher education

of

women.

principal

Miss Chandra Bose, an


It

Indian Christian lady, a B. A. and M. A.

is

not a religious but a government institution, and


the

number
on the

of students average from twenty-

five to thirty girls.

There are two lady graduin

ates

staff of teachers,

charge of such

subjects as English literature, mental and moral


science,

ancient and

modern
264

history,

and bot-

What
any.
It

the Missionaries

Have Done

has not been possible yet to carry on the

turers.

work without the cooperation of gentlemen lecTwenty young ladies have graduated
from the college with the degree of
of
B. A., three

whom

have taken the degree of M. A. from

the Calcutta University, and

two from
these

the Allafirst

habad University.
examination
in
arts.

Forty-three

passed the

Of

all

young

ladies,

none are Mohammedan; about one-half being


Bengali Christians, and the other half Hindu girls
of the

Brahmo Somaj.

Then there is the Maharajah's College for girls in Travandum, in the native state of Travancore.
There are many excellent high schools throughout the country.
institutions.

The majority

are missionary

A few were
these
at

started

by govern-

ment, and a number are private enterprises.

number
classes,

of

high

schools

have

college

and may,

no distant day, blossom into

full-blown colleges.

To some

of these, like the

Dehra Dun High School, (American Presbyterian


Mission) which has had a career of forty years,

and

the

Ahmednagar High School (American

Board Mission) and others,

we

are indebted for

some of our best Christian women. The most unique Hindu school that we know
of,
is

the

Maharani's

Caste
2G5

girls'

school

in

The Wrongs of
Mysore

Indian
It

Womanhood
Four

(a native state).

has at present an ex-

missionary lady
girls

as

principal.

Brahman
a

from

it

have passed the entrance examina-

tion

of the

Madras University.
is

It

is

high

school,

and
this

steadily

working up
will

into a college,

having
caste

year a college class of


early marriage

two

girls

but

and

no doubt be for
This school

some time

yet a great hindrance.

closed last year with an enrollment of three hun-

dred and eighty-six students.

Of

these, thirty-

two were widows,

besides eight

widow

teachers

all

Brahmans!

The majority of the


almost
the

girls

above
all

the fourth class are mothers, as are almost

the

widows.
paper
in

In fact

all

girls,

except the
edits a
is

infant classes, are married.

The school

Canarese and English.

The school

of

purely Indian enterprise and management, and a

more
find.

interesting school,
India,
it

considering the social

conditions of

would be
High

difficult

to

Then

there

is

the Victoria

School in

Poona, the founder and principal being an Indian


Christian lady

Mrs. Sorabjee.
all

It

is

an English

school that receives

races,

Hindus,

Mohamand has
orphan

medans, Parsees, Jews and English;


been a great success.
for

Ramabai's High School


for her
2G6

widows, and her farm school

What
widows,

the Missionaries

Have Done
to need

are too well

known

comment.

Miss Chakarbulty, another Indian Christian lady,


has an orphanage in Allahabad gathered out of
the late famine, for the entire support of

which

she depends upon her trust in God.

We
Board

must not omit


High
School

to mention the
for

American
in

Christian
first

children
at

Bombay, which was the


and there
or Parsee

attempt

coedu-

cation on a large scale ever


is

made

in India.
girl,

Here

an Indian Christian

or a

Hindu
col-

girl,

who

is

brave enough to present

herself at the doors of


lege,

some young men's


it
;

and

to finish her course of study in

the

forerunners of a great
tion.

movement
are

in that direc-

Besides

these schools are thousands

of

primary schools.
schools, the
ties

The few

in

the upper
difficul-

many

in the primary.

Great

have yet to be continually dealt with, either


apathy or the opposition of the people,
in

in the

caste,
girls

and

in child marriage,

which causes most

to leave school at ten or twelve years of

age; and with the majority of these their education ends there.

The Indian
were

universities

all

honor to them,

in advance of those of England in opening

examinations and degrees to


Christian
girl,

women.

An

Indian
first

Miss Chandra Bose was the


267

to

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


appear, and passed her entrance examination in
1876.

Sixteen

years

afterward,
her.

four hundred

and seventy
in the

girls

had followed

Up

to 1899,
ladies

Madras presidency alone, two young


passed the B. A. examination,

have

and both are

Indian Christians;
F. A.

twenty- five have passed the

examination, of

whom

twenty are Euro-

peans and Eurasians, and


tians; three

five are Indian Chris-

hundred and nine have passed the

matriculation (entrance) examination, of

whom

one

is

Mohammedan,

four are Brahmans, six

are Parsees, seventy-one are Indian Christians,

and two hundred and twenty-seven Europeans


and Eurasians.

We

praise

God

for

all

the progress that has

been made, but a few simple figures from the


educational report of 1897-98 show, after

slowly
is

we
to

have gone, and be possessed.


in
all

yet

all, how how much land there Only six women in

one thousand
cent.
6.

India can read, or 0.6 per

But the greatest

by the missionaries

work that has been wrought for women, and without


all

which they would count


India's

the rest as naught,

has been that they have brought thousands of

women

to

know

Christ as their Saviour;


all

work

that will abide through 268

eternity,

and

What
for
lives/

the Missionaries

Have Done
laid

which many have gladly

down

their

By

tables sent in from the different universities,


all

(and they

were not
versities

tabulated quite alike),

we
six

find that since the uni-

have opened

their examinations to

women, up

to 1899,

one thousand three hundred and

women have
Of

passed the

matriculation or entrance examination.

these about three

hundred and sixty-seven are native Christians, twenty-seven Hindus, one Mohammedan, seven hundred and twenty-eight European or Eurasian ; the remainder being divided between other nationalities; and thirty-eight are returned as having
passed the B. A. examination.

269

XVII
THE REAL DIFFICULTY

The keys

to the

wrongs of Indian women are

Mohammedanism and Hinduism.


roughly outlined
that
in

What we have
is

preceding chapters,

the best
for

Mohammedanism and Hinduism can do women. As long as the Koran is obeyed,


lenana and polygamy
will

the

continue to exist

among Mohammedans. The former is commanded by the prophet, and the latter permitted; for a Mohammedan can have four wives at one
time,

and yet obey the Koran and be a pious


It

Mussulman.

has even been contended by

some

writers that the


for

Koran allows no
is

place in heaven

women.

This

not the case, but, says Muir,

"the condition fixed by Mahomet for


only for the service of her lord, and

women

is

that of a dependent, inferior creature, destined


liable to

be

cast off without the assignment of any reason."

But arbitrary divorce

is

not the only privilege


written
:

(?)

man

has.

In

Sura

IV.

it is

"

Men

stand

above women, because of the superiority which

God

hath conferred on one of them over the other,


their

and because of that which they expend of


270

The Real
wealth.
dient,

Difficulty
the

Therefore

let

good

women

be obe-

preserving their purity in secret in that

wherein

God

preserveth them.

But such as ye

may

fear disobedience (or provocation) from, re-

buke them, and put them away

in separate apart-

ments and chastise {or beat) them.

But

if

they

be obedient unto you, seek not against them an


excuse (or severity): verily
great."

God
if

is

lofty

and

The

tenet of Hinduism, that

woman
;

pleases
also to

her husband she pleases the gods


prevail to

seems

some extent among Mohammedans.

personal friend well illustrates this with the

following story of a conversation she held with a

Mohammedan widow:
the inequalities
pecially

" Our conversation led to

said

it

between men and women, esamong the Mohammedans. The widow was a woman's chief business to please
if

her husband, even


that

he were a bad man; and

by so doing, she would please God.

Then

she told

me

the following story:

'

A woman was

seen sitting half in the sun and half in the shade,

while by her side were some broken bricks, a


stick

and a rope, and some cold and hot water

in

different vessels.
ter,

Some
and

one, (Mahomet's daugh-

we

think), asked her

why

she

was

sitting

half in the shade,

half in the sun.


271

She an-

The Wrongs of

Indian

Womanhood
he

swered that her husband was a grass-cutter and


she could not
tell

whether
in the

in cutting his grass in the shade,

was

at that
it

time

sun or

but

whichever

was, she wanted to sympathize with


felt

him, and so
time.

both heat and cold at the same


in

She also added


whi-ch he

explanation that she did


prefer on his return

not

know

would

hot or cold water, so she had both ready.


if

Also
to beat

he were

in a

bad temper, and wished

her,

he would choose between the stick and the

rope, or

throw the pieces of brick


this, replied that

at her,'

The
truly a

prophet hearing

she

was

good woman, and deserved

to

go

to heaven."
is

On
is

the other hand, Hinduism, which

the

greater oppressor of

women

of the

two

religions,

the great interpreter of these wrongs.

"The
to

Vedas are believed by the devout Hindus


the eternal, self-existing

be

word

of God, revealed

by Him

to the different sages.

Besides the yedas

there are

more than twenty-five books of sacred

law, ascribed to different authors,

who

wrote or

compiled them

at various times,

and on which
religious in-

are based the principal customs


stitutes of the

and

Hindus.

Among
is

these, the

code
to

of

Manu

ranks highest, and

held

by

all

be

very sacred, second to none but the Vedas themselves.

Although Manu and the


272

different

law-

The Real
givers
differ

Difficulty
all

greatly

on many points, they

agree on things concerning

women."

'

Says Dr. Wilson: "


to

Much

of the favor

shown

women by
show
It is

the

Hindu shastras

when, indeed,

they do

her favor

is

founded on the low

idea that she


his ass.

is

the property of man, as his ox or


this

on

understanding, and that she

may
life

bear to him a son, without

whom,
is

natural

or adopted, he can have no salvation; that her


is

to be preserved;

and that she

to

have

that degree of comfort


her.

which may be

allotted to

Her general debasement, according to the


is

Hindu shastras,

extreme."
this
'

Ramabai confirms
is

by saying:
with

" The wife


'

declared to be the

marital property

of her

husband,
female

and

is

classed

'cows,

mares,

camels,

slave-girls,

buflfalo-cows, sheix.

goats and ewes."

(See

Manu
are

48-51.)

But

she adds, in regard to the favorable passages:

"These commandments
Aryan Hindus
certain extent.
did,

significant.

Our

and

still

do honor

Although the

women to a woman is looked


the queen of her
there,

upon

as an inferior being, she

is

son's household, wields great


is

power

and

generally obeyed as the head of the family

by

her sons, and her daughters-in-law."


'

T/ie

High

Caste

Hindu IVoman, by Ramabai.


273

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


Says Dr. Wilson again:
stitution of

" Of the original con-

woman,

as distinguished

from that of

man, the Hindu sages and

legislators, the authors

of the Hindu sacred books, have thus written:

'Falsehood, cruelty, bewitchery,


ness, impurity,

folly,

covetous-

and unmercifulness are woman's


'

inseparable faults.'
that

Woman's sin is greater than


his;

of man,' and

cannot be removed by the

atonements which destroy

'women
'

are they

who
have

have an aversion to good works;

'women
intelli-

hunger twofold more than men;


(cunning)
desires,

gence

fourfold;
eightfold.'

violence,

sixfold;
their

and

evil

'Through

evil desires,

their

want

of settled affection, and

their perverse nature, let

them be guarded

in this

world ever so well; they soon become alienated


from
their

husbands.

Manu

allotted

to

such

women
bility,

a love of their bed, of their seat, and of

ornaments, impure appetites, wrath,


desire

weak

flexi-

of

mischief

and bad

conduct.

Women
Vedas.

have no business with the text of the


This
is

the law fully settled.

Having
be as foul

therefore no evidence of law, and no

knowledge

of expiatory texts, sinful


as falsehood
effect,
itself,

women must
is

and this

a fixed rule.

To

this

many

texts

which may show


274

their true

disposition are chanted in the Vedas.'

(Manu

ix.

The Real
1

Difficulty
it is

8, 19.)

It

will

be observed that
is

the sex, and

not the race, that


that

here condemned.

The

idea

woman

is

a help-meet for

man, seems never

to have

entered into the minds of the Hindu

sages.
evil,

They uniformly

treat her as a necessary

and a most dangerous character.


according to them,
is
'

Her posi-

tion,

that of a continuous

slavery
girl,

and dependence.

or

by

They enjoin that by a young woman, or by a woman adnothing must be done, even
in

vanced

in years,

her

own

dwelling-place, according to her mere pleas-

ure; in childhood a female

must be dependent on
on her hus-

(or subject to) her father; in youth,

band: her lord being dead, on her sons: a

woman
158.)

must never seek independence.' (Manu


"
of affection and regard for a daughter.

v.

The Hindu shastras have made no provisions


She
is

viewed by them,
and that

as far as her parents are- con-

cerned, merely as an object to be 'given away,'


as

soon as possible. even

She
in

is

declared

by

them

to be marriageable,

her infancy, to

a person of

any age; and of course without her


.
. .

own

choice, or intelligent consent.


letter of the

Ac-

cording to the
not to
sell

law, the parents are

their daughters, but they

may

receive

valuable
behalf.

gifts,

the equivalent of a price, on her


iii.

(Manu

51.)

275

The Wrongs of
"The Hindu wife
distinctions:
is

Indian

Womanhood

placed under the absolute

will of her lord, without

any reference to moral


he in-

and even

in religious matters,

tervenes between her conscience and her God.

'A husband,' says Manu, 'must constantly be


revered as a god by a virtuous wife.
fice is

No

sacri-

allowed to

women
rite,

apart from their hus-

bands, no religious

no fasting; as far only


is

as a wife honors her lord, so far


in heaven.'
said in the

she exalted
it

(Manu

v.

155.)
'

'

Let a wife,'

is

Shanda Purana,
ablution,

who

wishes to per-

form sacred

wash

the feet of her lord,


is

and drink the water: for a husband


wife greater than Shanhar or yishnu.

to

The hus:

band
to

is

her god, and priest, and religion

where-

fore abandoning everything else, she ought chiefly

worship her husband.'

"The husband
lowing
gree that
kindred.
it

is

actually cautioned against al-

his affections to rest


is

upon her
be

in the

de-

lawful in the case of others of his

'Let

not a

woman

much

loved,'

is

enjoined: 'let her have only that degree of


is

affection that

necessary.

Let the fullness of

affection be reserved for brothers,


ilar
is

and other sim-

connections.'
it

When

kindness to the

woman
{See

urged,

is

recommended
276

principally as calcubenefit.

lated to

promote the husband's

The Real

Difficulty

the case of her oi-naments,

Manu

iii.

6i.)

rope

and a rod are expressly mentioned

as the ordi-

nary supports of a iiusband's authority.

grounds, even for an unkind word, she


superseded,
or

On trivial may be

divorced.

For polygamy and

licentiousness

on the part of the husband, there


laxities of legis-

can be pleaded, not only certain


lation,

according to which they appear as mat-

ters comparatively trivial;

but even the alleged ex"


^

amples of the gods themselves !

Abbe Duboise in his Hindu Manners, Customs and Ceremonies, devotes a chapter to rules of
conduct by which these general principles

we
are

have

quoted

from

the

Hindu shastras

worked out
These one of
their

in detail.

rules are taken

from the Padma-Purana,


are trans-

most valued books, and

lated literally:

"Give
Dilipa!
I

ear to
will

me

attentively,

great king of

expound

to thee

how

a wife at-

tached to her husband and devoted to her duties

ought to behave.

"There

is

no other god on earth for a

woman
all

than her husband.

The most

excellent of
is

the

good works
'

that she can do,

to seek to please

Suppression of Infanticide in Western India, by John Wil-

son, D. D,, F. R. S.

277

The Wrongs of
him by manifesting

Indian

Womanhood

perfect obedience to him.

Therein should He her sole rule of Hfe.

"Be

her husband deformed, aged, infirm, oflet

fensive in his manners;

him

also

be choleric,
let

debauched, immoral, a drunkard, a gambler:

him frequent
for his

places of ill-repute, live in

open

sin

with other women, have no affection whatever

home;

let

him rave
let

like a

lunatic;

let

him

live

without honor;

him be

blind, deaf,

dumb,

or crippled; in a
let his

word

let his

defects be
it

what they may,

wickedness be what

may, a wife should always look upon him as her


god, should lavish on him
care; paying
all

her attention and


his character,

no heed whatever to

and giving him no cause whatsoever for


pleasure.

dis-

"Should she see anything which she


without the consent of her husband.
visit

is

desir-

ous of possessing, she must not seek to acquire


it

If

her

husband receives the


retire

of a stranger, she shall

with

bent head and shall continue her


the least attention to him.

work without paying


band
only,

She must concentrate her thoughts on her husand must never look another man
in

the face.

In acting thus, she wins the praise of

everybody.

"

If

her husband laugh, she must laugh;


S78

if

he

The Real

Difficulty
if

be sad, she must be sad;

he weeps, she must

weep; Thus
other

if

he asks questions, she must answer.

will she give proof of her

good

disposition,

" She must take heed not to remark that an-

man

is

young, handsome, or well proporall,

tioned;

and, above

she must not speak to


will

him.

Such modest demeanor

secure for

her the reputation of a faithful spouse.


"
It

shall

even be the same with her who, see-

ing before her the most beautiful gods, shall re-

gard them disdainfully and as though they were


not worthy of comparison with her husband.

"A
had
if
if

wife must eat only after her husband has


fill.

his

If

the latter

fast,

she shall fast too;


shall

he touch not food, she also


he be
in affliction,

not touch
if

it;

she shall be so too;

he be

cheerful, she shall share his joy.

good wife

should be less devoted to her sons, or to her


grandsons, or to her jewels, than to her hus-

band.

She must, on the death of her husband,


be burned
alive

allow herself to
funeral
virtue.

on the same

pyre;

then everybody will praise her

" She cannot lavish too

much

affection

on her

father-in-law, her mother-in-law,

and her hus-

band;

and should she perceive that they are


all

squandering

the family substance in extrava279

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


gance, she would be
still

wrong
let

to complain,

and

more wrong

to

oppose them.
her
;

"Before her husband,

words
let

fall

softly

and sweetly from her mouth


herself to pleasing

and

her devote

him every day more and

more. "If a husband keep

two wives,

the one should

not amuse herself at the expense of the other, be


it

for good, or for evil; neither should the

one
chil-

talk

about the beauty or the ugliness of the

dren of the other.

They must

live

on good

terms, and must avoid addressing unpleasant and


offensive remarks to each other.

"Let

her

carefully

avoid creating domestic

squabbles on the subject of her parents, or on

account of another

woman whom

her husband

may wish
her.
these,

to keep, or

on account of any unpleasaddressed to

ant remark which

may have been


to

To leave the house for reasons such as

would expose her

public ridicule,
evil-speaking.

and

would give cause for much


"If her husband
her,
flies

into a passion, threatens

abuses her grossly, even beats her unjustly,

she shall answer him meekly, shall lay hold of


his hands,

kiss

them, and beg his pardon, in-

stead of uttering loud cries, and running

away

from the house.


.

280

The Real
"Let
god.
all

Difficulty

her words and actions give public

proof that she looks upon her husband as her

Honored by everybody, she


reputation
of a
faithful

shall thus en-

joy the

and virtuous

spouse."
It

is

the Hindu religious belief that a

woman
to

must never forsake her husband, but submit


him
in
all

things, that makes her afraid and

ashamed
or even

to leave his house for brutal treatment,


if

he brings a mistress into the house


It

with

her.

is

this
if

belief that

would make

all

society

hound

her

she did.

In the

accounts of
is

the lives of

some

of the gods there

sanction

for nautch-girls

and devadasis.

This keeps the


It is

public from being shocked at the custom.


to the

worship of Krishna, that much of the im-

morality of the country can be blamed.

The
or

custom of temple
sively

girls

flourishes
in

most extenVishnu

and

almost

exclusively

Krishna temples.

As long
that have

as these beliefs exist,

and the customs

these

grown up around them, so long will wrongs of Indian women remain in the
is

land; for not only

her

own

salvation secured

by the observance

of these customs
also.

and

rights;

but that of numberless relatives


In illustration of this, Sir 281

Monier Williams

tells

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


of a certain

pious ascetic

who

determined to

shirk the religious duty of taking a wife.

Wan-

dering about in the woods, absorbed in meditation,

he

saw

before him a deep and apparently

bottomless

pit,

around whose edges "some

men
at

were hanging suspended by ropes of grass


which, here and there, a
rat

was

nibbling.

On

asking their history, he discovered, to his horror,


that they

were

his

own

ancestors compelled to

hang
fall

in this

mannei, and doomed eventually to

into the abyss, unless he

went back,

into the

world, did his duty like a man, married a suitable


wife, and had a son
lease

who would

be able to

re-

them from
as

their critical predicament."

As long

men and women

remain devout

Hindus, so long will this estimate of

women
sincere.

pervade society.

By devout, we mean
their

We would
break

dread the day that the

women

should

away from

devoutness and
in

sincerity,

and become "reformed"


the expense of
cere

outward

things, at

becoming
in

sceptics, atheists, insin-

and hypocritical

keeping up a form of

Hinduism.
is

We
even
is

have more hope of a man,


if

who

sincere,

mistaken, than of a hypocrite.

The thing

to teach the
is

woman

that her hus-

band's salvation
son; that her

not secured by the birth of a

own and

each relative's salvation

S82

The Real
depends on

Difficulty

personal obedience to
is

God;

that

widowhood
husband
is

not the result of her sin; that a

not as a god; that by obedience to

him
life

in

life,

heaven

is

not secured to her; that a

of penance and austerity after his death, does

not secure her

own

or his eternal
if

happiness.

Give her true ideas of salvation,


to find

you want her

and to

fill

her true place.

283

XVIII

THE REAL REMEDY


In

previous chapters

we

have canvassed the

subject of the

hope of help from government

and the reformers, the two sources to which

many
But

look for the redemption of Indian

women.
is

we

confess the outlook from either source

not very bright at present.

Government, under

the most propitious circumstances has been slow


in

making changes, much


in

less is
its

it

likely to

do so

now
tent

the presence of

present absorbing

questions, and in the face of the present discon-

and strong race

feeling.

And

the reformers?

To many,

the disapbitter.

pointment from

this source has


all

been most

We

give credit for


that

that has been done, but so

much

we had

a right to

demand from eduHon.


Court, well said
till

cated India has never been accomplished.


Justice Scott, of the
in a letter to

Bombay High
If

Mr. Malabari: "

you wait

indi-

vidual Hindus take

up and carry through,


outside
aid,

single

handed,

without
in their

any
social

any great

change
the

system, you will realize

fable

of the countryman,
284

who

sat

by the

The Real Remedy


river

bank and waited


lie

for the stream to run dry


tlie

before

crossed over to

other side.

It is

not in Iiuman nature to expect that great changes


will be affected in a society

by

its

own members,

when

the

advocates of

change have to face

family estrangement, social ostracism, and caste

excommunication, as a probable
efforts."

result of their

Caste,

which holds the whole


denounce

fabric for
its

of Hinduism together, has been too

much

them.

They
to

will

it

and yet obey

demands,

at least to

an extent sufficient to enable


its

them

keep within

sacred precincts socially.

Even

Ram Mohun

Roy,

who

has stood the

highest in the ranks of Indian reformers,

"in

the eyes of the law always remained a Brahman.

He never abandoned
had too
lively a

the Brahmanical thread, and

sense of the value of money, to

risk the forfeiture of his property

and the coninflu-

sequent diminution of his usefulness and


ence by formally giving up his caste.

In fact,

though
laid

far in

advance of

his

age as a thinker, he

no claim to perfect disinterestedness of mo-

tive as a

man.

...

He

died a Hindu in re-

spect of external observances; his

Brahman

servhis

ant performed the usual rites required

by

master's caste, and his Brahmanical thread

was
spirit

found coiled round

his person

when

his

285

The Wrongs of
passed away.
continued a
death
fiction
it

Indian

Womanhood
Even
to
after his

In all his Anii-Brahmanism, he

Brahman to the end. was thought advisable


interred
in
in

keep up the
'

of a due maintenance of caste."

His

body was not

a Christian burial
Christian

ground, though he died

England,

tenderly nursed to the end by Christian friends;

but

was

buried in the private grounds of his

hostess.

And

this will continue to

be the history

of reformers until they have a different motive

power
which
for

for effort, one that will enable


all

them

to

suffer the loss of

things,

and to receive that


satisfy their hearts

will

compensate and
lose.

what they
the

And
their

women
until

themselves, will they agitate


?

wrongs
and

they are righted

Until they,

too, are given different ideas of religion, respectability right,

they will be the greatest op-

ponents of reform on their behalf.

Women

are

always most prominent


every nation, and
in

in

religious matters in

India, they are the persons

who
and

cling so intensely to the old ways, customs


caste.

No

matter

how
is

deeply a young
hair,
it

widow

suffers in

being shorn of her

fre-

quently happens that no one


'

harder than she,


by Sir Monier

Religious

Thought and Life in

India,

Williams.

286

The Real Remedy


as time goes on, on

younger widows that they

should follow in the same steps of suffering.

A
in

Brahman neighbor
his family,

of ours had

two widows

who were

of the most orthodox type.

In the course of conversation

with one of them


re-

one day, he kindly proposed that she should


marry.
ing
all

At the mere suggestion, notwithstandshe had suffered, she burst into


it

tears.

She regarded
respectable!

as an insult.

It

would not be

Many educated Hindus

fear the

women
else.

of the

household almost more than aught

Men

who

will declaim against child marriage, caste


in

and enforced widowhood


courage

public,

have not

when

they go

home

to face the

women

of the household; for their tears and entreaties

win the day.

We
a

knew

of one gentleman

who

lost his wife.

Immediately his mother proposed marriage with


little girl.

He pleaded

to be allowed to

remain

single.

But no, the mother persisted.


to be allowed to

Then he
nearer

begged
his

marry

woman

own

age,
to

who, under the circumstances,


be a widow.

would have

At

this all the fe-

male relations rose in a solid body against it. They were uneducated; they had never shared
his

thought

of

reform.
287

Finally

the

mother

The Wrongs of
threatened to

Indian

Womanhood
threat
out,
his

commit suicide, a she probably would have carried

which
convicthat
girl-

and the

man
tions,

yielded at

a sacrifice
all

of

all

and

of

his

public

utterances

had done so much good, and married the


wife.

Children are timid and shrinking, and

some
Yes,

one has suggested that


that

it is

from child mothers,

Hindus

inherit their lack of courage.

Indian

women
it;

have great influence, and


but

know

how
the

to use

wrong

direction.

how often it God meant

is

turned in

that

woman
that she
It

should have great influence.

He meant

should be man's help-meet and comforter.

was perhaps from the

memory
the

of such scenes as

we

have described,

that, in

speaking of the inof India, as in


said,

fluence of

women

in

homes

other countries,
a

Keshub Chundra Sen


in

in

humorous way,
has

an address
defined
as
I

in

England:
adjective

"Woman
say that

been

an

agreeing with the noun, man.

should rather
case

man

is

noun

in the objective

governed by woman!
Neither are the

women

of India inferior to the

women

of other lands.

Given the same oppor-

tunity, they are the equals of

any women.

We

have found

many who had


288

all

the possibilities of

The Real Remedy


the career of noble

women,

save that they were


disabilities

handicapped by ignorance and the


under which they have
lived.

And

such

women

are not confined only to the higher castes.

We

knew,
acter

for a

number

of years, a sweeper

woman

who would
her
life

have been a most remarkable charhalf a chance.

had she had but

Unhappily

was turned

into evil channels,

and yet
(a lady)!

her neighbors called her the ''Begum"

There are thousands of

women

all

over the land

who, were they not warped by


given a purpose in
the Indian world.
Indian

iron custom,

and
if

handicapped by cruel public opinion, would,


life,

leave their

mark upon
and
the

women

are

loving,

affectionate

faithful; and,

says the Indian

Witness,

"they
for

are entitled to the greatest admiration

wonderfully patient

manner

in

which they acthe best of their

cept their hard lot and

make

gloomy environments."

We are grateful for what has been accomplished


in

female education,
ladies

and for the enlightened


here and there; but the

Hindu
real

we meet

emancipation of Indian

women

will never
Christ.

come, except through the gospel of Jesus


This
is

the real remedy for the


;

wrongs

of Indian

womanhood

for this

is

what has elevated women

289

The Wrongs of
in other lands,

Indian

Womanhood

and

is

waiting to do the same for

India.

Culture and civilization alone will never raise

woman

to her true position.


is

Whatever of

civi-

lization at present that

worth anything

in Chris-

tian nations is the

outgrowth of the
true elevation of
this,

religion of

Jesus Christ. these

The
is

women
this
this is

in

nations

due to

and

alone.

Peruse the pages of history and see


true.

if

not

What do we
in

find to be the condition of

women

any land outside of Christendom,

either in the past or present ?

Infanticide

has prevailed,

in

other, in almost every nation:

some form or "polygamy has

prevailed

over

almost

the

whole expanse of

Asia: throughout the vast empire of China, and


in the greater part of India, female children are

betrothed in childhood; in almost every pagan


race, ancient or in

modern, females are given away

marriage without their

own

consent; in

many

lands they are bought and sold; divorce can in

most cases be had on easy terms; not only the

Brahman of

India,

but the Polynesian savage, and


Indies, will
;

even the Negro slaves of the West

not allow their wives to eat with them


tual culture,

intellec-

when

apart from the sanctifying influ-

ences of Christianity, has nowhere checked


290

has

The Real Remedy


rather precipitated

the derangement of
'

the rela-

tion of the sexes to each other."

What

did the high civilization of Greece and


the philosophies there extant do for

Rome, and

women?
tianity

Says Dr.
first

Murdoch:
in

"When

Chris-

was

made known
was
a

Europe, the state

of society in the most civilized nations


corrupt.
.

was most
crime.

Adultery

fashionable

single temple to the goddess


its

Venus
;

had a thousand prostitutes for

priestesses

and he quotes another writer


tender reverence for

as saying,

"The

women

is
it

not mere product

of culture and civilization, for

was unknown to

Greece and
ment.
. .

Rome
.

in the zenith of their refineis

It

the reflection on earth of

that self-devoting love that brought the

Son of
F.

God from
Robertson:
that

heaven."
"It

And, says the Rev.


that time

W.

was from
a

forward

womanhood assumed
human
all

new
It

place in the
to

world,

and steadily and gradually rose


life. is

higher dignity in
civilization,

not to mere
in

but to the

spirit of
is,

life
all

Christ,

that

woman owes

she

and

she has yet

to gain."

The
1

religion of Jesus Christ

is

not so

much

The Influence of Christianity on the Position and Character

of Women, by Dr. Kay.


291

The Wrongs of Indian Womanhood


system of doctrine, though
it is

this

has

its

value, as

a life that

moulds and transforms the characSays one: "It expelled cru-

ter of its believers. elty;

curbed passion; punished and repressed an

execrable infanticide; drove the shameless impurities of

heathendom

into a congenial darkness;

freed the slave; protected the captive; sheltered

the orphan; shrouded as with a halo of sacred in-

nocence the tender years of a child; elevated

woman;

sanctified

marriage

from

little

more
than

than a burdensome convention into


a blessed sacrament "
;

little

less

and where men and women

have received
so pure that
chivalrous
it

it,

has

made

their hearts

and

lives

hand, has
as

men a reverence and care for women; and on the other so hallowed the character of woman,
has given to

to make the words, "mother," "sister," "wife" and "daughter," the tenderest words in
It

the language of men.


of

has taught the equality

woman

with man, and made her his help-meet


It

and comforter.

is

a religion that offers salva-

tion regardless of sex,

and teaches that " in Christ


(Gal.
iii.

there
It

is

neither male nor female."

28.)

makes woman
and

a responsible moral being,

whose
earth,

salvation

possibilities of a holy life

on

and her future

eternal blessedness,

depend on her

own

personal acceptance of Christ and obedience


292

The Real Remedy


to or

Him, and not on her


any other
relative.

relations to her

husband

Christianity does not subvert the relations of

the household.

It

recognizes

man

as the

head of

the house, and asks obedience of the wife; w^hile


in the

same breath

it

bids husbands "love their

wives even as Christ loved the Church and gave


Himself for
it."
It

demands obedience of son


alike;

and daughter to both father and mother

and hallows the


lation of

entire

home by making

the re-

husband and wife as a type of Christ


relations of parents to

and the Church, and the


their

children,

faint

shadow of

the

great

Fatherhood of God.

But

in all these relations,

the obedience of the wife to her husband, the


love of the husband for the wife, or the submission of the children to the parents, are never to

supersede

love

and

obedience to God.

This

helps us to understand

what

it

meant by the
mother more
and he that
is

words:

"He
is

that loveth father or

than Me,
loveth son

not worthy of Me;


or daughter

more than Me,

not

worthy of Me."
This
is

(Matt. x. 37.)

one of the places where Hinduism

breaks down, in that family caste relations are

made

to supersede obligations to

God and

their

fellow-men.

This

is

the rock
293

upon which so

The Wrongs of
many
reformers

Indian

Womanhood
is

cause of

make shipwreck. This much unhappiness on the part

the

of the

educated Hindus

who
of

sacrifice their convictions

to these considerations.

This

is

the point where


in India

so

many hundreds

men and women


is

reject the gospel,

which

the very hope not

only of India's
India has

women, but of India herself. had some wonderful proofs of what

Christ can do for


tireless love

women

in

Ramabai,

in

her

and

self-denial for her Indian sisters;

in the energetic Mrs. Sorabjee,

with her Victoria

High School; and

in

her accomplished daughter,

Cornelia, the first lady graduate of the

Deccan

College, the

first

lady professor in an India Colthe


first

lege

whose students were men, and


Manjulabai,

lady

law-student; in that earnest quartette of


Sunderbai,

sisters,

Shewantibai,

and

Jai-

wantibai Power,

in their evangelistic efforts for


in in

women;
Krupabai

in

Toru Dutt, the gentle poetess;


the

Satthianadhan,

authoress;

Chandra Bose, the esteemed lady principal of the


Bethune College;
cient teacher in the
in

in

Lilawanti Singh, the


College for

effi-

Lucknow

women;
in

Lakshmi Goreh, the sweet hymn-writer;


hundreds of other Christian

Dr. Gurubai Karmarker, the lady physician;


in

and

women

in equal

or

humbler ranks of

life.

How many

times

we

294

The Real Remedy


have thanked

God

for their lives, counted their

friendship sweet,

and

their

fellowship

in

the

gospel, blessed; and,

may we

add, almost envied


?

their possibilities for usefulness in India

We

know

of no

women

in the

world

who

have the "open door" set before them for usefulness as the Christian

women

in India

have to-

day.

Do
it ?

they realize
If

it,

and are they willing to

meet

the recital of these

wrongs has
to

made them

realize

more deeply what Christ has


shall

done for them, and

lead

them

yield
lies,

themselves to God, that so far as in them


every
shall

woman
be

in India shall
Is
it

hear the gospel;


for

we

satisfied.

possible

the one

hundred and

fifty million

women
?

of India of this

generation to hear the gospel


Christian
to

We

leave the

women

of India, England and America

answer the question.

THE END

295

Index
Adultery, Fashionable, 291. Age of consent, 36, 230. Age for Marriage, Aiaximum,
39.

Cardinal Manning, quoted, 39. Carpenter, Miss, 262.


Carey, William, 250.

Carey and Infanticide, 151.


sign, 251.

American Board High School, Carey's


267.

Carey,
Caste,

Work
Power
Evil

of,

252-254.
64.

Amherst, Lord, 191. Anti-Nautch movement,


147.

of,

137-

"

of,

285.

Chaitanya Sect, The, 121.


Chentsalrao,
61.

Arbitrary divorce, 96.

Hon.

P.,

quoted,

Bentinck, LordWm.,
214.

50, 192,

child Marriage, 33, 174, 201,


202.

Besant,

Mrs. Annie, 173,235,

Child wife. Hardships of Child widow. A, 59. Sufferings

a, 43.

236, 237-240.

Bethune, Hon. D., 258.

of,

59.

Bethune

Institution, 258, 264.

"

<

and famine, 171.


Introduction
of,

Bhandarkar, Dr., quoted, 172. Bhavins, The, 124.


Bible, The,

Christianity,

247-249.

49 5'

on Widowhood, 48, Christianity, Need of, 245. " the real remedy,
293.
Christianity,
trated, 294.

Bielby, Miss, 207, 208.

" "
209.

"

"

on the Zenana, 98. visits the Queen,

Power

of

illus-

Civilization, Influence of, 290.

Bishop, Mrs. Isabella B., 95. Bradford, Rev. A. H., quoted.


114.
Briltian, Miss, a6o.

Close Carriage, A, 76.

Cold Suttee, 53. College Degrees


264, 265, 268.

for

women,

Conjugal

Rights,

Restitution

Calcutta School

Society, 256.

of, 204, 205.

297

Index
Consent,

Age

of,

36.

Gospel, and

woman,

292.
of,

Converted Hindu women, 294,


295,

Government, The position


175. 178-

Cooke, Miss, 256, Cruel punishments, 43. Custom, Power of, 27, 163.

Gunpati Festival, The, 233.

Harem, The,

77,

^ Devadasis,
'

The, iiz-i2c,
'

Hastings, Lady, 257.

^
of,
'

Hewlett,
1

ll
,

"
Difficulty,

Character

IIO,

^'

tt-

Hmdu home
" " "

1 j o Miss, quoted, 87. vr c

n,-

life,

26.

The

real, 270, 283.

houses, 91.
^^'^^' ^9-

Divorce, Arbitrary, 96.

" "

Checks

to, 97.

shastras,The, 116.
Social

Law

of 42.
of,

"
96.

Reform Associa-

Thirteen kinds
Duboise, Abbe,

*'"' *38, 202.

quoted,

277,

^'"^'^ Social Reform Association.

2gj
Duff, Dr., quoted, 215, 261.

Memorial

of,

139, 140.

^^^^"^ Social Reform Associa-

^^^> Memorial of reply to, Duncan, Jonathan, 156. /^i" " his menuHindu Temples, form of, 112, ment 157. " " uses of, 112East India Company, The, 114,

*7S ^76, 179-

Education, Female, 210.

Hindu widows, Number of, 61. Home, Immorality in the, 58.


Hope,

"

Western, 234.

A ray of,

18.

Enforced widowhood, 48, 167.

Hunter, Sir W. W., quoted, 180,


182, 194.

Famine of

1898, 233.
,
^.

Female _
,

Famine, Child widows and, 171.


education, 210.
T.

Immorality
India,

... m the home, 58.


"'

Fordyce, Rev.
'

T
T., J '

259. 3^ Festival
at,

,,.,,. rZ Indian Mutiny, The


quoted,
116, 126,

Modern,

27.

176.

Ganga
152.

SagAR,
Sagar,

Indian Social Reformer, The,


132,

142,

Ganga
189.

Infanticide at,

143. 164, 167, 173.

Indian Spectator, The, quoted.

Gospel,

Need

of the, 290.

195.

298

Index
Indian Testimony,
of,

chapter

MADRAS
231.

Marriage

Bill,

The,

161-174.
Witness, The, quoted

Indian

Madras
165.

Reform

Association,

161, 197. 236, 289.

Indian Universities, 206. " " Women in,


207.
Infanticide, 58, 148.

Mahomet's daughter, Story


271.

of,

Malabari, Mr., quoted, 64, 163,


174. 195. 198.

"

abolished, 153,

Malabari, Mr., Reforms by, 22 1224.

" "

Act of 1890, 159.


in Bible times, 149.

Malabari,

Famous

" Notes " of,

" "
to,

Carey on, 151, 189. 225. Christianity opposed Manning, Cardinal, quoted,
150.

39.

Mansell,

Mrs,, 196,

197,

254,

Infanticide, Dr.

Wilson on, 150.


illegal, 1 5 2.

255.

"

declared

Manu, Laws
"

of,

272,
for,

"

Wholesale, 160.
of,

Marriage, Fixing age

174.

Maximum age

Jagannath, Temple
Jarejas,
Jejuri,

for, 39.

115.

The, 156.
at,

Temple

" A mere show, 34. Marshman, Mrs. H., 255,

102, 104.

Maximum
"

age

for

Jogtins,

The, 125.

marriage, 39.
Catholic, 248,

Missions, Protestant, 249.

Juggernaut, 115.

Roman

Kashmari
88, 89.

pandit,

A, quoted,
Sen,

249.
Missionaries, do they exagger-

Keshub, Chunder
221, 288.

217-

ate? 161.

Modern

India, 33.

Khandoba's sword, Marriage to,

Mohammed,
,, 80, 81. '
,

Story

of,

78-80.

Institutes the Veil,

Koran and Polygamy, The,


" Krishna, 120.

61.

, " the TT M 4,. Veil, The, 77.

Mohammed, Wives of, 81 Mohammedan sects, 90.


,

,,,.

Morals, Double standard


187.

of,

144.

Legislation desired, 186,

Muir, Sir W., quoted, 88, 92.


Miiller,

Lucknow Advocate, T\\t, 164. Lucknow College, 263. Lucknow, Nautch-girls of, 131.

Max, Testimony of,

165,

166.

Muralis, The, lOO-ill.

299

Index
Muralis, Character
of, 104, of, 108.

Prayaschitt, The, 31.

"
"

Missionaries

Preface, 15.

Vows

of,

106.

Prostitutionof temple girls, 122.


Protestant missions, 249.

Murdoch, Dr., quoted, 87, 116,


117, 119, 132, 291.

Mutiny, The Indian, 176.

Punishments, Cruel, 43. Purdah Lady, A, 77.


Puree,

Mysore Marriage
Mysore, State
of,

Bill,

The, 231.

Temple

of, 1 14.

200.

Purity associations, 137.

Queen Empress, Memorial


National Social Congress, The,
203, 204.
Nautch-girls, The, 126- 1 36.
197, 198.

to,

Radha Krishna,
Ragnathdas, Case

154.
of, 1 20.

" " " "


129.

Antiquity

of, 126. of, of,

Character

134.

Ragunathrio, Mr., quoted, 55,


56, 65.

Earnings

131.
128,

Education

of,

Rajput infanticide, 170, 171. Rakhmabai, Case of, 39,41,204.

Nautch-girls, Training of,


128.

127,

Ramabai, Introduction by, 11. u quoted, 21,53,54,68,


162, 273.

Nautch-girls at government dinners, 135.

Ram Mohun
285, 286,

Roy,

212,

213,

Nautch-girls at weddings, 134.

and
*45-

ballet dancers,

Ram Mohun Roy


land, 214.

visits

Eng-

Nepaul, State

of,

200.
India, 260.

Ranade,

Justice, 187, 188.


of,

Normal School, The

Rao Bahadur, Case


69, 227.

65-67,

Obscene books, Use

of,

115.

Rao, Mr. K.
,70, 171.

S.,

Statement

of,

paintings, 116.

Real
system, The, 47. Phulmani Dasi, 19, 196, 227.

Patriarchal

Difficulty, The, 270-283. Real Remedy, The, 284-295. Recent Reforms, 229-246.

Reformers, Methods of, 243, 244. Plague of 1898, The, 233. Polygamy allowed by the Koran, Robertson, Rev. F. W., 291.
61, 93.

Roman
of, 94,

Catholic missions, 248,

Polygamy, Evils

290.

249.

300

Index
Sandhurst, Lord, 232. Sarah Tucker College, 263.
Schools for Girls, 265, 266.
Schwartz, 250.
Sects,

Thobum,

Miss, quoted, 82, 162,

263, 264.

Thomas, The Apostle, 247.


Tilak, Mr., 233.

Hindu,

89.

Times, The, quoted, 131.


90.

"

Mohammedan,

Sen, Keshub Chunder, 217-221.

Seventy million devils, ill.


Shastras,

The Hindu,

Universities, The Indian, 206. " Women in, 206.

273.

Shaving the head, 54, 56-58,


71-73Since 1891, 229-246.
Social

Conference, Action

of,

VedAs, The, 272. Veil, Koran and the, 77. Vevekanand, Swami, 173, 236.
Viceroy's
reply
to

memorial,

137. 138.

Social Congress, The, 67, 68,

140-142.
Victoria

proclaimed

Empress,

245. Stead, Mr., 195.


Stridhan,
176.
63.

The widow's,
The,

Victoria, Proclamation by, 177.

Suttee Act, The, 135, 190, 193.

Victoria

High
I.

School, The, 266.

Rite,

Vidiasgar,
50, 53.

C, 215-217.

"
53-

"

Petition in favor of,

Warren
Ramabai
on, 53.

Hastings, 175.
of,

Suttee Rite,

W.

C. T. U., Memorial

196.

Swain, Miss Clara, 207.

Wellesley, Lord, 191.

Sword, Married
104.

to a, 100,

102-

What government
189-210.

has

done,

What
Tagore,
S.

missionaries have done,

N., on child mar-

247-269.

riage, 174.

What
168.

reformers have done, 21 1-

Tani, Trial

of,

22S.

Temple Temple
122.

boys, 107.
girls.

Widows, Dress
of,

of,

73.
of,

Prostitution

"

Number

61, 182.
63.

Widow's Stridhan, The,

Temple worship, 114. Temples, Form of, 11 a. " Usesof, Iia-ii4.

Widow Remarriage Act, 63. Widow remarriages. Number


of, 67.

301

Index
Widowhood, Bible
50.

on, 48, 49,

Wilson, Dr., quoted, 150, 155,

274-27748.
for,

Widowhood, Enforced, " Remedies


Williams, Sir Monier,
282, 283.

62.

Zenana, The,
"
Evils

36, 76-99, 78.


of,

an,

212,

84-87.

Ziegenbalg and Plutschau, 249.

AA

000 983 144

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