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‘Suttee System’ Or ‘Sahagamana’

Rammohan’s brother Jagmohan died. His wife Alakamanjari had to observe ‘Sahagamana’ (that is, she was to be burnt alive with the dead body).All arrangements were made for cremation. All the relatives gathered. Alakamanjari put on a laced-sari and there was ‘Kumkum’ on her forehead. (A mark of Kumkum’ or vermilion on the forehead is considered sacred by a Hindu wife; it is an indication that her husband is alive.) Her hair was disheveled. Fear was written upon her face. The corpse was brought to the cremation ground. Rammohan begged his sister-in-law not to observe ‘Suttee’. Relatives objected to Rammohan’s words. They bound her to the corpse and placed her on the funeral pyre with the corpse. The pyre was set on fire.

Alakamanjari screamed and cried in fear, but she was not set free. Poor woman! She was burnt to ashes along with her husband. All the relatives praised her shouting ‘Maha Sati! Maha Sati!’ (a great wife) and went back.

This heart-rending sight of his sister-in- law’s ‘Suttee’ made a deep impression on Rammohan’s mind. Then and there he took a vow to put an end to this dreadful. Custom. Some people believed that the scriptures said that the wife should die along with her husband. Rammohan referred to all the sacred books. But, nowhere was it laid down that the wife should perform ‘Suttee’. This custom had come into practice in some age. Some people who knew it was wrong did not have the courage to condiment. The brave Rammohan took up this difficult task.

But his task was not easy. Lakhs of people had faith in Suttee system. Many people opposed Rammohan and abused him. Some even tried to murder him. But Rammohan did not flinch. Even the people of the West, who saw all this wondered, when even the government was afraid to interfere in this matter, Rammohan risked his life and fought against this evil practice. In the end, he won and the government made ‘Suttee’ a crime.

Along with fight for the abolition of ‘Suttee’, Rammohan started a revolution for women’s education and women’s right to property. He showed that woman enjoyed equal freedom with man according to Hinduism.

Raja Rammohan Roy - 'Maker of Modern India'
About Raja Rammohan Roy
Birth And Boyhood
Sanskrit Education
Rammohan And Religion
At Rangpur
'Atmiya Sabha'
Regard For Hinduism
Education For The Progress Of The Country
With The Poor
Service To Literature
You are Here! 'Suttee System' or 'Sahagamana'
Love Of Independence
The First Editor
For Justice And Equality
Brahmo Samaj
Rammohun In England
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