Reform, Despite Nay-Sayers

The history of the abolition of sati is instructive for the triple talaq debate

Written by Rajesh Kochhar | Updated: June 16, 2017 6:00 pm
triple talaq, muslim law, sati, sati practice, hindu rituals, muslim personal law The British recognised sati as a barbarian practice, but were aware that it had been in vogue since ancient times and enjoyed scriptural support.

The Supreme Court has concluded the arguments on triple talaq. When can a religious practice be considered integral to a religion is a question that has engaged jurists the world over. The Supreme Court is conscious of the complexity of the issue and is treading cautiously. It appears likely that the Court would skirt the issue and be content with an anti-instant divorce advisory from the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

The majoritarianists, however, have made Muslim personal law a part of their political agenda. An advocate, Ashwini Upadhyay, ominously told the Court that, “tomorrow there would be a Hindu Personal Law Board to take a rigid stand on Hindu practices”. The learned advocate should have known that no such board can come into existence because Hindu personal law as an enforceable entity has never existed.

Speaking at public meetings, central minister M. Venkaiah Naidu claimed that the Hindus abolished sati. Similarly, he’d like Muslims to end triple talaq. Naidu’s assertion on sati seems to be a matter of convenience; it is not borne out by facts on record. Sati was banned in December 1829, not on the demand of the Hindus, but as a personal initiative of the governor general, William Bentinck. Sustained campaigns against sati came from Christian missionaries rather than Hindus.

The British recognised sati as a barbarian practice, but were aware that it had been in vogue since ancient times and enjoyed scriptural support. Was it to be treated as a criminal act and banned, or was it to be condoned on the stated principle of non-interference in religious matters? The colonial administration took 40 years to make up its mind. As early as 1789, it instructed its officials in the mofussil not to use official power to prevent sati on the grounds that it was “authorised by the tenets of the religion of the Hindoos”. In 1813, guided by court pandits, the government decided to regulate the practice, thus unwittingly encouraging it.

In 1817, the universally respected chief pandit at the supreme court, Mrityunjaya Vidyalankar Chattopadhyaya, was officially asked to give a vyavastha (ruling) on sati. After consulting some 30 texts belonging to various schools, he concluded that though burning was termed optional, it was still not to be recommended. Vidyalankar’s tract became the unacknowledged starting point for Ram Mohan Roy in his anti-sati campaign. To build his case, Roy had to selectively enlist the support of ancient rishis like Manu and Yajnavalkya, while condemning authorities such as Gotama. Till this time, the anti-sati campaign was exclusively all-European involving missionaries, government and British public opinion. With Roy, sati became a topic of debate among Hindus. Had Bengal’s Hindu leadership rallied behind Roy, the colonial administration would have had no difficulty in banning sati immediately. But it was not Hindus versus sati, but conservative Hindus versus Roy and his supporters, backed by Christian missionaries.

Even though Roy advised Bentinck against any direct action, once the enactment was made, he marshalled all resources in its support. The matter finally came to a close in 1832 with the Privy Council upholding the ban. While now, we take pride in the abolition of sati, in its time, the court of directors had to defend their action in front of their King, facing objections from the Hindus.

A generation later, when in 1855, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar campaigned for widow remarriage, his opponents far outnumbered supporters. The government did not go by head-count, but by Vidyasagar’s assertion that, “this custom is not in accordance with the Shastras, or with true Hindu law”.

Hindu social reforms thus came about not because the community at large asked for them, but because a dedicated band of campaigners convinced the colonialists that they enjoyed scriptural support. The moral is clear. Scriptures are not a monolith. Be it a defensive minority or an aggressive majority, the agenda should be modern, and the scriptures interpreted accordingly.

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    blackpower
    Jun 17, 2017 at 10:17 am
    when it comes to slavery, it is inextricably linked with the caste system where the lowcastes who are considered zombies as per the code of manu are merely kept alive for the uppercastes to practice their vile voodoo upon them - manual scavenging, ridding of corpses and carcasses, and a whole host of dehumanising activities. this is perpetual enslavement over 1000s of years. --------------------Caste and Safai Karamcharis----A recent study published in EPW of 360 safai karamcharis emplo by the Bombay Muni l Corporation argues that policies aimed at uplifting conservancy work may actually be ins utionalising caste-based occupations, “This study reveals that almost 90 of safai karamcharis in the Muni l Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes. Castes like the Mahar, Matang, Meghwal, Harijan, Valmiki and Chambhar dominate, whereas others like Kathewadi, Kunbi, Vadar and Devendrakulathan are found in smaller numbers
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      blackpower
      Jun 17, 2017 at 10:09 am
      There is a saffronite Abdul jamal posing under a faux name as these saffronites are wont to doing in order to spread misinformation and disinformation to further their hidden agenda. he or it(?) rambles on merrily with news as a digressive tactic against any vile hindoo practices that exist or that had existed. SLAVERY is his pet topic and it is apposite to understand where India stands in the global slavery index.
      Reply
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        blackpower
        Jun 17, 2017 at 10:09 am
        India has 18 million modern slaves—at least five times more than any other country in the world. s: qz /695565/india-has-18-million-modern-slaves-at-least-five-times-more-than-any-other-country-in-the-world/
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          blackpower
          Jun 17, 2017 at 10:46 am
          this number is extremely conservative and cannot account for the landless, deprived lowcastes who are forever forced into subsistence labour as can be found in huge numbers in the massive construction projects of indian cities the caste system is in itself a form of ins utionalised slavery
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          blackpower
          Jun 17, 2017 at 10:11 am
          ndia has more people living in modern slavery than the population of the Netherlands, a new report estimates. Of the 167 countries surve , the South Asian country has the highest number of people living in slavery–more than 18 million people, or 1.4 of the population. The 2016 Global Slavery Index from the Walk Free Foundation said modern slavery comes in many forms, from domestic to ual to bonded and child labor. The term refers to a situation in which a person has taken away another’s freedom so they can be exploited.
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            blackpower
            Jun 17, 2017 at 10:12 am
            Brick-kilns are the sites of slavery and human rights abuse in India as well. Based on NSSO data, Anti-Slavery International calculated that there might be 100,000 kilns in India employing 23 million (or 2.3 crore) workers. In a letter dated 6th April 2017 to Rajasthan’s labour secretary, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) described the condition of brick-kiln workers – and there were many similarities with the Russian situation. The letter said, “The vulnerable conditions of the these workers stem from the fact that:
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              blackpower
              Jun 17, 2017 at 10:13 am
              (a) The state government has failed to enforce provisions of labour legislations (b) Most of these workers are interstate or intrastate migrants recruited from remote villages of UP, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and part of Rajasthan by illegal contractors on an advance wage during the off-season (c) The workers are illiterate or have modi of education, almost landless, poor with high indebtedness/deficit budgets and belong to backward communities like SC, ST or OBC. Representation of forward castes like Rajputs, Brahmins, Banias is not there and (d) The establishments are located in the remote areas therefore the workers remain invisible and get exploited, deprived of social safety net benefits and legal labour rights.”
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              blackpower
              Jun 17, 2017 at 10:17 am
              when it comes to slavery, it is inextricably linked with the caste system where the lowcastes who are considered zombies as per the code of manu are merely kept alive for the uppercastes to practice their vile voodoo upon them - manual scavenging, ridding of corpses and carcasses, and a whole host of dehumanising activities. this is perpetual enslavement over 1000s of years. --------------------Caste and Safai Karamcharis----A recent study published in EPW of 360 safai karamcharis emplo by the Bombay Muni l Corporation argues that policies aimed at uplifting conservancy work may actually be ins utionalising caste-based occupations, “This study reveals that almost 90 of safai karamcharis in the Muni l Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) belong to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Other Backward Classes. Castes like the Mahar, Matang, Meghwal, Harijan, Valmiki and Chambhar dominate, whereas others like Kathewadi, Kunbi, Vadar and Devendrakulathan are found in smaller numbers
              Reply
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                blackpower
                Jun 17, 2017 at 10:19 am
                DEBT BONDAGE has been outlawed in India, but impoverished villagers do not know their rights—and many have no choice but to borrow funds when a family emergency arises. Many slaves have been trafficked away from their communities, with no way to get home if they were to escape. Debt also snares women and girls into slavery at roadside red-light districts, now widely dis d across the Indian countryside. Forced and fake marriages, often driven by financial factors, are widely used as a way of trafficking adolescent girls into domestic slavery and ual exploitation. Vulnerability is the key factor that drives slavery in India. Impoverished villagers who lack financial, legal, medical, and educational services are most likely to borrow from predatory moneylenders during times of crisis. Widespread caste-based discrimination also puts entire communities at risk
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                Amar Jit Singh Goraya-Australia
                Jun 17, 2017 at 5:55 am
                Triple Talaq must go There should be only one law for all
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                  Abdul Jamal
                  Jun 17, 2017 at 4:32 am
                  This is what the holy se the pope of Catholic Church GREGORY IX justified human slavery, "It is certainly a matter of faith that this sort of slavery in which a man serves his master as his slave, is altogether lawful. This is proved from Holy Scripture. It is also proved from reason for it is not unreasonable that just as things which are captured in a just war pass into the power and ownership of the victors, so persons captured in war pass into the ownership of the captors. All theologians are unanimous on this." Source: Leander, Quaestiones Morales Theologicae, Lyons 1668 - 1692, Tome VIII, De Quarto Decalogi Praecepto, Tract. IV, Disp. I, Q. 3.
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                    blackpower
                    Jun 17, 2017 at 12:02 pm
                    Modi’s Government, Like India, Has a Fake Photo Problem s: thewire /148192/fake-news-narendra-modi-bjp-india/
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                    Abdul Jamal
                    Jun 17, 2017 at 4:30 am
                    SLAVERY AND THE EARLY CHURCH FATHERS ST THOMAS AQUINAS "Slavery among men is natural, for some are naturally slaves according to the Philosopher (Polit. i, 2). Now 'slavery belongs to the right of nations,' as Isidore states (Etym. v, 4). Therefore the right of nations is a natural right." Source: Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, "On Justice"
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                      blackpower
                      Jun 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm
                      s: thewire /146379/bjp-fake-news-sambit-patra-ndtv/
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                      Abdul Jamal
                      Jun 17, 2017 at 4:29 am
                      NEW TESTAMENT "Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives." -- Matthew 24:45-46. "Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties. Whoever teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that is in accordance with godliness, is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words.
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                        Abdul Jamal
                        Jun 17, 2017 at 4:29 am
                        JUSTIFICATION IN THE BIBLE FOR SLAVERY OLD TESTAMENT "Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property." -- Leviticus 25:44-45 "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers. He also said, 'Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of heth may heth live in the tents of Shem and may Canaan be his slave'. " -- Genesis 9:25-27
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                          Abdul Jamal
                          Jun 17, 2017 at 4:27 am
                          Throughout most of Christian church history slavery has received the official sanction of the christian church. Leading figures in the Catholic Christian Church, from St. Augustine, to numerous popes, to consider the enslavement of human beings to be a perfectly acceptable practice sanctioned by God. After the Reformation, this was a tradition that carried over into many Protestant sects as well.
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