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The Sati System .

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Sleeman's Eye Witness Account

Colonel William. H. Sleeman (1809 - 1856 A.D.) served as the collector of Jabalpur (in present day Madhya Pradesh). He is remembered as the official who tamed the Pindari dacoits who were active in the area. Among his diaries is a graphic account of a Sati instance.

Sleeman received word that one Umed Singh Upadhyaya passed away in the village of Gopalpur and his wife  wanted to go Sati. Sleeman traveled seven miles by horse to Beraghat and then walked three more miles to reach Gopalpur.

The widow was sixty years old and wanted to die on the funeral pyre of her husband. By this time, the practice of Sati was banned (by Lord William Bentick in 1829) and she had to obtain a permission to commit suicide, which is denied. She had refused to consume even water and had refused to move from the place of cremation. She declared to Sleeman that her decision to immolate herself was final. "She had discarded her jewelry and was holding coconut in her hands. She was wearing red. She had gathered some flowers, rice in a basket as if to go somewhere."

The widow then said "My husband has reached the Sun God (Surya) now. I have died with him in my past three lives; it is impossible for us to be separate... He is right now waiting for me at the wedding alter in heaven." Sleeman noticed irregularity in her pulse and gave her permission. Upon this, her joy knew no bounds. She asked for paan and made her lips red. She dedicated flowers to the pyre and jumped into the fire apologizing "I am sorry that these men kept me away from you for three days." She turned into ash in no time.

See Also:


  • Sleeman W.H., Rumble and Recollections of an Indian Official, 1844

The Suti Tradition
The Sati System

Woman Commits Suicide on Funeral PyreMemorials Erected for Women Who Committed SatiDecorated Sati from a Hero-stone (Mahasati Stone)Bridal Makeup of a Woman Commiting Suicide
Sitas Trial by FireA Woman Goes SatiWoman being Paraded before SuicideA Memorial for a Brave Lady
Memorial to a Mahasati Hero-Stone Depicting Fierce BattleDecorated Idols of SatisA Mahasati Sculpture

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