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Satī

Satī. The wife of Śiva who committed suicide when her father insulted Śiva.

The term (anglicized as ‘suttee’) was used for the self-immolation of Hindu widows, either by joining the dead husband on his funeral pyre, or by committing suicide later on a pyre lit by embers from that pyre. Not even pregnancy could save a woman from this fate; the ceremony was merely postponed until two months after her child's birth. The custom continues, but infrequently and illegally.

Hindu law books of the 1st and 2nd cents. CE see the act as gaining spiritual merit; 400 years later it was considered that for a woman to survive her husband was sinful.

It is unlikely that many widows went voluntarily to the flames, though it is certain that some did. Many were forcibly burnt; even sons would be deaf to their mothers' pleas, in order to protect family honour.

Not until 1829, under Lord Bentinck's Regulation, did satī become legally homicide, after pressure was brought to bear on the British authorities by Christian missionaries and Hindu reformers, notably Rām Mohan Roy.

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Sati

Sati

In Hindu mythology, Sati was the daughter of Daksha, son of the Hindu creator god Brahma. Sati was in love with Shiva, god of destruction, but her father forbade her to have anything to do with him. Her father's objections eventually led Sati to her death.

To find a husband for his daughter, Daksha held a gathering of the gods. Sati was to throw a bouquet of flowers into the air and marry the one who caught it. The only god not invited was Shiva. However, Sati prayed to Shiva, who appeared at the gathering and caught the flowers. Enraged, Daksha had to permit the two to marry

pyre pile of wood on which a dead body is burned in a funeral ceremony

After Sati's wedding, her father planned a ceremony involving a sacrifice, and again he invited all the gods except Shiva. Unable to persuade her father to invite her husband, Sati threw herself into the sacrificial fire and burned to death. Shiva, overcome by grief, took Sati's body from the flames and began to dance with it. His violent dance threatened to destroy the entire universe. Finally, the god Vishnu* cut Sati's body into pieces, and Shiva ended his dance. According to some versions of the story, Vishnu later brought Sati back to life. The legend of Sati leaping into the fire is sometimes used to explain the Indian tradition of suttee, in which a widow throws herself onto her dead husband's funeral pyre.

See also Brahma; Hinduism and Mythology; Shiva; Vishnu.

* See Names and Places at the end of this volume for further information.

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Sati

Sati (Pāli) or smṛti (Skt., ‘mindfulness’). A form of mental application which lies at the very heart of Buddhist meditational practice, whose object is awareness, lucidity, true recognition. It is concerned with the bare registering of the objects of our senses and minds as they are presented to us in our experience, without reacting to them in terms of the behaviour of the ego—i.e. in terms of our likes and dislikes, passions and prejudices. Only then can the true nature of things become illumined.

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Sati

Sa·ti / ˌsəˈtē; ˈsəˌtē/ Hinduism the wife of Shiva, reborn as Parvati. According to some accounts, she died by throwing herself into the sacred fire.

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Sati

Sati in Hinduism, the wife of Shiva, reborn as Parvati. According to some accounts, she died by throwing herself into the sacred fire, giving rise to the custom of suttee.

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sati

sa·ti • n. variant spelling of suttee.

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