Monday, November 23, 2009

Princely States and Provinces

The British ruled India with two administrative systems. One was ‘Provinces’ and the other ‘Princely States’. About 60% of the Indian sub-continent's territory were Provinces and 40% were Princely States. Provinces were British territories completely under British control. Princely States were states in British India with local ruler or king with honorary titles like Maharaja, Raja, Maharana, Rana, Nizam, Badshah and other such titles meaning king or ruler in different Indian languages. These rulers were subjected to the British Empire. These two types of administrative systems were the result of the British East India Company's attempt to annex the whole of Indian sub-continent and make it into a British territory.

The British East India Company arrived in India in 1600. They arrived in India for spice trade. India was then world famous for its spices. Some European rulers gave their country citizens charter to trade with the Indian sub-continent. A group of British businessmen got the charter from the British crown to trade with India. These businessmen named their trading company, 'East India Company'. When the representatives of the British East India Company arrived in India, representatives of other Europeans regimes were already trading with the Indian sub-continent. The Portuguese, who arrived in India in 1498 had strong business ties in the spice trade with different rulers in India. The Dutch also had strong business ties with different Indian rulers.

The Indian sub-continent was always a bunch of different entities ruling different parts in India. During the arrival of the British in India, the most dominant empire in the Indian sub-continent was the Moghul Empire. Their capitals were centered in the Delhi-Agra region. The Moghul Empire acted as patrons to many smaller kingdoms all over India. With the collapse of the Moghul Empire, which began in the 18th century, the different rulers became semi-independent and they began searching for other patrons. The British East India Company began playing this status in many ways. The British East India Company, which arrived in India for spice trade found out that the Portuguese and the Dutch had strong holds in the spice trade. They therefore began searching for other trading options in India. They offered the different ruling families in India sophisticated agreements, which gave the British control over the management of the kingdoms, while the Indian rulers were rulers in official titles and spent most of their time having an extravagant life. According to one of the articles in the agreement between the East India Company and the Indian rulers, if the king did not have a son to inherit from him then the kingdom was transferred to the East India Company. The Company saw in the cheap Indian labor force an important factor to control India. Slowly the British began annexing Indian land and making it, East India Company's property. The British also established factories and began using the cheap Indian work force to enrich themselves. 

Not all Indian rulers were happy with the British annexation process. Some of the Indian rulers began fighting the British East India Company. Among them were the Marathas in west India, the rulers of Mysore in south India and the Sikhs in north India. The British won in these wars against the local rulers and gave different status to the occupied land. A large part of the land captured from the Marathas by 1803 became part of province named Bombay. The East India Company directly ruled this province through a British representative. While in Mysore, in south India, the East India Company defeated and executed the ruler Tipu Sultan in 1799 and replaced him with another Indian ruling family which became popular among the local Indians. But in general the East India Company's policy was annexation of Indian territories and turning them into British property.

In 1857 a mutiny against the British arose in which, different rulers in India collaborated to defeat the British East India Company. This mutiny did not succeed and the British defeated their unorganized Indian rivals. After this mutiny the British crown took back the charter from the East India Company and began ruling India directly through a Viceroy. The British also stopped the process of annexing Indian territories and came to agreement with different ruling families in the Indian sub-continent which made these families rulers of their kingdoms. These kingdoms were called Princely States. In these Princely States the rulers were responsible for the interior administration of their kingdoms but they were subjected to British general policy. If necessary the British were entitled to interfere in the interior matters of these states. The different Princely States had different agreements with the British. Some even had their own state coins. Some Hindu rulers were titled as Rajas, Maharajas, Ranas etc. The Muslim rulers were titled as Nawab, Nizam and other titles.
When the British gave the Indian sub-continent independence in 1947 there were 562 Princely States. Some of them like Kashmir, Mysore and Hyderabad were as large as England. There were also smaller Princely states like Junagad, Udaipur, Janjira, Aundh and Cochin.

Along with the Princely States there were also 11 Provinces in British India. These Provinces were under direct British control. These Provinces were formerly Indian entities, which the British annexed from the Indian rulers, attached them together and turned them into British Provinces. Among these Provinces were Bombay, Madras, Bengal, Assam and United Provinces.

Europeans in India

India was a British colony. The British left behind them in India a strong imprint of their philosophy and culture and even today it is evident that English which is a foreign language is the most important and respected language in India. But the British were not the only Europeans to arrive in India and have their imprint. Since ancient period even before the beginning of the Christian era there were relations between Europeans and Indians. The main Europeans to arrive in ancient India were Greeks. The Greeks are referred to in ancient Indian history as Yavanas. Even the most famous ancient Greek conqueror, Alexander the Great, arrived in India. But actually he arrived up to the present India-Pakistan border. But there were other Greeks who arrived in India and established kingdoms. Many of these Greek communities later on adopted Hinduism and integrated in the Indian caste system. Even today there are communities in Kashmir who claim to be of Greek origin. Not all Greeks arrived in India to conquer it. There were also Greek scientists who arrived in India for scientific research, especially in astronomy and mathematics.

Later on other Europeans arrived in India because of commercial reasons. The Indian sub-continent was then world famous for its spices. But when the Muslim Ottoman Empire of Turkey ruled the Middle East, they caused lots of problems to European Christian merchants who tried to pass through their land. Therefore the Europeans tried to find other routes to reach India. And so accidentally Christopher Columbus found the continent of America. Columbus tried to get to India while sailing westwards from Europe. Columbus presumed that because the earth is round he would eventually get to India while sailing westwards, instead he found the continent of America whose existence was not known then to the Europeans. Columbus thought that he had arrived in India and called the natives Indians.

From the 15th century the European representatives arrived in India, namely English, French, Dutch, Danish and Portuguese. Among these European powers the Portuguese arrived first in India in 1498 via sea after they had circled the whole of the African continent. These representatives arrived in India after they received from their country rulers charter to do business with India.

These Europeans at first requested from the local rulers permission to trade in their entities. Later on they requested from the local rulers permission to build factories. After they built factories they requested to build forts around these factories to defend them from pirates and other dangers. Then they requested to recruit local Indians to serve as guards and soldiers in these forts and so on they slowly created their own armies. And so one of the European power's representative, the British East India Company, became the ruler of India.

The British control of India was a result of several factors. The Portuguese, who along with their business tried to enforce Roman Catholicism on the Indians were defeated by local rulers sometimes in collaboration with Protestant European powers. But still the Portuguese remained in India with small pockets. Their main center in India was Goa. The Dutch, who had holds in south India and the Danes, who had holds in east India, left India for their own reasons. The two main European powers that remained in India were British and French. These two powers tried different ways to control India and to defeat each other. Each of these European powers sometimes collaborated with local Indian rulers to defeat the other European power. Eventually the British became the rulers of India. But the French like the Portuguese remained in India with small pockets and both these powers remained in India even after the British left India in 1947. 

The British East India Company was actually a trading company and it received from the British crown charter to trade with the Indian sub-continent. They arrived in India for spice trade in 1600. Like other European powers that arrived in India, they at first requested from the local rulers permission to trade in their entities. The British East India Company was more sophisticated than other Europeans who arrived in India. This company offered different sophisticated agreements to the different Indian ruling families, which made them the actual managers of the Indian kingdoms. They sometimes used their army against local rulers and annexed their territories with the result that there was lot of embitterment among the Indians against the British. After the 'Indian Mutiny' of 1857, the British Crown took back the charter from the East India Company and ruled India directly through a Viceroy. The British gave India independence in 1947, but its last soldier left India eventually in 1950. The French also left India in 1950. The Portuguese were the last to leave India in 1961. 

Even though the European powers arrived in India for commercial reasons, they also started converting local Indians to Christianity. Of the five European powers the Portuguese were most enthusiastic to baptize Indians. The Portuguese inspired by the Pope’s order to baptize people around the world not only fought wars against the local Indian rulers, but also they tried to enforce their Roman Catholic prayers on Syrian Christians who were in India before the modern European powers arrived in India .
After many wars the Portuguese were defeated by local rulers and they had only one big pocket of control in India, Goa. Goa was made the capital of Portuguese colonies in the eastern hemisphere. The Portuguese not only fought the Indian rulers, but they also fought against other European powers in India especially Dutch and English. Many Portuguese churches in Kerala were converted into English and Dutch churches after they were captured by these powers.

The English missionaries started acting in India at a much later period. The British arrived in India in 1600 and they allowed the missionaries to enter their territory only from 1813. The British allowed different churches to establish missionaries in their territory. The missionaries didn’t only spread Christianity, but they also did humanitarian deeds giving the needy the basic necessities of life like food, clothes and shelter. The missionaries also built schools in India and many of them exist even today and have Christian or European originated names. 

The British church missionaries succeeded less than the Portuguese in converting Indians to Christianity, but unlike the Portuguese who tried to enforce Christianity, these Protestant converts were voluntary. The Portuguese were also aware of the Indian custom according to which the wife followed her husband’s faith and therefore married their men to Indian women. Most of the Portuguese baptized Christians in India have Portuguese oriented surnames, like Fernandez, De Silva, De Costa and others. 

There is also an Anglo-Indian community in India, who are also descendants from European (English) fathers and Indian mothers, but these relations between English men and Indian women started because of romantic reasons. The Anglo-Indians are mostly Christians and have adopted English as their first language. According to the Indian Constitution, two seats in the Indian Parliament are reserved for the Anglo-Indian community members.

India- USA some similarities

India and the USA are among the two largest countries in the world. USA is one of the richest countries in the world and India is among the poorest countries in the world. Both countries are in two different continents but still both countries have a few similarities.
Both countries are democracies. They both were British colonies before their independence. Both these nations have population, which are multi-ethnic but even so strong national patriotic pride has been established among its citizens. Both these countries are federations between the states and the center. The capitals of these countries, New Delhi and Washington, are not the main cultural and financial centers of their countries.

In both these countries the religion has strong holds within the country population. The majorities of the populations in these countries are conservative and respect their religion. Most of the Americans are Christians and they often visit their churches. Most of India's citizens are Hindus and they respect their religion's rituals. Both these countries also had some bizarre cults in which the cult leader completely dominated his followers.

In both these countries there was the same form of harsh racism against the lower classes of the society. In USA the Africans were treated in a very harsh way. They were the slaves of the community. They had no rights and even when they got their rights they still were treated in an ill manner and with disrespect. In some regions they had to sit at a distance from the whites. They were not allowed to enter restaurants, which served white people. They were not allowed to reside near white people but only in their quarters.

In India, the untouchables were also treated in a harsh manner. They had no rights and were treated in a very ill manner and with no respect. They had to sit at a distance from the upper castes. They were not allowed to enter the quarters and temples of the upper castes. They were also barred from entering restaurants, which served the upper castes.
The terms in which these communities are named are always changing. The Afro-Americans were first slaves, then they were coined Negro and Niger, then they were called blacks and now they are referred to as Afro-Americans. The untouchables were called Neech meaning low class, Mahatma Gandhi gave them the title Harijan, meaning children of God, now they are called Dalit meaning oppressed. Both these communities are raising their status through affirmative actions by the government. These affirmative actions have raised some tensions against the oppressed classes.

In both these countries some important political figures were assassinated. In USA, Abraham Lincoln, JF Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King were assassinated. In India, Mahatma Gandhi, Indira Gandi and Rajiv Gandhi were assassinated.
Both these countries have a big film industry with lots of film stars. Watching movies in both the countries is a very popular pastime. Citizens in both these countries have a lot of admiration for their movie stars and they imitate their film stars fashion. It is a normal feature in these countries when new movies are released that there are large queues to get tickets for the first shows.

In the USA culture, specially the screen culture and in comics there are many stories about aliens from outer space who have abnormal powers and even look abnormal. There are many stories to do with bad aliens who terrorize the human race and then the good aliens help the human race fight the evil aliens. In Indian ancient cultures, especially Hinduism, there are also many stories about Gods who live in heaven meaning outer space who come to earth and rescued the human race. Many of these Gods have non-human features, like more than two hands, more than one head and more than two eyes.

In both these countries there are families who are political dynasties in which many tragedies occurred. In India it is the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty and in the USA it is Kennedy dynasty. The Nehru-Gandhi dynasty in India politics began with Motilal Nehru who was very rich and a freedom fighter in British India. His son Jawarharlal Nehru became India's first Prime Minister. Motilal's daughter, Vijayalaxmi Pandit was India's ambassador to the United Nations in the 1950s. Nehru died of heart attack in 1964. Two years later his daughter Indira Gandhi (No connection to Mahatma Gandhi, the father figure of India) became India's Prime Minister. One of her sons Sanjay Gandhi died in a plane crash in 1980. Indira Gandhi was assassinated in 1984. Her elder son Rajiv Gandhi inherited her after death and was India's Prime Minister. In 1991 when he was Member of Parliament and campaigning for elections a suicide bomber assassinated him.

In USA the Kennedy dynasty began with Patrick Kennedy who was a Boston politician. His son, Joseph Kennedy was a rich banker from Boston. His son John Kennedy became the President of USA. His other son Robert Kennedy was attorney general. His other son Edward Kennedy was a senator. President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas and Robert Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. Later on their brother Edward Kennedy became senator. Many members of the Kennedy family died at a very young age in accidents and not of natural death.

India and Israel - some similarities

India and Israel are two different countries. India is one of the largest countries in the world easily pointed out in world atlas while Israel, on the other hand, is a very small country and can hardly be pointed out in world atlas. India is one of the poorest countries in the world with a very low per capita income, while Israel is among the top 20 in per capita income index. Two countries distance from each other but still have many similarities.

In both these countries religions were established, some of which have among the largest number of followers in the world. Both these countries have many holy sites, which are among the holiest for their followers. In India, Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism were established. The holiest sites of these religions exist in India. In Israel, Judaism and Christianity were established. The holiest sites of these religions exist in Israel. Islam was established in Saudi Arabia but some of its holiest sites are in the Land of Israel. Israel also has the holy sites of other religions like Bahai and the Druze. 

The religions established in these countries which got world recognition and have large number of followers outside these countries are minorities in these countries. Christianity is a minority in Israel with about 2% followers and Buddhism is a minority in India with less than 1% followers, but both these religions have in general more followers worldwide than in their land of birth. In both these countries Islam is the largest minority. In both these countries some of the holiest sites of the dominant religions, Judaism in Israel and Hinduism in India, are now Muslim mosques. 

Both the dominant religions are as ancient as 5000 years old and influenced the establishment of other religions. The followers of both these religions believe their religion is the cradle of the whole human culture. These are the only great religions, which had not force their religion on others by coercion or conversion. 

Both the countries, especially their dominant religions, are multi-ethnic and have many differences between the different communities. Even so these countries have established a national ethos among its citizens which got its boost mostly because of their problems with neighboring countries. 

Both countries never had a single local continuous ruler. The lands of these countries always fascinated foreigners, India because of its spices and Israel because of its holiness. Both countries had many foreign invaders, conquerors and settlers all claiming it to be theirs. The histories of both these countries are sequences of different conquerors who arrived there from different parts of the world. 

Both these countries before independence were under British control. The freedom fighters of both these countries can be divided into two groups who were political rivals of each other. In both these countries the freedom fighters who received the management of the country tried to suppress the other group after independence. Both these countries were the only countries, which were established after World War II and adopted the democratic system and remained democratic since then.

Both these countries during independence were in total chaos and people were leaving and arriving in these countries. In India a large Muslim population left India for Pakistan while Hindus and Sikhs arrived in India. In Israel a large Muslim population left Israel and many Jews arrived from Muslim countries within a short period. 

Both these countries since their independence had wars with their neighbors over the border issue. India had wars with Pakistan and China and its borders with these countries are disputed. Israel had wars with Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan and its borders aren't clear yet. India, when created, had Pakistan flanked on both its sides. Today Israel has the Palestinian entity flanked on both its sides.

Both these countries had important political leaders assassinated after being blamed as traitors. In 1948 Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated in India because his assassin saw in Mahatma Gandhi responsible for all the violent acts which occurred in India against Hindus and because India was partitioned and parts of India became a Muslim country, Pakistan. In 1995 Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Israel because his assassin saw him responsible for the terrorist acts in which many Jews died and also because Rabin was giving the Palestinians what is considered to be the Land of Israel.

From Hindustani to Hindi

Before its independence, most of India was a British colony. Before the British the most dominant Empire of north India was the Moghul Empire. The Moghuls were Muslim invaders who arrived in India from the present day Afghanistan . The official language of the Moghul courts was Persian. The Moghuls, like other residents who lived to the west of the Indian sub-continent named India as ‘Hind’ or ‘Hindustan’, after the river Indus which flows in the present day Pakistan. The language spoken in ‘Hind’ was called by them Hindi or Hindustani. This language and its script were based on an ancient Indian language called Sanskrit. Most of the sacred books of Hinduism are written in Sanskrit and the script is called Devanagiri. 

Some of the Moghul family members were great patrons of poetry and music. Slowly there developed a ‘Hindustani’ poetry, based on Hindustani language which used words from Arabic and Persian and was written in Perso-Arabic script. This language was called Urdu. Urdu also replaced Persian as the language of the Moghul courtyards. And so there developed two languages with different writings but were actually one language when spoken except for their higher vocabularies. For example, rulers were titled in Urdu language as Shah, Nawab or Nizam. While in Hindi they were called Raja or Maharaja. Among the Hindustani speakers of north India, Urdu became the language of the Muslims while Hindi became the language of others. 

After the collapse of the Moghuls the British became the rulers of north India. The British introduced English to India and continued using Urdu for official purposes. But nationalist Hindus demanded from the British to change the official language from Urdu to Hindi which is written in Indian script. Even Hindus whose mother tongue were not Hindi supported this argument. This debate between the Hindus and the Muslims continued right up to the independence of India. Against this stand of two different languages two of India’s notable leaders, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi, supported the idea of one Hindustani language which could be written in both forms. But when British India was divided in two countries, India and Pakistan. Muslims who got Pakistan made Urdu their official language and Indians made Hindi with Devanagiri script as their official language.

Aryans and Dravidians - A controversial issue

The most basic division of the Indian society is of Aryans and Dravidians. According to this division, nearly 72% of Indians are Aryans and 28% are Dravidians. The north Indians are the descendants of Aryans and the south Indians are Dravidians. The languages spoken in five states of south India are considered Dravidian languages and most of the languages spoken in the north are considered Aryan languages. The general script of the Aryan languages is different from the general script of Dravidian languages. The Indians also distinguish themselves by the general north Indian accent and general south Indian accent.
According to general Indian legend, the Aryans arrived in north India somewhere from Iran and southern Russia at around 1500 BC. Before the Aryans, the Dravidian people resided in India. The Aryans disregarded the local cultures. They began conquering and taking control over regions in north India and at the same time pushed the local people southwards or towards the jungles and mountains in north India. According to this historical fact the general division of Indian society is made. North Indians are Aryans and south Indians are Dravidians. But this division isn’t proper because of many reasons.

Many Indians immigrated from one part of India to other parts of India and not all local people of north India were pushed southwards by the Aryans. Some stayed and served the Aryans and others moved to live in the forests and the jungles of north India. Before the arrival of the Aryans there were also other communities in India like Sino-Mongoloids and Austroloids. There were also other foreign immigrations and invaders who arrived in India, from time to time. 

There are many that completely doubt that there was ever any Aryan invasion in India. This skepticism is based on the dating of the Aryan invasion of India and the fact that Hinduism and the caste system are believed to have been established as the result of the meetings between the intruding Aryans and original residents of India, the Dravidians. 

The caste system is believed to have been established by the Aryans. The fair skinned Aryans who occupied parts of India established the caste system, which allowed only them to be the priests (Brahman), aristocracy (Kshatria) and the businessmen (Vaisia) of the society. Below them in hierarchy were the Sudras who consisted of two communities. One community was of the locals who were subdued by the Aryans and the other were the descendants of Aryans with locals. In Hindu religious stories there are many wars between the good Aryans and the dark skinned demons and devils. The different Gods also have dark skinned slaves. There are stories of demon women trying to seduce good Aryan men in deceptive ways. There were also marriages between Aryan heroes and demon women. Many believe that these incidences really occurred in which, the gods and the positive heroes were people of Aryan origin. And the demons, the devils and the dark skinned slaves were in fact the original residence of India whom the Aryans coined as monsters, devil, demons and slaves. Normally the date given to Aryan invasion is around 1500 BC. But according to Hinduism experts some of the events in Hinduism occurred much earlier. Some of the events like the great war in the Mahabharta epic is believed to have occurred (based on astronomical research) 7000 years ago. 

According to this Hindu experts the word Aryan is a misinterpretation of the original Sanskrit word, Arya. Arya means pure or good in Sanskrit. In the holy Vedas the good people were called Arya. Some of the European scholars of Indian culture in the 19th century were Germans. These German scholars who found that Swastika was also a holy symbol among the Hindus distorted, the word Arya to Aryan.

Sati - The burning of the widow

Sati is described as a Hindu custom in India in which the widow was burnt to ashes on her dead husband's pyre. Basically the custom of Sati was believed to be a voluntary Hindu act in which the woman voluntary decides to end her life with her husband after his death. But there were many incidences in which the women were forced to commit Sati, sometimes even dragged against her wish to the lighted pyre.
Though Sati is considered a Hindu custom, the women, known as Sati in Hindu religious literature, did not commit suicide on their dead husband's pyre. The first woman known as Sati was the consort of Lord Shiva. She burnt herself in fire as protest against her father who did not give her consort Shiva the respect she thought he deserved, while burning herself she prayed to reborn again as the new consort of Shiva, which she became and her name in the new incarnation was Parvati.

Other famous woman in Hindu literature titled Sati was Savitri. When Savitri's husband Satyavan died, the Lord of death, Yama arrived to take his soul. Savitri begged Yama to restore Satyavan and take her life instead, which he could not do. So Savitri followed Lord Yama a long way. After a long way in which Yama noticed that Savitri was losing strength but was still following him and her dead husband, Yama offered Savitri a boon, anything other than her husband's life. Savitri asked to have children from Satyavan. In order to give Savitri her boon, Lord Yama had no choice but to restore Satyavan to life and so Savitri gained her husband back.

These two women along with other women in Hindu mythology who were exceptionally devoted to their husbands symbolized the truthful Indian wife who would do everything for their husband and they were named Sati. The meaning of the word sati is righteous. But as written earlier the women named Sati, in Hindu religious literature, did not commit suicide on their dead husband's pyre. Therefore the custom of burning the widow on her dead husband's pyre probably did not evolve from religious background but from social background.
There are different theories about the origins of Sati. One theory says that Sati was introduced to prevent wives from poisoning their wealthy husbands and marry their real lovers. Other theory says that Sati began with a jealous queen who heard that dead kings were welcomed in heaven by hundreds of beautiful women, called Apsaras. And therefore when her husband died, she demanded to be burnt on her dead husband's pyre and so to arrive with him to heaven and this way to prevent the Apsaras from consorting with her husband. There are also other theories about the origins of Sati.

Even though Sati is considered an Indian custom or a Hindu custom it was not practiced all over India by all Hindus but only among certain communities of India. On the other hand, sacrificing the widow in her dead husband's funeral or pyre was not unique only to India. In many ancient communities it was an acceptable feature. This custom was prevalent among Egyptians, Greek, Goths, Scythians and others. Among these communities it was a custom to bury the dead king with his mistresses or wives, servants and other things so that they could continue to serve him in the next world.

Another theory claims that Sati was probably brought to India by the Scythians invaders of India. When these Scythians arrived in India, they adopted the Indian system of funeral, which was cremating the dead. And so instead of burying their kings and his servers they started cremating their dead with his surviving lovers. The Scythians were warrior tribes and they were given a status of warrior castes in Hindu religious hierarchy. Many of the Rajput clans are believed to originate from the Scythians. Later on other castes who claimed warrior status or higher also adopted this custom.

This custom was more dominant among the warrior communities in north India, especially in Rajasthan and also among the higher castes in Bengal in east India. Among the Rajputs of Rajasthan, who gave lot of importance to valor and self sacrifice, wives and concubines of the nobles even committed suicide, when they came to know that their beloved died in battlefield. In other parts of India it was comparatively low. And among the majority of Indian communities it did not exist at all.

A few rulers of India tried to ban this custom. The Mughals tried to ban it. The British, due to the efforts of Hindu reformers like Raja Ram Mohan Roy outlawed this custom in 1829.
There aren't exact figures about the number of Sati incidences. In general, before this custom was outlawed in 1829, there were a few hundred officially recorded incidences each year. Even after the custom was outlawed, this custom did not vanish completely. It took few decades before this custom almost vanished. But still there are rare incidences in which the widow demands to voluntary commit Sati. In 1987 an eighteen years old widow committed Sati in a village of Rajasthan with the blessing of her family members. In this incidence the villagers took part in the ceremony, praising and supporting the widow for her act. In October 1999 a woman hysterically jumped on her husband's pyre surprising everyone. But this incidence was declared suicide and not Sati, because this woman was not compelled, forced or praised to commit this act.

In different communities of India, Sati was performed for different reasons and different manners. In communities where the man was married to one wife, the wife put an end to her life on the pyre. But even in these communities not all widows committed Sati. Those women who committed Sati were highly honored and their families were given lot of respect. It was believed that the woman who committed Sati blessed her family for seven generations after her. Temples or other religious shrines were built to honor the Sati.
In communities were the ruler was married to more than one wife; in some cases only one wife was allowed to commit Sati. This wife was normally the preferred wife of the husband. This was some kind of honor for the chosen wife and some kind of disgrace for the other wives. In other communities some or all of the wives and mistresses were immolated with the husband. And in some cases even male servants were immolated with the kings. This kind of Sati in which the wives and servants were treated as the ruler's property intensifies the theory that Sati was introduced to India by the Scythian invaders of India.

In some very rare incidences mothers committed Sati on their son's pyre and in even more rare cases husbands committed Sati on their wives pyres.