Enrica Garzilli garzilli at ASIATICA.ORG
Fri Oct 24 12:45:24 UTC 2008

To answer some of your questions you might find useful my article, 
“First Greek and Latin Documents on Sahagamana and Some Connected 
Problems” part 1, in Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 40, no. 3 (July 1997), 
pp. 205-243; part 2 in Indo-Iranian Journal, vol. 40, no. 4 (November 
1997), pp. 339-365.


Dr. Enrica Garzilli

> Indologists,
>      I'm curious to know when the Sanskrit term satI began to connote
> specifically the wife who enters her husband's funeral pyre.  In studies I
> have glanced at recently, scholars employ the term satI in discussing the
> controversial phenomenon of "wife-burning," but when I turn directly to
> the Mahabharata and some puranas, for example, I don't see the actual term
> satI used in this way.  That is, the instances I have reviewed in these
> texts say (in various ways) that the wife "entered the fire," but the
> actual term satI doesn't appear in these contexts.
>      In the MBh, for example, when Vasudeva renounces his life in grief
> for his sons, his wives join him on the pyre and go to their husband's
> world, just as some of Krishna's wives enter the fire, and some enter the
> forest.  But none are called satI in these specific contexts.  Likewise in
> the Bhagavata Purana, when Krishna's and Balarama's wives enter the fire
> after their husbands' deaths, they simply embrace their corpses and enter
> the fire, without being called satI, though in the BhP, for example,
> Rukmini is elsewhere called satI -- the good woman exclusively devoted to
> her husband etc.
>      Has anyone written a semantic history of the Sanskrit term satI?  If
> not, can you point me to specific examples in the epics and puranas when
> the term is used in this way?  I certainly haven't reviewed every
> appearance of the term, but the question has begun to puzzle me.
> Thanks for any help.
> Tracy Coleman
> Associate Professor
> Colorado College

More information about the INDOLOGY mailing list