Hindu Widow-Marriage

My Dear Sir –

    I have not made a study of Hindû law, but I do know something of the principles of Hindû religions, or rather ethics, and of those of its glorious Founders. I regard the former as almost the embodiment of justice, and the latter as ideals of spiritual perfectibility. When then anyone points out to me in the existing canon any text, line or word that violates one's sense of perfect justice, I instinctively know it must be a later perversion of the original Smriti. In my judgment, the Hindûs are now patiently enduring many outrageous wrongs that were cunningly introduced into the canon, as opportunity offered, by selfish and unscrupulous priests for their personal benefit, as occurred in the case of Suttee, the burning of widows. The marriage laws are another example. To marry a child, without her knowledge or consent to enter the married state, and then to doom her to the awful, because unnatural, fate of enforced celibacy if the boy-child to whom she was betrothed should die (and one half of the human race do die before coming of age), is something actually brutal, devilish. It is the quintessence of injustice and cruelty, and I would sooner doubt the stars of heaven than believe that any one of those star-bright human souls called Rishis had ever consented to such a base and idiotic cruelty. If a female has entered the marital relation, she should, in my opinion, remain a chaste widow if her husband should die. But if a betrothed boy-husband of a non-consenting and irresponsible child-wife should die, or if, upon coming to age, either of them should be averse from matrimony, and prefer to take up the religious life, to devote themselves to charitable occupations, to study, or for other good reasons wish to remain celibate, then they ought to be allowed to do so. We personally know of several cases where the males or females are so bent upon becoming Chelâs that they prefer death rather than to enter or continue in – as the cases severally may be – the married state. My woman's instinct always told me that for such there was comfort and protection in the Hindû law of the Rishis, which was based upon their spiritual perceptions, hence upon the perfect law of harmony and justice which pervades all nature. And now, upon reading your excellent pamphlet, I perceive that my instincts had not deceived me.

    Wishing every possible success to your noble and highly philanthropical enterprise, believe me, dear sir, with respect,

Yours fraternally,

    H. P. B.

[Copy of a letter received by Dewan Bahadur Ragunath Row from Madame Blavatsky.]
Mylapore, June 3rd, 1882
H. P. Blavatsky