A Widow of Malabar
We wanted to interrogate one of those women from India, subjected to the tradition of being burnt over the cadaver of their husbands. As we did not know any of them we had asked St. Louis to send one to us, who could be capable of satisfactorily responding to our questions. He said that he would gladly do so in due course. In the Society’s session on November 2nd, 1858 Mr. Adrien, clairvoyant medium, saw one woman that wanted to speak, giving us the following description of her:
“Large black eyes, with a yellow sclerotic; round face; salient and fat faces; saffron brunet skin; long eyelashes, black arched supercilious; a bit large nose, slightly flattened; large and sensual mouth; uniform, beautiful and large teeth; long wavy hair, black, abundant and greasy. She had a fat body, big and stubby. Silken outfit that left the breast somewhat uncovered. She was wearing bracelets on arms and legs.”
1. Do you remember more or less over which time you have lived in India and where you were set on fire together with your husband’s body?
- She shook her head, as she did not remember. St. Louis answered, indicating that it was about one hundred years ago.
2. Do you remember your name from that time?
3. What was your religion?
4. But doesn’t Islam prohibit such sacrifices?
- I was born Muslim but my husband’s religion was Brahmanism. I had to comply with the customs of the religion of the region where I lived. Women do not belong to themselves.
5. How old were you when you were killed?
- I believe I was about twenty years old.
OBSERVATION: Mr. Adrien explained that she seems to be between twenty-eight and thirty years old, but mentioned that women age faster in that country.
6. Did you sacrifice voluntarily?
- I preferred to have married someone else. Think about it and you will see that all of us think like that. I followed the customs but bottom line is I would rather not have done it. I waited for another husband for several days but nobody showed up. Then I obeyed the law.
7. Which sentiment may have established such a law?
- A superstitious idea. They think that by burning us to death they please the divinity; that we redeem the faults of the one we lost and that by doing so we will help him to be happy in the other world.
8. Was your husband happy with your sacrifice?
- I have never tried to see my husband again.
9. Are there women that do such a sacrifice in good faith?
- There are a few: one in a thousand. The reality is that they would not wish to do it.
10. What happened to you at the time that your corporeal life was extinguished?
- Perturbation. I felt that all went dark, and then I don’t know what happened. My ideas were confused for a long time after that. I went everywhere, however, I could not see properly. Still now I do not feel completely lucid. I will have to go through many incarnations to elevate myself but I will no longer burn... I don’t see the need to burn people, to thrown oneself into the flames so as to improve... particularly for faults that were not ours. Besides, I was never pleased with that... As a matter of fact, I never wanted to know about it. Would you kindly pray a little bit for me? I believe that there is nothing like the prayer to give us courage to withstand the trials that are sent to us... Ah! If I had faith!
11. You ask us to pray for you but we are Christians. How could our prayers be pleasant to you? - There is only one God to all men.
OBSERVATION: The same woman was seen among the spirits present in several of the following sessions. She said that she came to be instructed. It seems that she was touched by the interest that we demonstrated towards her, as she followed us on several other meetings and even in the streets.