I was translating a prayer.
I n one place it has been told
If a widow chants it, she will die quickly!
In another place it has been told
If a widow chants it,
In her next birth she will not become a widow
I was shocked.My mind went back to my childhood.
When I think of my child hood I remember some young ladies with head shaved completely . After growing up I came to know that they were widows , I also remember a common word of abuse among Brahmins , which I much latter knew that it means “Widow”.Over time when I came to know about of the plight of those fourth class citizens of the community, I felt sad.When I was young my father told me that they are not elegible for properties of their husband or father.
My uncle told me a Sanskrit sloka , which said, one widow will destroy a family, two the street, three the country
Later I read about Easwar Chandra Vidhya Sagar of Bengal who fought against society for permitting them to get married again,
When I was a boy I came to know that ladies of Brahmin families considered them as ill omen.I also came to know that if they do not shave their head( ie give away their beauty) they were kept outside the society.I heard about Matas of Hindus where such widows are not permitted to enter
I then read my translation of Vamiki Rammayana to see whether the widows of Dasaratha lived a normal life. In the chapter on Rama Pattabisheka the following a verse occurs
Afterwards the very joyful Kausalya who loved her sons made auspicious decoration of the wives of all monkeys with great effort. 128.18
Which clearly indicated that Kausalya was alive when Rama returned and had a honourable position.
WE all know About the role Kunti the widow of Pandu played in making her sons great.
Things have changed a lot .I personally know few widows in a family known to me, who had remarried and leading a happy married life.