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[  ]


ગુજરાતીની પહેલી સામાજિક નવલકથા


સાસુવહુની લઢાઈ


વારતારૂપે ખરી છબી : સુબોધ અને રમૂજ સહિત


'મહીપતરામ રૂપરામ નીલકંઠ





સંપાદક
ભોળાભાઈ પટેલ




ગુજરાત સાહિત્ય અકાદમી
ગાંધીનગર
 

 

[  ]

Sasu Vahuni Ladhai : (First Social Novel in Gujarati by Mahipatram Ruparam Nilkantha, First Published in 1866)
Edited by Bholabhai Patel, Published by Gujarat Sahitya Acedamy, Gandhinagar, 1998. Reprint 2000


© સંપાદકીય : ભોળાભાઈ પટેલ


પ્રથમ આવૃત્તિ : સંવત ૧૯૩૦, સને ૧૮૬૬, ડિસેમ્બર
દ્વિતીય પરિવર્ધિત આવૃત્તિ પરથી આ પુનર્મુદ્રણ : સંવત ૨૦૫૪ સને ૧૯૯૮, જુલાઈ,
પુનર્મુદ્રણ : સંવત ૨૦૫૬ સને ૨૦૦૦, જુલાઈ


પૃષ્ઠસંખ્યા : ૩૪+૧૫૮


કિંમત : રૂ. ૯૦-૦૦


પ્રત : ૫00


આવરણ : અમિતાભ મડિયા


પ્રકાશક : કનૈયાલાલ મ. પંડ્યા

મહામાત્ર, ગુજરાત સાહિત્ય અકાદમી
ટાઉનહૉલ કેમ્પસ,
ગાંધીનગર - ૩૮૨૦૧૭
ફોન : ૨૨૪૮૦, ૨૬૮૯૭


ISBN : 81 – 7227 - 038 - 0.

મુદ્રક : શારદા મુદ્રણાલય

જુમ્મા મસ્જિદ સામે,
ગાંધીમાર્ગ, અમદાવાદ-૩૮૦૦૦૧. ફોન : પ૩૫૯૮૬૬
 

 
 

 

[  ]


પ્રસ્તાવના

સરકારનો, કે સરકારી અમલદારોનો, કે કોઈ ખાનગી ધનવાન ગૃહસ્થનો આશરો લીધા વિના આ પુસ્તકની પહેલી આવૃત્તિની ૧૦૦૦ પ્રતો બહુધા પોતાના ગુણે કરીને વેચાઈ ગઈ તે ઉપરથી હું અનુમાન કરું છું કે મારા સ્વદેશીઓને સારા ગ્રંથો વાંચવાનો કાંઈક શોક થવા માંડ્યો છે. એથી હું ખુશી થયો છું. ખરી કેળવણીનો પ્રસાર લોકમાં થવા માંડ્યાની એક સાબિતી સારાં પુસ્તકોનો ખપ છે. પોતાના કામ કાજથી પરવારી નવરાશની વેળામાં નીત્ય પોત પોતાની ઈચ્છા પ્રમાણે વિદ્યાના, કે ઇતિહાસના, કે સુબોધકારી વારતાના ગ્રંથો, ચોપાનીઆં તથા વર્તમાનપત્રો વાંચવાં એ કેળવાયેલાં સ્ત્રી પુરૂષોનું લક્ષણ છે. ગજા પ્રમાણે સર્વે સજનોએ પોતાના ઘરમાં ચોપડીઓનો સંગ્રહ રાખવો જોઈએ. ગૃહસ્થના ઘરમાં બેઠકના ઓરડાને શોભાવનાર વસ્તુઓમાં પુસ્તક સંગ્રહ મુખ્ય છે. સઘળા સુધરેલા દેશોમાં ઘેરે ઘેર એ જોવામાં આવે છે. એ કારણથી તથા વાંચવાનો શોક બધા ભણેલા લોકમાં સ્થાપન થયાથી એ મુલકોમાં યોગ્ય પુસ્તકો રચનારને પુષ્કળ ઉત્તેજન મળે છે. ગ્રંથકાર વિદ્વાનોને સરકારી મદદની ગરજ પડતી નથી. જેઓ લોકપ્રિય પુસ્તકો રચે છે. તેઓને લોક તરફથી એટલો બધો આશરો મળે છે કે તેઓ ધનવાન થાય છે, અને સાધારણ લખનારાનું પણ સુખે ગુજરાન ચાલે છે. ગ્રંથકારોને ટીપમાં લેનારનું નામ અને ચોપડીની કેટલી નકલો તે લેશે એ ભરાવવા પડે કે તેની તરફના માણસોને ઘેર ઘેર રખડવું પડતું નથી; કોઈની ખુશામત કરવી પડતી નથી. ગ્રંથો પ્રસિદ્ધ કરનારની મોટી દુકાનો ચાલે છે. તેઓ નામીચા ગ્રંથકારોને હજારો રૂપીઆ અગાઉથી આપી તેઓના પુસ્તકો છાપવાનું તથા વેચવાનું કામ પોતાને માથે લે છે. જેઓના ગ્રંથોમાં માલ નથી હોતો તેઓને પ્રજાની સાદ મળતી નથી એ વાજબી છે. ઉત્તમ ગ્રંથકારોને પણ જ્યાં સુધી કેળવણી ખાતાના, કે કોઈ શ્રીમંતના આધાર ઉપર રહેવું પડશે ત્યાં સુધી કેળવણીનો પ્રસાર થયો નથી એમ નક્કી સમજવું.

જેમ સ્વદેશીઓને પુસ્તકો વેચાતાં લઈ વાંચવાની ભલામણ કરું છું, તેમ તેમનો પક્ષ કરી કહું છું કે વાંચવા જોગ ગ્રંથ હોવા જોઈએ. બધા ગ્રંથોને નહિ પણ માત્ર સારા ગ્રંથોને જ આશરો આપવાને પ્રજા બંધાયેલી છે. જે લખવા બેસે તે સારી ચોપડી બનાવી શકે તેવું નથી. ગ્રંથ રચવા જોગ વિષેશ બુદ્ધિ – કેટલાક માણસોમાં સ્વભાવથી છે. હોય તેની જોડે તેઓમાં સુનીતિ વિદ્યા, અને અનુભવ હોવા જોઈએ. એ શક્તિ અને એ ગુણો જેમનામાં નથી એવા આદમીઓ નાલાયક પુસ્તકો રચી


२१
 

 

[  ] તેઓને ખરીદ કરવાને સદગૃહસ્થોને શરમાવે છે. અને વગ વસીલાને કામે લગાડે છે, એ કેળવણીના ફેલાવને તથા યોગ્ય ગ્રંથો પેદા થવામાં હાની કરનાર છે.

આ ચોપડીની આ બીજી આવૃત્તિમાં કેટલાંક નવાં પ્રકરણો ઉમેરી તથા થોડોક ફેરફાર કરી એને વધારે રસિક અને બોધકારક કરવાનો પ્રયત્ન કર્યો છે. મારી આ ધારણા કેટલે દરજ્જે ખરી છે એ હવે પછી જણાશે. એ વધારાને લીધે કિંમતમાં વધારો કરવો પડ્યો છે. કલ્પિત વારતાને રૂપે અનેક નાતોમાં ચાલતી સારી નઠારી રીતભાતો વગેરેને જાહેરમાં લાવી સારી હોય તેને વખાણવી અને માઠીને વખોડવી એ મારો હેતુ છે. કલ્પિત વાતો જોડનારાને એમ કરવાની હું વિનયપૂર્વક ભલામણ કરૂં છું. આપણા લોકમાં હજી સુધી બન્યા નથી અને હાલ બનતા નથી તેવા બનાવા કલ્પિને વર્ણવવા કરતાં એ પ્રમાણે કરવાથી વધારે ફાયદા થાય છે. જેજે હાલ થાય છે તેને શીખામણ આપે એવી કહાણીના રૂપમાં મુકીએ તે આપણા લોકના રદયને ભેદે છે, અને અસર કરે છે. એ રસિક લાગે માટે તેમાં મીઠાશ મુકતા આવડે તો લોકને વધારે પ્રિય લાગે છે, અને સુબોધક કરવાને તેમાં સુનીતિ આણ્યાથી ગુણકારી થાય. ઉત્તમ વર્ગના લખનારાને હાથે રચાયેલાં એવાં પુસ્તકો પ્રગટ થતાં રેવાને હું ઇચ્છું છું.

[મ. રૂ.]
 

 

[  ]

AN APPEAL TO MY EDUCATED COUNTRYMEN

At the time I was asked to revise this book for a second edition I read a well written article on the subject treated in it in the Bombay Gazette of 24th April 1873. Believing that an appeal, through the English language to such of my enlightened countrymen as can understand it, on the crying social evils exposed in this book, will be more effective for their removal, and for rousing the sympathy of the educators and civilizers of this country. I quote the whole of it and another that appeared in the same journal dated 27th May last. Nothing I thought, could be better for my purpose than citing these two ably and truthfully written articles. I thank their writer for their kind endeavours in behalf of our helpless women.

"ONE of the most remarkable and characteristic features of Indian female domestic life that we know of is the relationship of daughter-in-law and mother-in-law. With the rarest exception every female in India is either a daughter-in-law or a mother-in-law through the period of life from childhood to old age. There is nothing in the relationship itself that can excite surprise, but, when viewed in connection with the state of native society and the marriage institution in this country, it will be found that it is the relationship which more than any other debases the female mind and prevents the women of India rising to their proper level in the social scale. It is generally considered by writers on Indian habits and customs that it is the men who keep down the women and who refuse to accord to them their proper position as head of the household, and it is the men to whom appeals are made to release the women from their bondage. That men have something to do with placing the women in an inferior position is no doubt true; the custom of the wife waiting on the husband while he dines; of keeping aloof when male visitors are in the house; and of going out alone, are all quite in accordance with the wishes of the men, and it is the men who would not allow these customs to be infringed. But these indefensible customs and prejudices are as nothing to the customs and prejudices which the women allow to operate injuriously upon themselves, and which are established principally by the mothers-in-law. It is seldom that the European has an opportunity of ascertaining anything of the true character of native social life; he can only judge from those evidences which are permitted to appear outwardly. "The relationship of mother-in-law and dauther-in-law is not one of those of which any just

 

 

[  ] estimate can be formed from outward evidence. Little of nothing is seen of it out of doors, and even within the house its true working can only be traced and studied at the fireside and in the back and secluded chambers. We do not say that any particular pains is taken to shroud the working of this relationship in mystery; it is simply not discerned by those who have no free access to native houses on account of the seclusion in which the females live.

"In order that native life in the relationship of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law may be understood, we will give a typical case which is now before our mind. A native mother selects a wife for her son, aged ten, and chooses a child of four years. Preliminaries of a betrothal are settled and the betrothal takes place. The future daughter-in-law is at once sent over to the future mother-in-law and remains in the house of the latter for one or more days, during which time the future husband has the opportunity of admiring his future wife. The future daughter-inlaw pays the future mother-in-law frequent visits for several years and during these visists it is the privilege of the future motherin-law to exercise quite a motherly influence upon the child. That influence deepens with time, and long before the child reaches the age of twelve years the most implicit obedience is usually exacted from it. Then follows the pucka marriage and the bride covered with such jewels as the parents can afford, enters the undivided household and at once becomes a recognized member of her husband's family. Drudgery is the rule of life for the native bride, and there are few who are permitted completely to escape the work of the scullery. But whether this is escaped or not, now begins the true relationship of mother-in-law and daughter-in-law, and now begins the education of the wife. The early influence of the motherin-law is now increased and so is the submission of the daughterin-law. Defiance of the new maternal authority is unknown, and any spirit of self-assistance is impossible. Aided by all the power of the household the mother-in-law can assert her authority without let or hindrance, and the life of the daughter-in-law is made just what the mother-in-law may wish : it may be one of comfort and of ease or the reverse. There may be peace and quietness or there may be broils and sulks. All depends upon the temper and disposition of the mother-in-law, and very little indeed upon the youthful husband. The wife can scarcely appeal to her husband against domestic oppression, especially when the married ones are little more than children. Nor can the girl wife arrange her own course of domestic life. That is all arranged for her, and her duty is to yield obedience. Her own parents may receive the complaints of their dauther, but these complaints can seldom or never be

 

 

[  ] carried back to the mother-in-law. To do so would be to add fuel to the flame and raise up persecution. It is contrary to recognised custom for the parents of a wife to come with complaints to the parents of a husband. Stifled anger is therefore a thing of frequent occurrence. The visits of the husband to his mother-in-law are short and infrequent, so that whatever influence might be exercised in favour of the wife in this way is almost nothing; there is very little opportunity, and custom, as we have already said, makes it prohibitory.

The native mother-in-law is not free from the infirmities of woman-kind; the limit of her occupation is co-extensive only with her heart; her domestic duties are of a drudging nature; and her ambitions are not elevating. Moreover, native married life makes the mother-in-law prematurely old. By the time her son becomes a husband the world has lost its charms for her, and her sympathies with the young have almost completely decayed. The daughter-in-law holds an inferior position, and is ordered about not only by her mother-in-law, but too frequently by her own household servants. From the most careful observation we believe that very often the husband disapproves of the position assigned to his wife and disapproves also of the treatment which she receives. If he would stand by his wife and assert her position, he must accept the odds that will be brought against him - he must enter the lists against his own mother. If it is a virtue to acquiesce in a mother's will upon all occasions, then native society does possess this virtue in a remarkable degree; the husband will permit his wife to be beaten without defending her in the belief that his mother will not do what is wrong. Violent conduct is not however very frequent on the part of the mother-in-law. Violent and irritating language is far more frequent, as it is the most frequent cause of domestic misery. When custom all around proclaims what a wife is entitled to or what she may expect from her husband's relations, the mind is easily broken into the new life and the position is accepted with a child-like faith in its correctness. If discontent seizes the daughter-in-law and the worm of regret pierces her soul, she may sicken and die or commit suicide. It is under these circumstances, and often when sickness strikes down the wife, that her own parents lake her way and prevent her return. Then it is that a permanent fued arises between the two families, and foremost amongst the combatants are the two mothers-in law. There are several reasons why native mothers rejoice when sons are born to them, not the least important of which is the consideration that they (The mothers), will be the future ruling mothers-in-law. The departure

 

 

[  ] of a girl wife to the home of her husband is not an unalloyed happiness to the mother by any means. With all that makes marriage a lottery all over the world, the marriage of the native girl is loaded with the additional risk of the probable character and disposition of her mother-in-law.

"In native married life in its best and earliest years there is usually a mother-in-law for the bride. As this relation is rarely absent from the household the influence which she can and does exercise upon the women of this country surpasses every other influence. If it is an influence of debasement, what dreadful scourge it must be, and how extensive must be its hideous ramifications. How can the man whose wife is in bondage be noble and free ? It is cruel to shut our eyes to the consequences of premature marriages, coupled as they are with an undivided household, and with all the chances of happiness and fair plan completely against the helpless woman. To say that the women of India are content to live according to the custom is to suppose that they are devoid of sensibility and destitute of womanly feeling. From whatever point of view the subject of premature marriage may be regarded, we do not hesitate to say that its worst feature is undoubtedly derived from the hideous institution on a ruling mother-in-law who has scarcely a single feeling or sympathy with the helpless child bride."

The information, upon which the above article is founded, appears to have been obtained from the Maratha country.The degrading custom of poligamy seems to have escaped the attention of the benevolent writer. If the daughter-in-law, or her parents and friends offer any resistance, her merciless oppressor threatens to bring in a rival and so make her life miserable for ever. The position of the daughter-in-law in Gujarat is worse, and her degradation and sufferings are greater than what has been so faithfully depicted above.

"A native mother," says our friend, selects a wife for her son, aged ten, and chooses a child of four years." In the majority of cases in Gujarat the infant bridegroom and bride are of nearly equal age, and in some instances the bride is actually older from one to six years. Now imagine the position of the poor wife! In addition to the evils her Marathi sister encounters she has to bear the miseries resulting from having a boy-husband incapable of thinking for himself, and

 

 

[  ] realising her and his own position, and wholly depending, for food, clothing and every thing else, upon his parents. He can be easily influenced, directly and indirectly, to act towards his defenceless wife by his mother and sister in any way they like. The hardships of the unfortunate daughter-in-law in the Patidar caste in the Ahmedabad and Kaira Collectorates, and among the Anavala Desais of the Surat District are unparalleled. I must refer to the sympathising reader to the chapters in which they are faintly described in this book.

Farther on the writer says, “The wife can scarcely appeal to her husband against domestic oppression." Very often in Gujarat there is no one to appeal to even in theory, because the husband, encouraged by his mother takes the principal share in oppressing her. Quite recently I had myself to bear the sorrow of witnesing such oppression towards a young innocent girl of about 14 years, by her dastardly husband, a matriculated young man of about 22 years of age. Shame to him ! Shame to his education! His mother and other relatives, upon whom he depends for his maintenance, instead of checking him, encouraged him in his disgraceful course.

"If discontent seizes the daughter-in-law and the worm of regret pierces her soul, she may sicken and die or commit suicide." This takes place not unfrequently, perhaps more frequently in Gujarat than in any other province in India. Such a sad event causes little or no regret to the fiendish mother-in-law and her son. While the dead body is still burning, the latter is, in many castes, betrothed to a new victim. A common saying among the mothers-in-law, to their eternal shame, is that the death of a daughter-in-law is of as little consequence as that of a female house-rat.' There are also other current phrases expressing similar contempt.

I now present to my readers the other editorial.

"We are indebted to the Deccan Herald for an account of domestic barbarity which occurred the other day in the family of a Brahmin in Poona, and which betrays in its most hideous deformity, not only the cruelty of the unmanly coward, but also the horrible nature of the institution of child marriage. The blood

 

 

[  ] runs cold to read the narrative of the revolting cruelty that was practised upon this occasion. The story is short, but all too long to be persued with any patience.

A Brahim girl residing in the city of Poona displeases her relatives (by marriage) - her husband, father-in-law, and mother-in-law – on account of an imaginary offence," when these relatives by law, having the girl in their own house and within their power, brand her on several parts of her body in a most cruel manner.' The narrative proceeds – "This of course was considered too lenient a punishment, and the miscreants considered it necessary to increase its severity. After the branding, the girl was tied hands and feet and fastened to a peg in the wall of the house, and kept in that predicament for some time, when she was taken off the peg and placed in a dark room for some time longer, the rope with which she was tied not being of course unfastened. This ordeal which the poor girl underwent lasted for three days." The narrative concludes - The accused parties are persons in affluent circumstances and well connected : facts which certainly tend to aggravate the crime."

"Let us hope for the sake of humanity that this cruelty was not inflicted on a helpless girl, child wife. If there are any depositions taken in this case we shall feel obliged if they can be placed at our desposal. If the narration given by the Deccan Herald is a narrative of facts, the facts cannot be too widely known nor too severely commented upon. The institution of child marriage is detested by even Englishman who knows anything of the domestic horrors that too frequently follow in its train. But how many Englishmen know nothing of the mysteries of Hindoo marriage. A child bride is regarded by Englishmen with feelings of pity : the child is pitied, the husband is pitied, and the parents on both sides are pitied. And when the girl bride is despatched to the home of her future husband to be wife perhaps at the age of twelve years - the Englishman again pities he condition; he cannot understand how she can be a wife at this tender age. Her instincts would make her seek the play-ground to romp, and scamper, and laugh but her education - ah ! her education, her mutlub and her destiny - force her to curb her natural proclivities and evince the modesty, the retirement, the humility, and the debasement of Hindoo matron. And this is all the Englishman usually knows about the institution of child marriage. His pity for a poor helpless child ends just where it should begin. Having seen the young wife enter the house of her husband, all that the Englishman knows about her is that she is domesticated amongst relatives in some kind of way. But the

 

 

[  ] dometic circle around the wife of twelve years is composed of relatives by law. Blood relatives have no right of admission there; they may be and are frequently excluded.

"The branded and bound Brahmin girl had no blood relatives near while she was being treated with more than brutal violence. But what is this treatment ? Is it not the treatment that too frequently belongs to the child wife ? The youthful creature goes to her future home, and nothing is more probable than that she could do things which would be accounted crimes by her mother-in-law, and which her own mother would not so much as notice. Nay the very constraint that placed upon a girl wife is sufficient to make her ommit offences, or supposed offences, which a regorus mother-in-law would report as enormous in heinusness, and being so reported, they bring down upon he tender helpless offender such punishment as only toward nature can conceive and a cruel brute inflict to tie the helpless victim with cords, to heat an iron in the fire, to glut deliberately over the torture which hesearing would inflict, and finally to enjoy the agonizing shrieks produced by the application of the burning instrument, and grin with pleasure as the features became convulsed and the living tender flesh quivered : to do all this to a woman, to a child in years can only be the work of a demon and a fiend. Compared with this cruelty, being trampled to death under the feet of an elephant is a mild judicial punishment which a Hindoo kingly tyrant might be expected to inflict on a State malefactor or a rebel traitor. But even kingly tyrants do not take such vengeance, the vengeance of searing the flesh with heated irons, upon young girls; certainly they would not do so far real on imaginary domestic offences such as a girl of tended years might be supposed to commit.

"That marriage begun in utter dependance and married life sustained under the frequent application of domestic torture - ropes and heated irons - should end in the self-immolation of the widow on the funeral pile of a dead husband is what one might be prepared to expect. The married life and married education a point to such a termination; the victim makes the voluntary sacrifice.

"The cruelty that may be practised on a child-widow could never be inflicted with impunity upon a wife who was married at the age of womanhood. The power and influence that are exercised by law relations upon young girl from the moment in which she enters the home of her husband are never lost; dependence and helplessness continue to be conditions of existence of the Brahmin wife from early youth to old age. It is this which gives to Hindoo widow marriage half importance, and for this

 

 

[  ] reason, that in widow marriages men will generally marry women and not children, and the wife may be able to hold her own against a wayward or a cruel mother-in-law. There was commendable courage shown, by the Hindoo widow-marriage-party in Bombay, and they deserved more countenance and moral support from the other and especially the European section of the community than they received. The chief object which that party had in view was the release of the widows of the caste from a cruel bondage, not the bondage of permanent widowhood alone, but domestic bondage of a still more cruel kind. If a wife may have her flesh torn by the application of heated irons why should a widow - an object not of pity but of scorn to the Hindoo – expect gentler treatment when an electric mother-in-law had the vials of her wrath charged to the full ? It was the Hindoo widow-marriage-party that was looked to abolish the institution of child marriage, and that party was not zealously supported. They were left to right the battle unaided by Europeans of influence and power, and we know of no more favourable opportunity in the history of India in which this aid and influence could have been more beneficially exercised. The leaders of this movement have been reviled, ex-communicated, disinherited, and disowned, and can we wonder that the movement is in abeyance and its supporters crest-fallen ? And can we wonder that the leaders of the opposition have taken courage, and that domestic cruelty and torture reign rampant? Can we wonder that the life of many a tender guileless Hindoo wife is a thousand-fold more pitiable and deplorable than life of a convicted felon.

"It is of little use discussing individual cases of domestic torture : from the very nature of the relationship subsisting between the torturers and their victims and the conditions of Hindoo domestic life it is almost impossible to prove a single case in its completeness and hideousness. The law of the land may be strong but the law of caste completely renders nugatory than law of the land. Meanwhile infant marriage is a great institution, including within its circumference every thing that can debase womankind and bring the sex down to the level of the brute. If it is true that man is the natural helpmate and protector of the woman how can that office be best fulfilled in this country ? The days of chivalry have gone, but if they were not gone the wrongs of woman cannot be redressed if they are unknown. But we want no chivalry in this iron age. Let it but be known that brutal cruelty to women and tender aged girls is practised which imunity in this land, and that Hindoo who seeks the aid of English law to help him to secure his rights from his fellowman in the morning exercises the power of domestic tyrant in the evening and helps his wife to burn the

 

 

[  ] flesh of his daughter-in-law with a heated iron, and when this is known, efforts will probably be made by right hearted Englishmen to discourage child-marriage and blot out of existence an abomination from the earth. The Hindoo widow marriage-party is the best that we know to begin the work : the members of that party should be recognised, encouraged, promoted, and pointed out as men worthy of being recognized by those who regard women as worthy of all respect, all honour and all affection."

After reading this thrilling tale, who can be so hardhearted as not to feel pity for the unfortunate daughter-in-law, and be not convinced of the follies and sins of our misguided people concerning their domestic affairs. The above is not a very unusual case. Similar occurrences of more or less enormity are not rare in Gujarat. We not unoften hear revolting stories of wife-beating even among the upper classes. Sometimes, though rarely, death results from such brutalities. A kick thoughtlessly administered by a wicked youth to his tender young wife in the abdomen while pregnant was said to have been the cause of her death which took place after a lingering sickness. Such cases very rarely come to the notice of the Magistrate and his policemen. It is seldom possible to bring to light and legally prove such crimes. In the Poona case the guilty parties were rightly punished. Those monsters, the mother-in-law, and the father-in-law got 6 months' and the husband for months' rigorous imprisonment.

Many mothers-in-law do not take care of the health of their daughters-in-law. What wonder if the latter die from such neglect? When they become sick, who is to care for them and procure medical assistance ? The boy-husband cannot even speak with her except at night time in the bedroom, and in many cases he does not know what his duties are towards his wife. The mothers-in-law consider them as feigning sickness. I have known cases in which they were so cruel as to prevent the parents of the girls from calling in the aid of competent doctors. Will it be wrong then to say that our society is rotten at the very core ? Can we enjoy real social happiness, while such a state of things lasts? Can virtue flourish among us when the mother of our children has to suffer such miseries and degradation, and to inflict the same when she herself becomes mother-in-law ? Our

 

 

[  ] efforts in behalf of female education make matters worse, because an educated girl, for evident reasons, expects better treatment, and is less able to endure oppression than she who has never heard of better things.

The generous nation that holds in her hands the destinies of India, will, I trust, no longer be indifferent to the sad state of things portrayed above. Special legislation on the subject of infant marriages, oppression by mothers-in-law, wife-beating etc., is neither easy nor desirable. But much can be done indirectly and directly in various ways by Englishmen, both as rulers and private friends in their individual capacity. Though we may reasonably expect help from our foreign protectors, we cannot assert that these social evils can be remedied by them alone or even principally by them. While they can lend us their influence in any way they can, we ourselves must be the principal actors. To get over the difficulty we are bound to apply our shoulders to the wheel. Every one of us should try to relieve the dear companion of his life and the future mother of his children from bondage and tyranny by such means as may be in his power.

The educated party, I confess, is comparatively insignificant. The great majority of reformers are young men and not independent householders. Their number is small, and they possess little influence and voice in social matter. The independent reformers are at present too few to be able to cause any change in the old customs, thoughts and habits of the people. Yet there is something that can be done by all those who have received education though to be able to think for themselves, to understand the position and duties of husband and wife, and to sympathise with suffering humanity. Though our educated youngmen cannot prevent infant marriages, they can improve the pitiable condition of their wives. They have full opportunity of talking with them in the bed-chamber after supper every day. Here a kind and considerate husband, by offering his sympathies, can try to relieve the oppressed feelings of his wife when suffering from the tyranny of his parent. He can engage her in useful conversation, enlighten her mind by instruction, inculcate principles of morality and, in short, become her teacher and

 

 

[  ] guide. At the tender age (generally about 13 years) at which she is introduced to her husband, her mind is quite flexible. She will easily receive new and improved ideas and give up many of her mischievous prejudices and foolish old views. She can be taught to distinguish between right and wrong. If she has acquired any knowledge at school, her husband can add to it. If she has not been sent to school, he can undertake the noble task of teaching her from the commencement. An hour in the evening spent daily in imparting knowledge and instruction to her, in reading with her newspapers, magazines and good books, will prove very profitable indeed. A joint prayer offered to God the Creator and Ruler of the Universe, before going to bed will be a very appropriate confusion of the hour so very happily and usefully passed. I recommend, for the purpose of prayer and thanksgiving, the use of the books of the Ahmedabad Prarthna Samaj.

This will be some set-off against her retreched condition under a tyrannical mother-in-law. Under such leading there is every instance of her becoming a lenient and kind mother-in-law, when she will have to rule the household. She will be able to understand the advantages of infant marriages, the wrongs of the widows, the folly of loading children with ornaments, of beating one's breast in open streets on death occasions, of uttering obscene language at weddings &c. She will know what her social evils are and heartily join us in removing them. Even when her mother-in-law is just and kind to her as is sometimes the case, such treatment will prove very beneficial. The wife thus taught will appreciate the blessings of education and comprehend and the reason offering our worship to the one true god only. Our endeavours to introduce reforms among our people will continue to be lame, and in a great degree, fruitless, as long as our wives continue to be ignorant, oppressed, and superstitious. Let us raise their position in society, and it their tone of morality. Let us increase their knowledge of the world. Let us aquaint them with their duties as wives and mothers and their duties to man and to God.

- Mahipatram Rupram Nilkanth
 

 

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કલ્પિત વારતાને રૂપે અનેક નાતોમાં ચાલતી સારી નઠારી રીતભાતો વગેરેને જાહેરમાં લાવી સારી હોય તેને વખાણવી અને માઠીને વખોડવી એ મારો હેતુ છે. કલ્પિત વાતો જોડનારાને એમ કરવાની હું વિનયપૂર્વક ભલામણ કરું છું. આપણા લોકમાં હજી સુધી બન્યા નથી અને હાલ બનતા નથી તેવા બનાવા કલ્પિને વર્ણવવા કરતાં એ પ્રમાણે કરવાથી વધારે ફાયદા થાય છે. જેજે હાલ થાય છે તેને શીખામણ આપે એવી કહાણીના રૂપમાં મુકીએ તે આપણા લોકના રદયને ભેદે છે, અને અસર કરે છે. એ રસિક લાગે માટે તેમાં મીઠાશ મુકતા આવડે તો લોકને વધારે પ્રિય લાગે છે, અને સુબોધક કરવાને તેમાં સુનીતિ આણ્યાથી ગુણકારી થાય.

[મ. રૂ.]
 

 

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