chapter  5
Courtly text and courting sat±
Pages 4

Preceding chapters have looked at the constructions of Hinduism in the works of European orientalists and missionaries. This chapter focuses on one particular aspect: the representation of sat± in the work of a contemporary scholar, Julia Leslie. Compared with nineteenth-century Baptist missionaries, Jones and Müller themselves said little about sat±.1 It is perhaps in Henry Colebrooke’s paper “On the duties of a faithful Hindu widow” that we find scriptural perspectives on it.2 His account of the burning widow reflected both wonder and horror, and it came to have a profound effect on both lay and scholarly approaches to sat±. It is with Colebrooke that orientalists turned their attention to issues concerning Hindu women (Chakravarti 1993: 30-31). The sat± issue acquired a central focus in nineteenth-century colonial Bengal, and the debate about it has been extensively covered by the feminist Indian historian, Lata Mani, in her latest book Contentious Traditions: The Debate on Sati in Colonial India.