Are there any instances of Satī in the Vedas?

Do Vedas support this practice?

Some people argue RV 10.18.8 is evidence against Satī. What is the context of this hymn/verse?

HYMN XVIII. Various Deities.

  1. Let these unwidowed dames with noble husbands adorn themselves with fragrant balm and unguent.
    Decked with fair jewels, tearless, free from sorrow, first let the dames go up to where he lieth.

  2. Rise, come unto the world of life, O woman: come, he is lifeless by whose side thou liest.
    Wifehood with this thy husband was thy portion, who took thy hand and wooed thee as a lover.

  3. From his dead hand I take the bow be carried, that it may be our power and might and glory.
    There art thou, there; and here with noble heroes may we o’ercome all hosts that fight against us.

  • 2
    See Asvalayana Grihya Sutra 4.2 Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 7:05

1 Answer 1


By seeing an alternate translation of that verse, i.e. Rig Veda 10.18.8, it says the opposite of Sati.

  1. Rise, woman, (and go) to the world of living beings: come, this man near whom you sleep is lifeless: you have enjoyed this state of being the wife of your husband, the suitor who took you by the band.

Also, there is commentary from Saynacharya there:

Go to beings- (Sayana, "go to the home of the living, i.e., your sons, grandsons, etc. " This verse is interesting as showing that in the latest part of the Vedic age there was no trace of Suttee.)

This text is uttered by husband's brother to the wife of deceased as mentioned there:

(This verse is to be spoken by the husband’s brother etc., to the wife of the dead man, and he is to make her leave her husbands body. See the, Asvalayana Grhya Sutras, 4.2.)

So, when looking at Asvalayana Grihya Sutra 4.2.18, it is clear that this verse is not supporting Sati instead opposing it.

  1. Her brother-in-law, being a representative of her husband, or a pupil (of her husband), or an aged servant, should cause her to rise (from that place) with (the verse), 'Arise, O wife, to the world of life' (Rig-veda X, 18, 8).

Rig Veda 10.18 is dedicated to Mrityu. Rishi is Samkusuk Yamayana, Devata of 1-4 is Mrityu, of 5 is Dhata, of 6 is Tvashta, of 7-13 is Pitrimedha, of 14th Pitrimedha or Prajapati.

  • "This verse is interesting as showing that in the latest part of the Vedic age there was no trace of Suttee" - whose commentary is this? Doesn't look like Sāyaṇa. Is brother-in-law telling the widow to leave the dead husband suggesting levirate marriage? Are there any other Vedic references? Commented Jun 25, 2019 at 18:57
  • @sv. That comment is not of Sayana. I think it's translator's comment. But there is no mention of levitate marriage. First they ask to non-widowed women and then the wife of deceased. I think it's a ritual process. I have to look for other Vedic references. Commented Jun 26, 2019 at 3:34

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