The Death Of The Western World

2220 Words May 17th, 2015 9 Pages
If she felt any misgiving, my presence would prevent it from being too late, even at the supposed last moment… But her look of reply was quite sufficient; she had not come without counting the cost. Her belief in the Pythagorean doctrine of transmigration was firm and fixed; and she looked forward, without a doubt, to secure for herself and her husband, by this sacrifice, a new life of happier existence, and more refined enjoyments than the sordid realities which the world now offered…

This quote, recorded by Richard Hartley Kennedy, a 19th century British surgeon living in British India exemplifies the almost macabre fascination with the Hindu rite of widow burning known as Sati that the Western World has developed over the course of the last several hundred years. Perhaps, this morbid obsession originated with the Western World seeing in Sati a Romeo and Juliette like expression of true love. Subsequently, the West’s fascination can perhaps be credited to the ensuing human rights controversy that this rite has generated over the course of the past two-hundred years. Regardless as to the reason of why the West has taken an interest in this rite, I will attempt in this paper to decipher and interpret this ritual mostly through the lens of a Western philosopher of religion, Mircea Eliade. Eliade, in his work The Sacred and The Profane: The Nature of Religion, postulates that for modern men to truly understand religion, they must remove themselves from contemporary…
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