All about Bengali Women.

The Pativratya Ideal

The observance of the pativratya dharma by women is not tantamount to servility and subordination. Marital fidelity is greatly valued in the Hindu tradition as it leads to family harmony and bestows occult powers. A woman who sees the Lord in her husband and makes him her very life cannot deviate from the path of virtue; and virtue is power itself. There are many examples of Hindu women who as life partners made great sacrifices, underwent trials and tribulations, and some times showed their thaumaturgic powers born of chastity (satitva).

Gandhari covered her eyes with a strip of cloth as her husband Dhritarashtra, the king of Hastinapura, was blind.  Sita accompanied Rama to the forest during the days of his exile, kept her chastity intact while in the custody of Ravana, the king of Lanka, and went through the agni pariksa so that her husband could fulfil his raja dharma. Savitri confronted Yama, the god of death, and saved the life of her husband. Sati Anusaya turned the Hindu trinity of gods into children.

To uphold satitva demands profound moral and mental courage.  The allure of material riches, power or threat of political coercion are minor inconveniences, like flies to an elephant.

The Pativrata then, is not only a Dharma but a sublime and unique legacy of Bengali Culture. She is the embodiment of all the virtues associated with satitva, such as, purity, morality, fidelity, chastity, righteousness, goodness, duty, tolerance, service, devotion and many more. It is vital that these values are practiced, in order to inspire future generations and so preserve this noble tradition.


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