There is every possibility that the idea came from Egypt to India. In fact, geologists say that in the remote past, Africa and India were one continent. India fits the African continent exactly – if you cut out the maps of both and bring them close, you will be surprised. And South India still carries Negroid blood. North India is Aryan; South India is African, it is Negroid. It is possible that in the remote past both continents were one, that India was joined with Egypt. And now it is a well-established scientific fact that continents drift, they move. They are still drifting; they go on changing their locations very slowly.
In India all the North Indian languages were born out of Sanskrit, but not the South Indian languages. They are not of Sanskrit origin, their origin is completely lost.
In Egypt there was the idea that when a king dies all his wives have to be buried with him, because he will have to live in the grave till the Last Judgment Day and he cannot live without servants and wives and all kinds of luxuries. So all the luxuries were buried with him, treasures were buried, slaves were buried and women were buried – they were not more than slaves.
The same idea has prevailed for at least five thousand years in India – the woman has to throw herself into the fire. And of course it is a difficult task. Just put your hand into fire and you will know! Just the flame of a candle touching your finger will show you what it means to jump into a funeral pyre alive. So it was not done willingly – the woman was really thrown into the funeral pyre.
The arrangements were made in such a way that nobody would be able to see. Much purified butter was thrown into the fire before; it created so much smoke. And the brahmins, the priests, were standing all around with burning torches, and then the woman was brought. And such a great noise was created with drums and the chanting of mantras and the shouting of slogans, that the cry of the woman was not heard. Sometimes she tried to escape from the funeral pyre and those burning torches were there to push her back in. It was pure murder – ugly murder, barbaric.
And then the woman was worshipped. Still this goes on happening, even now although it is illegal. But the worship is not illegal. This is a strange thing: if a woman jumps into the funeral pyre or is forced to jump, that is illegal – it still happens! – but once a woman is burnt, has become a sati, then a temple is raised and she is worshipped. If burning oneself is illegal then all these worshippers should be immediately imprisoned, thrown into jails, punished, because they are encouraging something illegal. But no steps are taken against them.
Why has no man ever burnt himself with his wife? The Indian scriptures say that love is so great – it is because of the greatness of love that women have been throwing themselves in with their dead husbands. I can agree it may be because of great love, but then why has no man…? In thousands of years not a single man has thrown himself into the funeral pyre of his wife. Does it mean that no man has ever loved, that only women love? This is a strange thing! And the mahatmas and the saints are absolutely silent about that. There is a double standard about everything.