Man has deprived woman of education, of financial independence. He has deprived her of social mobility because he is afraid. He knows she is superior, he knows she is beautiful, he knows that giving her independence will create danger. So down the centuries there has been no independence for women. The Mohammedan woman even has to keep her face covered, so that except her husband, nobody can see the beauty of her face, the depth of her eyes.
In Hinduism, the woman had to die when the husband died. What a great jealousy! You have possessed her for your whole life, and even after death you want to possess her. You are afraid. She is beautiful, and when you are gone, who knows? She may find another partner, perhaps better than you. So the system of sati had prevailed for thousands of years – the most ugly phenomenon you can imagine.
The husband dies. Maybe the woman is still young and at the prime of her youth, so she has to be forced to jump on the funeral pyre. To make it possible, a special arrangement was made. Purified butter was poured in large quantities on the funeral pyre. It creates so much smoke that you cannot see what is happening. Almost like a dark cloud it covers the whole funeral pyre. Then surrounding it – and it is so hot that the musicians had to stand far away – great trumpets, drums, and all kinds of musical instruments are used, with the excuse that this is a celebration, but they are just used to drown the screaming of the living woman who is being burnt.
She would like to come out, and around the funeral pyre there are priests with burning torches in their hands so that if the woman tries to run out they will push her back into the funeral pyre. Behind the musicians there are a great number of priests shouting loudly and chanting mantras from the ancient Vedas. This whole scene was arranged just to kill a woman and so that nobody should know that she was killed against her will. And the whole crowd outside was joyous and cheering because it is a great event – a woman had proven her love to the last moment of her husband’s life.
How many millions of women were burnt this way for the simple reason that the man is jealous that after he is gone, what guarantee is there…? It was the British government’s rule in India that stopped it, because it was simply murder and nothing else. But then Hindus prevented the widow from marrying again. They shaved her head – the beautiful hair that was part of her personality. They took away all her ornaments and said that she could not use any color in her clothes; she had to wear only white. They tried in every way to make her ugly. She cannot join in any ceremony…she is abandoned.
Even in her own house she cannot enter the kitchen, but has to sit outside. And she cannot ask for what she likes. Whatever is given to her, the leftovers, she has to live on. She cannot sleep on a bed, she has to just lie down on the floor. This is worse than death. This way she may live fifty years, has to do all the menial work of the household, and she has to keep herself hidden from people’s eyes.
Man is very egoistic. That’s why I call him male chauvinistic. Man has created this society, and in this society there is no place for the woman. And she has tremendous qualities of her own!
Osho, The Sword and the Lotus , talk #5