Shocking Things That Were Normal in Ancient India (Video)
Ancient India's history is marked by practices that, by today's standards, appear bewildering. One such practice was baby dropping, where infants under 2 years old were shaken and dropped from shrines, often leading to tragic consequences. This custom stemmed from faith and healing beliefs but almost always ended in the infant's demise. Additionally, the caste system, while distinct from ancient Greek slavery, was a brutal segregation system. Untouchables, the social outcasts, endured menial jobs, paltry wages, and brutality from the upper classes, perpetuating a cycle of oppression and discrimination. Astrological superstitions influenced customs, leading to rituals where women deemed cursed due to unfavorable astrological signs had to marry trees or animals before humans.
The dehumanization of women was evident in practices like Svayamvara, where women's autonomy in choosing spouses eroded, as they were treated as commodities, passed from fathers to husbands. Arguably the most shocking was sati, where widows, considered their late husbands' property, were often coerced into self-immolation on funeral pyres. This horrifying practice reached its zenith between the 15th and 18th centuries, with up to 1,000 widows immolated annually. These customs, though once considered normal, now evoke profound astonishment and disbelief. Ancient India's history is a complex tapestry of both admirable and deeply disturbing aspects, offering a riveting subject for exploration.
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Top image: 19 th-century painting depicting the act of Sati (Wellcome Images / CC by SA 4.0)