Bīrūnī, Muḥammad ibn Aḥmad, Alberuni's India (v. 2)

(London :  Kegan Paul, Trench, Trübner & Co.,  1910.)



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  Page 155  

CHAPTER LXIX.                           155

A man may marry one to four wives. He is not
allowed to take more than four ; but if one of his wives
die, he may take another one to complete the legitimate
number.    However, he must not go beyond it.

If a wife loses her husband by death, she cannot The widow.
marry another man. She has only to choose between
two things—either to remain a widow as long as she
lives or to burn herself ; and the latter eventuality is
considered the preferable, because as a widow she is
ill-treated as long as she lives. As regards the wives
of the kings, they are in the habit of burning them,
whether they wish it or not, by which they desire to
prevent any of them by chance committing something
unworthy of the illustrious husband. They make an
exception only for women of advanced years and for
those who have children; for the son is the responsible
protector of his mother.

According to their marriage law it is better to marry Forbidden

d.G^rG6S of

a stranger than a relative. The more distant the rela- man-iage.
tionship of a woman with regard to her husband the
better. It is absolutely forbidden to marry related
women both of the direct descending line, viz. a grand¬
daughter or great-granddaughter, and of the direct
ctscending line, viz. a mother, grandmother, or great-
grandmother. It is also forbidden to marry collateral
relations, viz. a sister, a niece, a maternal or paternal
aunt and their daughters, except in case the couple of
relations who want to marry each other be removed
from each other by five consecutive generations. In
that case the prohibition is waived, but, notwith¬
standing, such a marriage is an object of dislike to

Some Hindus think that the number of the wives Number of
depends upon the caste; that, accordingly, a Brahman
may take four, a Kshatriya three, a Vaisya two wives,
and a Sudra one.    Every man of a caste may marry a
woman of his own caste or one of the castes or caste
  Page 155