Infant Care. Infant care is almost completely the responsibility of mothers, older siblings, and grandmothers. When the mother works in the fields or a factory, a grandmother commonly is the chief provider of daytime care for an infant. After about the age of two, older sisters spend much of their time in this activity. Child Rearing and Education.
In , the government spent over 2 percent of its resources on education. Although the government's goal of eradicating illiteracy among people age fifteen to thirty five by the year has not been achieved, there has been a steady decrease in illiterary since the late nineteenth century. Among people above age six in , 52 percent were literate, a 9 percent increase from Kerala state has the highest rates of literacy. However, nationally there remains a great sexual disparity: While 64 percent of men were literate in , only 39 percent of women were.
The central government is more interested in military power than in literacy, and millions of rural parents, especially Muslims, feel that the schooling of girls is a waste of time and money. Only the establishment of sixteen as the minimum legal age for marriage has made it possible for many girls to get their parents' reluctant permission to attend school. While in earlier times missionary-run schools were important, especially in rural areas, in the last century local and state schools have educated the vast majority of students.
Over the last half century universal school attendance for eight years, equal opportunities for female students, relevant vocational training, and improvement in the quality of classes and textbooks have been national goals, with an emphasis on free and compulsory education for everybody from ages six to fourteen. However, there has been a recent growth of privately run schools, many associated with religious organizations, which tend to do a better job but commonly charge fees.
Higher Education. There were universities in , including thirteen central universities which are the oldest, best known, and best funded.
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The rest are run by state governments or religious foundations. Funding, hiring professors, and setting educational standards in all universities are centralized through the University Grants Commission, which was established in About a hundred colleges throughout the country have an autonomous status, but others are branches of major universities within their states.
In there were 6. There are institutions that grant degrees in engineering and technology and 1, that award diplomas. Adult education programs combat illiteracy, lack of knowledge about family planning, and inadequate understanding of new farming techniques.
Such programs tend to be more accessible in urban areas. A major hurdle has been the language of university instruction. The central universities generally teach in English and produce graduates with internationally acceptable credentials, but most of the smaller universities teach in the local state language so that their students' skills are not easily transferable even to other parts of the country. The opportunities for graduate study overseas are much reduced for this category of students, and even the acquisition of up-to-date textbooks can be a problem.
Indians are usually very hospitable even when poor and go to considerable lengths to make a visitor feel comfortable. Women normally adopt a deferential attitude toward men, especially to their husbands and fathers-in-law. All the people tend to show deference to religious figures and government officials. A woman decorates the streets with vibrantly colored rice powder paintings during a festival in Madurai, India. Religious Beliefs. In the census, 82 percent of the population was enumerated as Hindu.
However, 12 percent of Indians are Muslim, a fact that makes this one of the largest Islamic nations in the world. The next largest religious category is Christians, who make up only over 2 percent of the population and are closely followed in number by Sikhs. The only other groups of numerical significance are the Buddhists less than 1 percent and the Jains less than half a percent. Rituals and Holy Places. The thousands of rituals and millions of shrines, temples, and other holy places of many faiths defy categorization here. For Hindus, large pilgrimage temples are the holiest centers, whereas for Muslims the tombs of saints pir are the most important.
For Buddhists, many of them overseas visitors, the sites associated with the Buddha are crucial. Death and the Afterlife. While Muslims, Jews, and Christians pray that their individual souls will go to a paradise after death, Hindu ideas about the afterlife are very different. Muslims, Jews, and Christians bury their dead in cemeteries, as do most Zoroastrians today. However, Zoroastrians are Women walk on a trail through drying chilies in the Bundi District of Rajasthan. Most Hindu communities have a fundamental belief in reincarnation.
The basic idea is that one's soul can be reincarnated for an unknown number of rebirths and that what the soul is to be reincarnated into depends on the balance of one's sins and good deeds in past lives. This belief provides the justification for the inequities of the caste system: One is born into a particular caste, whether high or low, as a result of the accumulated virtues or sins of one's soul in a previous life.
One can never hope to move out of one's caste in this life but may do so in the next reincarnation. Particularly evil individuals may be reincarnated as animals. Hindus normally cremate the dead on a pile of logs, but the very poor may resort to burial. Extremely saintly figures may be buried in a sitting position, as are members of the Lingayat sect. India has a tradition of medical healing, teaching, and research that goes back more than two thousand years to the two basic medical treatises written by Charaka and Sushruta.
Today the country has four major medical systems as well as dozens of localized and tribal ones that depend on herbal treatments. The oldest of the four systems is still widely followed under the name of Ayurveda , meaning "science of long life". It is highly developed, with its own hospitals, clinics, pharmaceutical factories, and medical textbooks.
It depends primarily on non invasive herbal treatments. The diagnosis and treatment emphasize a holistic approach. Sidda is a distinct tradition that developed in south India and follows principles of physiology close to those of Ayurveda. Diagnosis depends on a careful reading of the pulse. Treatment is mostly herbal and psychological. A third medical tradition is called Unani. This system came to India with Muslim travelers and was developed under the patronage of the Mughals. It emphasizes holistic diagnosis and treatment, but the theory of human physiology is distinct.
All three of these systems attribute disease to an imbalance between underlying constituents. The fourth and most widely favored system is biomedicine, or scientific medicine. It has been used in the cities for three centuries and is practiced in the best hospitals and training colleges. India has about medical colleges. Public health is a major concern of every state government because of the continuing incidence of epidemic diseases, high rates of infant mortality, and the need for family planning usually sterilization to control the growth of the population.
Support for the Arts. Historically, the arts flourished under the support of two main categories of patron: the larger Hindu temples and the princely rulers of states both small and large. Over the last two centuries, the patronage of British residents and art collectors has become important. In independent India, a national art institute, the Lalit Kala Akademi, promotes the visual arts through lectures, prizes, exhibitions, and publications. The government supports the Sahitya Akademi, which was set up in to promote excellence in literature; the National School of Drama ; and the Sangeet Natak Akademi , which promotes dance.
India has some of the earliest literature in the world, beginning with Sanskrit, which may be the oldest literature in any Indo-European language. The Rig Veda is the oldest of the four Vedas , long religious texts composed in an early form of Sanskrit some time late in the second century B. It was followed by three other Vedas , all liturgical in character, and then by the principal Upanishads during the eighth through fifth centuries B.
The first significant secular document in Sanskrit was a sophisticated grammar that fixed the structure of the language, probably in the fourth century B.
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Then, during the reign of Chandragupta Maurya, the text of the great epic Mahabharata , the world's longest poem, was established around B. About B. Both epics incorporated material from extant folklore. By roughly the third century B. It was soon to become the most influential body of literature in the eastern half of Asia and has remained so to the present day, especially in Chinese and Japanese translations.
In that era the image of the social structure of India was codified by two books. During the late fourth century Kautilya, who is said to have been the prime minister Chanakya, wrote the Arthasastra , a Treatise on the Good , which was rediscovered in Shortly thereafter came the compilation of Manu's Laws Manusmrti. This treatise on religious law and social obligation described in detail a society, possibly a utopian one, in which there were four caste blocks, the varna , each of which had its own occupation, status, and religious duties.
This book continued to exercise an immeasurable influence on Indian society for the next two thousand years and the varna model is still a popular image of Hindu caste society. Around C. While its history is shrouded, it set the stage for an outpouring of medieval poetry in Tamil, a Dravidian language. Some of this work was devotional, but much was secular in its appeal, including the first known work of Indian women writers. The most famous example of this poetry was the Purananuru , an anthology of four hundred poems praising Tamil rulers. Equally important, the Kural was a collection of moral maxims compiled by Tiruvalluvar in perhaps the third and fourth centuries.
It has been likened to a Tamil Koran. At about the same time, there was a flowering of Sanskrit drama in the northerly parts of India. In the fourth or fifth century lived the greatest Sanskrit poet, Kalidasa. The best known plays that have survived from this era are Shakuntala and The Little Clay Cart , the former written by Kalidasa and the latter a comedy also perhaps written by him.
During the Middle Ages, science and philosophy flourished in Sanskrit texts. Perhaps the best known, if the least scientific, work was the Kama Sutra or a treatise on love by Vatsyayana, who wrote it in a legal style of Sanskrit in about the third century. The Middle Ages witnessed an outpouring of religious and philosophical literature not just in Sanskrit, which was still the prime liturgical and scholarly language, but also in a number of regional languages.
Logic, metaphysics, devotional poetry, and commentary developed over the centuries. In the period — there appeared an important new philosophical literature in Karnataka, beginning with the Kavirajamarga. This was Jain A farmer leans under the burden of a harvest as it is carried to the top of a building in Zanskar Valley, Ladakh. At the end of the twelfth century Lilavati was written by Nemichandra, the first novel in that language.
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It was followed by other allegorical novels, as well as Kesiraja's grammar of medieval Kannada. Around , another Dravidian literature, in Telugu, made its debut with the grammarian Nannaya Bhatta and the poet Nannichoda. At about that time the Malayalam language became differentiated from Tamil. A century later the oldest known manuscript was written in Bengali. In the twelfth and thirteenth centuries Mukundaraj became the first man to write poetry in Marathi. Early in the fifteenth century two poets brought Bengali literature into prominence: Chandidas and Vidyapati, with the latter writing in Sanskrit as well as Bengali.
Contemporary with them were two Telugu poets, Srinatha and Potana, as well as the best-loved Hindi poet, Kabir — Kabir wrote in a medieval regional language closely related to Sanskrit. Although Kabir was a low-caste Hindu, he drew inspiration from Sufism and criticized the caste system, ritualism, and idolatry. He was followed in by the first important Muslim poet of India, Mohamed of Jais who wrote the allegorical poem Padmavat in Hindi. Contemporary with Kabir was one of the greatest of woman poets, the Rajput Mirabai, who wrote in both Hindi and Gujarati.
A century before her, Manichand had written an important historical novel in Gujarati. In the Hindi version of the Ramayana ,by Tulsidas, appeared it was to be a forerunner of numerous versions of the Ramayana in regional languages. At that time there was a strong Persian cultural influence in some parts of the country.
One ruler of the Muslim province of Golconda later Hyderabad was Mohammed Quli Qutub Shah, a poet who wrote in both Persian and Urdu, which was a new form of Hindi containing many Persian words and written in an Arabic script. In , the Adi Granth , the canonical text of the Sikh religion, was established in Punjabi. Thirty years later there appeared, also in northwestern India, a book in Urdu prose, the Sab Ras of Vajhi. In more southern parts of the subcontinent the middle of the seventeenth century also saw the writing of the Kannada poem Rajasekhara , by Sadakshara Deva, the works of the Gujarati storyteller Premanand — , and the influential Marathi poems of Tukaram — With the arrival of the printing press in south India, Tamil literature underwent a renaissance.
His lengthy diary has been published in Tamil, French, and English. Another outstanding Tamil poet and bard was Tyagaraja. By the time of Nazir, the British hegemony in India was well established, and along with it went the spread of regional printing presses, the opening of the first modern universities, and the increasing influence of European literary forms, especially in the English language.
This influence is evident even in writers who published in their native languages. Bengal in particular experienced a great literary and intellectual renaissance in both English and Bengali, including the novels of Bankim Chandra Chatterji and India's first Nobel Prize Winner, the poet and dramatist Rabindranath Tagore. A parallel literary renaissance occurred in Hindi at the beginning of the twentieth century, with the first novels by Premchand.
Tamil also began to produce novels with an English influence. The twentieth century saw a continuation of this modernization, fueled by the ease of publication and the increasing size of the reading public. An unexpected development during that century was the emergence of numerous world-class and prizewinning novelists writing in English, and often not residing in India. Graphic Arts. India has a multiplicity of visual arts extending back over four thousand years.
Early painting has not survived, but urban architecture and some small sculptures have. Most of the thousands of stamp seals that have been found are masterpieces of glyphic art, showing the large animals of northwestern India in miniature relief.
The main visual arts arose in the context of religious worship. Sanskrit handbooks still survive stipulating the rules for the production of Hindu religious statues, temples, and paintings. Distinctive regional styles of temple architecture are a feature of the landscape and a clear marker of the presence of Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, and Hinduism in each part of the country.
Within the Hindu temples there is a great variety of images of the deities, some skilfully carved in stone, some cast in bronze or silver, and some modeled in terra-cotta or wood. Painting was an ancient accomplishment, although the climate has not been conducive to preservation.
One can still see second and third-century wall paintings and monumental Buddhist sculptures in caves in Ajanta Madhya Pradesh. Despite Islamic prohibitions on the representation of the human face, painting and drawing flourished under the Moghul emperors. Realistic portraits, historical scenes, and botanical and zoological subjects were evoked with a sensitive line and a subtle pallet of colors during that period. Painting in oils dates back two centuries, to the time when the first European portrait painters began to work in India.
Today there are many professional graphic artists, some inspired by old Indian traditions and some by modern abstract expressionism. Art schools, public exhibitions, and coffee-table books are the means of reaching their public today, while religious patronage has practically evaporated. Performance Arts. India has the largest film industry in the world. In , feature films were certified by the Board of Censors. Although television came to even rural India more than twenty years ago, the cinema remains the major popular visual art form. In , India had 12, cinemas, with an attendance of ninety to one hundred million weekly.
Radios are widespread, primarily as a source of light music, but not as a major source of information. The antecedent of all these institutions was the Survey of India , which did the first scientific mapmaking of the subcontinent. There has been an annual Indian Science Congress, a national conference, which began as the Indian Association for the Cultivation of Science in With independence, an overarching bureaucratic organization came into being, the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, as well as an Atomic Energy Commission and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research.
To avoid centralization of these organizations in and around Delhi and Bombay, regional institutes of technology were set up in a number of large cities. Achaya, K. Indian Food: A Historical Companion , Basham, A. The Wonder That Was India. Berreman, Gerald D. Caste and Other Inequities: Essays on Inequality , Bishop, Donald H. Indian Thought: An Introduction , Bonnefoy, Yves, and Wendy Doniger, eds.
Mythologies , Bose, Sugata, and Ayesha Jalal. Burrow, Thomas, and Murray B. A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary , 2nd ed. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research. Dumont, Louis. Embree, Ainslie T. Sources of Indian Tradition. Farmer, B. An Introduction to South Asia, 2nd ed. Garrett, John. Gole, Susan. Government of India. India A Reference Annual , Hawkins, R. Encyclopedia of Indian Natural History , Hutton, John H. Johnson, Gordon, et al. The New Cambridge History of India , Keay, John.
Kulke, Hermann, and Dietmar Rothermund. A History of India , Kumar, Dharma, Tapan Raychaudhuri, et al. The Cambridge Economic History of India , Majumdar, R. Raychaudhuri, and Kalikinkar Datta. An Advanced History of India , The History and Culture of the Indian People, 2nd ed. Masica, Colin P. Defining a Linguistic Area: South Asia , Women like Sita, Satyavati, Draupadi, Ganga, Kunti, Shakuntala, Menaka, Amba, Anasuya, Damayanti, played an important role in exemplifying the ideal conduct of women in private and in public.
They also exemplify the hardships faced by women in ancient times. Even, Sita, an incarnation of goddess Lakshmi, the queen of Rama, had to bear the brunt of gender discrimination and public ire. Tradition recommends four prominent roles for a married Hindu woman: that of a servant dasi , that of an advisor or counselor mantri , that of a mother mata and that of a lover rambha.
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- Dharma's Daughters: Contemporary Indian Women and Hindu Culture?
In some communities in the past, upon the death of their husbands women performed sati and self-immolated themselves on the funeral pyres of their husbands. This practice is currently banned. Others, who lost their husbands, lived in seclusion or under the care of their sons or close relations. In either case, the life of a widow was a life of severe hardship. The hardships and suffering increased proportionately in case of younger widows. Premature death of a man was attributed to his wife. If a man died early, his close relations pointed their fingers at his wife for bringing misfortune upon the family.
Historically, the status of women in India was ambiguous. In theory, she had many privileges and enjoyed an exalted status as an aspect of goddess. But in practice, most women led miserable lives as servants to their husbands. In the past, until the independence, Hindu men had the freedom to marry more than one wife or keep mistresses.
Prominent members of society such as landlords, merchants, ministers, high ranking officials, scribes and poets visited prostitutes and felt no qualms about it. At the same time, household women were kept in confinement as per the injunctions of the law books, which stipulated that a woman should not meet any men outside her family without a family member present. The law books are unabashedly male-centric. They do suggest that women should not be harassed and the homes in which women suffered would be without peace and happiness.
In the same vein, they prescribe many restrictive conditions for women and curtail their freedom. A modern Hindu woman would feel enraged, rightly so, if she goes through the contents of the Manusmriti, which is particularly discriminatory and harsh against women. It is true that the law books were not followed by many castes and their enforcement was limited by the authority and influence the kings and local rulers enjoyed.
In general, Hindu women from the lower castes enjoyed much greater freedom than the women in the households of higher castes. Many girls were married off at an early age to relatively older men and the life of such women when they reached puberty was full of hardship. The situation is gradually changing. It is difficult to draw generalizations about the status of present day Hindu women because the society is complex. In general, life in cities is much different from life in the rural areas.
Those who live abroad live in different conditions than those who live in the country. Yet, we have ample indications that women are still subject to many restrictions and disabilities in rural areas as well as urban areas. The financial independence of women and the education levels of the family play an important role in this regard. Women in urban areas face numerous challenges in their professions and personal lives. But overall, life is better for them compared to the past. Love marriages outside caste or community are scorned and sometimes the couple are killed or excommunicated by the elders in the family or villages.
Widows can now have a life of their own and even remarry. They draw a lot of sympathy. But discrimination continues since they are not treated in the same manner as married women during rituals and family functions. The marriage customs have also undergone change. It might be a concept or ideal as well as a figure. Its origin? Its future? How do they fit into the general scheme of things? What is their destiny or future? What is the idea of community and how humans are to live with one another?
Is there a single linear history with time coming to an end or does time recycle? Is there a plan working itself out in time and detectable in the events of history? Does he religion support a belief in souls or spirits which survive the death of the body? What is the belief in what occurs afterwards? Is there a resurrection of the body? If you have iTunes on your computer just click and you will be led to the listings. Hinduism is a religion with various Gods and Goddesses.
According to Hinduism, three Gods rule the world. Brahma: the creator; Vishnu: the preserver and Shiva: the destroyer. Lord Vishnu did his job of preserving the world by incarnating himself in different forms at times of crisis. The three Lords that rule the world have consorts and they are goddesses too. Consort of Brahma is Sarasvati; goddess of learning. Vishnu's consort is Lakshmi; goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Shiva's consort is Parvati who is worshipped as Kali or Durga. Besides these Gods and Goddesses there are a number of other Gods and Goddesses. The Hindus call their Goddesses 'Ma' meaning mother. Some gods have more than one name. Shiva is also known as Shankar, Mahadev, Natraj, Mahesh and many other names. Ganesh is also called Ganpati. God Vishnu incarnated 9 times to do his job and in his every appearance he had a different form which are also worshipped as Gods. Krishna also has different names, Gopal; Kishan; Shyam and other names.
He also has other titles with meanings like 'Basuri Wala' which means the flute musician and 'Makhan Chor' which means the butter stealer. There are also Gods who can change their forms, for example: Parvati can change into Kali or Durga. Not all of these Gods are worshiped by all Hindus. Some Hindus worship only Vishnu. Others worship only Shiva. Others worship only the Goddesses and call these Goddesses collectively as Shakti meaning strength. Many of these Goddess worshipers worship Parvati in her images as Kali or Durga. People who worship Shiva or Vishnu also worship characters and images connected with these Gods.
Vishnu worshipers Vaishnaites also worship his appearances. Shiva's worshipers Shaivites also worship images of bull called Nandi, who was Shiva's carrier and a unique stone design connected to Shiva. There are also Hindus who worship all the Gods. There are some Gods who are worshiped all over India like Rama and Krishna and other Gods who are worshiped more in one region than the other like Ganesh who is worshiped mainly in west India. Hindus also worship Gods according to their personal needs. People who engage in wrestling, body building and other physical sports worship Hanuman, who in Hindu legends was an ape with lot of physical strength.
Businessmen worship Lakshmi, Goddess of wealth. Though these Hindus worship different idols, there are many Hindus who believe in one God and perceive in these different Gods and Goddesses as different images of the same one God. According to their beliefs idolatry is the wrong interpretation of Hinduism. Hindus believe in reincarnation. The basic belief is that a person's fate is determined according to his deeds. These deeds in Hinduism are called 'Karma'. A soul who does good Karma in this life will be awarded with a better life in the next incarnation.
Souls who do bad Karma will be punished for their sins, if not in this incarnation then in the next incarnation and will continue to be born in this world again and again. The good souls will be liberated from the circle of rebirth and get redemption which is called 'Moksha' meaning freedom. Hindus normally cremate their dead ones, so that the soul of the dead would go to heaven, except in a few cases of Hindu saints, who are believed to have attained 'Moksha'. The main Hindu books are the four Vedas. The concluding portions of the Vedas are called Upanisads.
There are also other holy books like Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharta etc. The different Gods and Goddesses in the Hindu mythology are derived from these books. Ramayana and Mahabharta are the most popular Hindu books. The main story of Ramayana is the story of Lord Rama.
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Rama was born in a royal family and was suppose to be the king, but because of his step- mother, he was forced to exile from his kingdom for fourteen years. During this period his consort Sita was kidnapped by a demon called Ravan, who was king of Lanka. Rama with the help of his brother, Lakshman, and an army of monkeys under the leadership of Hanuman, rescued Sita. Many Indians believe that the present day Sri Lanka was then the kingdom of Lanka.
Mahabharta is a family epic. In this epic the Pandva family and the Kaurav family who are cousins fight with each other for the control over a kingdom. Kaurav family, which consisted of brothers rule an empire. The five Pandva brothers ask for a small kingdom which belongs to them. The Kauravs refuse to give the Pandvas the kingdom so there is a war between the Pandvas and the Kauravs in which it is believed that all the kingdoms of that period in India took part. In this war the Pandvas, with the help of Lord Krishna win the war.
Before the commencement of the war, while the two armies are facing each other, one of the Pandva brothers Arjun gets depressed. Arjun is depressed because he has to fight against people whom he knows, loves and respects. At this point Krishna, who was also a king of a kingdom, and participated in this war only as the chariot driver for Arjun convinces Arjun to fight. Krishna lectures Arjun about life, human beings and their religious duties.
He explains to Arjun that he belongs to a warrior caste and he has to fight for that's his destination in this incarnation. Those chapters in the Mahabharta which are Krishna's discourses on religious philosophy are called Bhagvad Gita. Because of it's importance the Bhagvad Gita is considered as a separate holy book. In the wars that occur in the holy books, as in Mahabharta, the different sides had different war weapons which had characters similar to modern day war weapons.
In some stories the traveling vehicles were normally birds and animals. But these animals and birds had features similar to modern day aircrafts. There were even aircrafts with over velocity of light. The main war weapons were bows and arrows.
Dharmas Daughters: Contemporary Indian Women and Hindu Culture
But these arrows were more like modern missiles than simple arrows. These arrows were capable of carrying bombs with destructive power similar to modern day chemical, biological or even atom bombs. Other arrows could be targeted on specific human beings. There were even arrows capable of neutralizing other arrows, similar to modern day anti-missiles.
Hindus have many holy places. Badrinath, Puri, Dwarkha and Rameshwaram are four holiest places for the Hindus. Some rivers are also holy to them. Another holy river is Sarasvati and it is invisible. Hindus also worship and respect some animals and birds like cobra, apes, peacocks and cow. Hindus also respect some trees and bush trees. The famous and the most respected bush tree is Tulsi. Some of the Hindu customs, which exist or existed, do not have their bearing in Hindu scriptures but became part of Hinduism in different ways and fashion.
For example, the Hindus see in cow a sacred animal. Religiously there is no reason to see cow as sacred and it is believed that cows were made 'sacred' to prevent their slaughter during periods of droughts and hunger. Cobra worship also is not found in Hindu scripts. This custom became part of Hinduism when some Indian tribes who use to worship cobra adopted Hinduism. Burning of the widow on the dead husband's pyre also has no religious justification.
This custom, outlawed in , was probably brought to India by the Scythians invaders of India. Among the Scythians it was a custom to bury the dead king with his mistresses or wives, servants and other things so that they could continue to serve him in the next world. When these Scythians arrived in India, they adopted the Indian system of funeral, which was cremating the dead.