kathaṁ vinā syāma suhṛttamena te
tatrānuyānaṁ tava vīra pādayoḥ
śuśrūṣatīnāṁ diśa yatra yāsyasi
Formerly, a kṣatriya king was generally the husband of many wives, and after the death of the king, especially in the battlefield, all the queens would agree to accept saha-māraṇa, dying with the husband who was their life. When Pāṇḍu Mahārāja, the father of the Pāṇḍavas, died, his two wives — namely, the mother of Yudhiṣṭhira, Bhīma and Arjuna and the mother of Nakula and Sahadeva — were both ready to die in the fire with their husband. Later, after a compromise was arranged, Kuntī stayed alive to care for the little children, and the other wife, Mādrī, was allowed to die with her husband. This system of saha-māraṇa continued in India even until the time of British rule, but later it was discouraged, since the attitude of wives gradually changed with the advancement of Kali-yuga. Thus the system of saha-māraṇa has practically been abolished. Nevertheless, within the past fifty years I have seen the wife of a medical practitioner voluntarily accept death immediately when her husband died. Both the husband and wife were taken in procession in the mourning cart. Such intense love of a chaste wife for her husband is a special case.