Sati (Devanagari: सती, the feminine of sat "true"; also called suttee) was a social funeral practice among some Indian communities in which a recently widowed woman would immolate herself on her husband’s funeral pyre. The practice was banned several times, with the current ban dating to 1829 by the British.
The term is derived from the original name of the goddess Sati, also known as Dakshayani, who self-immolated because she was unable to bear her father Daksha's humiliation of her (living) husband Shiva. The term may also be used to refer to the widow. The term sati is now sometimes interpreted as "chaste woman". Sati appears in both Hindi and Sanskrit texts, where it is synonymous with "good wife"; the termsuttee was commonly used by Anglo-Indian English writers.
Although the myth of the goddess Sati is that of a wife who dies by her own volition on a fire, this is not a case of the practice of sati. The goddess was not widowed, and the myth is quite unconnected with the justifications for the practice.
The Puranas have examples of women who commit sati; they suggest that this was considered desirable or praiseworthy: A wife who dies in the company of her husband shall remain in heaven as many years as there are hairs on his person. (Garuda Purana 1.107.29) According to 2.4.93, she stays with her husband in heaven during the rule of 14 Indras, i.e. a kalpa.
According to Ramashraya Sharma, there is no conclusive evidence of the sati practice in the Ramayana. For instance, Tara, Mandodari and the widows of Dasharatha, all live after their respective husband's deaths, though all of them announce their wish to die, while lamenting for their husbands. The first two remarry their brother-in-law. The only instance of sati appears in the Uttara Kanda - believed to be a later addition to the original text — in which Kushadhwaja's wife performs sati. The Telugu adaptation of the Ramayana, the 14th-century Ranganatha Ramayana, tells that Sulochana, wife of Indrajit, became sati on his funeral pyre.
In the Mahabharata, Madri, the second wife of Pandu, immolates herself. She believes she is responsible for his death, as he had been cursed with death if he ever had intercourse. He died while performing the forbidden act with Madri; she blamed herself for not rejecting him, as she knew of the curse.
Passages in the Atharva Veda, including 13.3.1, offer advice to the widow on mourning and her life after widowhood, including her remarriage.
Counter-arguments within Hinduism
No early descriptions or criticisms of the practice within Hinduism are known before the Gupta period, as the practice was little known at that time.
Explicit criticisms later in the first millennium, included that of Medhatithi, a commentator on various theological works. He considered it suicide, which was forbidden by the Vedas
- One shall not die before the span of one's life is run out,
Another critic was Bana who wrote during the reign of Harsha. Bana condemned it both as suicide and as a pointless and futile act.
Reform and bhakti movements within Hinduism tended to be anti-caste, favoured egalitarian societies, and in line with the tenor of these beliefs, generally condemned the practice, sometimes explicitly. The Alvars condemned sati in the 8th century  as did the Virashaiva movement in the 12th and 13th centuries.
In the early 19th century, Ram Mohan Roy wrote and disseminated arguments that the practice was not part of Hinduism as part of his campaign to ban the practice.