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When inevitably many of these love marriages turned sour, the woman would often poison the husband and find a new lover.To end these murders, a law was therefore instituted that the widow should either join her husband in death or live in perpetual widowhood.

Anvarohana ("ascension" to the pyre) is occasionally met, as well as satidaha as terms to designate the process.

Few reliable records exist of the practice before the time of the Gupta empire, approximately 400 CE although the Greek historian Aristobulus of Cassandreia, who traveled to India with the expedition of Alexander the Great, recorded that he had heard that among certain tribes widows were glad to burn along with their husbands, and that those who declined to die were disgraced. Harle, the medieval memorial stones appear in two forms – viragal (hero stone) and satigal (sati stone), each to memorialize something different.

Centuries later, instances of sati began to be marked by inscribed memorial stones called Sati stones. Both of these are found in many regions of India, but "rarely if ever earlier in date than the 8th or 9th century".

In the province of Bengal, sati was attended by a colonial government official, which states historian A. Salahuddin Ahmed, "not only seemed to accord an official sanction, but also increased its prestige value".

Between 18, the number of sati in Bengal province doubled from 378 to 839.

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