Sri Y. Srinivasa Rao,
M.A (English Lit.)., B.Ed., LL.M., Research Scholar in Torts., Principal Senior Civil Judge, Tirupati.
TABLE OF CONTENTS:—-
- What constitutes ‘Cruelty’?
- The doctrine of desertion
- The term ‘ desertion’
- Burden of proof
- Constructive desertion
The assessment is not whether the blamed spouse ‘is cruel’, but whether the conduct ‘appears as cruel’ to the alleging spouse.
In India, ‘Marriage’ under Hindu law was weighed a samskar, (sacrament), a pious obligation and, therefore, indissoluble. (See.Mayne, Hindu Law 101 (11th ed. 1953); Cambridge History of India, 88; See also Kane, History of Hindu Dharam Shastras All (Part 1). Divorce was mysterious to the shastric law and to the Hindu society for about two thousand years See.Mayne, Hindu Law 101 (11th ed. 1953); Cambridge History of India, 88; See also Kane, History of Hindu Dharam Shastras All (Part 1) . The Hindu Marriage Act of 1955 allows divorce on grounds of adultery, conversion to another religion, incurable insanity for three years, virulent and incurable leprosy, virulent venereal disease, renunciation, unheard of for seven years and non-resumption of cohabitation for two years or more after the passing of a decree for restitution of the conjugal rights or for judicial separation See. Sec. 13 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955.. While interpreting the provisions of the 1955 Act, the courts in this country also have alternatively relied both upon ‘fault’ and ‘break-down’ theories. To establish cruelty, it is observed that law has no footrule to measure the nature or degree of cruelty to be treated as actionable. See. Mulla, Hindu Law 659 (13th ed. 1966).
Where there is a reasonable apprehension of injury in the future based as experience of the past reason exists for granting relief on the ground of cruelty ( Wrangham, J. in Robins v. Robins, 1960-3 All ER 66). There could be acts of cruelty without the necessary element of intention (Jamieson v. Jamieson, 1952 AC 525). The word “cruelty” has never been defined and it has been designedly left by the judicial authorities to keep an elastic form to meet the necessities of the changed requirements and concepts of the society( P.L. Sayal vs Smt. Sarla Rani , AIR 1961 P H 125. It is in Rayden on Divorce, Rayden on Divorce (1958 Edition), at page 11, there is an attempt to define legal cruelty. From the view of Rayden, it is said to be conduct of such a character as to have caused danger to life, limb, or health (bodily or mental), or as to give rise to a reasonable apprehension of such danger. where the cruelty is of the type conveniently described as ‘mental cruelty’, the guilty spouse must either intend to hurt the victim or at least be unwarrantably indifferent as to the consequences to the victim. See As is observed by Lord Normand, at page 535. See. Jamieson v. Jamieson, 1952 AC 525.
Desertion is a matter of inference to be drawn from the facts ‘and circumstances of each case. The author intends to discuss in this article as to the point of some controversy on the question on whom the burden of proof lies to establish that the deserting spouse has just cause or not to leave the matrimonial home. We are bound by the decision in Bipin Chander jaisinghbhai Shah’s case (infra). The writer would, therefore, proceed to high light the law from the point reached by the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the said decision. The ruling of Apex Court is clear and unambiguous and it throws the burden on the petitioner seeking divorce. This view is consistent with that expressed in famous decision of English Courts in Pratt v. Pratt, 3 All E.R. 437.
Unless the ratio decidendi refers to the decision of Supreme Court in Lachman’s case, it is inapt to say the the concept of desertion under the Hindu Marriage Act is correctly understood. To know fully, what constitutes desertion, this case of Lachman Vs. Meena alias Mota is very important. In Lachman Utamchnad Kirpalani Vs. Meena alias Mota, AIR 1964 Supreme Court 40 approves the ratio laid down in the cases of Dunn Vs. Dunn, 1948 (2) All E.R. 822, and Brewer Vs. Brewer, 1961 ( 3) All E.R. 957.
In fact, in this case of Lachman (supra), the question as to what precisely constitutes “desertion” came up for consideration before the Hon’ble Apex Court in an appeal from Bombay where the. Court had to consider the provisions of s. 3(1) of the Bombay Hindu Divorce Act, 1947, whose language is in pari material with that of Section 10(1) of the Act. The Hon’ble Bombay High Court held: ”The inference may be drawn from certain facts which may not in another case be capable of leading to the same inference ; that is to say, the facts have to be viewed as to the purpose which is revealed by those acts or by conduct and expression of intention, both anterior and subsequent to the actual acts of separation. If, in fact there has been a separation, the essential question always is whether that act could be attributable to an animus descrendi. The offence of desertion commences when the fact of separation and the animus deserendi co-exist. But it is not necessary that they should commence at the same time. The de facto separation may have- commenced without the necessary animus or it may be that the separation and the animus deserendi coincide in point of time.”
It is difficult also to give a precise definition of ‘Cruelty’ so as to include all acts which may amount to ‘cruelty’ in cases where no physical violence is involved. Where there are specific charges of physical violence there is no difficulty in determining whether or not they constituted ‘cruelty’. The difficulty arises when there is an averment of cruelty without physical violence,Putual Devi v. Gopi Mandal, AIR 1963 Pat 93 . Even here no violence of any sort is caused, still the acts may amount to cruelty, if they are such as to raise a fear of harm or injury in the aggrieved party. The health and safety of the wife or the husband is the guiding consideration. It is thus abundantly clear that the physical violence is not the sole ingredient of cruelty and that the language of Clause (b) is wide enough to comprehend cases of physical as well as mental cruelty. It is difficult to enumerate the acts amounting to mental cruelty. What acts will constitute mental cruelty will obviously depend upon the circumstances of each case.
In the case of Greene v. Greene, (1916) P 188 it has been laid down that the Court has discretion to refuse relief to a petitioner seeking a decree for restitution of conjugal rights even in the absence of a matrimonial offence on the part of the petitioner. The question for decision always is whether the wives have reasonable excuse for leaving their husbands, and the test in all such cases is whether the conduct of the husband is such that the wives consistently with their self respect and dignity live in peace and security in the houses of their husbands and, in my considered judgment, a wife cannot honourably live with her husband without apprehension of danger to her life and health when the husband suspects her fidelity.
According to Lord Justice Denning, thus, there may be a situation in which the act of cruelty would exist in spite of the absence of a malignant intention. In another case, Westall v. Westall, (1949) 65 TLR 337, Lord Justice Denning observed thus ; “Although malignity is not an essential element of cruelty as shows, nevertheless intention is an element in this sense, that there must be conduct which is, in some way, aimed by one person at the other … when there is no intent to injure, they are not to be regarded as cruelty unless they are not only aimed at the other party but also are plainly and distinctly proved, not merely to cause passing distress or emotional upset, but actually to cause injury to health.”
“The general rule in all questions of cruelty is that the whole matrimonial relations must be considered, and that rule is of special value when the cruelty consists not of violent acts, but of injurious reproaches, complaints, accusations or taunts.As has been observed in Rayden on Divorce, 8th Edition, at p.122” This is observed in Iqbal Kaur Wife Of S. Pritam Singh vs Pritam Singh S. Nanak Singh, AIR 1963 P H 242.
What constitutes ‘Cruelty’?
To find answer for this question, it is apt to see the views of Rayden. He says that “In determining what constitutes cruelty, regard must he had to the circumstances of each particular case, keeping always in view the physical and
mental condition of the parties, and their character and social status…… Provided that the conduct in question amounts to cruelty as defined above, it is immaterial that there is no danger of its repetition, though the Court interferes not so much to punish the respondent for the past hut to protect the petitioner for the future; however, there is nothing in the authorities to justify the proposition that a decree based on cruelty is a remedy given, not for a wrong inflicted, but solely as a protection for the victim.”
In Earl Russell v. Countess Russel, 1897 AC 395, Lord Hobhonse stated at page 438 as follows: “…… cruelty has never been confined to cases of personal danger, but has been judged by the wider and more reasonable criterion expressed by Lord Stowell, namely, whether or no conjugal duties have become impossible between the litigant husband and wife.”
In Lord Ashbourne’s judgment, reference was made to Westmeath v. Westmeath, (1826-2 Hagg Ecc Supp 56), where cruelty, according to Sir John Nicholl, existed when there was ill-treatment or personal injury or the reasonable apprehension of personal injury. Lord Herschell who gave a dissenting judgment, stated that “in a state of personal danger no duties can be discharged; for the duty of self-preservation must take place before the duties of marriage, whicb are secondary both in commencement and obligation”.
Here, it is curious to see the observations in Squire v. Squire, 1948-2 All ER 51, which is a decision of the Court of Appeal (Tucker and Evershed, L. JJ., and Hodsan. J.). In this case, it was held that it was not necessary that the acts which constitute cruelty should be animated by any malignant design or
intention. It would be sufficient if they produce the consequences which constitute cruelty, as a person is presumed to intend the natural consequences of bis acts. In Squire’s case, 1948-2 All ER 51, a wife suffering from insomnia compelled her husband to remain awake at night to keep her company at the cost of his health and it was held that though she was not actuated by any evil intention, the act constituted cruelly.
Pearce J. , in the case of Lissack v. Lissack, 1950-2 All ER 233 , it was held that “in petitions based on cruelty the duty of the court to interfere was intended, not to punish the husband for the past, but to protect the wife for the future, and to withdraw from consideration intolerable conduct which was due to insanity would render the court powerless in cases where help was most needed.”
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court in Cowasji Nusserwanji Patuck vs Shehra Cowasji Patuck, AIR 1938 Bom 81, to show that “even a single act of gross cruelty may be enough to constitute legal cruelty, if it is such as to lead to a reasonable apprehension of further acts of cruelty towards the aggrieved party.”
The doctrine of desertion:-
His Lordship Hon’ble Sri Justice Koka Subba Rao , in Lachman Vs.Meena, observed that Under section 10 (1) (a) of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955, a spouse can ask for judicial separation if the other spouse has deserted her or him for a continuous period of not less than two years. This provision introdu- ces a revolutionary change in the Hindu law of marriage. It is given retrospective effect. A spouse in India except in some states, who never expected any serious consequences of desertion, suddenly found himself or herself on May 18, 1955, in the predicament of his or her marriage being put in peril. If by that date the prescribed period of two years had run out, he or she had no locus penitential and could retrieve the situation only by mutual consent. section 10 (1) (a) does not proprio vigore bring about dissolution of marriage. It is a stepping stone for dissolution. On the deserted spouse obtaining a decree for judicial separation, the said spouse can bring about divorce by efflux of time under section 13 (1) (viii) of the Act.
The term ‘ desertion’: –
The word “desertion” came under the judicial scrutiny of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Bipin Chander Jaisinghbhai Shah v. Prabhawati, 1956 S.C.R. 838. “For the offence of desertion, so far as the deserting spouse is concerned, two essential conditions must be there, namely, (1) the factum of separation, and (2) the intention to bring cohabitation permanently to an end (animus deserendi). Similarly two elements are essential so far as the deserted spouse is concerned : (1) the absence of consent, and (2) absence of conduct giving reasonable cause to the spouse leaving the matrimonial home to form the necessary intention aforesaid. The petitioner for divorce bears the burden of proving those elements in the two spouses respectively(“Desertion” was defined in s.2 (b) in these terms: “‘Desert’ means to desert without reasonable cause and without the consent or against the will of the spouse.” Sinha, J., as His Lordship then was, speaking on behalf of the Court after considering the relevant textbooks and decisions on the subject, summarized the law thus, at p. 851. This is observed in the context of section 2 (b) and section 3 (1) (d) of the Bombay Hindu Divorce Act, 1947 (Bom. 22 of 1947.). .
His Lordship Sinha, J., dealt with the mode of putting an end to the state of desertion as follows, at p., 852 :
“Hence, if a deserting spouse takes advantage of the locus penitantiae thus provided by law and decides to come back to the deserted spouse by a bonafide offer of resuming the matrimonial home with all the implications of marital life, before the statutory period is out or even after the lapse of that period, unless proceedings for divorce have been commenced, desertion comes to an end and if the deserted spouse unreasonably refuses the offer, the latter may be in desertion and not the former.”
It is proceeded to laid down that the duty of. the deserted spouse during the crucial period “Hence it is necessary that during all the period that there has been a desertion the deserted spouse ‘must affirm the marriage and be ready and willing to resume married life on such conditions as may be reasonable.”
Burden of Proof:-
“It is also well settled that in proceedings for divorce the plaintiff must,
prove the offence of desertion like any other matrimonial offence, beyond all reasonable doubt. Hence, though corroboration is not required as an absolute rule of law, the courts insist upon corroborative evidence, unless its absence is accounted, for to the satisfaction of the Court (Bipin Chander jaisinghbhai Shah v. Prabhawati,  S.C.R. 838, at p. 852.).” Collating the aforesaid observations, the view of the Hon’ble Supreme Court may be stated thus : Heavy burden lies upon a petitioner who seeks divorce on the ground of desertion to prove four essential conditions, namely.’
(1) the factum of separation;
(2) animus deserendi;
(3) absence of his or her consent; and
(4) absence of his or her conduct ‘giving reasonable cause to the deserting spouse to leave the matrimonial home.
The offence of desertion must be proved beyond any reasonable doubt and as a rule prudence the evidence of the petitioner shall be corroborated. In short the Hon’ble Apex Court equated the proof required in a matrimonial case to that in a criminal case.
In Pratt v. Pratt ( supra) the House of Lords considered the said aspect. Lord Macmillan stated, at p. 438, thus:
“In my opinion, what is required of a petitioner for divorce on the ground of desertion is proof that throughout th e whole course of 3 years the respondent has without cause been in desertion… In fulfilling its duty of determining whether,on the evidence, a case of desertion without cause has been proved, the Court ought not, in my opinion, to leave out of account the attitude of mind of the petitioner. if, on the facts, it appears that a petitioning husband has made it plain to his deserting wife that he will not receive her back, or if he has repelled all the advances which she may, have made towards a resumption of married life, he cannot complain that she has persisted without cause in her desertion”.
The question of just cause :-
To answer this question of just cause, it is pertinent to note the remarks of Lord Romer. His Lordship remarks are relevant in this context. Lord Romer observed:
It would, in my opinion, be quite unreasonable to bold that the respondent, guilty though she was of the serious matrimonial offence of desertion, should be expected to present herself at her husband’s door without any knowledge of how she would be received, ‘and therefore at the risk of being subjected to the indignity of having admission refused by her husband or by one of his servants…It could not be expected that she should suddenly make an unheralded entry into his house.”
In Dunn v. Dunn, 2 All E.R. 822 , Denning L.J., as he then was, laid down the scope of burden of proof in such a case, at Page 823, thus:
“The legal burden throughout this case is on the husband, as petitioner, to prove that his wife deserted him without cause. To discharge that burden, he relies on the fact that he asked her to join him and she refused. That is a fact from which the court may infer that she deserted him without cause, but it is not bound to do so. Once he proves the fact of refusal, she may seek to rebut the inference of desertion by proving that she had just cause for her refusal ; and
indeed, it is usually wise for her to do so, but there is no legal burden on her to do so. Even if she does not affirmatively prove just cause, the court has still, at the end of the case, to ask itself : Is the legal burden discharged? Has the hus- band proved that she deserted him without cause”
This decision of Dunn’ case brings out the well known distinction between legal burden and onus of proof. As to what constitutes desertion and constructive desertion, the law laid down in Dunn v. Dunn,  2 All E.R. 822, and Brewer v. Brewer,  3 All E.R. 957 is approved in Lachman v. Meena (supra). From the above rulings, it is clear that legal burden always remains on the petitioner ; and onus of proof shifts and is a continuous process. But, as the Lord Romer points out, the court has to hold on the evidence whether the legal burden to establish desertion without cause has been established by the petitioner.
As to the factum of ‘desertion’, the legal position in Day v. Day  1 All E.R. 848. is stated thus, at p. 853 :
“On the facts of the present case that involves the husband proving affirmatively that the mind of the wife was not in any way affected by her knowledge of the husband’s adultery. Clearly the burden is a heavy one, and doubtless in many cases it will be one that a petitioner will not be able to discharge.”
In Brewer- v. Brewer ( 3 All E.R. 957.), the Court of Appeal explained the views expressed by Lord Macmillan and Lord Romer in Pratt v. Pratt(1). Willmer, L.J. after quoting the observations of Lord Macmillan in Peatt’s casr(3), proceeded to state:
“This passage, although not necessary for the decision of that case, was expressly approved and adopted by Lord Romer in Cohen v. Cohen (  2 All E.R. 437.), and must, I think, be accepted as authoritative having regard to
the fact that all the other members of the House expressed their concurrence with Lord Romer.”
The case-law here and in England throws the burden of proof on the petitioning spouse to prove that desertion was without cause. The Hon’ble Supreme Court, in Lachman Utamchand Kiriplani ‘s case, held that the definition of desertion under section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act, the argument proceeds, is much wider than that under the English law or under the Bombay Act considered by this Court. Emphasis is laid upon the following words in the explanation to section 10 of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955. In this decision, the Hon’ble Apex Court further laid down that The expression “includes”, the argument proceeds, enlarges the scope of the word “desertion”, and takes in by de- finition the conscious neglect on the part of the offending spouse, without the requisite animus deserendi. This ar- gument, if accepted, would impute an intention to the Parliament, which was entering the field for the first time, to bring about a revolutionary change not sanctioned even in a country like England where divorce or separation for desertion had long been in vogue. We would be attributing to the Parliament an incongruity, for, in the first part of the explanation it was importing all the salutary restrictions on the right to Judicial separation. but in the second part it would be releasing the doctrine, to a large extent, of the said restrictions. By such a construction the legislation would be made to defeat its own purpose. On the other hand, the history of the doctrine of “desertion” discloses some limitations thereon conceived in the interests of society and the Parliament by the inclusive definition couched in wide language could not have intended to remove those limitations. The inclusive definition is only intended to incorporate therein the doctrine of “constructive desertion” known to English law and the language is designedly made wide to cover the peculiar circumstances of our society.
Constructive desertion :-
In Rayden on Divorce, 2 All. E.R. 331, 335. , 7th Edn., the expression “constructive desertion” is defined thus, at p. 155, as follows :
“Desertion is not to be tested by merely ascertaining which party left the matrimonial home first. If one spouse is forced
by the conduct of the other to leave home it may be that the spouse responsible for the driving out is guilty of desertion. There is no substantial difference between the case of a man who intends to cease cohabitation and leaves his wife, and the case of a man who compels his wife by his conduct, with the same intention, to leave him. This is the doctrine of constructive desertion.”
Present principle of law, on the question of animus, for to bring up briefly but specifically, in the case of constructive desertion, the Hon’ble Judge proceeded to observe, at p. 156, thus :
“It is as necessary in cases of constructive desertion to prove both the factum and the animus on the part of the spouse charged with the offence of desertion as it is in cases of simple desertion. The practical difference between the two cases lies in the circumstances which will constitute such proof, for, while the intention to bring the matrimonial consortium to an end exists in both cases, in simple desertion there is an abandonment, whereas in constructive desertion there is expulsive conduct.”
As was held in Lachman’s case, the ingredients of desertion as well as constructive desertion are the same, namely, animus and factum, though in one case there is actual abandonment and in the other there is expulsive conduct. Under certain circumstances the deserted spouse may even stay under the same roof or even in the same bed-room. In our society, it is well known that in many a home the husband would be guilty of expulsive conduct towards his wife by completely neglecting her to the extent of denying her all marital rights, but still the wife, because of social and economic conditions, may continue to live under the same roof. The words “willful neglect” in the explanation were certainly designed to cover constructive desertion in the English law. If so, it follows that willful conduct must satisfy the ingredients of desertion as indicated above. Hence, the appellant could not take advantage of the inclusive definition unless he established all the ingredients of constructive desertion, namely, animus, factum and want of just cause.
There are rulings to say that sections 9 and 10 bespeak distinct subjects. One with restitution of conjugal rights and the other with judicial separation. In Lachman’s case, Supreme Court held that we cannot import the provisions of the one into the other, except in so far as the sections themselves provide for it.
The explanation does not expressly or by necessary implication equate reasonable cause with a legal ground for sustaining a plea against an action for restitution of conjugal rights. Indeed, it is a limitation on one of such legal grounds. There is an essential distinction between the scope of the two sections. The Legislature even in socially advanced countries lean,, on the side of sanctity of marriage ; therefore, under section 9 of the Act, our Parliament imposes stringent conditions to non-suit a claim for restitution of conjugal rights. On the same reasoning, under section 10 of the Act, it does not permit separation of spouses on the ground of desertion except when the desertion is without reasonable cause. The expression “reasonable cause” must be so construed as to bring about a union rather than separation. The said expression is more comprehensive than cruelty and such other causes.
In Edwards v. Edwards (L.R  P. 8.) this idea was succinctly brought out. There it was stated that conduct short of cruelty or other matrimonial offence, might afford cause for desertion. So too, in an earlier decision in Yeatman v. Yeatman (L.R.  1. P. & D. 489.) it was held that reasonable cause was not necessarily a distinct matrimonial offence on which a decree or judicial separation or dissolution of marriage could be founded. I am, therefore. of the opinion that section 9 of the Act does not throw any light on the construction of the expression “without reasonable cause” and that whether there is a reasonable cause or not in a given case shall be decided only on the evidence and the peculiar cir- cumstances of that case.
As a result of the above legal position, it can be understood that the legal burden is upon the petitioning spouse to establish by convincing evidence beyond any reasonable doubt that the respondent abandoned him or her without reasonable cause. The petitioner must also prove that there was desertion throughout the statutory period and there was no bona fide attempt on the respondent’s part to return to the matrimonial home and that the petitioner did not prevent the other spouse by his or her action by word or conduct from cohabitation. The expression “willful neglect” included in the section does not
introduce a new concept in Indian law unknown to the English law, but is only an affirmation of the doctrine of constructive desertion. The said doctrine is not rigid but elastic and without doing violence to the principles governing it, it can be applied to the peculiar situations that arise in an Indian society and home. No inspiration could ‘be derived from section 9 of the Act in order to construe the scope of the expression “without reasonable cause” and whether there is a reasonable cause or not is a question of fact to be decided on the facts of each case.
The term ‘Cruelty’ has not been defined in Hindu Marriage Act,1955. It is really a question of inference. In judging this question, the entire marriage life of the parties and the inter-action of their mutual relations have to be considered against the background of the local conditions in which they live and move. As is discussed above, there must be at least some evidence in considering cruelty either of an intention to injure the other spouse or of facts from which such an intention can be inferred. What acts will constitute mental cruelty will obviously depend upon the circumstances of each case. Those acts cannot be put into a straight jacket, nor made conformable to any inflexible standard. It is really a question of inference “from the whole facts and atmosphere disclosed by the proof. The concept of legal cruelty as laid down in Russell v. Russell, (1897) A.C. 395, has been incorporated in § 10(b) of the Hindu Marriage Act,1955 and followed in a number of cases: Iqbal Kaur v. Pritam Singh, A.I.R. 1963 Punj. 242; Sayal v. Sarla, A.I.R. 1961 Punj. 125; Putual Devi v. Gopi Mandal, AIR 1963 Pat 93. The plea of insanity cannot be a valid ground to a charge of matrimonia cruelty, laid down in Williams v. Williams,  2 All E.R. 994,
followed in Bhagwat v. Bhag-wat, AIR 1967 Bom 80. The principles as to what amounts to exceptional hardships, laid down in Bowman v. Bowman,  2 All E.R. 127, was followed in Meganaika v. Susheela, AIR 1957 Madra 423. Despite the Indian judiciary is clearly against considering the intention as relevant for proving ‘cruelty, the modern trend is that, what is material is the ‘impact’ or effect or the alleged conduct. Desertion is determined as not proved unless both the factum of separation and the animus deserendi are proved.(Bipin Chandra v. Prabhawati, AIR 1957 SC 176, Meena v. Lachman, air 1960 Bom
418, Kako v. Ajit Singh, A.I.R. 1960 Punj. 328; Narain Pd. Chaubey v. Prabhavati Devi, AIR 1964 MP 28. See. Article published in 14 JILI (1972) 431, Changing Basis of Divorce and the the Hindu Law, written by Raj Kumari Agrawala).
To assume for a while, the factum of intention as an essential ingredient of desertion, it excludes many a situation of actual break-down. While dealing with the defences of desertion, courts have often followed the fault notion alone.
I may conclude this paper with an observation that personal laws control important traits of family life in India such as inheritance, succession, divorce, and marriage etc. Marriage is considered to be of utmost importance and the very basis of Indian Society. In recent times, divorce cases are being increased. The writer hopes that the concept of Hindu marriage cannot be treated like a contract. Imprudent and unwise importance of the law of divorce may become an experiment or endeavour to spoil all that is good in Hindu customs and traditions.