Some Vedic sacrifices of this century

Sankaran Jayanarayanan kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU
Mon Jan 10 12:12:27 CST 2000

On Thu, 16 Dec 1999, Anand Hudli wrote:


>  The yajnas that I cited used real animals. Vaishnavas  have been
>  known to follow the custom of substituting real animals by those
>  made from grains, but this has no vedic sanction. Perhaps the ParamAchArya
>  was referring to such "piShTa-pashu-yajnas." smArtas do not accept
>  such so-called yajnas.

In his book "The ordinances of Manu," E.W. Hopkins writes in a footnote to
Manu 5.22,"The old custom of killing animals being revolting to later
Brahmanas, the substitution of harmless offerings was attempted, as is
illustrated by the pretty tale in the Mahabharata 12,337."

Fortunately, I was able to get hold of a copy of the MB with Hindi
translation, and discovered that it was indeed an interesting story.

MahAbhArata 12 (shAnti parva), 337 :
YudhishhThira asked Bhiishhma,"The king Vasu being an intense devotee of
the Lord, as well as a great man, how did he fall from heaven and enter
the pAtAla loka (nether world)?"

Bhiishhma replied,"In this regard, listen to that ancient dialog between
the R^ishhis and the devas:

" `One must sacrifice aja' is the injunction," so said the gods to the
great sages,"The meaning of the word `aja' is 'goat' and nothing else.
This is certain."

R^ishhaya UchuH:
biijairyaGYeshhu yashhTavayamiti vai vaidikii shrutiH .
ajasaMGYAni biijAni chchhAgaM no hantumarhatha ..

naishha dharmaH satAM devaa yatra vidhhyeta vai pashuH .
idaM kR^ita yugaM shreshhThaM kathaM vidhhyeta vai pashuH ..

The sages said,"O gods! That one must sacrifice using biijas (seeds), is
the proclamation of the Vedas. Seeds are what are referred to as `aja'.
Therefore, goats must not be killed. Where there is slaughter of animals,
that cannot be the dharma of good men. This being the excellent KR^ita
yuga (the most virtuous among the ages), how can there be animal

As the conversation proceeded in this manner, king Vasu appeared on the
scene. The sages and the gods decided to let him clear their doubt. The
king asked,"Who has taken the word `aja' to mean grain, and who goat?"
When Vasu learned that the gods had taken the latter position, he being
well aware of their might, said,"It should be taken to mean `goat'. Hence
one must sacrifice goats."

The sages who shone with lustre, grew angry and said,"O king! If what you
have said goes against the Vedas, may you fall into the pAtAla loka."

The moment the sages declared thus, king Vasu fell from heaven and
entered the pAtAla loka. The gods then took pity on the king since he had
incurred this fate because of his respect for them. They advised him to
worship VishhNu, his favorite deity. The king did so and obtained release
from his curse."

This story from the MahAbhArata seems to indicate that animal slaughter in
the Vedas must be interpreted in some non-violent manner. Maybe the
Vaishnavas are right in this regard, after all? :-)


>  Anand


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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