Some Vedic sacrifices of this century

Anand Hudli anandhudli at HOTMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 10 14:55:05 CST 2000

On Mon, 10 Jan 2000 12:12:27 -0600, Sankaran Jayanarayanan
<kartik at ECE.UTEXAS.EDU> wrote:

>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? :-)

 OK, let's get converted to Vaishnavism. :-)

 More seriously, it is  commonly acknowledged that 1) shruti, 2) smR^iti,
 3) conduct of good people, and 4) one's own noble desire, intuition or
 conscience, are the four pillars of dharma. And each of these is more
 powerful than the succeeding one. When there is a conflict between
 factor i, 1 <= i <= 3, and factor (i+1) on any issue, factor i is
 declared the winner and its dictates must be followed. It also follows
 that whatever the shruti says overrides whatever any other source of
 dharma may say to the contrary.

 This being the case, the shruti clearly declares animal sacrifices
 by vAkyas such as:

 agnIshhomIyaM pashumAlabheta,
 pashumAlabhya puroDAshaM nirvapati,
 tArpyeNAshvag.hM saMGYapayanti,

 By means of clear words such as "pashu" (animal), Alabheta (should
 be sacrificed/killed), saMGYapayanti (should be killed), etc., the
 shruti makes it known to us that animals are to be killed in certain
 yaGYas. Again, a YaGYa is also called "adhvara." The word adhvara
 is the opposite of "dhvara" which arises from the root "dhvR^i" and
 means "killing." Therefore, the word "adhvara" is interpreted as
 saying that though there is killing of animals in a yaGYa, this is
 really NOT killing, NOT hiMsA.

 Some people argue that the brAhmaNa portions of the Vedas that speak
 of animal sacrifices are not to be considered as shruti but only the
 mantra portions. By this, they are really proposing that the Veda is
 "eka-desha-prAmANya", meaning it is an authority in one place, and
 not in another. This is clearly unacceptable to all orthodox schools
 of Indian philosophy, not just advaita.

 It is important to note that the great AchAryas such as Shankara,
 RAmAnuja, and even Madhva, as far as I know, endorse the validity
 of animal sacrifices in their respective sUtra bhAshhyas. Surely,
 these AchAryas would have considered a great number and variety of
 sources, including the 'bhArata, before they commented on "ashuddhamiti
 chenna shabdAt.h" It is more likely that giving up of animal sacrifices
 came about under the nonVedic influence of the Buddhists and Jainas.


bhava shankara deshikame sharaNam

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