[Advaita-l] Advaitic Foods - Vedic ritual involving animal-killing

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Mon Dec 20 23:56:04 CST 2010

On Sat, Dec 18, 2010 at 5:40 PM, V Subrahmanian <v.subrahmanian at gmail.com>wrote:

>        As we get further into the *Manu-samhita*, there are warnings that
> become increasingly more serious. For example, *“If he has a strong desire
> (for meat) he may make an animal of clarified butter or one of flour (and
> eat that)*; but let him never seek to destroy an animal *without a
> (lawful) reason*. As many hairs as the slain beast has, so often indeed
> will he who killed it without a (lawful) reason suffer a violent death in
> future births.” (*Manu-samhita* *5.37*-38)
> In the above reference to Manu 5.37, it is a case of one desiring to 'eat'
> meat.  It does not say anything about the vedic yajna involving an animal
> and an alternative to it.  The 'swarga-kaamaH', the person, is interested /
> desirous of attaining swarga and seeks to perform the jyotiShToma
> (अग्नीषोमीयं पशुमालभेत) as the veda-prescribed means for it. And the 'lawful
> reason' is indicative of the purpose of a vedic ritual.
Further, the Mundakopanishad 1.2.3 says:

मचातुर्मास्यमनाग्रयणमतिथिवर्जितं च ।
अहुतमवैश्वदेवमविधिना हुत-
मासप्तमांस्तस्य लोकान्हिनस्ति ॥

// If a man’s Agnihotra sacrifice is not accompanied by the Darsa and the
Paurnamasa sacrifice, by the Four Months’ sacrifice and the Autumnal
sacrifice; if it is unattended by hospitality to guests or if the oblations
are not offered at the right time; or if the sacrifice is unaccompanied by
the Vaisvadeva ceremony or is *improperly performed*—then it destroys his
seven worlds. //

This mantra says that a Vedic ritual will not bear fruit if it is not
performed the way it is prescribed by following all the requirements in
their entirety.  In the bhashyam Shankaracharya concludes:

एवं दुःसम्पादितं असम्पादितं *अग्निहोत्राद्युपलक्षितं *कर्म ......आयासमात्रं
तु अव्यभिचारी ...

The essence of the mantra and the bhashya is that when there are errors of
omission and commission in the performance of a  vedic ritual, it  will not
yield its stated fruit.

In the Kathopanishat 1.1.15 we have the teaching of the 'nAchiketAgni' by
Yama by specifying the number of bricks, the type of bricks, their
specifications, etc.  The idea is that if the ritual is not compliant with
the vedic instructions in all respects, there will be no consummation of the

And an aside note:

In the Taittiriya Upanishad 1.6 (स य एषोऽन्तर्हृदय आकाश...) bhashyam
Shankara says regarding the heart-space that it is something like what one
would notice when an animal is cut open:

// हृदयमिति पुण्डरीकाकारो मांसपिण्डः
प्राणायतनोऽनेकनाडीसुषिरःऊर्ध्वनालोऽधोमुखः *विशस्यमाने पशौ प्रसिद्ध उपलभ्यते*।//

[The heart is a lump of flesh in the shape of a lotus, which is the seat of
the vital force, which opens out through many nerves, which has its stalk
upwards and face downwards, and which is seen as a familiar thing when an
animal is dissected.]


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