KIRAN ATMA: animal sacrifice
Showing posts with label animal sacrifice. Show all posts
Showing posts with label animal sacrifice. Show all posts

Hinduism And Hindu Theology - Historic Perceptions And Changing Attitude Towards Animal Sacrifice



Sacrifice of an animal or ritual Animal sacrifice has been practiced historically in two distinct strands of Hinduism. 


1. The first, and by far the most ancient, is the sacrificial religion detailed in the Vedas' later layers, especially in Brahmana literature. 


  • Because some of these rituals required the killing of hundreds of animals, they could practically only be conducted by royalty and aristocracy. 
  • The horse sacrifice (ashvamedha), which intended to demonstrate a king's tremendous might, was perhaps the most renowned of these rituals. 


These sacrifices became less common in the early centuries before the common era—a trend that was often linked to Buddhist and Jains' emphasis on ahimsa, or nonviolence—and by the early centuries of the common era, even Hindu commentators were condemning the Vedic sacrifices because they involved animal slaughter. 


These rituals have generally gone out of favor in contemporary times, and even when they are resurrected and re-created, they typically do not include animal killing but rather substitutes such as vegetables or fruits



2. The worship of village deities, or particularly strong and frightening manifestations of the Goddess, is another setting in which animal sacrifice may be found and is still practiced on a regular basis. 

Animals (typically goats) are beheaded in this form of devotion, and the blood is given to the god, sometimes by smearing part of it on a post outside the temple. 


  • Blood is regarded a "hot" material in Hindu culture, since it is very polluted, tremendously strong, and easily contaminates other things. 
  • Any god who needs animal sacrifice is also “hot”—powerful enough to bestow blessings on their followers (bhakta), but also marginal, possibly dangerous, and needing regular animal sacrifice to sustain their power. 



The temple of the goddess Kamakhya in contemporary Assam, a province in northeastern India, is the most severe example. 

Although the practice was outlawed by the British in 1832, this is one of the few documented cases of human sacrifice. 

  • When Kamakhya's current temple was dedicated in 1565, she was said to have been given the heads of 140 men who had all agreed to be sacrificed. 



Many Hindus do not agree of the impurity (ashaucha) and murder associated with animal sacrifice, despite the fact that such blood-drinking deities are frequently extremely powerful. 

As a result, one of the first steps in making a god acceptable to a more educated audience is to make the sacrifices vegetarian by replacing the sacrificial animal with a gourd or cucumber.


You may also want to read more about Hinduism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on religion here.