Take the 2-minute tour ×
Hinduism Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for followers of the Hindu religion and those interested in learning more about Hinduism. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Though killing of animals/human is banished by hinduism(though some clans are allowed to). How sacrificing animal/human life is considered as a practice to make god happy in Hinduism ?

EDIT 1 -

Please do not remove human sacrifice as few people are removing these words while edit. I am referencing to both type of sacrifices in my question.

As Barbareek sacrifice is considered as a human sacrifice while war and some more past incidence happened to prove this.

EDIT 2 -

I am still looking for human sacrifices justification.

share|improve this question
    
Are you talking about the island of Bali, or what? –  Keshav Srinivasan Jul 17 '14 at 4:53
1  
@KeshavSrinivasan no man its about the animal sacrifice ..'pashu bali' or 'nar bali' ..not about an island :) –  Trialcoder Jul 17 '14 at 5:09
1  
@Trialcoder will update my answer regarding nar bali as soon as i find some solid justifications. –  Ronak Bhatt Jul 17 '14 at 6:47
    
The question does read as if the Indonesian territory Bali is the subject of discussion. An edit might be required to avoid confusion. Also, curious if animal sacrifice is indeed practiced by Hindus in SE Asia. May be ill post a question on this subject later. –  Naveen Jul 5 at 10:49

4 Answers 4

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Śrīla Prabhupāda has mentioned this as vedic sacrifice

bali-dāna (kālī-pūjā or durgā-pūjā), in which a goat or other prescribed animal is slaughtered in a ritual performed for the demigoddess Kālī (Durgā) and its flesh consumed afterwards. This sacrifice, he says, is recommended in the tāmasika Purāṇas, Vedic literatures aimed at the gradual reformation and elevation of persons from the lowest levels of human consciousness.

He describes the process and purpose of the bali-dāna sacrifice:

Just like a person is attached to eat meat. Now if all of a sudden if he is instructed that meat eating is not good. Or a person is attached to drink liquor. If he at once said that liquor is not good, he cannot accept. Therefore in the Purāṇas we'll find,

"All right, if you want to eat meat, you just worship goddess Kālī and sacrifice a goat before the goddess. And you can eat meat. You cannot eat meat or flesh by purchasing from the slaughterhouse or butcher shop. You have to eat in this way."

That means restriction. Because if you want to perform the sacrifice before the goddess Kālī, there is a certain date, there is a certain paraphernalia, you have to arrange for that. And that pūjā, that worship is allowed on the dark moon night. So dark moon night means once in a month. And the mantras are chanted in this way: the goat is advised that

"You are sacrificing your life before the goddess Kālī. So you get immediately promotion to have a human form of life."

Actually it happens. Because to come to the standard of human form of life one living entity has to pass through so many evolutionary process. But the goat who agrees or who is by force sacrificed before the goddess Kālī, he gets immediate promotion to the human form of life. And the mantra says, that

"You have got the right to kill this man who is sacrificing." Māṁsa.

Māṁsa means that you will also eat his flesh, next birth.

"Why eat this flesh? Then I'll have to repay with my flesh. Why shall I do this job?"

You see. The whole idea is to restrain him.

As Śrīla Prabhupāda points out, the mantra recited in the ceremony makes it evident that though this sacrificial process is sanctioned by the Vedas, it does not excuse the person for whom it is performed from the laws of God and nature. "Even by following this method," he notes, "one is still an offender." However, Śrīla Prabhupāda shows that the action of one who follows this recommendation is restricted, better informed and less offensive than it would be otherwise. Moreover, the sacrificial process protects society at large from the adverse effects of animal slaughter. He writes:

No one can create a living being despite all advancement of material science, and therefore no one has the right to kill a living being by one's independent whims. For the animal-eaters, the scriptures have sanctioned restricted animal sacrifices only, and such sanctions are there just to restrict the opening of slaughterhouses and not to encourage animal-killing. The procedure under which animal sacrifice is allowed in the scriptures is good both for the animal sacrificed and the animal-eaters. It is good for the animal in the sense that the sacrificed animal is at once promoted to the human form of life after being sacrificed at the altar, and the animal-eater is saved from grosser types of sins (eating meats supplied by organized slaughterhouses which are ghastly places for breeding all kinds of material afflictions to society, country and the people in general). The material world is itself a place always full of anxieties, and by encouraging animal slaughter the whole atmosphere becomes polluted more and more by war, pestilence, famine and many other unwanted calamities.

Śrīla Prabhupāda emphasizes that the goal of the sacrifice is to discourage animal slaughter.

So after hearing all these mantras, if one takes the risk of eating meat, let him do that. But who is that sane man who will take this risk? This is the meaning of sacrifice. Not that it is a slaughterhouse substitute

Śrīla Prabhupāda holds that rituals such as the Kālī-pūjā are good for containing the lower propensities of humanity and encouraging the ignorant toward more elevated levels of awareness. He tells of how the Vedas and other scriptures include such recommendations for this very purpose. However, he maintains that ultimately, animal sacrifice is not auspicious and that it should not be taken to represent the ideals or the goal of religion.

Śrīla Prabhupāda thus shows that

there is no reason to perform large-scale animal sacrifices in this day and age. Regarding the bali-dāna ritual for meat-eaters, he concludes that this type of sacrifice has its necessity and is certainly better than allowing unrestricted slaughter, but that ultimately, it is not the best practice.

Although one is sometimes permitted to sacrifice an animal before the goddess Kālī and eat it instead of purchasing meat from a slaughterhouse, permission to eat meat after a sacrifice in the presence of the goddess Kālī is not the order of the Supreme Personality of Godhead. It is simply a concession for the miserable person who will not give up eating meat.

Reference : Vanipedia

share|improve this answer

Actually in Bali th island animal sacrifice is rampant .. not just goats. They sacrifice 1 of every species in one of their ceremonies .. it's often required to sacrifice puppies at weddings they break the necks of pigeons to open a shop a chicken is sacrificed to the ghosts who might live there .. This is all done in the name of Hinduism but of course they have their own brand .. it's not surprising they are named Bali

share|improve this answer

There is an excellent article on animal sacrifice in Bali on the Hinduism Today magazine website (http://www.hinduismtoday.com/). It is from the April/May/June 2012 issue and is titled The Reality of Animal Sacrifice. The article states:

Animal sacrifice, called bhuta yajna in Sanskrit and caru in Balinese, is widely accepted in Bali--much more than in India. No report on Balinese Hinduism would be complete without addressing the issue.

I did not witness this practice during my two-week stay, which included visits to many of the most prominent temples, but nearly everyone I spoke with supported it. However, priest Ida Rsi made it clear that this is not an everyday occurrence; rather, it is limited to certain occasions: "It is a special ceremony, performed only during special pujas, such as temple festivals and new year festivities. It is not a part of daily puja."

Strong Local Tradition

Indian-born Puneet Malhotra, a resident of Bali for seven years, owns the Queen's Tandoor restaurant in Kuta. He shares his experience: "Animal sacrifice is done in a big way here, close to the culture prevailing in Bengal. When we opened our restaurant, Balinese Hindu priests conducted the ceremony, which began with killing and burying a dog out in front. Then a pig was roasted, grilled, worshiped and buried. They killed fifty chickens, burying them in the various corners of the building. I had requested all of this not be done, but I was told it had to be done according to the local traditions, that animal sacrifice is an integral part of any big ceremony. We had to follow the customs; we were told that if we did not, and something untoward were to happen later on, we would be blamed for it."

In his book Bali: Sekala and Niskala, journalist Fred Eiseman, Jr., explains the basic philosophical premise: "In the Hindu faith, one must take the bad with the good, and while the Gods must be worshiped, the demons--in respect for their great power--must be placated. And the demons, the leering and fanged bhutas and kalas, have great and gross appetites." He describes the range in magnitude of sacrifices: "Caru range from a fairly simple offering requiring the sacrifice of a single chicken, to elaborate ceremonies involving the slaughter of dozens of animals."

While most Indian Hindus oppose animal sacrifice (and eating meat) based on the prevailing Hindu principle of ahimsa, nonviolence, only a few Balinese Hindus seem to share this view. From students to high priests, nearly everyone I interviewed endorsed animal sacrifice, believing it leads to the attainment of a human birth for the animal.

Ida Rsi disclosed, "I have a book by Romila Thapar. She is not liked in India, and people say she is wrong. But I find her to be correct. She mentions that in ancient times, Hindu kings and nobles ate beef, though only on special occasions. This practice continues in Bali until now, where beef is offered as part of our big ceremony every hundred years and smaller ceremonies every ten years."

I felt compelled to ask about the sacredness of the cow, an idea that is so strong in India. If cows are sacred, shouldn't they be protected instead of sacrificed? Prof. Phagunadi responded, "We are not as strict about the cow as you are in India. In Bali, the cow is treated as a holy animal, but not as a sacred animal. We consider holy and sacred to be different. Holy means something we respect. Sacred means something we cannot touch."

Phagunadi continued, "Hinduism in Bali is most ancient. Here we practice Tantric Saiva Siddhanta, as opposed to the Vedantic Saiva Siddhanta of India. Most of our temples are tantric, and that is the reason we carry out animal sacrifice." He elaborated on the local customs: "We follow Durga and Siva, who are two sides of the same coin. We worship Durga if we want something magical. She is extremely popular in Bali, and every home worships Her every fifteen days with animal sacrifice. Every hundred years we have to perform the Ekadasa Rudra festival in which more than 200 kinds of animals are offered."

Though most people I interviewed avoided this question, I gathered that a family may typically offer between five and two /dozen animals per year in various ceremonies, according to its means, to say nothing of the animals they eat without formally sacrificing them. With a population just under four million, any number must pale in comparison to the 59 billion animals killed in 2009 to feed the US's population of 312 million.

Vedic Controversy

Proponents of animal sacrifice usually cite the Rig Veda, the oldest of Hinduism's revealed scriptures. Certain of its verses could be interpreted to support the practice, but scholars differ: Should those words be taken literally, or do they have a deeper, mystical meaning?

Some Vedic commentators, such as Udgita, Ananda Tirtha, Atmananda and Sayana, refer to Rig Veda verse 10.86.14, in which Indra says, "They cook for me 15 plus 20 oxen," and verse 8.43.11, which describes Agni as one whose food is the ox and the barren cow. These verses, they say, mean that these animals should be offered in yajnas. Vedic-Agamic scholar and priest Dr. S.P. Sabharathnam Sivachariyar says these verses should not be interpreted literally. He asserts that the true meaning is symbolic: "The tenth mandala of the Rig Veda states that the words of the Veda mantras are concealed words, encapsulating deeper meanings. Therefore the reader should never take the meaning literally." Hinduism is full of symbolism, perhaps more than any other religion; and Dr. Sabharathnam explains that various animals mentioned in the context of sacrifices are actually representative of our inner faculties, qualities, emotions and external and internal organs. "Killing a horse refers to suppressing the human/animal side of our life-energy and transmuting it to the Divine. Similarly in all other contexts."

Pandit Vamadeva Shastri amplifies the mystical viewpoint: "The Vedic yajna has an inner side, with the offerings of speech, mind and prana, such as outlined in the fourth chapter of the Gita, and as reflected in many Vedic mantras. The practice of yoga itself arose from the inner sacrifice."

Along these lines, Sabharathnam offers an alternate translation for one of the above-mentioned verses: "Agni, who maintains the order of the universe and the inner faculties of the human body, makes the ox (pingala nadi, the human masculine-aggressive current) and the cow (ida nadi, the feminine passive-emotional current) his tools and bears the soma-delight (attainable in the sahasrara chakra) on his back (to distribute it to the seekers)." As a whole, he maintains, the hymn is speaking to the aspirant about deeply mystical practices. "No doubt the literal translation starts 'Agni whose food is the ox and the barren cow...' but this is not correct according to the context of the hymn."

The Agamas do not prescribe animal sacrifice. Sabharathnam asks, "How is it that one set of revelations (Agamas) do not speak of animal sacrifice, while another set of revelations (Vedas) from the same Lord could? The Rig Veda itself states that the Veda mantras should be understood against the background of the Agamas. The two sets of scriptures complement each other."

Vamadeva adds, "It would be wrong to say that the Vedas do not allow any animal sacrifice. However, animal sacrifice was generally regarded as an inferior sacrifice for less-evolved souls, in whom the gunas [qualities] of rajas [agitation] and tamas [lethargy] are still powerful. For those of inner vision, more sattvic [pure] in nature, the animal was symbolic of certain states of mind to be offered to the Deity. So, it is also wrong to say that the Vedas had a high regard for animal sacrifice and thought it to be equal to the other types of sacrifice."

Sabharathnam remarks, "I am not saying that sacrifices were not conducted externally. The grains, vegetables, plants, sweets and other such items the Vedas enjoin us to sacrifice should be considered representative of the animals. It was never the actual animals that were intended to be sacrificed. It was in this way that the Vedic yajnas were conducted in the earlier periods, before the Brahmanas and Aranyakas were written. Certain Vedic pandits took the literal meaning and wrote treatises prescribing the sacrifice of actual animals. Unfortunately, their writings were widely read, and genuine yajnas came to be considered a lesser form of worship."

Vamadeva points out the rarity of references to animal sacrifice in the Vedas: "Of substance-based offerings, dairy products like ghee and milk are the most common, and Soma, which usually had a plant basis, is said to be the highest of all offerings. Actual references to animal sacrifices in Vedic texts do exist but are relatively rare. I have found no more than a handful of such potential references in the entire Rig Veda, whereas offerings of ghee, honey and Soma can be found in great abundance."

According to Sabharathnam, the Brihadaranyaka Upanishad established that the Vedic sacrifices are intended to be spiritual, that they do not involve the killing of animals. "In fact, many Upanishads were the result of sages' efforts to expose the spiritual side of the Vedic yajnas, to be performed internally."

Historical Perspective

Phagunadi maintains, "Animal sacrifice is right as per the Vedas. It is discussed in the Mahabharata as well. Orthodox [ancient] Hinduism is completely different than what Hindus practice in India now."

Swami Harshananda's A Concise Encyclopaedia of Hinduism offers this opinion: "Sacrificing an animal to please a supernatural Deity is a common feature found in many cultures, including that of Hinduism, during the early part of their development. Though formal animal sacrifices of the early Vedic period gradually lost their importance, due to the reformatory movements of the Upanishadic sages, Jainism and Buddhism, a new type of animal sacrifice got into the fabric of Hinduism during later ages as aboriginal cultures got integrated into the Hindu fold. The Deity was invariably an aspect of Durga or Kali and the rituals were very simple. Buffaloes, goats, sheep and cockerels were the usual sacrificial victims. It was believed that these victims would go to heaven."

Hinduism came to Bali 1,200-1,500 years ago. At that time, the practice of animal sacrifice may have been more prevalent in India than it is now. According to Vamadeva, animal sacrifice occurs today not only in Bali but in the Himalayas, Assam and the northeast of India, as well parts of Orissa and Bengal, Nepal and a few places in Panjab.

Dwi Rupini Andayani, Ida Rsi's daughter, concludes, "I visited India as a small child with my father in 1999 and have taken around twenty tour groups there in recent years. The Indian way of worshiping is mainly different from ours in that they do not have such an elaborate system of offerings, including the rituals of animal sacrifice. In some ways, Bali's Hinduism is closer to that of Nepal than of India."

share|improve this answer

I have found Rene Girard's theory of culture formation and human desire to be a very enlightening and adequate explanation of both human and animal sacrifice (or sacrifice in general). His "Violent Sacred" and scapegoat theory transcends both religion and time. Here is a good summary:

To better understand Girard’s theory of culture formation, it is important to look to his insights into the nature of human desire (as opposed to physiological needs). Girard calls human desire “mimetic.” By this, he means that de- sire is learned (imitated) from others and that desire includes an acquisitive drive to possess what the other has or to be what the other is. We do not desire objects directly; rather, we desire objects through the eyes of others. For example, put two children into a nursery full of toys. The first child will perhaps select a toy at random. It will invariably be precisely that same toy that the second child will want and that he will assume he wanted all along. Adults at a garage sale behave no differently, only realizing how much they wanted an item when their neighbor picks it up.

Mimesis is a defining characteristic of human beings. Our mimetic capacity makes it possible for us to learn, to assimilate symbolic communication (language), and to become productive members of society. However, mimetic desire inevitably brings us into conflict with one another. Two hands reaching for the same object, or two people desiring the same position of honor, virtually always results in rivalry. The natural tendency of these mimetic rivalries is to escalate through a process of positive feedback. Due simply to the struggle itself, the contested object increases in value, making it even more desirable in the eyes of the aspirants. The struggle chains the two parties together in escalating conflict, with each person blaming the other for the conflict, each seeing the other as the cause of his unhappiness.

Because of education, rules (prohibitions), law backed up by legitimized violence, and the structure of social hierarchy itself, modern society is not torn apart by accumulated, unresolved mimetic rivalries. Primitive man was different. Girard asks us to imagine a group of early humans wracked by ubiquitous intense mimetic rivalries in a conflict of all against all. The very survival of the group is threatened. Suddenly two members of the group realize that they have a common adversary, who appears responsible for their problems. If this focus on one person is then imitated by yet a third individual, there is a significant likelihood this will lead to a rapid mimetic polarization of the entire group against one individual.

Mimesis itself thus transforms a war of all against all into a war of all against one. Accumulated resentment, accusation, and hate are transferred onto this scapegoat, who is violently eliminated. Peace and stability are restored to the group, or occur for the first time. In human beginnings, such events occurred many times in many different places. These primordial murders engender the violent sacred. Archaic or primitive religion, consisting of prohibitions, ritual, and myth, originates in the violent sacred. Prohibitions are rules against doing the evil things the original scapegoat is perceived to have done. Ritual sacrifice is an organized reenactment of the primordial murder. Myth is the distorted remembering of the murder by the persecutors. Myth transforms dead human scape- goats into living gods and human violence into divine violence. The victims are seen to have been killed by “God,” or it is perceived that God wanted them killed. Archaic religion is the wellspring of human culture, which is born in violent murder and self-deception.

share|improve this answer
2  
I think the site is for religious content and not about psychological artifacts –  swapnesh Jul 17 '14 at 17:10

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.