As per Nirukta 1/8, Yajna is adhvar means "non-killing" i.e, no animal slaughter is allowed in yajna right?

If so, why does shatpath brahman includes slaughtering of bulls and other animals?

Edit: The reference Is Shatpath Brahmana

The referrence is explained by some guy in this duplicate question


3 Answers 3


We have to understand what is meant by slaughtering of bulls and other animals. These are the first few lines of Shatapatha Brahmana

paśubandhena yajate paśavo vai paśubandhaḥ sa yatpaśubandhena yajate paśumānasānīti tena gṛheṣu yajeta gṛheṣu paśūnbadhnā iti tena suyavase

He performs the animal sacrifice. Now the animal sacrifice means cattle: thus, when he performs the animal sacrifice, it is in order that he may be possessed of cattle. Let him perform it at his home, thinking, "I will bind cattle to my home."

If we take this to be literal, as the translation suggests, we see it as animal slaughter. But, this isn't the whole picture; many of the words translated into English have more than one meaning. For example, the meaning of 'paśu' is not limited to "animal"; it can also mean "behold" or "see", as well as the Self. So, "animal sacrifice" (paśubandha) becomes the binding (bandha) of the Self. Not in the sense of bondage but fastening it in place.

What is taken as "cattle" (paśava) is not the full extent of what is meant. Paśava can be broken up into paśu + vas or paś + ava:

  1. Paśu (“behold!", "see", "animals", "the Self") + vas (“to dwell, inhabit, live, stay, abide, reside”) = reside in beings, behold/how good to dwell (here).

  2. Paś (“to bind”) + ava (“protection, assistance, wealth, riches, going, wish, desire, satisfaction”) = to bind oneself to protection, wealth, riches.

Either way, it suggests a place where one is protected and enjoys what it has to offer. So, paśavo vai paśubandhaḥ ("animal sacrifice means cattle") becomes something along the lines of, "fastening of the Self means to be protected and see one's dwelling." Similarly, "possessed of cattle" becomes "possessed of Self".

Gṛha, "home", can, equally, also not be taken literally. This is, perhaps, clearer when we see it to mean "dwelling" - "I will fasten the Self to my dwelling" - instead of, "I will bind cattle to my home." This just means becoming established in the Self, which is one's dwelling.

These meanings of the words and the verse itself point to the realisation of the Self. A translation is a reflection of the translator's interpretation of the verse and what they get out of it depends on their understanding. In other words, translations are interpretation-dependent.

  1. अध्वर adhvara (p. 72) अध्वर adhvara a. [न ध्वरति कुटिलो न भवति ध्वृ-अच्. न. त.; ध्वरतिर्हिंसाकर्मा तत्प्रतिषेधो निपातः अहिंस्रः Nir.] 1 Not crooked, not broken, uninterrupted; इमं यज्ञमवतामध्वरं नः Yv.27.17 (अध्वरम् = अकुटिलं शास्त्रोक्तम्). -2 Intent, attentive. -3 Durable, sound. -4 Not injuring; ततोऽध्वरजटः स्थाणु- र्वेदाध्वरपतिः शिवः Mb.12.256.19

As per this dictionary

I think you're just getting too focused on one possible meaning. The meaning of uninterrupted or that which requires attention is completely valid, if anything it makes far more sense. Afterall, what is even the relation of Yajna to injuring or harming that it can be described as such? The attention, though, it definitely requires and it requires a series of (unbroken) steps to fructify in the Yajna Phala.

Only neo-hindus and Arya Samajis use this sort of word-twisting to say that the Veda and Yajnas do not have animal sacrifices (which they 100% do). Do not be misled.

The meaning of injuring itself is a derivative. Lack of breakage 'in the flow of life' (injury/death). The primary meaning is still uninterrupted/unbroken.

Anyways, the answer is really simple, Yajna includes animal sacrifice, and अध्वर in the context of a Yajna, doesn't mean what you think or what you've bee told, it does.


There are so many traditions and customs of slaughter of animals in world.

But, in yagnya(Sanaatana Dharma) sacrifice(slaughter of animals for God) is NOT AT ALL allowed.

If you refer to some "documentation of context" rather than God scriptures, you may be confused about "what is right or wrong".

Example: During suppressive rules/invasions all rules of kingdom were made compatible to invading cult to avoid more bloodshed. If strictly opposed as done in Srirangam, many saints (azhwars) died/killed before masses were captured by enemies. During such times, compromise of strict rules were done.

Please refer God's scriptures which were protected by VEDIC BRAHMANAs over centuries amidst invasions. In GOD's scriptures

STRICTLY YAGNYA must not contain anything other than harmless offerings.

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