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Who is the Hindu god of sacrifice?

I tried to find out by Googling it, but all I found out was that it was Agni. But I thought that Agni was the god of fire. So, who is it then?

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    Vishnu - Bhagavad Gita says he is the yagna-adhipati. He is sacrificer, the sacrificed, the giver of fruits and the enjoyer.
    – ram
    Commented Feb 23, 2023 at 20:20
  • Agni is only a messenger or medium for sacrifice of Yagnya. In a Shloka authored by him Naarada extolls the Trinity form of Dattatreya as the recipient fond of sacrifice " Yagna bhokthreshu Yagnaya Yagna roopa dharaya cha Yagna priyaya, siddhaya " etc.
    – Narasimham
    Commented Feb 24, 2023 at 22:29

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Agni is the messenger of the gods not really the god of sacrifice. The Puranas mention the Yagna Avatar of Lord Vishnu and declare him to be the embodiment of the Fire-sacrifice.

Here are some relevant verses from the Brahma Puran:

The various parts of the Yajña are mentioned as identical with him viz. Havana, Savana, Hotṛ, Havya, Holy vessels, altar, initiation, sacrificial twig, ladle, soma juice, winnowing basket, throbbing rod, prokṣaṇī vessel, Dakṣiṇāyana, Adhvaryu brahmin who sings sāman, Sādhya, Sadana, Sadas, Yūpa, Cakra, Dhruva, Darvi, Cams, Ulūkhalas, Prāgvaṃśa, the altar and whatever is beyond that.

He is identical with the mobile and immobile beings whether short or huge in size. He is one with the rites of atonement, Arghya, Sthaṇḍila, Kuśa grass, fire that conveys the mantras and Yajñas, the share and he who conveys the share.

They call him as one who partakes of his share at the outset, as the imbiber of Soma, as one who has put offering in flame, as one who has lifted up the weapon. The brahmins conversant with the Vedas call him the eternal lord of Yajña, thousands of manifestations of the lord of Devas, of Viṣṇu marked with the scar Śrīvatsa had taken place before; they will occur in future too—so says Brahmā.

The Vedas constituted his face. Sacrificial posts were his legs. Sacrifice was his tooth, sacrificial fire was his face, the fiery flame was his tongue, the Darbha grass constituted his hair; Brahmā was his head; he performed great penance (?) Day and night constituted his eyes; He was of a divine form; the ancillaries of the Vedas constituted his ear-ornaments; the clarified butter was his nose; the sacrificial ladle was his snout.

The great Sāman songs were his loud snorting sounds. He was glorious and full of truthfulness and piety. He was duly greeted for his exploits in due order; the expiatory rites were his terrible nails (colours). He had the form of a sacrificial animal from knee to face. The intestines were the ancillaries, (?) the Homa was his symbol, the seeds and the medicinal plants constituted his great fruits, recitations were his inner soul; the Mantras were his loins; the Soma juice was his blood; the altar was his shoulder.

Havis (offering) was his scent offering; Havyas and Kavyas constituted his velocity; Prāgvaṃśa was his physical body. He was lustrous, purified by different initiations. Dakṣiṇā was his heart. He was a Yogin in the form of a great sacrifice.

Similar descriptions come from other Puranas as well where Yagna is listed as one of the Avatars of Lord Vishnu.

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Yes, Agni is the Lord of Sacrifice (Yajna).

“aghne yaṃ yajñamadhvaraṃ viśvataḥ paribhūrasi sa iddeveṣu ghachati ” (RV 1.1.4).

"Agni, the perfect sacrifice which thou encompassest about Verily goeth to all the Gods".

“tava praśāstraṃ tvamadhvarīyasi brahmā cāsi ghṛhapatiśca no dame ” (RV 2.1.2).

"Thou art Director, thou the ministering Priest: thou art the Brahman, Lord and Master in our home".

“rājantamadhvarāṇāṃ ghopāṃ ṛtasya dīdivim vardhamānaṃsve dame ” (RV 1.1.8).

[Agni] Ruler (Lord) of sacrifices, guard of Law eternal, radiant One, Increasing in thine own abode".

Agni is all the gods.

“tvamaghna indro vṛṣabhaḥ satāmasi tvaṃ viṣṇururughāyo namasyaḥ tvaṃ brahmā rayivid brahmaṇas pate tvaṃ vidhartaḥsacase purandhyā ” (RV 2.1.3).

"Hero of Heroes, Agni! Thou art Indra, thou art Viṣṇu of the Mighty Stride, adorable: Thou, Brahmaṇaspati, the Brahman finding wealth: thou, O Sustainer, with thy wisdom tendest us".

Shatapatha Brahmana (3.1.3.1).:

“agnirvai sarvā devatā ”

Agni is all the deities.

Again,

“tadvā agnaya iti kriyate agnirvai sa devastasyaitāni nāmāni śarva iti yathā prācyā ācakṣate bhava iti yathā bāhīkāḥ paśūnām patī rudro 'gniriti tānyasyāśāntānyevetarāṇi nāmānyagnirityeva śāntatamaṃ tasmādagnaya iti kriyate sviṣṭakṛta iti ” (Shatapatha Brahmana 1:7:3:8).

That (offering) then is certainly made to 'Agni,' for, indeed, Agni is THAT god;--his are these names: Sarva, as the eastern people call him; Bhava, as the Bâhîkas (call him); Pasûnâm pati ('lord of beasts,' Pasupati), Rudra, Agni. The name Agni, doubtless, is the most peaceful (sânta/aghora), and the other names of his are not peaceful (asânta/ghora): hence it is offered to (him under the name of) 'Agni,' and to (him as) the Svishtakrit”.

So,

“ā vo rājānam adhvarasya rudraṃ hotāraṃ satyayajaṃ rodasyoḥ ” (RV 4:3:1 and Yajurveda Taittiriya Samhita 1:3:14:2).

Rudra, king (ruler) of the sacrifice, True offerer, priest of both worlds!”.

“ghāthapatiṃ medhapatiṃ rudraṃ jalāṣabheṣajam tacchaṃyoḥ sumnamīmahe ” (RV 1:43:5).

To Rudra Lord of sacrifice, of hymns and balmy medicines, We pray for joy and health and strength”.

“tveṣaṃ vayaṃ rudraṃ yajñasādhaṃ vaṅkuṃ kavimavase nihvayāmahe| āre asmad daivyaṃ heḷo asyatu sumatimid vayamasyā vṛṇīmahe | ” (RV 1:114:4).

“Hither we call for aid the wise, the wanderer, impetuous Rudra, fulfiller of sacrifice. May he repel from us the anger of the Gods: verily we desire his favourable grace”.

Rudrahridaya Upanishad.:

“rudro yajnah uma vedi”

Rudra is sacrifice, and Uma is the altar”.

“vishve nimagnapadaviiH kaviinaaM tva.n jaatavedo bhuvanasya naathaH | ajaatamagre sa hiraNyaretaa yaj~naistvamevaikavibhuH puraaNaH |” (Ekakshara Upanishad 2).

Thou (Rudra) art immanent in all; from (the view-point) of the wise, Thou, the Lord of the world art the all-knowing Agni (Fire). In the beginning Thou art unborn, the first born, the sacrifice, too, art Thou. Thou alone the one omnipresent and ancient”.

“chhandaa.nsi yaGYaaH kratavo vrataani bhuutaM bhavya.n yachcha vedaa vadanti | asmaan.h maayii sR^ijate vishvametattasmi.nshchaanyo maayayaa sanniruddhaH |” (Svetaswatara Upanishad 4:09).

The sacred verses, the offerings (yajna), the sacrifices (kratu), the penances (vrata), the past, the future and all that the Vedas declare, have been produced from the imperishable Brahman (Maheshwara). Brahman projects the universe through the power of Its maya. Again, in that universe Brahman as the jiva is entangled through maya”.

“R^icho yajuu.nshi prasavanti vaktraatsaamaani samraaDvasuvantariksham.h | tva.n yaj~nanetaa hutabhugvibhushcha rudraastatha daityagaNaa vasushcha |” (Ekakshara Upanishad 7).

“The Vedic verses, prose formulas and songs proceed from Thy mouth. Thou [Shiva] shinest best (as) the Vasus and the sky. Thou art the leader of the sacrifice, the all-pervading fire and the Rudras. So also (art Thou) the hosts of demons and Vasus”.

” tásya vrā́tyasya | saptá prāṇā́ḥ saptā́pānā́ḥ saptá vyānā́ḥ |” (Atharva Veda 15:15:1-2).

Of that Vrātya (Shiva). There are seven vital airs, seven downward breaths, seven diffused breaths”.

“yò ‘sya ṣaṣṭhò ‘pānáḥ sá yajñáḥ | yò ‘sya saptamò ‘pānás tā́ imā́ dákṣiṇāḥ |” (Atharva Veda 15:16.6-7).

His sixth downward breath is Sacrifice. His seventh downward breath are these sacrificial fees”.

Mahadeva is also the permitter of Sacrifice.:

“tád yásyaiváṃ vidvā́n vrā́tya úddhr̥teṣv agníṣv ádhiśrite ‘gnihotré ‘tithir gr̥hā́n āgáchet |” (Atharva Veda XV:12:1).

The man, to whose house, when the fires have been taken up from the hearth and the oblation to Agni placed therein, the Vrātya (Shiva) possessing this knowledge comes as a guest”.

“svayám enam abhyudétya brūyād vrā́tyā́ti sr̥ja hoṣyā́mī́ti |” (Atharva Veda XV:12:2).

Should [one] of his own accord rise to meet him and say, Vrātya (Shiva), give me permission. I will sacrifice”.

“sá cātisr̥jéj juhuyā́n ná cātisr̥jén ná juhuyāt |” (Atharva Veda XV:12:3).

And if he gives permission he should sacrifice, if he does not permit him he should not sacrifice”.

The person gains long life when he does sacrifice under the grace of Mahadeva.

“páry asyāsmíṃl loká āyátanaṃ śiṣyate yá eváṃ vidúṣā vrā́tyenā́tisr̥ṣṭo juhóti |” (Atharva Veda XV:12:7).

The abode of the man who sacrifices when permitted by the Vrātya (Shiva) who possesses this knowledge is long left remaining in this world”.

Now, the same hymn states what would happen if someone performs sacrifice against the permission of Vratya (Shiva). It is said that he falls from heavenly abodes (if he is a celestial), Gods become his enemies; and if he lives in the abode of man (Earth), he dies.

“átha yá eváṃ vidúṣā vrā́tyenā́natisr̥ṣṭo juhóti | ná pitr̥yā́ṇaṃ pánthāṃ jānāti ná devayā́nam | ā́ devéṣu vr̥ścate áhutam asya bhavati |” (Atharva Veda XV:12:8-10).

But he who sacrifices without the permission of the Vrātya who-possesses this knowledge, knows not the path that leads to the Fathers nor the way that leads to the Gods. He is at variance with the Gods. He hath offered no accepted sacrifice”.

“nā́syāsmíṃl loká āyátanaṃ śiṣyate yá eváṃ vidúṣā vrā́tyenā́natisr̥ṣṭo juhóti |” (Atharva Veda XV:12:11).

The abode of the man who sacrifices without the permission of the Vrātya (Shiva) who possesses this knowledge is not left remaining in this world”.

Therefore, it is evident from the above analysis that Lord Rudra is the sole lord of all sacrifices and also the first enjoyer. He accepts the sacrifice, blesses it to be successful and gives other Gods their share.

So, from above analysis from Vedas it is clear that the Original lord of sacrifice (Yajna) is Bhagawan Shiva, and if someone doesn’t recognize him as tries to do a sacrifice without involving him (advertantly or inadvertently), he falls down from heaven and also his sacrifice never becomes successful. Example.: Daksha Yagna.

I hope this clarifies all your queries. Period..

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