Sacrifice In Vedic Practice
It is hard to argue that all religions are different due to their cultural and ethnical background. As a result, it provokes arguments dealing with the question of what religion is a real way of communicating with the divine powers. In a span of such sort of arguments, opponents usually criticize “alien” religion without considering its background and history. In fact, speaking about religion objectively, it is to be said that it totally depends on a culture and history of an ethical group, to which it belongs. In other words, every religion is supposed to be discussed from the analytical perspective of culture and history. Taking this into consideration, it is to be admitted that Vedic religion has been chosen for the further discussion in this paper. It is needless to say that this paper does not judge this religion anyhow but discusses it from cultural and historical point of view.
To be more exact, it is necessary to choose a particular aspect of the religion and discuss it in terms of Vedic practice. Therefore, speaking about Vedic religion in a more specific way, it is to be said that the notion of sacrifice is to be suggested for the discussion in this paper. The topic of sacrifice is quite a controversial issue even nowadays and there has been little agreement on what sacrifice means to various religions. Thus, it is necessary to distinguish reasons for sacrifice in Vedic religion and attitude of people to it. As a consequence, the basic types of Vedic sacrifice should be described and explained. Besides that, historical changes have to be traced as well, in order to identify how traditions of sacrifice have been altered through years. Finally, as Vedic religion is the basis of Hinduism, it is necessary to reveal the influence of Vedic religion on Hinduism in terms of sacrifice.
To begin with, it is necessary to identify the reasons, for which Vedic people made sacrifices. In other words, some sacred values should be identified because they are regarded as so precious that they are worth sacrificing. In fact, Vedic people made sacrifices on a regular basis because they considered the God to be the “cooker” of the world. Taking this into account, it is to be admitted that by sacrificing, Vedic people gave their God the “ingredients” for keeping the world existing. In addition, it is needless to say that some special sacrifices were made for a wide range of celebrations and holidays.
Speaking about Vedic sacrifices in a more specific way, it is to be said that Vedic sacrifices used to be various kinds of food, which were prepared in advance for sacrifice ceremonies. However, some food was prepared during actual conducting of ceremony by a person responsible for sacrifices and their officials (Patton 92). In fact, any sacrifice had to be cooked usually with milk and grain powder, because the God would not accept a raw creature. What is more, it is also worth saying that the process of preparing a sacrifice refers to the Vedic understanding of birth, which actually consists of ingestion, digestion, and gestation. As a consequence, the process of cooking a sacrifice is divided into three days, which implied a certain set of procedures. In such a way, at the first day a victim had to be killed and prepared for “cooking” Then, the sacrifice was supposed to be heated on the sacrifice fire, which was also regarded as a source of the divine power. Finally, as the sacrifice food was ready, some portion of it ought to be given to the sacrifice fire while the rest had to be eaten by the people who conducted the ceremony. Besides that, it is also worth saying that Vedic traditions of sacrifice made a huge impact on Hinduism religion.
Impact on Hinduism
Concerning the impact of Vedic practice on Hinduism in this perspective, it is to be admitted that Hinduism is deeply rooted in Vedas and Vedic literature, which actually were not only the first evidence of human essence explanation but an outline of human life objectives, which are called “Dharma” (Tiwari 5). Taking this into account, it should be mentioned that sacrifice traditions were inherited, as well. As a consequence, it is necessary to say that Hinduism actually borrowed the “structure” of sacrifice ceremony. In fact, sacrificing in Hinduism presupposes an initial preparation of a sacrifice, which was followed by different rituals. After all rituals have been conducted, the sacrifice is regarded as a source of divine power, as in Vedic practice. In addition, in Hinduism, people who carry out the rituals are also supposed to eat the sacrifice, after some portion of it has been given to the deity. On the contrary, Vedic people were not accustomed to drink blood of the sacrifice, while Hinduism consumption of the sacrifice’s blood is obligatory.
Speaking about the essence of sacrifice in Hinduism, it is necessary to link it to Vedic practice, as well. To be more exact, sacrifice ceremonies have to be conducted on a regular basis. Therefore, it means that sacrifices play the same role as in Vedic period. In other words, Hinduism is also focused on the sacrifice as a way of communicating with the God, which uses sacrifices for maintaining the world’s existence. In such a way, the tradition of sacrifice in Hinduism was influenced by Vedic sacrifice principles. However, it should be noted that Hinduism sacrifice ceremonies were influenced by some other Vedic principles, as well.
All in all, it is to be summed up that Vedic practice regarded sacrifice ceremonies as an essential part of the spiritual life. In other words, for Vedic people, sacrifice meant to be a way to “support” the God to keep the life on the Earth going. If to be more exact, Vedic people considered particular sorts of food to be sacrifices. What is more, in Vedic practice, the God is regarded as “the cook” of the world. As a consequence, Vedic people sacrificed various kinds of food in order to support the God with the “ingredients.” Speaking about sacrifice food in a more detailed way, it is to be admitted that the main sacrificed meals had to be heated because according to Vedic practice, raw meat was not able to perceive the divine power. In addition to the main sacrifice, milk and grain powder were also required. Besides that, it should be noted that preparation of the sacrifice was comprised by three phases. After all rituals have been conducted, the sacrifice is given to the sacrifice fire and the rest of the food had to be eaten by people who conducted the ritual, because at this moment, this food was containing the divine powers. In addition, it is also worth saying that traditions of sacrifice in Vedic practice made a huge impact on Hinduism principles of conducting sacrifice ceremonies. First of all, it inherited the principle of the initial preparation of the sacrifice. To the same token, it is necessary to say that Hinduism sacrifice ceremonies also require eating the sacrifice after some portion of it has been given to the deity. Finally, in Hinduism, sacrifice ceremonies are supposed to be conducted on a regular basis as well, because sacrifices are believed to “persuade” the God to keep the world existing, which is similar to the Vedic practice.