by Dr Surya Kumar Daimari


Introduction: In Hindu Scriptures, there are four Vedas. They are-
1. Rig-Veda
2. Samaveda
3. Yajurveda
4. Atharva-veda
The Rig-veda is the oldest of all the Vedas and contemporary to the O.T in the Bible written near about BC 1500. These Vedas are also known as Shruti as they had been heard and handed down to generation through 'Shruti' which means 'Hearing'. Besides Vedas, Shruti also includes the Brahmanas, the Upanishads, Brahmasutra etc. These sacred canons of Hinduism like Samaveda, Yajurveda, the Brahmanas give numerous details of animal sacrifice.
As "Leviticus" is to the OT, "Hebrews" to the NT, so also the Yajurveda to the Vedas, both the Leviticus and Yajurveda are identical in character . Because they speak about the rituals of sacrifices or the ceremonial sacrifices. The Shatapatha Brahmana (BC 800) which is held to be an authentic part of the Vedas particularly the White Yajurveda deals largely with Yajna (Sacrifice). It describes in detail the rituals and ceremonials of killing of the horse in Ashametha Yaga (sacrifice).
Many Hindu scholars like Shankara and Rumanuja admitted that there were practices of animal sacrifices in ancient times. The famous great scholar, Mahamahopadhyay P.B. Kane in his book "Dharmashastra Ka Itihas" gives a detail account of animal sacrifice in Hinduism (Pp 421-423; 542-543; 566). The Yajurveda bears the testimony that the soul of the sacrificed horse attains heaven straight after the sacrifice. 23:16
1. What do the vedic scriptures say about sacrifice?
Rigveda 1:164,35 and 128 reads,
(+ Y x x)
(This sacrifice is the navel of the earth )
Shatpatha Br. 11.7.21 reads,
"He (the Yajamana) performs the animal sacrifice. Now the animal sacrifice means cattleLet him perform it at his house."
In Rigveda 1.164.33, there are two very significant ritualistic questions regarding the sacrifice asked by a jigyasu (earnest seeker).
(1) I ask you, what is the end of the Earth and
(2) Where is the navel of the Universe?
The answer is:
(i) The Sacrificial alter is the end of the Earth secondly,
(ii) This sacrifice is the navel of the Universe.
Shatpatha Br. 14.3,21,4 says,
"All that is including gods, has one principle of life, the Sacrifice."
({ Y ) reads Shatpatha Br. III vs 14 and III7.31-5.
These Scriptures show that animal sacrifice was of an utmost necessity in Hinduism. The necessity was so great that no Vedantin perhaps could think of approaching God without a sacrifice for forgiveness or nirvana.
2. Why was sacrifice necessary?
In the book of Hebrews in the Bible, the necessity of sacrifice or shedding of blood is clearly stated,
"Without shedding of blood there is no remission of sins." Heb 9:22 cf Lev 17:11
(1)It means that shedding of blood was necessary for the remission of sins.
It is very remarkable that the same formula is found in Vedic Scriptures.
(i)Animal sacrifice was necessary for the annulment of sin .
(ii)For remission of sin or atonement of sin.
Mahanarayana UP 18:1 says,
"O thou animal limb now being consigned to fix, thou are the annulment of sins committed by the devas. Thou art the annulment of sins committed by men. Thou are the annulment of sins committed by ourselves."
Yajurveda 8:13 Mahanarayana UP 59.1 also state the same formula.
"Thou (sacred wood, the thrown into fix) art atonement of sin against God,
Thou art atonement of sin against man,
Thou art atonement of sin against the fathers,
Thou art the atonement of sin against myself,
Thou art atonement of every sort of sin,
Of all the sin that I have committed knowingly, and that I have committed unknowingly,
Thou art atonement."

(2)Sacrifice was necessary for redemption work.
"Truly, even in being born, man by his own self is born as a debt (owing) to death. And in that he sacrifices , thereby he redeems himself." Shatpatha Brahmana 3:6:2:16
"Now when he performs the animal offering, he thereby redeems himself, male for male, for the victim is a male. And this indeed (flesh) is the best kind of food." Shatpatha Br.
It is important to note that the Sacrifice was to be performed by the Sacrificer every year(cf Heb 1:1 in the Bible). A comparative study of the Vedas and the Bible shows that the Sacrificial meat was to be eaten. In the O.T., the Levite Priests and all the male members of their families ate the sacrificial meat that was offered to God. The same thing is clearly indicated in the Vedas.
"receive sacrifice as your food." Shatpatha Br 24:2.1.5.(iv)1 cf 2
Sacrifice "is the best of food." Shatpatha Br
The Bhagavad Gita also states that Saints who eat the remnants of the Sacrifice are freed from all guilt. 3:13 cf 4:23,32

(3) Sacrifice was necessary to gain immortality.
Rigveda 1.163.13 reads,
"The Slain Horse attains heavenly abode".
"The Soma sacrifice brings immortality to gods and men."
("Yx: { Yx M E Mi*") Thus reads Rigveda 8.48.3
(One who offers animal sacrifice, himself goes to heaven)

(4) Sacrifice was necessary to foreshadow the real, the divine Sacrifice.
The Vedic Granthas clearly declare that the animal sacrifices were only a shadow.
"Y +i i U Gi"
(It is the sacrifice that saves; what is performed as rituals is the shadow of sacrifice)
The Tandya MahaBrahmana of the Shruti. The real sacrifice is the Prajapati Himself(God).
"|V{i Y" (Prajapati Himself (God). Brhd.Ar. UP 3.9.6 also see Satpatha Br.
"Prajapati God is the Sacrificer at own Sacrifice." Shapatha Br. 1.6.20
The Agni God is the Priest at the Sacrifice."
({i Y ) Rigveda 1.1.1
"Prajapati God desired to become a sacrificial body in order to be sacrificed by saints. Rigveda 10.121.10
"|V{i: n: +ix Y Ei |Ii*"
(Prajapati offers himself as sacrifice, thus obtaining redemption for devas) #1 Aitreya Brahmana
In the Vedas, Prajapati is referred to as the God, the ultimate reality, who is "first born" who was and who is. Prajapati created Brahma first of all. Shatapath Br. 5.8
Prajapati is first born, Rigveda 1.164.37
Of the cosmic order, Mahanarayana UP.2.7
There are three persons in the God-head. They are the Prajapati, the Vishvakarma and the Purusha. They are the same and one God.
About the Vishvakarma it is said,
He "created all things", Rig 10.82.1-2
He "makes burnt offering of himself." Rig. 10.82.1,6,7
About the Purusha,
"He is Prajapati and Agni", Shatapath Br. 74.1,15
"He created all", Rig. 10.9.5
"He" becomes Sacrifice, to be offered by devas. Rig. 10.9,6
"he is the Sacrifice", Shatapath Br.
The Saints prayed,
"Sacrifice thyself augmenting thy body ". Rig. 10:81.5
The Vedic Rishis acknowledged the fact that it was God only who could redeem them from sin. Nothing can make them free from the power of sin. The following words were the words of the Rishis that came out from their mouth spontaneously,
Have mercy, forgive. Rig. 7.89
Cast all these sins away Rig 5.85.7-8
Free us from sins Rig. 7.86.2-7
Take away from us all sins through sacrifice. Rig.,6
Lead me from death unto eternal life. Brhd.Ar.UP.1.3.28
("+i n M
i ViM
i +i M" )
(From unreality lead me into Light; And from death lead me unto life eternal ). It is very striking that the animal sacrifices became a kind of averse ceremonial . Many saints thought that sacrificial ceremonies cannot lead them from death unto life or the moksha (salvation). Being dissatisfied in it many Rishis or Sages left their home and hearth to meditate upon the theme of "Paramatma" or "Muksha"(Salvation) on the mount of Himalayas. There are examples like Mahavira and Gautama Buddha who left their home and the worldly "maya" and alienated themselves completely from all the Vedic rituals. The Atharva Veda 7.5.5 calls them fool those who offer sacrifices. The Mundaka Upanishad 1.2.7 reads,
"Unsafe boats are these sacrificial rites."

Sacrifice seems to have been the central theme in the Vedic Scriptures. It has played exclusively a dominating role in the passages of the Scriptures as well as in the lives of the people in the real history of mankind through the ages. Many temples are erected where daily sacrifices are made . Streams of blood are still oozing out of the altars of rock as a living witness of men's search for truth.
According to the book of Hebrews in the Bible, animal sacrifice was only a shadow for reality to come.
"The law (of sacrifice) is only a shadow of the good things that are coming not the realities themselves . For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. If it could , would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all; and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins." Heb.10:1-3
The same thing has been clearly indicated in the Vedic Scriptures.
("Y +i i U Gi" )The Tandya MahaBrahmana of the Shruti.
It is therefore, distinctly clear in the Vedic philosophy that there was an anticipation of a greater Sacrifice in the passages of the Vedas as in the OT. Sanctuaries.
And the "Prajapati God is the Sacrifice." (|V{i Y )
Shatapath Br. 1.13; 5.15
"H.L.Richard, rightly points out that Prajapati has many qualifications in scripture (one such, the incest story), and we cannot treat him as an ante-type of Jesus Christ all along the way. True, yet what stands out strikingly is that in Vedic Scripture the Prajapati has a very significant role and considered to be the principal sacrifice for annulment of sin." Reviewed by Titus D.P.#1
"The learned Scholar Krishna Mohan Banerji of Calcutta, who authored the book"The Aryan witness" around the year 1875, seems to have been the first who identified Prajapati with Jesus Christ in the matter of Yajna." #2
And indeed, Christ is the true Sacrifice, the true Lamb. The Gospel of John 1:29 says,
"Behold the Lamb of God (Jesus Christ), who takes away the sin of the world."
Jesus laid down His own life so that we can have life which is eternal. Jesus Himself has said," ..I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John.10:10
#1. D.P. Titus,
The Concept of Divine Sacrifice in the Bible and the Vedic Scripture
#2 Ibid.

1. Acharya Titus D.P.
(i)The Concept of Divine Sacrifice in the Bible and Vedic Scripture.
(ii)Fulfillment of the Vedic Quest in the Lord Jesus Christ.
(iii)The Bhagavadgita, A Forerunner to Gospel of Jesus.

Kristadvaita Ashrama,
Dugai Marg, Bhowali, U.P.

2.Brahmana Aitreya, "Thandya Maha Brahmana" Vol. 1.P. 332
Blibliotheca India.

Name of the Author of this article: Dr. Surya Kumar Daimari, MA,M.Ed, PGDTE,D.Min.(Doctor of Ministry)
The author is a freelance writer.
Book published: The Names of the Believers in the Bible in Types and Symbols .

Article Source: http://www.faithwriters.com


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