Animal sacrifice in Hinduism
Practices of Hindu animal sacrifice are mostly associated with Shaktism, and in currents of folk Hinduism strongly rooted in local tribal traditions. Animal sacrifices were carried out in ancient times in India. Hindu scriptures such as the Gita, and some Puranas forbid animal sacrifice.
A Sanskrit term used for animal sacrifice is bali, in origin meaning "tribute, offering or oblation" generically ("vegetable oblations [... and] animal oblations,"). Bali among other things "refers to the blood of an animal" and is sometimes known as Jhatka Bali among Hindus.
The Kalika Purana distinguishes bali (sacrifice), mahabali (great sacrifice), for the ritual killing of goats, elephant, respectively, though the reference to humans in Shakti theology is symbolic and done in effigy in modern times. For instance, Sir John Woodroffe published a commentary on the Karpuradistotram, where he writes that the sacrificial animals listed in verse 19 are symbols for the six enemies, with "man" representing pride.
It is a ritual that is practiced today and is mentioned in Medieval Hinduism too. It is important to note that the practice of animal sacrifice is not a required ritual in some sects of Hinduism. The majority of practicing Hindus today choose not to participate in or acknowledge the practice. Adherents of the Sakta sect of Hinduism hold this to be a central tenet of their belief.
The Ashvamedha ritual - in which a horse is sacrificed - is mentioned in the Vedic texts such as the Yajurveda. In the epic Ramayana, Rama performed the Ashvamedha sacrifice for becoming the Chakravartin emperor. In the epic Mahabharata, Yudhishtra performs the Ashwamedha after winning the Kurukshetra war to become the Chakravartin emperor. The Mahabharata also contains a description of an Ashvamedha performed by the Chedi king Uparichara Vasu, however, no animals were sacrificed. The rulers of the Gupta empire, the Chalukya dynasty, and the Chola dynasty all performed the Ashvamedha.
 Agnisomiya was the simplest of all Soma sacrifices in which animal sacrifice played an important part; it required that a goat be sacrificed to Agni and Soma preceding the day of offering of nectar to the gods. In the Savaniya sacrifice, victims were offered throughout the day of offering to Agni.
In the medieval Bhagavata Purana, Krishna tells people not to perform animal sacrifices. Animal sacrifices are forbidden by the Bhagavata Purana in the Kaliyuga, the present age. The Brahma Vaivarta Purana describes animal sacrifices as kali-varjya or prohibited in the Kaliyuga. The Adi Purana, Brihan-naradiya Purana and Aditya Purana also forbid animal sacrifice in Kaliyuga.
Animal sacrifice in contemporary Hindu society
Animal sacrifice is a part of some Durga puja celebrations during the Navratri in eastern states of India. The goddess is offered sacrificial animal in this ritual in the belief that it stimulates her violent vengeance against the buffalo demon. According to Christopher Fuller, the animal sacrifice practice is rare among Hindus during Navratri, or at other times, outside the Shaktism tradition found in the eastern Indian states of West Bengal, Odisha and Assam. Further, even in these states, the festival season is one where significant animal sacrifices are observed. In some Shakta Hindu communities, the slaying of buffalo demon and victory of Durga is observed with a symbolic sacrifice instead of animal sacrifice.[note 1]
The Rajput of Rajasthan worship their weapons and horses on Navratri, and formerly offered a sacrifice of a goat to a goddess revered as Kuldevi – a practice that continues in some places. The ritual requires slaying of the animal with a single stroke. In the past this ritual was considered a rite of passage into manhood and readiness as a warrior. The Kuldevi among these Rajput communities is a warrior-pativrata guardian goddess, with local legends tracing reverence for her during Rajput-Muslim wars.
Animal Sacrifice is practiced by Shaktism tradition where ritual offering is made to a Devi. In Southern Indian states of Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu. It is most notably performed in front of Local Deities or Clan Deities. In Karnataka, the Goddess receiving the sacrifice tends to be Renuka. The animal is either a male buffalo or a goat. The Kathar or Kutadi community of Maharashtra while observing the Pachvi ceremony, after delivery of a child in the family, offer worship to their family deity, Saptashrungi and also offer a sacrifice of a goat. Following this they hold the naming ceremony of the child on the 12th day.
In some Sacred groves of India, particularly in Western Maharashtra, animal sacrifice is practiced to pacify female deities that are supposed to rule the Groves. Animal sacrifice is also practiced by caste Hindus to placate deities at temples. In region around Pune, Goats and fowls are sacrificed to the God Vetala The goddess temples in Assam and West Bengal in India and Nepal where this takes place involves slaying of goats, chickens and sometimes male Water buffalos.
Animal sacrifice is practiced in some Eastern states of India and Nepal. For example, one of the largest animal sacrifice in Nepal occurs over the three-day-long Gadhimai festival. In 2009 it was speculated that more than 250,000 animals were killed while 5 million devotees attended the festival. The Gadhimai festival was banned by the Nepal government in 2015.
For instance, Kandhen Budhi is the reigning deity of Kantamal in Boudh district of Orissa, India. Every year, animals like goat and fowl are sacrificed before the deity on the occasion of her annual Yatra/Jatra (festival) held in the month of Aswina (September–October). The main attraction of Kandhen Budhi Yatra is Ghusuri Puja. Ghusuri means a child pig, which is sacrificed to the goddess every three years. During the Bali Jatra, male goats are offered as a sacrifice to the goddess Samaleswari in her temple in Sambalpur, Orissa.
Bali Jatra of Sonepur in Orissa, India is also an annual festival celebrated in the month of Aswina (September–October) when animal sacrifice is an integral part of the ritual worship of deities namely Samaleswari, Sureswari and Khambeswari. Bali refers to animal sacrifice and hence this annual festival is called Bali Jatra.
Animal Sacrifice is practiced by some Hindus on the Indonesian island of Bali. The religious belief of Tabuh Rah, a form of animal sacrifice of Balinese Hinduism includes a religious cockfight where a rooster is used in religious custom by allowing him to fight against another rooster in a religious and spiritual cockfight, a spiritual appeasement exercise of Tabuh Rah. The spilling of blood is necessary as purification to appease the evil spirits, and ritual fights follow an ancient and complex ritual as set out in the sacred lontar manuscripts.
A popular Hindu ritual form of worship of North Malabar region in the Indian state of Kerala is the blood offering to Theyyam gods. Theyyam deities are propitiated through the cock sacrifice where the religious cockfight is a religious exercise of offering blood to the Theyyam gods .
Method of sacrifice
Methods for sacrificing range from decapitation, strangulation, to a spike being driven into the heart of the animal.
Jhatka is the prescribed method for Hindu ritual slaughter, however other methods such as strangulation and the use of a wooden spile (sphya) driven into the heart is used. The reason for this is priests see an animal making a noise as a bad omen and the animal making noise indicates that it is suffering. The Jhatka method requires the instant killing of the animal in a single decapitating blow with an axe or sword. Those Hindus who eat meat prescribe meat killed by the Jhatka method.
- In these cases, Shaktism devotees consider animal sacrifice distasteful, practice alternate means of expressing devotion while respecting the views of others in their tradition. A statue of asura demon made of flour, or equivalent, is immolated and smeared with vermilion to remember the blood that had necessarily been spilled during the war. Other substitutes include a vegetal or sweet dish considered equivalent to the animal.
- The Teachings of Bhagavad Gita p.140
- Bhagavad Gita and modern problems, p.143
- Rod Preece (2001). Animals and Nature: Cultural Myths, Cultural Realities. UBC Press. p. 202. ISBN 9780774807241.
- Lisa Kemmerer, Anthony J. Nocella (2011). Call to Compassion: Reflections on Animal Advocacy from the World's Religions. Lantern Books. p. 60. ISBN 9781590562819.
- Alan Andrew Stephens, Raphael Walden (2006). For the Sake of Humanity. BRILL. p. 69. ISBN 978-9004141254.
- David Whitten Smith, Elizabeth Geraldine Bur (January 2007). Understanding World Religions: A Road Map for Justice and Peace. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 13. ISBN 9780742550551.
- Rodrigues, Hillary; Sumaiya Rizvi (10 June 2010). "Blood Sacrifice in Hinduism". Mahavidya. p. 1. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2010.
- O.P. Radhan (September 2002). Encyclopaedia of Political Parties. 33 to 50. Anmol, India. p. 854. ISBN 978-81-7488-865-5. ASIN 8174888659.
- Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 75.
- "" Pramatha Nath Bose, A History of Hindu Civilization During British Rule, vol. 1, p. 65
- Hymn to Kali: Preface
- Farquhar J. N. (1 November 2008). "9 The Great Sects". The Crown of Hinduism. Unknown. p. 381. ISBN 978-1-4437-2397-8. ASIN 1443723975.
- Lipner Julius J. (23 July 1998). "3 Images of Time Space and Eternity". Hindus: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices (New ed.). Routledge. p. 287. ISBN 978-0-415-05182-8. ASIN 0415051827.
- Roshen Dalal (2014-04-18). Hinduism: An Alphabetical Guide. Penguin Books. p. 207. ISBN 9788184752779.
- Uma Marina Vesci (1992). Heat and Sacrifice in the Vedas. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 103. ISBN 9788131716779.
- A. B. Gajendragadkar; R. D. Karmarkar, eds. (1998). The Arthasamgraha of Laugaksi Bhaskara. Motilal Banarsidas Publishers. p. 34. ISBN 9788120814431.
- Arthur Berriedale Keith (2007). The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. pp. 324–326. ISBN 9788120806443.
- Arthur Berriedale Keith (2007). The Religion and Philosophy of the Veda and Upanishads. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers. p. 327. ISBN 9788120806443.
- Arthur Berriedale Keith; Ralph T.H. Griffith (2013). The Yajur Veda. Publish This, LLC. p. 1035. ISBN 9781618348630.
- James G. Lochtefeld (2002). The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Hinduism: A-M. The Rosen Publishing Group. p. 41. ISBN 9780823931798.
- Tom Regan (2004). Animal Sacrifices. Temple University Press. p. 201. ISBN 9780877225119.
- Patton, Laurie L (1994). Authority, Anxiety, and Canon: Essays in Vedic Interpretation - Google Books. ISBN 9780791419373. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
- Rosen, Steve (2004). Holy Cow: The Hare Krishna Contribution to Vegetarianism and Animal Rights. Lantern Books. p. 24.
- Vidyasagar, Ishvarchandra (2013-08-13). Hindu Widow Marriage - Īśvaracandra Bidyāsāgara - Google Books. ISBN 9780231526609. Retrieved 2015-02-18.
- Christopher John Fuller (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5.
- Christopher John Fuller (2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 46, 83–85. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5.
- Hardenberg, Roland (2000). "Visnu's Sleep, Mahisa's Attack, Durga's Victory: Concepts of Royalty in a Sacrificial Drama" (PDF). Journal of Social Science. 4 (4): 267. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
- Hillary Rodrigues 2003, pp. 277-278.
- June McDaniel 2004, pp. 204-205.
- Ira Katznelson; Gareth Stedman Jones (2010). Religion and the Political Imagination. Cambridge University Press. p. 343. ISBN 978-1-139-49317-8.
- Rachel Fell McDermott (2011). Revelry, Rivalry, and Longing for the Goddesses of Bengal: The Fortunes of Hindu Festivals. Columbia University Press. pp. 204–205. ISBN 978-0-231-12919-0.
- Harlan, Lindsey (2003). The goddesses' henchmen gender in Indian hero worship. Oxford [u.a.]: Oxford University Press. pp. 45 with footnote 55, 58–59. ISBN 978-0195154269. Retrieved 14 October 2016.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf; Erndl, Kathleen M. (2000). Is the Goddess a Feminist?: the Politics of South Asian Goddesses. Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press. p. 77. ISBN 9780814736197.
- Harlan, Lindsey (1992). Religion and Rajput Women. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 61, 88. ISBN 978-0-520-07339-5.
- Harlan, Lindsey (1992). Religion and Rajput Women. Berkeley, California: University of California Press. pp. 107–108. ISBN 978-0-520-07339-5.
- Rodrigues, Hillary (2003). Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess: The Liturgy of the Durga Puja with interpretation. Albany, New York, USA: State University of New York Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-07914-5399-5. Retrieved 26 October 2015.
- Hiltebeitel, Alf (February 1980). "Rāma and Gilgamesh: the sacrifices of the water buffalo and the bull of heaven". History of Religions. 19 (3): 187–195. doi:10.1086/462845. Retrieved 18 December 2014.
- Kumar Suresh Singh (2004). People of India: Maharashtra. Popular Prakashan. pp. 962–. ISBN 978-81-7991-101-3. Retrieved 7 February 2013.
- Gadgil, M; VD Vartak (1975). "Sacred Groves of India" (PDF). Journal of the Bombay Natural History. 72 (2): 314.
- Gadgil, Madhav; Malhotra, K.C> (December 1979). "Indian Anthropologist" (PDF). Indian Anthropologist. 9 (2): 84. Retrieved 21 October 2014.
- Kosambi, Damodar Dharmanand (2002). An introduction to the study of Indian history (Rev. 2. ed., repr ed.). Bombay: Popular Prakashan. p. 36. ISBN 978-8171540389. Retrieved 9 December 2016.
- Fuller Christopher John (2004). "4". The camphor flame: popular Hinduism and society in India (Revised and Expanded ed.). Princeton University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5.
- Fuller C. J. (26 July 2004). The Camphor Flame: Popular Hinduism and Society in India [Paperback] (Revised ed.). Princeton University Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5. ASIN 069112048X.
- Olivia Lang (2009-11-24). "Hindu sacrifice of 250,000 animals begins | World news | guardian.co.uk". London: Guardian. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- "Ritual animal slaughter begins in Nepal - CNN.com". Edition.cnn.com. 2009-11-24. Retrieved 2012-08-13.
- Ram Chandra, Shah. "Gadhimai Temple Trust Chairman, Mr Ram Chandra Shah, on the decision to stop holding animal sacrifices during the Gadhimai festival:" (PDF). Humane Society International. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- "Kandhen Budhi" (PDF). Orissa.gov.in. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- Georg Pfeffer; Deepak Kumar Behera (1997). Contemporary Society: Developmental issues, transition, and change. Concept Publishing Company. p. 312. ISBN 9788170226420.
- "Komna ready for animal sacrifice". The Times of India. The Times Group. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 1 December 2014.
- "Bali Jatra of Sonepur" (PDF). Orissa.gov.in. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 January 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015.
- (Barik, 2009:160-162).[full citation needed]
- Gouyon Anne; Bumi Kita Yayasan (30 September 2005). "The Hidden Life of Bali". The natural guide to Bali: enjoy nature, meet the people, make a difference. Equinox Publishing (Asia) Pte Ltd. p. 51. ISBN 978-979-3780-00-9. Retrieved 12 August 2010.
- Smith, David Whitten; Burr, Elizabeth Geraldine (28 December 2007). "One". Understanding world religions: a road map for justice and peace. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 12. ISBN 978-0-7425-5055-1. ASIN 0742550559.
- Kamphorst Janet (5 June 2008). "9". In praise of death: history and poetry in medieval Marwar (South Asia). Leiden University Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-90-8728-044-4. ASIN 9087280440.
- Bali Today: Love and social life By Jean Couteau, Jean Couteau et al - p.129 
- Indonesia Handbook, 3rd, Joshua Eliot, Liz Capaldi, & Jane Bickersteth, (Footprint - Travel Guides) 2001 p.450 
- A Panorama of Indian Culture: Professor A. Sreedhara Menon Felicitation Volume - K. K. Kusuman - Mittal Publications, 1990 - p.127-128""
- Dutt 2008:195
- Hillary Rodrigues (2003). Ritual Worship of the Great Goddess: The Liturgy of the Durga Puja with Interpretations. SUNY Press. ISBN 978-0-7914-8844-7.
- June McDaniel (2004). Offering Flowers, Feeding Skulls: Popular Goddess Worship in West Bengal. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-534713-5.
- Hastings, James (2003). Encyclopedia of Religion and Ethics, Part 24. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger Publishings.
- Masih, Y. (2000). A Comparative Study of Religions. Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass.
- Ryder, Richard D. Animal revolution: changing attitudes toward speciesism. Oxford: Berg Publishers. 2000.
- Sehgal, Sunil (1999). Encyclopaedia of Hinduism. Delhi: Sarup & Sons.
- Vesci, Uma Marina (1 January 1992). Heat and sacrifice in the Vedas. Motilal Banarsidass Publ. pp. 103–. ISBN 978-81-208-0841-6. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Fuller, Christopher John (26 July 2004). The camphor flame: popular Hinduism and society in India. Princeton University Press. pp. 88–. ISBN 978-0-691-12048-5. Retrieved 14 August 2010.
- Kak, Subhash (2004). The Aśvamedha: The rite and its logic. Motilal Banarsidass. ISBN 9788120818774.
- Rodrigues, Hillary; Sumaiya Rizvi (10 June 2010). "Blood Sacrifice in Hinduism". Mahavidya. p. 1. Archived from the original on 17 August 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2010.