Monday, October 24, 2005

Misconception about Animal Sacrifice

After a series of discussions, I am back with a spiritual post. I have another serious topic for discussion which I would post soon. After my post on the "Inner meaning of the Caste System" - I would like to put up this post which tells you the inner meaning of sacrifice in Hinduism unfortunately misinterpreted by the common man as sacrificing animals to Hindu Gods.

According to Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba [Dharma Vahini - Chapter 1]:

"You have to understand ancient Dharmakarmas by entering into their symbolic meaning. The spiritual field has many a technical term, with its own special connotation. These have to be clearly understood, so that you can grasp correctly the teaching of the Sastras. Let us take an example: People used to celebrate Yajnas in ancient times; and they sacrificed Pasus or animals in these Yajnas. But, the animal is only a symbol. It was not the dumb creature that had to be cut to pieces. The animal leads a life of sacrifice, without man completing its career at the sacrificial pole! The animal that has to be disemboweled and offered is different; in the spiritual vocabulary, animal means "the body-consciousness", "the I-consciousness"; and it is this that has to be slaughtered. The Lord is known as Pasupathi or Govinda; Pasupathi means the Lord of all Jivas, Pasu meaning Jiva; Govinda means the Guardian of Cows or Jivas, "Go" meaning Jiva. The tending of cows is a symbolic leela of Krishna to indicate His Mission of tending Jivas."

This is what the Saiva Siddhantha preaches as Pasu-Pathi-Paasam. Its three basic codes are 1. Pasu(the contained state of the spirit) 2. Paasam (the three threads that bind -Ego, Karma and Mysticism) 3. Pathi (primordial matter - God). Liberation of the spirit from attachments and attaining salvation (Mukthi) and identifying with God is the ultimate aim.

Unfortunately, people have misunderstood these concepts and ended up slaying animals for sacrifice.


At October 24, 2005 1:58 PM, Blogger Parvati said...


1.Unless actual animal sacrifices in the name of Hinduism are stopped completely, Hinduism will be always misunderstood.

In Hinduism there are The Eternal, Spiritual Truths and on the other hand there are actual practices/rituals on the ground level.

The eternal Truths are always perfect, so the imperfection in the way they are translated into reality should be removed.

Great care should be taken that on all levels - Spiritual, Social, Mental, Emotional, Psychological,
Material on each and every level - Hinduism is perfect, over and above board, so that NOBODY CAN POINT FINGERS AT HINDUISM AND SAY "There are FLAWS IN THIS religion".

2. I didnt know that there had already been an exhaustive discussion on the caste system in your blog.


Or will it take just one second then for you to say that it is divisive of human society, with lots of discrimination against certain castes?

I think the intense love and repect that you have for Hinduism is making you blind.

Whatever be the inner significance or the origin of the caste system, you should talk about the injured party and not about brahmins or others who are not destroyed by the caste system.

The lowest caste people were completely destroyed and they are still getting destroyed, struggling to even reach a modicum of respectability in their very existence.

Just one comment on that - those who are not affected adversely by the caste system will naturally vouch for it in various terms, giving various reasons, and rationalizations.

Whereas, those who cannot even lead a simple dignified life of a human being, but have been treated in the past, and are being even now continuously treated like dogs (in inner TamilNadu, in Bihar, in Uttar Pradesh), how do you think they should look at your Divine Caste System?

Not everything that has been and even now a part of Hinduism, is hunky dory. Not just the caste system, but the status of widows in Hindu society - even now in the 21st century - is terrible. Now go ahead - is it right to humiliate and discriminate against widows?Are all the social rules pertaining to widows right or just or compassionate? Is it for their own good that they were tormented?

Hinduism might have nothing to do with the ill treatment of widows. But Hinduism is attached to such practices and should detach itself from them.

Instead of accepting everything that is a part of hinduism as perfect, and defending it all the time by going into the inner significance, and divine intent of those practices, FIRST OF ALL ACCEPT THAT THE PRACTICE AS IT EXISTS HAS NO GOODNESS IN IT, AND THEN SEE TO IT THAT ALL THAT IS WRONG WITH HINDUISM IS DESTROYED TOTALLY, AND THAT ONLY THE JUST, THE GOOD AND THE RIGHT REMAINS IN THIS GREAT SANATHANA DHARMA.

Otherwise, Hinduism will be a religion with no compassion in it socially, whatever be the eternal exalted truths in it.

As to the lacunae in Islam or Christianity (I frankly dont see anything wrong with Christianity, at least not socially), we can always discuss them too. We neednt run away from doing so, like Politicians do. We can be bold and courageous.

No more on the caste system from me...AMEN.

At October 24, 2005 2:52 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Parvati - thanks a lot for ur comments :)

First of all I never defended the caste system! I am wondering where I did :)

What I pointed out is that the concept of caste system has been misunderstood throughout the ages and that is the reason for all those things you have mentioned. So the wrong was done by the people who misinterpreted things not Hinduism. I am pointing that Hinduism never separated humans by birth! What hinduism preaches is the divisive nature based on the state of the human mind!

That too when I said I want to be a Brahmin - that doesnt mean I want to be born as a brahmin - brahmin by definition is one whose mind is fixed in Brahman. That's what I meant - I never advocated for the brahmin society as such :)

"Whereas, those who cannot even lead a simple dignified life of a human being, but have been treated in the past, and are being even now continuously treated like dogs (in inner TamilNadu, in Bihar, in Uttar Pradesh), how do you think they should look at your Divine Caste System? "

That is what I am trying to say - these poor people who had been tormented by the so called upper class people should know that Hinduism never advocated the caste system by birth - it never created any divisions! If we they understand that the fault mainly lies in the people and not the religion - conversions wouldnt have taken place!

So my argument is Hinduism should be properly understood - if people understand it - then they wouldnt go to some other religion!

At October 24, 2005 2:54 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

"Hinduism might have nothing to do with the ill treatment of widows. But Hinduism is attached to such practices and should detach itself from them."

How can you detach is the question? The mind of the people should change! Inorder to change - they should know the inner significances first..Without knowing the inner significances - people will be always ignorant.

At October 24, 2005 4:28 PM, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

Hinduism as a system has its unwanted dogmas. Its quite natural for a system to degrade over time. Spirituality adorns the clothes of religion to bring in all stupid issues. Moreover, knowing the inner significance of things is not a easy job. It requires some effort and we cannot expect all the tormented people to put forth such efforts. When it is difficult for them to even earn a daily bread, how are we ever going to make them understand about the "inner significance". I don't mean to be pessimistic here. All I am saying is, while spreading the eternal message of Hinduism efforts must be taken to relive it from the wretched claws of unnecessary hegemony.

At October 24, 2005 4:38 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Wanted to comment on the earlier one but refrained from doing so. But watch out for these funny intellectuals
they wont allow you to move further or the other way ,the point they wanted to make is hinduism is bad for the country period. While caste system has been exploited and need to be addressed, but to say other religions are free of these things is fooling people. Economic disparities have been there for long time in Europe and they also practise racial discrimination based on color so to whom are they preaching when their own house is to be cleaned.
They said india is poor because of following false religion, whereas countries following the 'true' religion are prosperous, another autoricios lies
just see Africa,Philipines and other latin american countries they all accepted the great religion, they all are suffering from poverty,violence and choas.

The problem with 'these' people is they are so happy and keen to sermonise hindus while conveniently trying to ignore or brush away their own faults.

At October 24, 2005 5:23 PM, Blogger Parvati said...

Sorry buddies, self control hee nahin hai. I am getting to be a blog addict, and Arjuna's blog is totally to blame...I am back.

@Kasthuri: Instead of being pessimistic, we can take heart from Sri Raamaanujar. As far as I know he is THE ONLY human being who actually converted hundreds and thousands of the lowest caste hindus into Brahmins. HE ACTUALLY DID IT, AND THE EFFECT IS STILL THERE FOR US TO SEE even today.

The more I think about this the more I am overwhelmed and appalled at the greatness of this amazing act of His.

Otherwise change of religion was possible but change of castes was and is absolutely impossible. And you wait and wait for god knows how many births before you become a Brahmin from a Shudra!

What Sri Raamaanujar has proved is that all this absoluteness of caste by birth (as is how all Indians see, whether Hinduism says so or not) is a lot of humbug. He did not sit and sift applications from the shudras saying ok you deserve to be a brahmin, you dont -go back to your low caste. He just did what was absolutely right. I feel divine just thinking about the whole thing.

@arjuna: We need hundreds of Sri Ramanujars to revolutionize our society. Like it or not, the caste system is considered to be tightly intertwined with Hinduism. Sati was also that way; I know how family and relatives and neighbours treated my mother when my father passed away when I was just 12. It needs a great courage of a social worker like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, of a spiritual leader like Sri Raamaanujar, their and others' relentless and deliberate and difficult work lasting years and decades maybe, before any ills of society/ religion go away.

Actually as of today, if someone tried to do anything like Sri Vedanta Desikan did then, he would be cut to pieces and burnt at the stake simultaneously. Society in India has become so intolerant.

I said that you defended the caste system because the moment you see start seeing the inner significance of it, you sound like you want to rationalize it.

@Ganesh: First of all, I am completely ignorant about christianity or Islam except for Jesus Christ and the mightiness of Allah. So I might be the wrongest person to speak of either. Anyway, what the heck..

I dont think Christianity has INSIDE ITS LAWS OR RULES, anything like the iron-clad caste system inside Hinduism. Christianity doesnt say to a white man, feel racist towards the non-white; he does it anyway.
Arjuna says that is the same thing that is happening with Hinduism too - that the caste system is not an essential part of Hinduism, and that it is human beings who have distorted the religion.

That is news to me - as far as I know, the caste system and hinduism have gone hand in hand since forever.

I think the solution, Arjuna, is actual social revolution as conceived by Sri Ramanujar, and as executed by him very successfully.

How else will this malaise disappear? I wonder.

At October 24, 2005 5:37 PM, Blogger Ganesh said...

Parvati-we all agree on the malaise of this caste system and same with sati etc, but you should remember we are making progress, and thats a good thing.
Btw some of xtians do quote the bible to justify race difference just of your info.

At October 24, 2005 5:39 PM, Blogger Kasthuri Srinivasan said...

@ parvati : I wouldn't call what Sri Ramanujar did, a conversion as what we would call them today. He wanted people to understand the greatness of Sri Hari irrespective from whatever social background one came from. And this is not new to Vaishnavism which holds bakthi saints like Namazhwar, Thirupaanazhwar at its helm. Ofcourse it was a great revolutionary step but it was selfless. Conversion as we speak of it today has a selfish motive. So, it would be great if you could refrain from calling it as a conversion which just portrays a bad image of Hinduism.

At October 24, 2005 6:06 PM, Blogger Saravana Kumar said...

dude all the terms in hinduism are misunderstood, even if you clarify something here, there's no doubt people are going to misunderstand your post also. what I mean to say is the realization or the knowledge doesn't come from outside, but it comes from within, it is revealed in your inner intuition. only that is true ;)

At October 24, 2005 6:38 PM, Blogger Parvati said...

@Kasthuri: OK. But why do you say that it will be misconstrued as being selfish? I dont understand. What Sri Ramanujar did for others was the least selfish thing anyone could do?

On the ground level, in actual society,(not looking just at the spiritual intent/consequence of his actions that all human beings irrespective of caste know and understand the greatness of Sri Hari), wasnt it a concrete 'conversion' (I truly dont know what else to call it, Kasthuri), of people from the shudra caste to the Brahmin caste -that did happen, didn't it?

@Ganesh : I didnt know that. Christianity seems to be a whole new world with a lot of things wrong with it. After reading the Da Vinci code, and Angels and Demons I was totally disillusioned with the whole of christianity itself. Otherwise my knowledge was confined to certain favourite parts of the Bible - especially the Psalms of David, that are the first that come to mind.

@Arjuna: What you say to be the definition of Brahmin as one who knows Brahman is very interesting. By that token I doubt whether there are more than a handful of brahmins in the world today.

@Saravana Kumar : Exactly. I was just coming to the same conclusion that I will just sit in a room in my house, look at the eternal truths behind all these infinite misunderstood terms and components of Hinduism, (or those of Christianity- Jesus Christ is quite lovely I think, or of Islam - I find the sound of their prayers from loudspeakers quite 'meditatable' on frankly), and enjoy them, instead of breaking my heart and stretching my mind as to how to handle the whole maze of problems that every religion has in abundance...

At October 24, 2005 6:57 PM, Blogger TJ said...

Hinduism, Hinduism, whats this Hinduism???
I have never done an animal sacrifice, nor do i ever discriminate people based on birth. Am i a hindu??

At October 24, 2005 7:46 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Kasthuri - yes - what needs is people like us to get into the society of the poor people - help them - serve them with love and live an exemplary life like what Bhagwan Sri Sathya Sai Baba or Mata Amritanadamayi have done! When we go serve the poor - we partake in their pain and then we can tell them about our religion! We can also let know that our religion is not the cause for their pain - but its the ignorance of some!

I will tell u an example of conversion that took place in Jaffna -

Once during the war - the people were in search of a place to stay and protect what happened was the so called lower class people went to the temples to stay - but the higher class people didnt allow the lower class people to come and stay in the temples! Simultaneously a christian priest seized this opportunity and asked the lower class people to come and stay in the church and started preaching about Christianity! The entire group of people converted to Christianity!

Now how do u solve this issue is my question? Is it not our dharma to protect our religion? How do we do that?So the basic solution is to change the remove these social stigmas by knowledge and love only..

At October 24, 2005 7:48 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At October 24, 2005 7:52 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Ganesh - good points there - but as I said - I dont want to comment on other religions since no religion talks injustice to the society - its the people who try to flex the rules imposed by their religions to suit their needs! :)

At October 24, 2005 7:56 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Parvati - very good points from u about Sri Ramanujar - I didnt know about it :)

"I said that you defended the caste system because the moment you see start seeing the inner significance of it, you sound like you want to rationalize it."

No - it wasnt like that :) I said I just wanted to point out that caste system is not something to do with birth but rather with mind! So all these so called brahmins, kshatriyas, vaishyas and sudras do not belong that particular caste since a sudra could be a brahmin through his love for GOD - there are so many examples for that :)

At October 24, 2005 7:57 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

saravana - dude - how do u get an intuition without jnana?

At October 24, 2005 7:58 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

TJ - very good question :)) - that's what I am saying - ur a true hindu :)

At October 24, 2005 10:00 PM, Blogger Narayanan Venkitu said...

The world would be a lot better if animals are killed just for Burgers and Chicken Nuggets..rather than as sacrifices.!

Just kidding.!!

I am against all this and just like Parvathi, who started this comment chain...I feel these stupid acts have to be stopped.!

But Puritans aren't there references in the Mahabharatha and Ramayanas! of such sacrifices? Can we also erase those??

At October 25, 2005 3:29 AM, Blogger Parvati said...

@Arjuna: You say that the caste system has to do with the mind and not birth, though you would agree that it is an absolute, as practised now ( I dont think that there was ever a time when birth did not absolutely determine the caste you belonged to all your life. So I dont think this mind factor was ever bothered about at all. And in those days too - if you read the Mahabharata in full, birth, birth, brahmin, Kshatriya is what you keep reading. They are obsessed with it. In those days the importance of your blood, as defined by your caste was enormous).

AT least now, in cities of India the discrimination is slightly less; but even in Bombay, just slight acquaintances ask at the outset whether I am a brahmin or not, whether I am a vegetarian or not. It is a compulsion in them to know, and after slotting me in a box, they can proceed comfortably with unconscious decisions they take while interacting with me further.

Not to speak of their obsession with the fact that I am a south indian/ madrasi. If I go into this topic, I will have to forget sleep for 7 months at least - I have that much to write about the discrimination in Maharashtra by Maharashtrians against a Tamilian.

Anyway, to get back, even as you say, if the caste one belongs to is a question of mental aptitude, and even if shudras can become Brahmins, I dont see the need for the demarcation at all.

As someone commented in your blog, all of us act with the characteristics of some one or the other of the 4 castes all the time - when I study, I am a brahmin, when I fight out with my colleagues when they are unfair to me/or someoneelse at work, I am a Kshatriya, when I wheel and deal with my clients or potential clients to make them my permanent ones, or keep the correct and accurate account of debit and credit, I am a vaishya, and all wives and mothers who are always serving their husbands, children and family are definitely shudras, at least 100% of their time at home. Except that they do it willingly for their own blood/family. But a shudra was forced to serve all in society, with no choice to say no.

So why have from the outset such demarcation at all - how was it ever useful to society? I am at a loss to understand. Even at the beginning, in the middle and now of human/ hindu society, how was the caste system useful?

Why couldnt they have just said like it is now, anyone can do as they will, within limits of law?

I dont know. If anyone could enlighten me in some way as to how the caste system as a whole has been helpful to society at some point of time or the other, due to some reason or the other, I would be glad of the knowledge.

@Narayanan : We needn't erase anything about animal sacrifices in our treasures of Ramayanam and Mahabharatam. We should just stop them now in the name of religion.

Well, killing animals for burger and chicken nuggets should also go! Ban Ban Ban Ban cruelty to animals. Let them find their own balance with nature and other species as they did before man came into the scene.

Man of course has an unfair advantage over animals, with his omnipotent mind and weapons of mass-animal-destruction.

@Arjuna: Sorry Buddy. No offence meant about non vegetarianism..I have to curb my revolutionary zeal for all these causes, at least when I write..

Just that when I say "I love animals", I don't mean that I love them for breakfast, lunch and dinner! Reminds me of Hannibal the cannibal in The Silence of the Lambs, where he says to someone, "I would love to have you over for dinner", all the while artistically and in great detail planning to convert his honourable dinner guest into the dinner itself!

At October 25, 2005 4:09 AM, Anonymous Sundaresan said...

Arjuna, thnx for the post and i dont know this before...edho romba pesareengannu puriyudhu, enna pesareengannu puriyala...neways, bottomline is, shudn't sacrifice animals - true...the caste system is to be eradicated - correct...:-))

At October 25, 2005 9:44 AM, Blogger Jeevan said...

I wish u, to put a good post. your example for Animal Sacrifice is nice. god lives in animals when we kill them it equal to kill god. people should avoid killing animals.

At October 25, 2005 10:29 AM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Narayanan sir -

"The world would be a lot better if animals are killed just for Burgers and Chicken Nuggets..rather than as sacrifices.!"


At October 25, 2005 10:34 AM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Parvati -

"if you read the Mahabharata in full, birth, birth, brahmin, Kshatriya is what you keep reading. They are obsessed with it. In those days the importance of your blood, as defined by your caste was enormous"

Again, you read what others have interpreted and written isnt it :) - thats what I am trying to say - when Sage Vyasa wrote the Mahabarata - his interpretation was based on what I have pointed out - but the others have misinterpreted his work!

I guess the fault lies in Sage Vyasa since he must have given the definitions of Brahmin/Kshatriya first in an Appendix :))

Caste system is never useful to the society - from what I see is caste system is useful to ones own self to see at what stage he is in his life! I know I am in the Kshatriya state since I am waging an inner battle - the battle of Kurukshetra within me to fight my evil qualities like anger,lust etc..I am trying to overcome them and become a brahmin! So the caste system is useful to identify the one's own stage in spiritual progress..

At October 25, 2005 10:36 AM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Parvati -

"Well, killing animals for burger and chicken nuggets should also go!"

I wish they did that - so I would stop eating my favourite spicy burger with chips/KFC spicy zinger salad and my favourite chicken tikka and sweetcorn pizza! :P

At October 25, 2005 10:37 AM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Sundaresan - ur a real fundoo :)) - very correct :))

At October 25, 2005 10:37 AM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

jeevan - well said :)

At October 25, 2005 2:04 PM, Blogger Parvati said...

@arjuna: I am reading the nine volumes of Mahabharata written originally by Sage Vyasa in Sanskrit, with translations in English. It is not a wrong interpretation, we can even understand the sanskrit quite well. Caste system was very central during those days.

We cannot escape that fact, Arjuna

2. I wouldnt dream of depriving you of your daily meal, Arjuna - hog away on your favourite spicy burger with chips, KFC spicy zinger salad and your favourite chicken tikka, and pizza too. And forget about vegetarianism. All in good time.

At October 25, 2005 2:37 PM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Parvati - do u know ramakrishna paramahamsa says that fish is kadal pushpam and its veggie :)

Btw - I really dont like eating chicks :( - what I am doing is - I am giving salvation to those poor creatures :P

At October 25, 2005 5:42 PM, Blogger Parvati said...

@arjuna: Bengalis dont have a strain of vegetarianism in them - all of them eat fish, whether it is a kadal pushpam or kadal Ilai. For them eating fish is like drinking water - a basic need.

You Arjuna, please continue giving salvation to the poor birds! And heap up the punyam!

At October 28, 2005 7:11 AM, Blogger Whoiscb said...

Hi there,

I came to your blog from Adi's blog. Great work.

I have a lot of doubts and thought of asking if you could answer a few of them. Hope I am not troubling you :).


At October 28, 2005 7:12 AM, Blogger Arjuna_Speaks said...

Whoiscb - sure - no prob - do ask :)


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