The universal need for sacrifice

The universal need for sacrifice

Sages and rsis through the ages have known that people live in illusion and sin.  This has resulted in people of all religions, ages and education levels having an instinctive awareness that they need to be ‘cleansed’.  This is why so many participate in the Kumbh Mela Festival and why before doing pujas people say the Prartha Snana (or Pratasana) mantram (“I am a sinner. I am the result of sin.  I am born in sin.  My soul is under sin.  I am the worst of sinners.  O Lord who has the beautiful eyes,  Save me, O Lord of the Sacrifice.“).  Hand-in-hand with this instinctive need for cleansing is a sense of need to give a sacrifice to ‘pay’ in some way for our sins or the darkness (Tamas) of our lives.  And once again in the sacrifice of the pujas, or in the Kumbh Mela and other Festivals people give sacrifice of time, money, asceticism in order to meet this instinctive need to give sacrifice.  I have heard of people taking a cow and holding it by the tail as it swims across the river.  This is done as a puja or sacrifice in order to earn forgiveness.

This need to give sacrifice has been around as long as the oldest religious texts have been around. And these texts affirm what our instincts tell us – that sacrifice is very important and must be given.  For example consider the following teachings:

In the Kathopanisad (Hindu text) the protagonist Naciketa says:

“I indeed know that fire sacrifice leads to heaven and is the way to attain heaven” Kathopanisad 1.14

The book of the Hindus says:

“It is through sacrifice that man reaches heaven” Sathapatha Brahmana VIII.6.1.10

“by means of sacrifice, not only men but gods acquire immortality” Sathapatha Brahmana II.2.2.8-14

So it is through sacrifice that we gain immortality and heaven (Moksha).  But the question still remains as to what kind of sacrifice and how much is sufficient to meet the need to make a ‘payment’ or earn enough merit against our sins/tamas?  Will 5 years of asceticism be sufficient?  Will giving money to the poor be a sufficient sacrifice?  And if so, how much?

Prajapati / Yahweh: God who Provides in Sacrifice

In the very earliest Veda texts, the God who was Lord of all Creation – the one who made and controlled the universe – was called Prajapati.  It is through Prajapati that everything else came into being.

The earliest Hebrew texts of the Veda Pusthakam (Bible) is known as the Torah. The Torah was written approximately 1500 BC, around the time that the Rg Veda was composed. The Torah begins with the declaration that there is a living God who is the Creator of the whole universe. In the transliteration from the original Hebrew this God was called either Elohim or Yahweh and they are interchanged back and forth throughout in these Hebrew texts. Thus, like Prajapati in the Rg Veda, Yahweh, or Elohim, in the Torah was (and is) Lord of all Creation.

Early In the Torah, Yahweh also reveals Himself as the God ‘who Provides’ in a remarkable encounter with the Rsi called Abraham.  I was struck with the similarity between Yahweh who provides (transliterated from Hebrew as Yahweh-yireh) with that of Prajapati in Rg Veda who is “the protector or supporter of creatures”.

In what way does Yahweh provide? We have already noted the instinctive need for people to give sacrifice, but without assurance that the sacrifice that we bring is sufficient. What is so interesting is that in this very specific area of our need the Tandyamaha Brahmana declares how Prajapati provides for our need. It says:

“Having made a self-sacrifice Prajapati (the Lord of all Creation) offered himself for the gods” Tandyamaha Brahmana, chapter 7 of 2nd khanda.

[the sanskrit transliteration is “Prajapatirddevebhyam atmanam Yajnam krtva prayacchat”].

Here Prajapati is in the singular.  There is only one Prajapati, just as in Torah there is only one Yahweh. Later in the Puranas literature (written from 500 – 1000AD) there are several Prajapatis identified. But in the earliest text quoted above Prajapati is in singular. And in this statement we see that Prajapati himself gives or is the sacrifice and He gives it on behalf of others. The Rg Veda confirms this by saying:

“The actual sacrifice is Prajapati Himself” [Sanskrit: ‘Pajapatir yajnah’]

Sanskrit scholar H. Aguilar comments on this by translating from Sathapatha Brahmana the following:

“And indeed, there was no other (victim) meet for sacrifice but that one Prajapati, and the gods set about offering him up in sacrifice. Wherefore it is with reference to this that sage has said: ‘The gods offered up the sacrifice with the help of the sacrifice – for with the help of the sacrifice they did offer up him (Prajapati), the sacrifice – these were the first ordinances, for these laws were instituted first” H. Aguilar, The Sacrifice in the Rg Veda

The Vedas from the earliest time declares that Yahweh or Prajapati recognized the need we had so He provided for us in a self-sacrifice. How He did it we look at in later articles as we concentrate on the Purusa-Prajapati sacrifice of the Purusasukta in Rg Veda, but for now just think how important this is. The Svetasvataropanisad says

‘there is no other way to enter eternal life ( Sanskrit: Nanyahpantha vidyate – ayanaya)  Svetasvataropanisad 3:8

If you are interested in eternal life, if you desire Moksha or enlightenment then it would be wise to journey along to see what has been revealed about how and why Prajapati (or Yahweh) provided for us through self-sacrifice so that we can gain heaven.  And the Vedas do not leave us hanging.  In Rg Veda is the Purusasukta which describes the incarnation of Prajapati and the sacrifice He made for us.  Here we introduce the  Purusasukta which describes Purusa like the Bible (Veda Pusthakam) describes Yeshu Satsang (Jesus of Nazareth) and his sacrifice to bring us Moksha or Mukti (immortality).  Here we look directly at the sacrifice of Jesus (YEshu Satsang) and his gift to us.

22 thoughts on “The universal need for sacrifice

  1. Ha ha! Misinterpretations of Christianity as well as Hinduism to convert the country yokels into the Christian faith.

    1. Hello Prabin
      You make a good point. However my purpose in this website is not to discuss Hinduism but to look at the ancient Vedas and Bible. Just like in my article what this site is not about, though there is a connection and link between Vedas and Hinduism there is much that has come into Hinduism that is not from Rg Vedas. Now I agree that I am presenting an interpretation, but then again all of us have to interpret what these ancient books are saying. I find that there is a strong congruence between the Purusasukta and the Bible. Thus my interpretation is consistent with the meaning of the text. Perhaps this is what the texts are trying to say. Something to Consider

    1. Hello Bahawodin
      Sorry for my late reply. That is a good question and there are probably a combination of answers. I think that all mankind originally knew about the one Creator-God. Each culture had a different name. However over time this idea was distorted and lost. You see that in ancient Egyptian and Chinese they believed in one Creator God. They were monotheists. However that truth degraded over time. I think that in the earliest Vedas we have this truth presented. But then in the culture, commentaries and religious practices this was corrupted. This is why I go back to the earliest books. Thanks for the question and I hope this gives some perspective.

  2. Hello guys,
    What’s the debate about? The only thing any religion exists is to do good around you. Don’t waste time around hindu or christian history or try to find similarities. Start doing good to your neighbourhood straight away & there won’t be any religious war or debate. We are here for a limited time & our religions are only a guideline & all religions tell us to be good. The only difference is the way we do it. Come on we are in 2013, we don’t need history to tell us what’s right from wrong, so we better accept all religions & start acting instead of debating. That’s all folks
    Thanks & regards

    1. Hi Vishal
      THanks for your comment. You are right that we want to do good to our neighbours. Yes we are in 2013 but has our human nature really changed? We have more technology and knowledge now but we still instinctively recognize a gap between what we ‘ought’ to do in our neighbourhood and what we actually do in our neighbourhood. This gap is what leads to sense a need for sacrifice and why sacrifice is so important in all religions. As we explore why this is from ancient sources (again, I think all current events on the news shows our nature is the same as in ancient history) we may learn how we can find a solution. I would think that is worth the try.

    2. Oh… The only thing any religion exists is to do good around you? I like your spirit since you are trying to give hope to our world, but reality is something else. If you pay attention at what is happening in the eastern world where Christians and Hindus are being slaughtered on the basis of their faith, then, I think that its useless to come with sugarcoated and syrup-thick realities, my friend… And try to figure out who are the author of such massacres…

  3. Never mix ved..upanishad with so called bible and others..let the ved..upanishad be pure always as it was from begining…..otherwise it is a high crime……everything there in ved and upanishad are self explicit…….there are original pure texts….rishi parampara…on high strict discipline………….no need to give unnecessary comparisions..unnecessary complexes………………everybody should study upanishad..ved..and pure rishi written texts on its pure form only…………….. there should be no any hidden purposes or hidden methods of ones hidden interest by addings such comparisions and complexes a s in above…never make un is a crime…..think the age ..origin of ved..upanishad and …so called bible etc…no comparisions plzzzzzzzzzzzzz…the prakriti..puurush..apurush..ved…upanishad…plzz study in pure form only..loving u all

    1. Hello AD
      Thank you so much for your comment, your concern, and your advice. I do assure you that I have no hidden purpose. I think my purpose is quite clear. I believe that in the earliest human history a promise was given by God (or Prajapati or Elohim) that there would be a great sacrifice given on our behalf. This sacrifice would ransom us from sin and death. As one looks through the earliest human scriptures and ceremonies one can see echoes of this original promise – in all cultures. If you look at my article in another blog here you will see another such echo from ancient China.
      To see if there really is such an echo of this primordial promise we do need to make comparisons between texts. But I do so not to see what is ‘bad’ in one text and ‘good’ in another; because if this primordial promise is true, it supersedes the differences in religions that seem so often to divide. I hope at the very least that the articles will stimulate our thinking. Thanks again.

      1. Hello Admin,
        I would like to first thank you for the area you provided for peaceful exchange, and also point out that calm spirit behind your responses. I would just like to drop a few words about Christianity. You see, friend, I’m Christian. You’ve been putting things together to try to draw correlations between Christianity and Hinduism( and correct me if i’m wrong about the nature of this comparison). Unlike the author of the original response, I’ll take another path, rather than the “holier-than-thou” mindset. My path is as follows; let us not forget that many ‘religions’ around the world are superficially similar but differ in essence (and not the way around). The advice i’ll give to you for approaching Christianity (if you truly wish to come with a scholarly approach ) is to adopt proper exegesis methods. That is, not cherry picking passages here and there. The way of doing it is to understand the teachings behind the Bible. If you had properly done so, then what you’ve learn should be consistent all throughout the document, from the beginning to the end.
        Once again, thank for this opportunity to share our views, my dear brother/sister in humanity.

        1. Hi Didier

          You are welcome for the opportunity to share your views. But this site is not about drawing correlations between Christianity and Hinduism but drawing correlations between two ancient scriptures and a very deep-seated human need. My article here explains this further.

  4. when we compare something with other, we always find many sorts of similarities and dissimilarities as well , but it does not mean that what one thinks or interprets becomes truth or lies. I believe that debate about the Creator makes no sense , because if a Creator exists, then s/he did not came to exists without any preexistence. the Creator her/himself will have to think how her/himself came into existence. Let’s think about the human needs and make the world better. It is better that we be the “witness of ourselves and human being” rather than being witness for something which we cannot feel or see or relate to.

    1. I’m getting your point, friend, no prob about that. But when it comes to addressing spirituality, you made a fallacy. “Why” might you be asking. Its simply because you put every single spirituality in the same bag, without setting parameters as guides to ensure objectivity when addressing such. You assumed that they all look at the world in the same way. You are also right when you said that (human) interpretations does not declare truths or lies. I share that point. You see, my friend, I am Christian, and the mistake I always avoid is to put my own interpretations to the Bible. So, a possible question might be “if I put my own interpretations aside, then, what’s left.” Well, I simply let the Bible interpret itself and speak for itself. I do this by simply reading it in a consistent way (reading the documents in light of their teachings provided from the first book, to the last one and also paying special attention to historical contexts, etc…). I also take this opportunity to thank you for giving your thoughts and giving the opportunity to write something about it so that we may all end up sharing views.

  5. they dont have any material or clue to prove themselves . Yes They have something but hindus have everything. they are trying to steal information from vedas to proof???? what a poor idea!

    1. Hi acharya
      Thank you for your comment. I do not think I am ‘stealing information from vedas’. What I am doing is finding a convergence in two of the earliest sets of scriptures (Vedas and Torah) which contain promises of a coming sacrifice that will cleanse us. I believe that mankind understood this from its earliest history but have largely forgotten except in these written sources. So this is not about what Hindus have or do not have. It is about a Promise given by the Creator for all mankind. I think the convergence in these two sets of scriptures supports the idea that this Promise really was given.

  6. Hello,
    These writings are excellent but are really not new, just re-hashed pieces from old books. I have read the books you have quoted and by others like: by H. Aguilar, J. Padinjarakara, M. M. Ninan, Acharya DP Titus, M Dhavamony etc. etc.
    So, let us get to the actual hindu scriptures and see if you can quote and explain them full verses, since the above mentioned authors have themselves not quoted the full vedic verses, and just picked up bit and pieces out of context.
    Where did you have access to the Tandya MahaBrhman and Satapatha Brahman and which recensions were they?
    Could you quote the full verse with meaning please : Tandyamaha Brahmana, chapter 7 of 2nd khanda?
    Also, where in the scriptures does it say that all the Gods themselves are bound by the karmic doctrine and have no escape?
    Also, where does it say that the Gods themselves do not want their devotees to be freed from the karmic doctrines?
    Hope you will answer future questions as they come up, from the hindu scriptures.

    1. HI Rajan
      Thank you for your comment. I have not read the authors you list. I have just read the author Padinjarekara as well as some of the hymns. If you are interested in reading further in the Hindu scriptures I would suggest the site sacred-texts as they have an excellect selection of many of the Hindu scriptures which can be found at There you will find the Satapatha Brahman ( which contains the account of Manu ( which I wrote about in my article here.
      Hindu scriptures are vast as you know. Because I have no priestly inclinations I have not taken the time to read the Sama Veda and the Tandyamaha Brahmana. The Rg Veda was more my interest. So in my articles I have focused on the Purusasukta which is 90th hymn in 10th mandala of Rg Veda. You can find the complete hymn (translated from sanskrit into English of course) at
      A few years ago while I was browsing this sacred texts site I came across this intriguing hymn (hymn 121 of Mandala 10) to the ‘unknown God’ (The URL to this hymn is As you will note, it repeats the refrain ‘Who is the God to whom we shall offer sacrifice?’ and is addressed to the Creator God (singular). So I do not know the answers to the Karmic questions you pose, but I have always been intrigued by the theme of sacrifice to God which I have found in some of the hymns I looked at and its similarity with that same theme in the ancient Hebrew scriptures. That really is the interest driving me. Thanks again

      1. Hello,
        Your long response is good in carrying on your agenda, but does not answer my specific questions, Sir. You talk of the Purusha Sukta and give links to hindi and sanskrit and what have you, all of which I am aware of. I asked a simple question of you: : Since you have quoted a part of the Tandya MahaBrahmana 2nd part verse 7, I wanted you to quote the full verse for me, here. Once, I say that, I know if you are knowledgeable of the vedic scriptures, the question would come up as to which recension are we quoting from. That is why I elaborated, Madhyadina if possible or else anyone you have access to. The specific phrase that you have used does not exist in the original Tandya Maha Brahmana 2:7, at least not in the one that I have nor is it in Sayanacharya’s commentary of the same, if that is what has been quoted.
        So, instead of going round in circles, let us admit, that you just used the small phrase purportedly from Tandya Maha Brahmana 2:7 that has been used by christian authors over and over again, without cross-checking on its correctness.
        Keep up the good work though. Hopefully, your writings will awake the lost hindu masses as to what their real scriptures talk about concerning idol worship, origin and inefficacy of Karmic doctrine, Creator GOD, necessity of a supreme sacrifice, Jesus Christ being the only fulfillment of the vedic conditions of the perfect sacrifice etc. etc.

  7. My post disappeared from on here. I asked which rescensions of Tandya Brahman and Shapatha Brahmana you were quoting and if you could quote the entire verse of Tandyamaha Brahmana, chapter 7 of 2nd khanda?

    1. Hi Rajan
      Sorry it took me a while to get to your comment. I was traveling for 2 months and it has taken me some time to catch up with things.

  8. klo menurut saya membaca seluruh kitab yg diturunkan oleh TUHAN…itu baik….jadi tdk membading2x kan….kekurangan dan kelebihan….yg penting bagaimana mengetahui TUHAN sebenarnya…..karena seluruh kitab itu ada yg tersurat dan tersirat…..untuk menuju moksa…..

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