NO VIOLENCE IN YAJNAS

Sunplus

NO VIOLENCE IN YAJNAS

Writer : Pt Dharmadev Vidyamartand 

Importance of Yajnas has been stressed in several places in the Vedas. Yajna is even considered a way to Worship and realise God :-

rig 10.90.16

(When truthful and enlightened persons worship God through Yajnas, they attain salvation which is freedom from sorrow.)

The Word “यज्ञ” has its origin in the root (“Yaj”) ”यज” which means :

(1) Worship of God by enlightened persons (Devapuja)

(2) Unity (Sangatikarana)

(3) Charity (Dana)

Thus, “Yajna” epitomises all our duties towards God, to our superiors, equals and inferiors. This is the reason why Yajna is considered the noblest of all human acts. How a man, who does not perform Yajna, goes on degrading himself, is mentioned in Rigveda (l0.94.6)-and Atharvaveda (20.94.6) :

atharvaveda 2

(Those who do not ride the boat of Yajna, become abominable and impure and their character keeps on deteriorating.)

It is matter of great shame that such yajnas, which are the means of worshipping God and attaining salvation, have been misinterpreted and misconceived by our own, medieval masters, no less by western scholars and, their modern followers who assert in their commentaries of the vedas that there are references here to sacrifice of sheep, goats, horses, buffaloes in the course of such yajnas.

For instance, one of the contributors to the Vedic Age, writes while discussing Apri Hymns,

“Scarcely less debased than the Dana Stutís are the Apri hymns, manufactured artificially for employment in animal sacrifices …. . . There is no reason to doubt that these hymns were actually used at the animal sacrifices as the tradition maintains”

Another contributor referring to the Kausika Sutra (XIII,I-6) says that it prescribes a magic rite in which portions of the bodies of some animals and human beings, such as of a lion and a tiger, a ksatriya and a Brahmacharin are to be eaten to acquire certain power ; not totemism but same sacramental communion, is hinted at.”

While detailed discussion on this issue will form a huge treatise, it will suffice here to suggest a few points to remove such misconceived notions about the yajnas.

To begin with, we must stress that the word  ‘अध्वर’ (Adhvara) occurs as a synonym or as an adjective for “यज्ञ ” (Yajna) at several places in all the four Vedas.

The author of the Nirukta, a book on philology, Yaskaracharya, gives the etymology of the word “Adhvara ” thus :- mantra

nirukt 2.7

(“Adhvara” is the name of Yajna which means free from any violence).

Given below are some of the mantras from all the four Vedas in which the word “Adhvara” has been used in relation to Yajnas :-

RIGVEDA :-

(1)rig 1.1.4

-Rig. 1.1.4

(Thou, O Lord, art present only in the Yajnas, which are free from violence. Only such Yajnas are acceptable to the truthful learned persons).

(2)rig 1.1.8

-Rig. 1.1.8

(In this mantra also God’s presence only in violence-free actions is stressed)

(3)rig 1.14.21

-Rig. 1.14.21

(Using the word “Adhvara” for Yajna, the Wise have been requested to keep the Yajna “violence-free”.)

(4)rig 1.128.4

-Rig. 1.128.4

(It is stated in this mantra that God and the wise enjoin upon people to perform Yajnas free from violence.,)

(5)rig 1.19.1

-Rig. 1.19.1

(The blessings of God and the priests have been invoked in this mantra for the success of a Yajna free from violence, always.)

YAJURVEDA :-

Yajurveda is also full of mantras where not only the adjective “Adhvara” has been used for Yajnas, but also we are taught against violence of all kind including the violence against animals. For instance, this mantra indirectly rules out all violence in our dealings with the outside world:-

yajurveda 36.18

(Oh God, the Dispeller of darkness, may everyone look upon me with friendly eyes, may I look upon everyone (not human beings alone) with love and friendship, may we look upon each other with love and friendship.)

Describing Yajna as the noblest of acts in Yajurveda (101), people have been asked to protect the animals (पशुन्पाही) In Yajurveda (6-1 1) also there is a teaching for the married couple-pashun paaipasun trayetham.

In Yajurveda 14.8 it is said ….. द्विपादव चतुष्पात पाहि l (O man thou protect bipeds and quadrupeds)

‘ Likewise in more than 43 mantras in this Veda, the word Adhvara has been used either as an adjective of yajna or its synonym.

SAMAVEDA:

There are also many references to Yajna as “Adhvara” in Samaveda.

Note for instances the followings :-

samveda 7

(In this mantra scholars have been invited to attend the Yajna which is ‘चारु'(beautifi-because it is adhvara (non-violent).

samveda 8

(Using the word Agní(अग्नि) for God, it is said that He encourages non-violent Yajnas “adhvaranam”.

samveda 9

In this mantra also describing Yajna as “adhvara” people are enjoined to Worship God.

There is clear instruction against violence, particularly animal sacrifice, in the following mantra :-

samveda 10

It is prayed in this mantra: May we not indulge in any violent act, nor others tempt us to do so.

ATHARVAVEDA :-

Likewise in Atharvaveda, there are many mantras in which the word “adhvara” has been used for Yajnas. For instance :-

atharva 5

In fact the misconception about the injunction of animal sacrifice in the Vedas takes its root from the misinterpretation of the word medha ( मेधा ); a synonym of यज्ञ which is used as a suffix to many words such as अजमेध(Ajmedha),गोमेध (Gomedha) , पुरूषमेध (Purushmedha), अश्वमेध (Aswamedha) etc,

These words, however, do not stand for sacrifices of horses, cows, human beings etc as will be shown in the following pages.

The Sanskrit root of the word मेधMedha is मेध्रुमMedhra which means :

(1) to sharpen the intellectual faculty

(2) to promote unity or love among people

(3) or to practice violence.

There is no reason why it should be taken only in the last sense, particularly in relation to Yajnas, in which there is strong emphasis on non-violence in all the Vedas.

It may be noted here that Purush Medha (पुरूषमेध ), Purush Yajna ( पुरूषमेध ) and nriyajna (नृयज्ञ ) are synonyms.

In Manusmriti, नृयज्ञ  nriyajna has been explained as hospitality नृयज्ञोSतिथिपूजनम (Manu 3-70).

Taking the second meaning of the root Medhra. ( मेधृ )the word नृमेध (nrimedha) would mean uniting people for noble deeds and inspiring love and unity among them.

Nriyajna (नृयज्ञ ), Purush medha (पुरूषमेध ), are also Rishis of the following mantra from the Samveda :-

sam 1

That the meaning of such words as अजमेध, and अश्वमेध are different from what they are understood by western scholars is also clear from their references in Brahmanas and Mahabharata etc.

For instance in Shatpath it is stated that the word Asva अश्व: also stands for the seminal energy :

“राष्ट्रं वा अश्वमेध:| वीर्यं वा अश्व||”

Increasing the energy or power of the citizens of the nation or proper administration of the state)

अज is also the name of a kind of paddy which at one time as a rule was poured into the Yajnas.

For instance, we read in Mahabharata (Santiparva):-

shantiparv

When in ancient literature people are asked to offer Aja ( अज ) in the Yajnas, it does not mean they should sactifice a goat, but pour seeds of lentil of the same name.

The similar sentiment has been expressed by Vishnu Sharma in his Panchatantra (Kakoliyam):

panchtantra

Those who perform animal sacrifice for Yajnas are fools. They do not understand the proper meaning of the Vedas. ln “अजैर्यज्ञेशुयष्टव्यम” in the Vedas, the word Aja should be understood to mean “ Vrthi”, a particular variety of old paddy and not sacrifice of goats.

In “स्याद्वादमंजरी ”, a famous book in Jain literature, the word अज been taken to mean only paddy and never a goat.

jain book

(While the ignorant misinterpret the word अज as a goat, the learned understand by it only different varieties of paddy.)

lt has been clearly stated at several places in the Mahabharata that there is no mention in the Vedas of meat eating drinking, or animal sacrifices. The Yajnas marred by violence are contrary to the spirit of the Vedas and against the human laws of Manu. The yajnas with animal sacrifice were propagated by rogues, atheists, grabbers, usurpurs. Such Yajnas, in fact, are sinful and against religion.

Given below are two slokas from Mahabharata (Shantiparva) which will drive home this point :-

shantiparv 1

(It is stated in these verses that persons, who have spoken of animal sacrifice in Yajnas are stupid, atheists and are devoid of all knowledge about the injunctions of the shastras.)

Manu, the law giver, had stressed the importance of non- violence in all actions. Those who indulge in violence, do so on their own accord. Their actions have no sanction of Manu. Nor do their actions have the approval of the Vedas. All the religions preach non-violence and give it the highest priority in life. Only wicked persons started the tradition of meat eating, drinking and using other intoxicants. They were motivated by egoism, attachment and greed in starting this tradition. The Brahmans see the Omnipresent God in the Yajnas and offer oblations of milk or milk products in the sacrificial fire.

It is clear from the above that animal sacrifice in the Yajnas was started only by the wicked. And since it is not in harmony with the spirit of the vedas, any reference to it in Sravsutras, Grthyaasutras, Brahmanas, Smrítis or other religious books should be taken as an interpolation.

That the import of such material in the original ancient literature was not a new phenomenon has been stated by the famous dualist Acharya Madhvacharya in the following words in Mahabharata :

mahabharat 2

(Some wicked ones import foreign material into original books, some hide a few portions, others alter due to the laziness or do it deliberately. Thus even when these ancient books are not destroyed, they are distorted beyond measure)

The ancient Rishis were totally against animal sacrifice in the Yajnas. For instance, it is stated in Mahabharata (Aswamedha parva) that:

mahabharat 3

mahabharat 4

(When the Rishis saw the poor animals (brought for sacrifice in the Yajnas,) they were deeply touched, “There is no mention of animal sacrifice anywhere. This will only destroy your religion. You should perform Yajnas in accordance with the instruction, given in the Vedas for greater benefit.)”, they told the priest.

No wonder Risis, who have been described in Nirukta as “those who realise the real spirit of Dharma”, considered animal sacrifice contrary to the spirit of the Vedas.

At another place in the Shantiparava in Mahabharata, it is said :-

shantiparv 2

Certainly animal sacrifice is not sanctioned by the Vedas. The Yajna is always non-violent and should be performed that way. If one goes to heaven by killing animals or shedding their blood, what is then the way to hell?

ASVAMEDHA YAJ NAS AND NON-VIOLENCE

lt is generally held by Western Scholars and their zealous followers that horses were sacrificed in Asvamedha Yajna.

But the description of such a Yajna performed by king Vasu as found in the Mahabharata, does not bear out testemony to this abominable practice.

तस्य यज्ञो महानासीदश्वमेधो महात्मन: |

bruhaspati

(lt is stated in these verses that the Yajna was officiated by great sages and saints including three sons of the Prajapati and Kapila, Katha, Titeri and Kanva etc. This Yajna was very pious and sacred and no animal was sacrificed in it a all. The priests of this Yajna, who included authors of the Katha Samhita, Taittiriya Samhita, and Kanva Samhita, performed it in the non-violent way.

There seems to be some reference to animal sacrifice in “Taitteriya Samhita” which were added or interpolated to it only later.

EXHIBITION OF ANIMALS IN THE YAJ NAS

The root Medhra ( मेध्रू ) from which the Sanskrit word Medha (मेध )has been made also means Sangalnana(संगमन) This is borne out by the description of Asvamedh Yajna recorded in Mahabharata

(Aswamedha parva). For instance, in the following description, there is clear indication of an exhibition of different varieties of birds and animals being organised at the time of the Asvamedha :-

ashvamedha 1

ashvamedha 2

The misinterpretation of the words Alambha( आल्मभ ), Sanjapana (संज्ञपन) and Avadana ( अवदान ) was also responsible for creating confusion relating to the issue of animal sacrifiee in the Yajnas.

The following mantra from Yajurveda, is often quoted to suggest the evidence of the animal sacrifice :

animal sacrifice

The word alambha ( आलंभ ) in this mantra has been wrongly interpreted to mean sacrifice here of elephants for the Welfare of the Prajapati ( प्रजापति ) ; in fact, alambhana does not mean “to kill” but “to acquire”.

(The word Alambha आलंभ has its root in  आंगपूर्वक लाभ which means to acquire, to embrace etc.)

For instance, see the use of this Word in the second sense in the following mantra :

animal sacrifice 1

(Here it is prohibited for the Brahmacharins to look or to embrace women (स्त्रीणां च प्रेक्षणालम्भम ).

In the second chapter ofपारस्कर गृह्सुत्र word occurs in this sense where the Acharya touching the heart of a Brahmacharin says :

animal sacrifice 2

(The bridegroom should lift his hand above the right shoulder of the bride and touch her heart.)

Here the commentators like Jai Rama and Hari Rama have interpreted the Word आलभते as सप्रूशति  (touches)

ln the following injunction again from Paraskara Grihsutra the word alabhate has been used for “touching” :

 

ln Yajurveda there is a reference to acquire particular birds for specialized study and not for any wayward killing :

yajurveda 24.20

THE CORRECT MEANING OF SANGYAPANA( संज्ञापन )

The word संज्ञापन (Sanjyapanam) used at many places in Brahmanas and Shraut Sutras is generally taken to mean “killing instantaneously”. But this is grossly incorrect and only betrays the ignorance leading to its misinterpretation.

lt is clear from the use of this word in the following mantra that it means “to inculcate knowledge” or “to unite” :-

atharva 6.10.94.95

(The mantra means that your bodies should be united, you should take physical exercises unitedly, your minds and your souls should be united. May God, the Repository of Knowledge, always keep you united etc.)

In Satpath also there is a passage where the word has been used in the second sense of making one realise or making it known to others :-

shatpat 1

(In this mantra, the power of the tongue, to make the other one know what is in the mind, is stressed.)

MISINTERPRETATION OF THE WORD ASWAMEDHA

It is assened in the Vedic Age that “Animal sacrifices” are indicated in the Apri Suktas and the horse sacrifice (Asva Medha) was undoubtedly performed”.

But the fact is that there is not the slightest reference to the animal sacrifices in these hymns. This is only the result of their ignorance and illusion.

The word अश्वमेध during the Vedic period was used in the sense of “administration of the state” or “increasing the strength of the state” as clear from  ‘राष्ट्रं वे अश्वमेध: (Satpath 13- 1-6) or वीर्यं वा अश्व: But there is no evidence whatsoever of the sacrifice of horses in the Yajnas performed during that period.

In the following mantra which used to be recited at the time of the Asvamedha Yajna, there is no reference to animal sacrifice at all :

ashvamedha 3

ashvamedha 4

(It is mentioned in these mantras that the horses should be properly trained and full knowledge acquired about their behavior, food and drinking habits etc. People have also been asked in these mantras to look after the horses property.)

In all the mantras of this hymn, there are similar instructions. In the end also, prayers are offered for giving us cows, horses, strong progeny and wealth :-

hymn 1

No doubt some of the Indian scholars like Sayanancharya, Uvvate and Mahidhar and foreign scholars following them like Prof Max Muller, Griffith and Wilson, have misinterpreted some of the Vedic mantras occurring in this hymn to suggest that there is a mention rather an injunction of animal sacrifice in the Vedas. While in reality, it is only the figment of their own mind with no truth in it at all. There is not only complete absence of any instruction for animal sacrifice in the Vedas, but there is clear provision for punishment of those who indulge in this practice even negligence, towards these dumb creatures.

Two of the mantras have been thoroughly misunderstood in this regard, the first one being as follows :

hymn 2

Sayanacharya, along with his Indian and foreign follower has given a very absurd meaning of this mantra. According to him the mantra means as follows :-

“Those who see the boiled flesh of horses and praise the smell of their bodies, let the labour of such persons be ours”.

According to Swami Dayanand, however, the mantra means :

“Drive away from us those who beg the flesh or horses or consider them worthy of sacrifice.”

The word Vajinam(वाजिनम) also means a “brave person”. Thus the mantra can also mean that the brave person, who is also well- versed in the art of cooking protects his country and brings wealth to it.

The second mantra, which is ofien misunderstood by scholars, is given below :

hymn 3

Saynacharya, and Mahidhar have played havoc while interpreting this mantra in the following way:

“Let not an iota of thy flesh may fall to the ground, O horse, may the gods, desirous of it, receive it.”

Compare it with the rendering of this mantra with the one given by Dayanand in the following words :

“O Ye men, you should get the affected limbs cured by doctors because the medicine given by them is beneficial for health.”

Killing of animals has been prohibited in many mantras in the Vedas. For instance, take the following :

hymn 4

(Don’t kill the horses.)

In Yajurveda’s 25.43 also, the words, ‘मा स्वाधितिस्तन्त्र आतिष्ठिपत् ‘ clearly instruct against killing of animals :

hymn 5

hymn 6

Some orthodox scholars went to the extent of imagining that those animals, which are sacrificed in fire, go to heaven. The misconceptions in this regard seemed to have sprung from the following mantra from the Rigveda (1 .162.21) (which also occurs in Yajurveda (25.44) :

yajurveda 25.44

Commenting on this Sayanachalya writes :

sayancharya 1

(Those shall not die O horse, because offered to gods, thou must achieve the divinity and thus share their immortality.)

The correct meaning of this mantra, however, is “Just as a man travels comfortably in a chariot moved by fire, water and air, so the soul, which is fully enlightened through self-knowledge and free from the fear of death or violence, attains the divine bliss)”

Misinterpretation of such Vedic mantras was usually motivated by self-interest greed and ignorance.

Now we will critically examine some of the misconceptions about the sacrifice of cows and beef-eating’s.

Clayton, in his book, “The Rigveda and Vedic Religion” writes:

“At one sacrifice, probably a very unusual sacrifice, performed once in five years, called the “Pancha Sharadiya Sava, seventeen young cows were offered. Bullocks, buffaloes and deer were also sacrificed, sometime in large numbers. The White Yajurveda mentions 327 domestic animals, including oxen, milch cows, that are to be offered along with the horse at the greater Horse- Sacrifice”

The basis of Clyton’s conclusion seems to be “Rajendra Pal’s book entitled “lndo Aryans ate meat and drank wine”.

Most of the foreign writers have upheld this view and authors of the Vedic Age have almost copied it.

While describing the customs and traditions of the marriage ceremonies during the Vedic Age, they have written:

“The guests are entertained with the flesh of cows killed on the occasion (of marriage).”

This statement made by them is highly erroneous because cows have been described in the Vedas at several places as ‘Aghnya’ (अघ्नया ) and Aditi( अदिति ) which means “not to be killed under any circumstances” Some of the mantras in which the word Aghnya (अघ्नया ) has been used for the cow are as follows :

cow 1

(hi this mantra cows, addressed as Aghnya अघ्न्या have been enjoined to keep themselves healthy by use of pure water and green grass so that we, who drink their milk, may be endowed with Dharma, knowledge and wealth”

cow 2

(In this mantra also, where again the word अघ्न्या has been used for cows, it is stated that this animal is responsible for our health and prosperity.)

cow 3

cow 4

(In this mantra, the milk of the cow has been compared with the fight of God.)

cow 5

(Describing the devotee, who is a man of action, it is stated that he gets up before the dawn, entertains noble thoughts and drinks the milk of the cow which should never be killed.)

cow 6

(In this mantra also the adjective for Dhenunaam (धेनूनाम) is Aghnyanam अघ्न्यानाम [which is very significant)

There is also clear instruction in Rigveda. 101.15 against the slaughter of cow which has been described as a mother :-

rigveda 101.15

(Don”t kill the cow which is like the mother, the daughter, and the sister to the learned Brahmacharins.)

The word Aghnya  अघ्न्या has also been used for the cow in the Atharvaveda :-

atharvaveda 3

(I remove all your jealousies and prejudices and unite your hearts. May you love each other as a cow loves her new born calf.)

The following mantra from the Atharvaveda also extols the qualities for which the cow is universally loved and revered :

atharvaveda 4

(In this mantra, the milk of the cow, for whom again the adjective Aghnya(अघ्न्या) has been used, is considered of special benefit to the children.)

aghanya 1

(In this mantra use of the milk of the cow, has been suggested for the learned persons endowed with great intellects.)

cow 7

(In this mantra, the Veda has gone to the extent of suggesting the use of cow’s milk for removal of sins :

The penalty of death has been suggested for those who kill the cows :

penalty

Also the similar punishment is suggested for even stealing her milk :

penalty 1

In accordance with the spirit of these mantras, Manu, the law giver, has said :

penalty 2

The Vedic Age tries to reconcile the epithet “Aghnya” used for cows with the eating of bullock’s beef saying that (I) the flesh of the ox, rather than that of the cow, was eaten. (ii) the flesh of the cow (if at all) was eaten on special occasions like a sacrifice or at a reception of guests. (m) only barren cows ( वशा:) were sacrificed.

But this explanation given by them is unacceptable. We must make it clear that the epithet aghnya (अघ्न्या) repeatedly used for cows is also used for the oxen.

For instance Aghnya has been used for the oxen in the following mantras :

yajurveda 12.73

(While commenting on this Sayanacharya has written in his Kanvasamhita (chapter-13) :

atharvaveda 9.4.17

(In this mantra an ox has been described as “not to be killed” (अघ्न्य:).

The suggestion that the flesh of the cow was eaten on special occasions is also ridiculous.

We have earlier shown that in the entire Vedic literature the word “Adhvara” (non-violent) has been used for the Yajnas. To imagine that meat eating was pennitted on such occasions is beyond our apprehension.

The Brahmanas have clearly stated that meat eating is one of the things which renders the Y ajnas ineffective and, therefore, should be avoided at least during their performance :

brahman 1

(Eat not the meat nor thou indulge in sexual gratification during the performance of the Yajna.)

Similar injunction has been given in Tandaya Maha Brahmana :

brahman 2

(A person performing Yajna should neither eat meat nor indulge in sexual intercouse. lf he does, Yajna becomes fruitless and yields no results.)

lt has also been stated in Vedic Age that the cows were killed and their flesh served to please the guests. The following mantra is quoted to prove this practice :

vedic age 1

It is also stated in the Vedic Age that the beef was served to guests on the occasion of marriages.

Late K.L. Munshi in his book “Lopamudra” says that guests अतिथिग्व (atithigva) was considered a respectable term which stood for a person who served beef to his guests. It is important to remove the misconception about such words as अतिथिग्व (atithigva) and  अतिथिनिर्गा: (atithi-nirga) for गा: in Rigveda

(10.86.3) has been explained by commentators like Sayanacharya as सततं गच्छन्ती: (the root: अत-सातत्य) i.e., ever on the move.

Even the word गा: has been defined as water (साधुनयनादिगुणयुक्ता: अप:). Even if we take the word अतिथि instead of (अतिथिनी ) it means the cows which are brought near to the guests (अतिथिभ्यो नीयन्ते)and are finally offered to them. There is no reference to their killing which would be in direct violation of the

spirit of the Vedas in which the words Agnya अघ्न्या, and Aditi अदिति have been used. The word अतिथिग्न Atithi-gna does not mean a person who offers beef to the guests as wrongly misunderstood by K.L. Munshi. It stands for a person who goes close to the guests for their service as pointed by Saynacharya and Maharshi Dayanand. Even the famous Sanskrit English Dictionary by Monior Williams gives the meaning of this word अतिथिग्न (atithigna) as: “To whom guests should go.”

Bloomfield has also defined this word as “presenting cows to the guests”

It is pointed by some authors that the word “गोघ्न (Goghna) is used for guests in accordance with the aphorism of Astadhyayi “दाशगोघ्नौ सप्रदाने”. Actually, the word ` गोघ्न (goghna) is nowhere used in the Vedas for guests. When it is used as in the following mantra from Rigveda, it is used in the sense of “keep off ”:

rig 1

( The killer of the cow is a mean fellow; keep away from him.)

Even in ancient literature, when this word occurs in regard to a guest, it means “A person to whom a cow is offered” and “for whom sweet words are spoken.”

The word गोघ्न’goghna’ is derived from the हन्(Han) which means ‘हिंसा (violence) and गति (movement). The word Stands for ज्ञान (knowledge) `गमन (movement) and (acceptance). Thus goghna  गोघ्न is one who is requested to accept the cow. In Atharvaveda, husband is given the instruction :-

atharvaveda 5

(Strengthing your body with the semen, O husband, go to your Wife.)

In this Saynacharya and other Vedic commentators have interpreted the word जा as गच्छ because no sane person can take it to mean to kill.

In Shatpath (1.4.1.2.1) it is stated :-

In this also, the performer of the Yajnas is stated to be desirous of meeting or accepting God and not killing Him.

Therefore Sayanacharya has rightly explained the word “जिघान्सति’ ‘ as ‘प्राप्तुमिच्छति ” _ Many such examples can be multiplied.

Therefore, the word गोघ्न means गौ: हन्यते प्राप्यते यस्मै’. (who is made to accept the cow.)

It is also wrong to say that there is a provision for the killing of the barren cows vasa( वशा: ) in the Vedas.

The word उक्षा and वशा in the following mantra, in particular, stand for oxen and barren cows :-

rig 8.43.11

Actually उक्षा stands for the medicinal herb which is also known as सोम, or “सूर्य`ऋषममetc.

Famous Vedic commentator Sayanacharya has at several places used the word उक्षा to denote सोम. For instance while commenting on Rigveda’srig 2 he writes :

rig 3

Monior Williams has given the similar meaning in his Sanskrit- English Dictionary :-

Uksa, name of Soma (as sprinkling or scattering small drops) name of the Maruts-of the sun and Agni-one of eight medicaments Risbhak.” Some scholars hold the view that the word ETSTT (vasa) in the Vedas stands for the barren cow who was sacrifised in the Yajnas. lt is a very erroneous and misleading statement. Actually this word, used in wider context, means the controlling power of God, the controlling power of the soul which holds under its sway the mind, the intellect and the senses. There are many other meanings of this word, but surely it cannot be interpreted as “barren cows`. We thoroughly studies the hymn where this word occurs but nowhere did we find anything to support the above contention, It is, therefore, quite ridiculous to hold the view that in Atharvaveda 10/10, there is

a reference to the sacrifice of the barren cows. Take for instance the following mantra from this hymn :

atharvaveda 10.10.4

The word  सहस्त्रधारांcannot be used in regard to a barren cow or any cow, for that matter.

The word apparently applies to the controlling power of God about whom, it is said in the Atharvaveda (10.190) :

atharvaveda 10.190

वशा has been used here in the following mantra from the Atharvaveda as the “law of God” or “the controlling power” :

atharvaveda 1.10.1

Besides the controlling power of God, the word also stands for earth or a piece of land as in :

atharvaveda 6

In both the hymns (10.10.2 and 10.10.30) of Athaiyaverda, there is reference to giving or taking of “वशा” :

atharvaveda 7

atharvaveda 8

This word also means a good housewife who keeps her children well under control:-

atharvaveda 20.103.15

Though the Word has been thus used in different contexts, its principal usage is in medicine. lt is also called “भेदा”.

bheda 1

The benefits of taking this medicament have been described thus in ‘गुणनिघंटु” :

nighantu

(It means that Meda is useful for cold, bite, heat, pain, cough etc.)

In Sanskrit-English Dictionary by Monior Williams also the words like एकड, वशा, अष्टपदिका, भेद been used for herbs or drugs :-

वशा-Premna Spinosa and Lorgibolia

अष्टपादिका-The plant Vallaiis Dichotoman Wall.

भेद:-A species of Medicinal plant.

Thus we have seen that it is incongrous and ridiculous to see in Atharvaveda hymns any reference to the barren cows and their sacrifice in the fire. About the word Go-megha गोमेघ it may be said that the word गौ has many meanings. When it is used in the context of speech गो मेघ will mean application of mind with speech, i.e. uttering words with great discretion or using words with accuracy in accordance with the rules of the grammar etc.)

In one of the passages Vedic Age wrongly assumes that there is an instruction to the couple to eat rice mixed with meat or the meat of oxen if they desired the birth of a child well-versed in the scriptures. As shown earlier, the word has been defined in the Sanskrit English Dictionary by Apte and Monior Williams, both as सोम and ऋषभक as the Tishabha. Thus the couple here have been instructed to take medicaments like सोम and ऋषभक and not meat of the oxen etc. as misunderstood.

In सुश्रुत (Chapter two) meat has been totally prohibited for a pregnant woman. It is even believed that its consumption may lead to abortion :

sushrut 2

When meat has been thus prohibited for a pregnant woman, it appears to be highly improbable that there could be any such instruction as supposedly given to the couple.

There is also a reference in the Vedas to consumption of क्षीरौदन,दध्योदन,उदौदन etc for the pregnant woman. Therefore the view expressed by some scholars that an instruction for the couple to take rice mixed with a particular variety of pulse known as UN, seems quite in harmony with the spirit of the Vedas.

There is also a suggestion for taking this particular variety of pulse for women in the following passage from शुश्रुत:

sushrut 1

( Here husband has been advised to take ghee and rice with a glass of milk and the wife to take the above mentioned variety of ‘माष (pulse) (before going to bed.)

At another place it is written :-

sushrut 4

For healthy child the husband should take ghee with milk and the wife oil and माष (a variety of pulse)

lt is clear from the above that the correct reading in the text is `मांषौदनम Some self-interested persons wrongly misspelt it as  and it became popular that way gradually.

However, if one insists on its correct reading as ` मांषौदनम  may be mentioned that, according to the derivation of the word given in Nirukat, it means anything which one likes to take with relish and taste :

nirukt 1

Thus it will be seen that any milk preparation like “kheer”, “rabaree` etc. will also fall in the category of the word’मांस.

In Charak Samhita, a standard book of Aurvedic medicines, the pith of a mango has been described as HTH and its stone as अस्थि.

The soft eatable portion of date has been named at some places in this ancient book as खर्जूरमांस Therefore it is erroneous to interpret the word मांस as “meat” wherever it occurs because of its wider usage as shown above. ‘

In Shatpat Brahmana the word ‘मांस orपरमान्न for instance, has been used for milk and rice preparation called ‘खीर.

shatpat 2

Taitteriya Samhita indicates wider usage of the word मांस to cover curd, honey and com etc. (see 232.8)

In Taitteriya Samhita मांस has been used even for गुग्गुलु(which has been prescribed in the Vedas for killing germs of such fatal diseases as tuberculois.

tatreiya sahinta

In the mantra given below, the word `मांस should be taken as “milk” and not meat :-

hymn 7

In this mantra, it is stated the couple should not take cow’s milk and delicious things like खीर until and the unless venerable guest has been served first.

A reputed scholar of Sanskrit Sampurand has said in his Commentary on Rigveda’s Purush Sukta that Yajna is not complete without a sacrifice but this sacrifice is to be not of animals but animal passions like falsehood, greed, sex ego, attachment etc. We full agree with him.

 

 

 

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