Adhyaatmic significance of navaraatri

Ashish Chandra ramkisno at HOTMAIL.COM
Thu Oct 5 13:54:01 CDT 2000

>From: Swaminarayan T <tvswaminarayan at YAHOO.COM>
>A question to think about and to respond:::::
>The animal sacrifices to Gods cannot be substituted by sacrificing cut
>Watermelons or cut nimbus smeared with red kumkum because such actions will
>naturally constitute breach of trust and of  injunctions in the
>scripture.Under these circumstances the promised results cannot accrue to
>the devotee sacrificer.
>How can the devotee who cannot really stand the slaughter of  a living
>being and the bleeding and  offers only a substitute expect to get full
>grace and blessings of the Goddess? Will he be happy with some sort of a
>substitute blessing?

Hello Svaminarayan,

There can be no substitute for the actualy sacrifice however, according to
the Meemansakas, the sacrifice consists of the actual rite *and* its
subsidiaries. The subsidiaries, which also include the ingredients and
actions performed on/with them, do not in themselves give any independent
favorable result. What it does it produce a result that will be favorable to
the actual sacrifice e.g. Agnihotra or a Pashibandhak rite. One can
speculate that the spread of Sri Vaishnavism in South India could have
attributed to the inclination towards the use of substitutes.

In the north, where I come from, the Vedic tradition is almost dead. When
Jaldhar talked of animal sacrifices, there are almost none that can be found
in the North. Most of the rituals we follow are Pauranik in nature, like
vratas, kathas etc. However, I know of several temples in the eastern part
of the country, for instance in Bihar and West Bengal, where a Devi temple
means there would be animal sacrifices. There are several temples in Bihar
where there are literally thousands of  animal sacrifices every day, per
temple!!! In the temples throughout Western UP, Devi is worshipped but there
are very few places where an animal is actually sacrificed.

However, I just wanted you to know that there are instances, even in the
Veda, where substitutes are talked of, because ultimately, the doer, the
deed, the result etc are all the same Brahman, the truth.

Below is an extract from the Satpatha Brahamana where King Janaka quizzes
the great Rshi Yajnavalkya.

The king is talking to Yajnavalkya, presumably at an Agnihotra ceremony.
Janaka asks Yajnavalkya:

'Yajnavalkya, do you know the Agnihotra?'

'I know it, King.'

'What is it?'

'Milk, for sure.'

'If there is no milk, with what would you sacrifice?'

'With rice and barley.'

'If there were no rice and barley ...?'

'With whatever other herbs there are.'

'If there were no other herbs ....?'

'With whatever forest plants there are.'

'If there were no other forest plants ....?

'With fruit of trees.'

'If there were no fruit of trees ....?'

'With water.'

'If there were no water ....?'

He said: 'Then there would truly be nothing at all here, and yet an offering
would be made: the truth in faith.'

'You know the Agnihotra, Yajnavalkya: I give you three hundred cows.' said
Janaka. [Satpatha Brahaman XI, 3, 1, 4]

Please point out any errors/corrections to be made.

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