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[ Animal Sacrifice in Yaagams ]

Resentment and opposition to animal sacrifice through Paswaalambhanam in Yaagams were prevalent even long ago. It gained strength with the spread of Jainism and Budhism, with even great emperors like Asokan on their side. Even strong believers in Vedic culture were intimidated and were afraid of performing Yaagams. In those days, in some parts of the country, certain Sroutha-Karmams called Havir-Yajnams, without Paswaalambhanam, were apparently practiced, though unknown in Kerala. This state of affairs continued for over a thousand years, until Mezhathol Agnihothri (Click here) boldly revived the ancient culture (Yajna Samskaaram), in these parts, at least.

Late Erkara Raman Namboodiri (Senior) says in his book "Ekaahaaheena Sathrangal", "...There are numerous explanations in Vedams and related Granthhams as to why Paswaalambhanam in Yaagams do not have the stigma of killing. The Jains and the Budhists believe in absolute "Ahimsa". But what is surprising is that the others who decry Yaagams do not desist from nor oppose animal slaughter for food or for commerce. Is it not far better for animals, not blessed with knowledge faculty to die in five minutes as in Yaagam with the blessings of the gods, than to die a miserable, long and painful death of old age, as occurs to most of them? Objectors do not seem to do anything about such miseries. Ninety five percent of the Vedams deal with Yajnam in some way. The remaining five percent exhorts humankind to perform such Karmams and cleanse the mind. And yet, there are the objectors to such Yajnams which are ordered by Lord Vishnu and are the prescribed rituals enunciated by all the Vedams, Smruthis, Ithihaasams, Puranams, Aachaarams and Anushthhaanams..."

According to modern doctors, the Vapa cannot be collected when the animal dies a natural death, nor when it is killed in any other manner other than by suffocation. Then, at least some portion of the Vapa concentrates in a specific part of the anatomy. But this was known to the ancient seers and sages !

The number of lambs sacrificed varies with ritual as well as Yaagam. Two lambs are needed for Somayaagam and fourteen, for Athiraathram. For "Aagneyam Pasu" and "Agnishomeeyam Pasu" on the 5th day of Somayaagam, one lamb each is sacrificed to Agni.

In Athiraathram, for "Ekaadasam Pasu", "Agnishomeeyam Pasu" and "Maithraavaruneeya Pasu", one lamb each is sacrificed while for "Ekaadasa Pasu", a ritual on the 10th day of Athiraathram, ten male and one female lambs are sacrificed to eleven different gods.

Before the animal sacrifice, the Yajamaanan's wife cleans the lamb. The servants (Adiyaar, the elite Nayar community) kills the lamb by suffocation and stretching the lamb's tongue outside the mouth.

The Adhwaryu, with the help of other Namboothiris, collects the Vapa on a stick (Vapaasrapani) of Kumizhu tree. Each lamb (and thus each Vapa) is numbered. Here, no Rithwik should help Adhwaryu. Vapa, thus collected, is covered with Darbha grass and fried in the fire. This follows the extraction and boiling of eleven other organs of the lamb.

Due to strong protest from the animal lovers, the lambs have been replaced by a special vegetarian preparation called "Pishta Pasu". Animals were not sacrificed (instead, Pishta Pasu was used) in the Athiraathrams conducted at Paanjaal (1975 AD) and Kundoor (1990 AD) and the Somayaagam, at Thiruvananthapuram (1984 AD).

| Article No:4.9.4 | Last update of this article:8th October 2001 |
Bibliography : Ekaahaaheenasathrangal, by Erkkara Raman Namboodiri (Senior) (Preethi Books, Trissur - 680 008)

Article Prepared by : P. Vinod Bhattathiripad and K.D. Nambudripad

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