Gadhimai Mela: The mother of all sacrifices must be reformed – Pramada Shah & Anthony Dias


Pramada Shah & Gadhimai High Priest

Gadhimai Devi TemplePramada Shah, president of the Animal Welfare Network Nepal and wife of the king’s nephew, explains what happens during the Gadhimai Jatra festival on November 24-25, at which half a million animals and birds are expected to be sacrificed. – Anthony Dias

Animal sacrifice is an everyday occurrence in Nepal. One could visit one of the countless temples and suddenly find oneself witnessing the beheading of a goat, a chicken, a duck, or even a young buffalo. The visitor might catch the last sounds of a dying animal or find oneself wading through a stream of blood.

The ‘mother of all sacrifices’ is at Gadhimai Jatra in Bara district in the south of Nepal. This festival is held once every five years. Last time 20,000 buffaloes were killed as well as an unknown number of other animals, including rats, snakes, pigeons, chicken, ducks, goats and sheep. The total number of animals killed in the span of just two days was estimated to be 200,000. This year the organisers aim to sacrifice no less than half a million animals. Local communities are being pressurised to increase the numbers; each village committee is supposed to pledge one thousand animals.

Some 70 per cent of devotees come from India, which is just across the border from Gadhimai. One reason for the event’s huge popularity is its proximity to India, where some states have now banned sacrificial slaughter. In India today there is greater awareness about animal sacrifice and animal suffering so it is sad to see that Nepal caters to those devotees who will be able to conduct sacrifices that are illegal in their home states.

Sacrifice in itself is gruesome. Unsystematic mass sacrifice such as the one in Gadhimai is no less than barbaric. The worst killings are those of panchbali – five offerings – in which the throats of five kinds of animals (buffaloes, goats, pigs, roosters and rats) are slit with a knife. It is not done quickly. The animals die a slow, extremely cruel, violent death while the priests sprinkle the blood across the idol and its surroundings.

Right after the panchbali, it is the buffaloes’ turn. Wielding swords, men enter a fenced yard where around 20,000 buffaloes are kept, and start hacking at the buffaloes’ necks. As the killers cannot chop off the buffaloes’ heads at once, they first cut the hind legs. After the animal falls on the ground the men hack until the buffalo’s head is separated from the body. It takes up to twenty-five attempts to kill a big buffalo. The suffering is unimaginable.

Campaigners have protested against the widespread public sacrifice in Nepal for the last two decade, but I am a late entrant to this movement. Despite the fact that I have been involved in the women’s movement for long, I had to give it some thought before becoming equally vocal about another sensitive issue. But I have always been against sacrifice.

Gadhimai FestivalI remember creating a scene when I was about eight when I realised that a goat I used to play with was going to be killed. What upset me even more was that the fact that the goat would be beheaded in the name of God. In my Hindu upbringing I was taught that God was the Creator; even as a child I could not understand why God would want His creatures to be killed.

After seeing how upset I was my family stopped sacrificing animals. My relatives are animal lovers too so they might have been secretly relieved to be offering coconuts instead of animals. When I married a member of the royal family, my in-laws kindly agreed to abandon animal sacrifice and introduce the offerings of fruits and vegetables. They too are aware of the futility of animal sacrifice.

Since then I have talked to numerous people about this issue. I have come to realise that pledging animals to get one’s wishes fulfilled is a deep-rooted tradition. Children grow up witnessing numerous public sacrifices; people are made to believe that killing animals in a temple is a short cut to becoming successful. Even well-educated Nepalese, social campaigners and development agencies continue the tradition.

When I ask educated people why they don’t stop sacrifice, at least in their own family, they answer that bad luck could be the outcome and that a tragedy might occur. They feel it is better to continue the age-old traditions and be safe. With such widespread deep-rooted superstition it is easy to imagine how hard it is for campaigners to address this issue. The superstitious nature of the Nepalese people stands in the way of abolishing archaic practices such as animal sacrifice as well as witchcraft, racial discrimination, women’s suppression and others.

Nepal’s leaders might be concerned about the image of the country when the world’s largest sacrifice starts next week, but they will not want to interfere. They regard the issue as ‘too sensitive’ and claim they do not want to hurt the sentiments of religious groups.

Animal sacrifice benefits the business community involved in fairs such as Gadhimai. This year the organising committee expects to raise about 2 million euros from selling animal hides and carcasses as well as payment for logistics and recreational facilities. In contrast, the poor do not do well out of it. Some will have to spend up to two months’ salary to buy an animal to be sacrificed at the fair.

Another issue that is overlooked is that cruelty against animals harms society as a whole; it signals and normalises insensitivity in children who can become numb to the suffering of living beings. Now that the armed conflict has ended, Nepal needs peaceful practices that educate the next generation for a harmonious society.

The involvement of the international community is crucial to the campaign’s success. The support of the world at large will act as a catalyst by creating an atmosphere of shame among those who continue to sacrifice innocent creatures and motivate lawmakers to introduce a legal and administrative framework.

The movement is already gaining momentum and will continue to grow after images from the killings fields of Gadhimai are broadcast across the nation and the world. Animals cannot speak for themselves. Until now it has been the priests and business community to speak for them: bring more, kill more animals. It is high time for every concerned citizen to speak out and stop inhumane killings in the name of religion. – The Guardian, 23 November 2014

» Pramada Shah was interviewed by Anthony Dias, a Kolkata-based journalist.

Gadhimai Festival

Gadhimai Animal Sacrfice

Gadhimai Buffalo Sacrifice

Gadhimai Festival

India bans animal exports to Nepal during the sacrifice period – PTI

“The festival took place in Bariyapur near Nepal-India border, where the animals had their heads chopped off or throats slit to please the Goddess Gadhimai. India’s Supreme Court had recently ordered the government to stop the export of cattle to Nepal during the Gadhimai festival.” – PTI

India’s animal export restrictions has led to a sharp decline of 75% in the number of buffaloes getting slaughtered this year at Nepal’s Gadhimai festival, a mass animal sacrifice ritual held once in five years.

Over 2.5 million worshippers from India and Nepal visited the holy religious shrine for offering prayers within the past one month, according to local authorities. The devotees sacrificed buffaloes, goats, pigeons and rats to the Hindu goddess of power, Gadhimai, on Friday and Saturday, in a ritual held every five years. The event took place despite mounting pressure from animal rights groups.

Utam KafleFive years ago, the number of animals and birds sacrificed in the temple was estimated to be 200,000 but this time it has sharply declined due to campaign by various rights groups, said Uttam Kafle of Animal Nepal, an organisation advocating for the animal rights in the country. There has been a decline of 75% in the number of buffaloes getting slaughtered this year. “Some 5,000 buffaloes were sacrificed, which was a sharp fall as compared to 20,000 buffaloes sacrificed in 2009,” he said.

The festival took place in Bariyapur near Nepal-India border, where the animals had their heads chopped off or throats slit to please the Goddess Gadhimai. India’s Supreme Court had recently ordered the government to stop the export of cattle to Nepal during the Gadhimai festival. The Animal Nepal has staged a rally in Kathmandu against the animal sacrifices in Gadhimai and elsewhere in the country.

More than 200 rights activists took part in the rally carrying placards that reads “stop animal sacrifice in temples. ” We have organised rallies in Kathmandu and other parts of the country to sensitise the people and to show protest to animal sacrifices in the temples, said the organisers. – DNA, 1 December 2014

Protest at Nepalese Embassy in New Delhi

Gadhimai Festival Protest


5 Responses

  1. The following unsolicited comments have landed in the editor’s inbox. They are in the public domain and are reproduced here for review in the order they have been received. Sandhya Jain and Nagendra S. Rao do not want their opinions published. Why then do they send their comments to this editor who has already declared his intention to publish them? This is an important public debate for Hindus and the ‘bloody’ comments of Jain and Rao are required to be known as others have replied and may want to reply to them.

    1. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Dr. Shastri you could clarify this question. There has been a lot of discussion and debate about whether the horrific slaughter of animals in Gadimai (Nepal) can be justified as a ‘Hindu’ practice. The argument seems to be that animal sacrifice took place in the Vedic Yagna in ancient times.
    My understanding of it is that only milk, clarified butter, rice, grains, soma etc were used in the Yagna, as is done today.

    Perhaps the Indian scholars who maintain otherwise are simply following Western scholars’ translations of the Vedas. A few weeks ago you had observed that these translations do not follow Panini, Yaaska’s Nirukta, the dictionary of Vedic Sanskrit Nighantu etc. They are not authentic translations from the Sanskrit.

    Could this be the reason that these translators have wrongly attributed animal sacrifice in the Vedic Yagna?

    2. From Jay Bhattacharjee:

    Dr. Rajiva: Let’s be very clear about the entire issue. Any so-called “Hindu” who even remotely tries to defend the utterly monstrous and barbaric animal sacrifices in Nepal should be debarred from calling himself / herself a “Hindu”. To refer to these creatures as “scholars” is completely unacceptable.

    Are we debasing our venerable Indic culture and civilisation to the level of the Islamists?

    Yours, in sadness and outrage.

    3. From Gautam Sen:

    Highest truth is all of Sanatan Dharma is the empowerment of reason (cf. Mahabharata dialogue: ‘if all our sages died’) and gratuitous cruelty to living creatures militates against it totally. End of dialogue on this dismal subject!

    4. From Nikhil Bhaduri:

    Vijaya-ji: This refers to the message of my cousin Jay Bhattacharjee (above) and also that of Gautam Sen to you, in response to your earlier post.

    I must say I am very disappointed with your stance. You beat about the bush and use euphemisms about the wretched fellows who defend this appalling act of gratuitous violence, and further have the gall to call themselves “Hindus”. To refer to them as “scholars” is an outrage. You really need to be forthright when it is called for. Pusillanimity in the face of outright evil is indefensible.

    I use the prerogative of age to give you a dressing down.

    5. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Namaskaram Friends: I agree with you that this is a cruel and barbarous act and cannot be justified under any circumstances. However, since some
    people (not on this list) have tried to maintain that the ritual sacrifice of animals was a Vedic practice, it is important for those of us who disagree, to check this out. Righteous anger is good, but it also places the responsibility on us to counter the false arguments.

    Asking a Sanskritist like Dr. Shastri is the correct thing to do. He has all along maintained that many Indian scholars have followed Western scholars in their translations of the sacred texts (he was not referring specifically to this topic). His argument has been that only a close study and reliance upon Yaaska’s Nirukta (closest to the Vedic age), Panini, and the dictionary of Vedic Sanskrit Nighantu, will yield the correct interpretation of Vedic Sanskrit.

    Hence, even the so called Hindu ‘scholars’ have erred in not following the authentic tradition. And certainly, no Hindu Vedic ritual today employs animal sacrifice. Many who are hostile to Hinduism (missionaries etc.) have talked loudly about this practice in Hinduism. Their agenda is clear. But it also behoves us to investigate this calumny of our tradition.

    I await Dr. Shastri’s answer.

    Meanwhile, I share with you the utter condemnation of the Gadhimai slaughter.

    6. From S. Kalyanaraman:

    Respected Prof. Vijay Rajiva-ji: It is an error to translate yajna as ‘sacrifice’. Yajna is derived from root yaj ‘to pray’. There is NO tradition to link the dhatu with the semantics of ‘to kill’.

    The word ‘sacrifice’ should NOT be used to explain yajna which is a metaphor to link aatman with paramaatman using agni as the medium to transmit the prayers.

    A shocking example of distortion of tradition with bogus translations.

    7. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Thank you Dr. Kalyanraman: I agree entirely with your reading of the word ‘yajna’. I am hoping that more Sanskrit scholars will come forward with illuminating arguments for the Vedic yajna.

    I do not believe that any authentic Sanskrit scholar can present a distorted reading of the word ‘yajna’. It is the distorted reading that has given ammunition to those who want to present the Gadimai slaughter as a continuation of Vedic practice and thus defend and justify it.

    8. From Nagendra S. Rao:

    I too was going to send sotto voce comments for consideration by this group as well meaning thoughtful people.  Since it now seems that whatever we write gets posted to the whole world I excuse myself from saying anything.

    These are extremely serious and sensitive issues.  They require at least some substantive knowledge of the purport and intent of our dharma sastras.  Posting comments to public fora before there is some general consensus amongst the knowledgeable is IMHO not the way one should go about this.  We have enough problems with hostile ‘sickular libtards’ with which to contend.

    I take strong objection to the general tone and pejorative note of the Bharata Bharati article.  For starters why does s(he) not get into a lather about the circumcised unwashed slaughtering millions of goats at Bakr Id?  The person seems to have done little study of canonical Sanatana Dharma tenets.  It would seem that Santana Dharma tenets are once again being excoriated through the backdoor.

    Good day to ye all.

    9. From Sandhya Jain:

    Thank you Nagendra-ji: I did not even have any idea that this was made so public in such a cavalier way, and Vijaya ji’s explanation borders on sheer crassness.

    These are now my final comments on the issue. India/Bharat is a civilisation that has risen from a tribal matrix and this is reflected in the Vedas and the whole spectrum of civilisation across the land. The Vedas are a summation of a long process of intellectual and spiritual development and not a mythical beginning point as is assumed by some. It is not at par with Abraham or Moses declaring the law sotto voce at a point in history, and everyone agreeing or disagreeing to ONE way of worship of One divinity.

    A civilisation in which hundreds and thousands of groups and jatis have been living their own way, which has encompassed what are now neighbouring countries – cannot be told to fall in line with the supposedly superior dictates of some – as the tone of many in this discussion suggests. As a Jain – the ONLY community in the WORLD that actually proscribes killing of animals for any reason – I take objection to the excoriation of other Hindus.

    First, the understanding of the Vedas is flawed and artificial, second the attempt to impose opinion as CANON is objectionable. That too, on people living in another country. There has always been animal sacrifice in India; in Kamakhya even humans [convicts] were sacrificed until about a century ago when the king himself banned it.

    Can anyone seriously deny that the gods, Indra et al, drank liquor; that Devi drinks blood and eats flesh; what is this discussion based on? who drank the blood of the asura Raktabeej? I could go on, but there is no point. I will only add that till date we have got no explanation for the sudden, missionary-like condemnation of practices of Hindu groups that have been going on for millennia, and why a particular festival was chosen in a neighbouring country, when the activists cannot seriously do anything in their own backyards – among Hindus, and not Muslims or Christians! Coming to mainstream Hinduism – why was Sri Rama hunting a golden deer? Even if he did not intend to eat it, he was going to skin it to please his wife – and I don’t think that is possible without killing, which is not even the same as sacrifice.

    We really do deserve an explanation for why Nepal was singled out for abuse, on the lines of secular nonsense about waterless Holi and crackerless Diwali!

    10. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Namaskaram Nagendraji: Unfortunate that you have decided not to comment publicly. These issues must be aired publicly. If you have anything valuable to say or have something to quote from the texts, please do so now and not hold your peace !

    I do not see how Sanatana Dharma can be defended without such activities.

    Re: the question of international/liberal readership, I do not believe that any useful purpose is served by accusing ‘them’ of doing bad things, and hence don’t criticise us !

    WE ARE DEFENDERS OF DHARMA, not merely wondering what the others are saying. In the Mahabharata, the Kauravas were clearly offenders, both against their cousins and against society at large. They had to be vanquished, despite Arjuna’s misgivings at the start of the war. But what did the innocent 20,000 plus animals do in Nepal that they were killed with such cruelty and barbarism ? One of the members on this list said correctly that this was not some small panchabali sacrifice of one bird, rat, pig, goat. The scale of this slaughter was indeed horrific. It can never be justified or defended.

    I asked Dr. Shastri to give us some insight into an authentic translation of the Vedic tradition as seen by Yaaska, Patanjali et al. I am aware that Sayana and other medieval commentators have been criticised for not being authentic. Not sure what he thinks of that debate.

    At any rate, the etymological history of the word Yajna is called for. Dr. K started out with defining it as the root yaj = prayer. From what I myself know about Yajnas, there are no indications of the practice of killing something or somebody.

    I would think that the Sakta innovations may be just that. For example in the case of the Kamakhya temple in Assam, the account is that there have been attempts to carry out human sacrifice . My own reading of some Sakta literature is far removed from this. The Devi Mahatmyam shows the goddess destroying evil demons, not innocent beings. And Adi Shankara has set up the Yantra for deep meditation and prayer to the goddess, not for blood letting. The Devi is always and at all times benign, except in the case of evil doers.

    I await Dr. Shastri’s comments.

    11. From Radha Rajan

    We attribute our own characteristics to our gods. And that was quite an impressive soap box. Animal activists don’t look for Hindu abusers or Muslim abusers and make no distinction between killing animals for food or for religion. Not just killing, even abusing animals for sport and entertainment. I always say let amuse themselves with making other humans do what they force animals to do. Our position is killing animals for food or for religion, Hindu or Muslim – we speak for animals. And pl don’t Sandhya make the wholly comical argument why if protest Gadhimai I do not protest non-veg or abattoirs — why animal activists, the species for which you have so much contempt — we protest all abuse, all killing. And no Sandhya I am not funded by the Church or Peta. And your dogmatic position is wholly antithetic to Hindu dharma which is ever evolving, ever changing, ever adapting to needs of time place context. If people can stop human sacrifice, then they can stop animal sacrifice too and break pumpkins or coconuts.

    12. From Gautam Sen:

    The whole point is that we are imperfect and Sanatan Dharma enjoins us to strive to become something better. It is by many small steps and constant improvement we seek to approach the divinity that human reason has imputed to their gods. Even not believing (like Jains and Buddhists I suppose) in a creator, the logic seems compelling to me, which is why an unbeliever can subscribe to Dharma.

    We should not compare ourselves with others who are enjoined to kill animals brutally by their faith. Our view of life and truth allows us to disagree even with gods! We stopped murdering women on the pyres of their husbands, which was defended by many venerable religious leaders and scholars as imperative at the time. No one is defending it now. One day, we will all become decent when we ALL stop killing for food or for pleasure. We start somewhere and not justify individual acts of cruelly by resorting to the big picture by saying others do it too. Not very profound if you realise animals also suffer pain and terror and that they experience grief and fear at losing others around them, especially as they sense they are going to be next. I am familiar with the slaughter of animals in Nepal. It is awful.

    13. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Both Dr. Gautam and Radhaji are right : we don’t any longer condone older practices, such as burning widows on the funeral pyre etc. And Radhaji is right in saying that since we have done away with human sacrifice we can also do away with animal sacrifice.

    I want to add : The Veda for Hindus is sruti and not some Abrahamic construct. It is para vidya, hence the sanctity attached to it. Smriti can and should change. Lord Rama was not a sampurna avatar.

    As for Devi, she is always benign, except towards evil doers. You allude to her drinking the blood of Raktabija. Indeed he was considered an evil asura who devastated the land. At the end of the three episodes of killing asuras, both the gods and the people hail her. Those passages invoking her power over evil and her benign guarding of the universe are simply poetic! As you may know, for this project all the gods recognised her superiority and also gave her their own weapons. Do read the Devi Mahatmyam and look at the temple sculptures. There is some asura or other under her feet.

    The distortions that took place in Sakta worship are unfortunate. Hindus have the example of Adi Shankara and the Sri Yantra. Here, at the culmination of prayer and deep meditation, the Devi appears to the devout worshipper. She does not ask for blood letting.

    Lastly, none of the Yajnas today have bloodletting. And I am certain that the etymological history of the word ‘yajna’ will show this to be historically true.

    Let us see what the professional Sanskritist on this list has to say.

    14. From B.V.K. Sastry:

    Namaste All: I am taking a little time to share and air my views on this sensitive topic.

    When the debate topic touches a socio-religious and politically sensitive theme, the response needs to be made with due consideration.

    I still stand by my earlier statements regarding Samskruth document understanding.

    [This comment is incomplete. See Dr Sastry’s comment below at No 22–Ed]

    15. From S. Kalyanaraman:

    The concept of daana दानम् is very complex, Gautam. It ain’t daana, it is offering प्रसादम् .

    Pardon this ignorant excursus on the sacred and the profane attempting to unravel इतिहास भारतं जनम्

    ज्ञानम् is a tough nut to crack.

    See ऎशावास्य उपनिषद which talks of तेन भुञ्जीथा a nut-cracker by any standards of philology which regulates the lives of millions in a samajam, like the samajam in Nepal which sanctifies gadimai. Is the subject line including ‘slaughter’ the bon mot? Maybe, not.

    If a poor farmer commits suicide आत्महत्या what is the message he is communicating? Same for सति How can we sit in judgment over the act rendered l’acte gratuite (unmotivated action)?

    Scores of आयागपट with inscriptions have been found praying to the जीन. What wer the homages for? Certainly not for self-aggrandisement. The artisans may have been impelled to perform the worship, prayer, yaj, simply because it has to be done. It was a social contract. How can we question this contract, Gautam? Tradition gains a life of its own and the rtam ऋतम् moves on.

    I suppose the process of giving, the very meaning and intent of giving is related to the aadhyaatmikaa gestalt of the meaning of life and living: acquisition, possessions, produce, AND the ability to give up, surrender ALL THIS ‘property’ to that paramaatman. When a poor farmer’s family gives up the prize possession of a buffalo or a goat, what myriad reasonings impel the family to give up? For something some शक्ति inexorable, supreme larger than everything known and knowable? Who knows? That devi alone is real, rest is अनित्यम् माया

    When a farmer commits suicide or when he or she gives up the ‘personal’ possessions, what is the prayer, yaj?

    I don’t know. Social traditions are too deep for tears, Gautam. Let us offer our yaj and move on, beyond oration, in utter silence of meditation.

    The text reads:

    ईशावास्यमिदं सर्वं यत्किंच जगत्यां जगत्

    तेन त्यक्तेन भुंजीथा: मा गृधः कस्यस्विद्धनम्

    16. From Sadhya Jain:

    Dear Hindu ‘Pope’ or ‘Popes’ – you do not get to decide anything. At best you can have an opinion about anything and everything.

    17. Radha Rajan:

    Oh we do, Sandhya, because like the section of animal killers you are supporting we too are ordinary people, Hindu bhaktas with an opposite view from animal abusers based on ahimsa. And it is on the view of such ordinary people that Sri Rama sent his pregnant wife into exile remember? Intelligent Hindus will try to reconcile these two opposing views within the dharmic framework and try to discuss what is dharma in this time, in this place and in this context.

    18. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Namaskaram Radhaji: Sandhyaji has no clear response or arguments as to why slaughtering some 200,000 innocent beings is Hinduism. You and I are Hindus, and we abide by the Veda which does not prescribe animal slaughter for any purpose whatsoever, let alone for the sacred ritual of Yajna.

    To me it is astonishing that a group of knife wielding wretches arrogate to themselves the power of Devi and slaughter innocent beings, subject them to pain, terror and death. Sandhyaji is a Jain and I cannot imagine any Jain condoning this.

    Clearly, because she thinks that she is supporting the hoi polloi. In one email she says she is defending her Hindu brothers, meaning those hapless wretches who arrogate to themselves the power of Devi.

    An odd way of defending Sanatana Dharma!

    At any rate, let us wait and see what the Sanskritist on this list has to say about the etymological history of Yajna and the Yaaska-Panini-Patanjali tradition. For us Hindus these should be our guides in this ghastly situation.

    19. From Radha Rajan:

    Vijayaji I am not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination. I try to be informed. But if I am not mistaken animals were sacrificed for the Vajpeyi Yagna and Asvamedha Yagna. But these Yagnas and the vyavahara aspect of dharma is if I am not mistaken again, is dealt with in the Karma Kanda of the Vedas. When I asked Pujya Kanchi Periava about animal sacrifice, he only told me this – the Vedas are broadly divided into 2 – the Karma Kanda and the Gnana Kanda. The Gnana Kanda is eternal and cannot be changed or modified.

    What Pujya Periava left unsaid and which I resumed was that animal sacrifices are dealt with in Karma Kanda and Karma Kanda in contrast to gnana kanda is subject to time place context which makes our dharma dynamic and ever adaptive.

    20. From Sandhya Jain:

    Vijaya-ji: In case you did not get it – Dharma is more complex than the stentorian one path you declaim from a country far away, and with little contact with the organic nature of Hindu society and its vast complexities. Let me be brief. Glad that Radha has found a face-saver in Karlekar, but her own reply yesterday was a clear case of retreat. Why? Because the social groups where RSS-BJP is hoping to make inroads now, are meat eating and sacrificing communities and they cannot be allowed to be put off by a unilateral declaration of morality – dharma by persons undeniably associated with the Parivar. Pravin Togadia was badly booed in Kerala when he tried to make such statements before a purely Hindu audience, two decades ago. You foolishly expanded the group and let the discussion get into print also – in your arrogance.

    I don’t impose my personal beliefs as universal dharma to be mandated upon the human race. You and your allies have done that. Now Haran ji, who must have discussed this in the VHP where he works, sounded the first warning by his statement that the Kanchi Paramacharya had admitted that sacrifice is part of Hindu ritual in many quarters. Two days later this was very politely reiterated by Kalyan ji. But you guys went full steam ahead – making this about ME rather than the plurality of Hindu tradition. I am amazed that persons closely associated with the Parivar – as outright members of RSS or emotionally [I am neither] should not realise the sensitivity of the Indian and Hindu Nepali situation.

    The discussion has clearly spread to certain important places in Chennai – and Radha was directly told to back off. This reply of December 17 makes that obvious, because she would have known the Kanchi position even earlier, and she did not support Haran ji when he spoke out mildly.

    I personally think that the Jallikattu episode has rebounded on the RSS, and Radha’s association with the Supreme Court case – revealed not in her own article, but in Haran ji’s defence of her – has enraged some persons in Tamil Nadu. It has put RSS in the dock.

    I think I told you before – not to interfere in what you know nothing about. As an academic living in a western country, you don’t keep up with the work going on there, I am sure you do not have membership of any good university library or subscription of good journals. Else you would not get excited about Sudarshan Rao and his proposed study of Hindu civilisation – with abusive idiots like SN Balagangadharan who has seriously embarrassed the government at the ICHR annual lecture – which he was totally unqualified to deliver. Rao is blameworthy because he presided over a small talk by SNB [which I attended] where he had nothing to say and only abused people and put everyone off with his arrogance; after that he should never have been allowed to deliver the ICHR lecture. Paradoxically, a section of the RSS promotes idiocy – may be to test the waters, I don’t know.

    Just Google Aatish Taseer and read his article in the Times of India – 2 Sundays ago, and you will get some hint of the enormous intellectual work that has been done and is being done on Hindu tradition. Your ignorance does not mean that the intellect is dead and is waiting to you and your amateur allies to revive it.

    As I sign off, just ask yourself why no ‘sanskritist’ responded to your call to testify to the Vedic tradition. They obviously know more than you do, that’s why.

    21. From B.R. Haran

    Dear Sandhyaji: Certain clarifications will be in order.

    I have not discussed this issue with VHP here. The VHP in TN is vertically split and the Delhi VHP has disowned the TN VHP two and a half years back due to internal politics. The reconciliations attempted by certain quarters have failed miserably. Hurt and disheartened by the split, I have relieved myself from almost all responsibilities except the responsibility of editing their Tamil fortnightly “Hindu Mithran”, for which I go there only for five days a fortnight.

    As far as Jallikattu is concerned, I have made my stand very clear in my article that the cruel sport has to be banned, for what is happening in Tamilnadu is a farce and not the genuine form of Jallikattu which was an age old sport.

    Coming to the subject of animal sacrifice, Kanchi Paramacharya has indeed dealt with this subject deeply. I found it from the collection of his discourses which is published in 7 volumes in the name “Voice of God” (Deivathin Kural in Tamil). Paramacharya talks about the “Karma Kanda” and “Jnana Kanda” as noted by Radhaji earlier in this thread. He also says that only 23 animals are mentioned for the sacrificial offering in the Yagnya called “Vajapeya”, which is the highest Yagnya performed by Brahmin Priests. He also says that one hundred animals are mentioned for Asvamedha conducted by Rulers. Paramacharya also says that, there are rules regarding the meat to be carved out from a sacrificial animal, the part of the body from which it is to be taken and the quantity each Rtvik can partake of as prasada, which is not more than the size of a pigeon-pea, to be swallowed without anything added to taste.

    However, he makes one point very clear that there is no sacrifice (Yagnya) in which a large number of animals are killed. Hence I took a stand that the barbarism of Gadhimai could not be justified equating it with the Vedic Yagnyas.

    I await further deliberations on this subject by the learned scholars here, so that, I can learn more.

    22. From B.V.K. Sastry

    RESPONSE on ‘Sanskrit’ perspective  in ‘Gadimai’ thread of discussion

    Namaste  All: Sorry for the time lag in responding on this topic of ‘Gadimai –Slaughter’- Sanskrit related.

    I prefer to limit my response to the technicality of ‘Samskrutham –Language’ in this thread of discussion.  This clarity  may  help to (a) comprehend  the ‘ intent of Sanskrit  technical vocabulary’ – like – Yajna, Bali –Vadha –Praani- Pashu Tantra Devataa – Shakti -Shaakta–  which have figured in one way or the other in the  available responses. (b) To stay clear of shortcomings of interpretations,  translations, inaccurate constructions and  improper connection with a large variety of ‘Vedic Practices that permeate Hindu Religiosity and  observances’.

    This explanation is neither holding a fig leaf to the aberrations observed in the history of Hindu  society or supporting  forced word-meaning- stretch  to  white-wash the uneven, wavy and wavering terrain of interpreting  ‘Vedic traditional practices’!

    I provide some lead paragraphs before delving to the technicality of Sanskrit words.

    ‘Gadimai’- The name of the deity:  ‘Gadimai’ –  is a regional language word, that appears to  be linked to ‘ Gaadi (Throne) / Gadi ( Boundary of a province) + Mai (- a deformed pronunciation of the word ‘ Maataa / Maayee – meaning Mother). The visual representation of the deity resembles the ‘Durga’ devataa in puranas and tantras.

    Why worship ‘Gadimai’? :  ‘Worship of this form of goddess is recommended for the seekers of worldly power, protection from enemies. The popular belief of devotees offering the ‘animal sacrifice’ is in tune with this ‘boon-barter-model’.  A similar form of worship is seen across several parts of India – Maharajnee at Kashmir, Durga / Kaali at Bengal, Vindhya Vaasinee at central india , Chamundeswari  at South India.

    How to worship ‘Gadimai’? :  The final format of Gadimai worship is like a ‘Devataa’. This is provided as a custom guidance in tradition. The important   considerations for deciding the final worship format are the following:

    Who worships? (Kartaa Yajamaana)  –  Individual, Family, Community.

    Why worship? (Phala) –  The ‘desires sought through worship of a Devataa’.

    How –When Worship? (Vidhi) – The rule book for worship guidelines.

    External and Internal worship parts  ( Mantra –Yoga –Prayoga ) – Guidance from Veda, Tantra , Aagama and cultural customs ( Kulaachaara sampradaya).

    Who decides the final format of worship ‘Gadimai’? How?  :  The final format of worship is always a ‘Custom guidance in a context’ ( = Anushaasana)  for a ‘specific benefit’. The optimal format and scale of operation is  decided by the ‘Knowledgeable Elders and Scholar  of  Tradition’ ( = Kula-Purohita),by  keeping proper alignment with the ‘Dharma Standards and community  practice continuity’.

    What part of ‘Gadimai’ – Jaatra is Vedic Yajna compliant or other wise ?  :   Gadimai Jaatra worship falls outside the domins of a Vedic Yajna, a specific format of Devataa worship.

     All Devataa worship has three generic formats:

    (i) Yajna –External (Through Fire ritual OR worship of  Iconic representation as in a  Pratimaa – Murthy ). (ii) Daana – Barter of material with the Devataa for seeking a benefit (Devatoddeshaka dravya – tyagah: A technical definition from Meemaamsaa tradition of what Yajna is). The practical format of Tyaaga becomes ‘Daanam’- transfer of ownership  (iii) Tapas – Internal worship – Internalized worship.

    All three formats must deliver ‘Purity’ (Paavanataa). This is the necessary and sufficient criterion for design and audit . This is the based on authoritative statement from Gita ( 18thchapter – Sloka 1 to 8).

    This is more so, when a ‘worship of devataa is driven by a “personal desire fulfillment” by the devotee’ = Kaamya-karma ( Gita 18- 1 and 2). The important point to note here is that this is an ‘individual guidance’; It is NOT a ‘MASS Guidance’ or ‘all time guidance or ‘ MOKSHA’  guidance for ALL in community’!

    There is no ‘Generic mass prescribed Vedic Yajna’   which can lead to a scenario where  ‘ entire community gets et at one place and makes a  cookie-cutter model of repetitive and imitative ritual, without personal commitment and involvement’. (The debate is technically called sarva-moksha-prasanga).  This precisely is the point what distinguishes the ‘ Hindu  common community observance of Vratas like Ganesha Poojaa,  which is  personalized in each family and individually according to Veda-Dharma guidance’ from an observance like Ramadan, Christmas, Yom Kippur, which are primarily –  ‘ Mass observance by Faith Community, dictated by the Religious leadership for Event observation, Time, Format, Scale and Goal ’.

    Thus, ‘Gadimai’ observance and related ‘slaughter’ is more of a ‘event organized for fulfilling a ‘greed-need’ using the wrap of a ‘Faith-Religion-practice, tagging it with the name ‘Vedic Yajna’.  The origin of Gadhimai Festival shows the ‘Historic nature of the Event, crafted   about 260 years ago’.

    Yajna is a ‘Divine vision and needs sanction from the Meemaamsaa rule base’.  Gadimai  jaatra lacks this authority  to be linked with  Vedic Yajna. Here is the history of ‘Gadimai’ festival.  The Gadhimai festival has its origins in the 18th century with a feudal landlord Bhagwan Chaudhary and a village healer adept in the Hindu occult, Dukha Kachadiya. Bhagwan Chaudhary was imprisoned at Makwanpur fort prison 260 years ago. While imprisoned he dreamed a dream that his problems would be solved if he made a blood sacrifice to Gadhimai, in other words if he sacrificed an animal. After leaving prison Chaudhary took advice from Kachadiya. According to tradition at the time of Chaudhary’s sacrifice a light appeared in an earthenware jar and from than onwards the grotesquely cruel sacrifice has continued every five years for the last 260 years. For two and a half centuries living breathing beings have been brutally slain because someone had a dream which was foolishly misinterpreted. Today approximately one million people flock to the festival hoping for healing, or good fortune or conversely to avoid bad luck by attending bringing with them an animal, and so the massacre continues and will do so until commonsense and compassion prevails.

    The 2009 festival which began at dawn accompanied by an eerie swirling mist was opened with the sacrifice in the main temple of two rats, two pigeons, a pig, a lamb and a rooster while spectators chanted “Long live Gadimai” like some performance of macabre entertainment people jostled one another for a better view.

    During the stage of the gruesome proceeding called the  “panchhbali,” or five offerings, the throats of five kinds of animals are slit with a knife, buffalo, goats, pigs, roosters and rats, this death is deliberately protracted, it is slow and agonising for these creatures, according to the belief of this gross and obscene tradition the Goddess prefers it that way.  Their throats are slit with a knife, these animals suffer a slow violent and extremely painful death while the priests sprinkle the blood across the image of the goddess and its surroundings.

    The inspiration for such an event is said to be the ‘Culture of Worshipping Village Devataas’ (Grama devataas) as a part of ‘Village Trade and festivities ( – Jaatraa)’. This is a feeble effort to cover up the weak link of the practice with ‘ Vedic –Yajna-guidance’.

    Such an event organization at village level, the animal trade and ‘meat –hide-market economy oriented transactions’ are a part of trade and commerce that come under the supervision of ‘State’ rather than the ‘Religion – Tradition-  Moksha’ needs.

    In this light, the explanation of  eight Sanskrit technical words is placed below:

    Yajna This is a Vedic Samskrut word with multiple meanings. The technical use of the word is explained in Panini, Patanjali and Yaska.  The root is ‘Yaja’ – which has three meanings:  Worship a Devataa (Deva poojaa), Organizing the needful for a ritual (Sangati-karana) – Giving up of ownership on an item for a purpose with purity (Daana).  Yajna is not a technicality to legitimize ‘ violence, mass animal slaughter, promotion of meat-hide trade, perpetuation of  superstition in the name of Vedas,  There is no scope to associate ‘yajna’ with ‘(mass) animal slaughter’ in the name of ‘pleasing a devataa’!  The word ‘Daana’ does not mean ‘killing –or slaughter’.

    Bali This is a technical word which means ‘what enriches the prowess (balam). It does not lend to the interpretation as ‘animal slaughter). ‘Pancha-bali’ – is preferably interpreted as ‘ invoking Five-Strengths’.

    Vadha – This is technical word meaning with multiple meanings. The generic simplictor translation as ‘killing, slaying’ is not correct in the context of ‘Yajna’.  The word, according to Monier William’s dictionary, has the  meanings : ‘Vanquisher, destroyer , a deadly weapon (esp. Indra’s thunderbolt), a kind of pot-herb.

    Praani- All life forms with ‘ life’. The word ‘Praani-Vadha’ is not equal to ‘ animal slaughter’, as generally made out.  ‘Praana’ is the ‘ Supreme Divine Brahma’ (Pranam Brahma – Taittiriya Upanishad).

    Pashu –  Another technical word meaning ‘ all life forms which is bound by mortality and ignorance’.  ‘Pashu-Bali’ – means ‘what enriches the power of the life-form, the animate being’. It does not mean ‘slaughter of animal’.  One of the words for Shiva is ‘Pashu-Pati’ .The word ‘Pashu-Pati-Natha’ is the name of Shiva at Nepal. The name of Goddess Parvati  is ‘Pashu-paasha- vimochanee’ – the goddess who frees the being from bondage. This does not mean ‘ killing’.   The secrets of ‘Shaakta –Aagama /Tantra – Kaula traditions’ which apparently look ghastly and grotesque on a plain reading of the text are not really so ! The secrets encrypted in the code-language of the text (Guhya –Bhashaa Samskrutham) are opened only for a qualified seeker. In any case, Tantra was NEVER recommended as a Public practice like Vedic traditions. And Tantra, in reality is NOT against Vedas or Dharma.  The technical terms of ‘Para and Apara Vidya’ need a different context to explain more. Vedas provide pathways for meeting the needs of   para and apara seekings and dimensions of Sadhaka.

    Tantra – Tantra is not black magic or sorcery!  Tantra is a special technique of Vedic Yajna- Internal,  practiced at the level of  ‘Manas = Mind,   using Mantra = Sacred chants and seed sounds (beeja-aksharas) , to expand power of consciousness (= chaitanya and Shakti) in marked boundaries called yantra for specific regulation’.

    Devataa – Devataa is the gate way to vision ‘Veda’ . This is accomplished by use of ‘ Mantra’ –chants in  Meditation on specific forms ( = Form of Devataa as given in the Dhayna Sloka / in the visual iconic form / the image/  the pratimaa)  and through the  ‘fire lit in the ‘Yajna’.  The rule is ‘agnimukhaa vai devataaH’ – Fire (Agni) is the gate way and face of Devataa.  The visual icon is for the benefit of the less-capable to start with the Yajna process.  This does not involve any animal slaughter. In fact, the ‘animal (pashu) referred to in this guidance is the ‘ego’ of the meditator.

    Shakti –Shaakta :   These again are Vedic Sanskrit words , which have suffered distortion of interpretation as ‘ anti vedic /Tantra related’ ! Shakti is integral of Supreme Divinity (Paraasya Shaktih vividhaiva shrooyate : Shvetashvatara Upanishad) . Just as there are Yajna guidance to explore the  ‘Consciousness (Chaitanya), the guidance to explore the Shakti aspect is called ‘Tantra’. The disciplines have different perspectives ; they are not against each other.

    It is also necessary to weed out the arguments like : < Indra et al, drank liquor; that Devi drinks blood and eats flesh  > , to address the aberration of Yajna-practice in Tantra at places like Kamaakhya , The ‘symbolic half-hearted models of ‘ pashu-vadha with ‘ flour replica’ in some traditional formats of  yajnas.’  This clarity can help to answer the issue about ‘the nature and history of Bharateeya civilization, reading :  ‘Bharateeya Samskruti  is <  an evolution   that has risen from a tribal matrix and this is reflected in the Vedas and the whole spectrum of civilization across the land. The Vedas are a summation of a long process of intellectual and spiritual development and not a mythical beginning point as is assumed by some. It is not at par with Abraham or Moses declaring the law sotto voce at a point in history, and everyone agreeing or disagreeing to ONE way of worship of One divinity.>  In this approach, should we say ‘Bharateeya Civilization’ is continuously degenerating civilization following the Yuga-Dharma and Dharma-entropy deterioration ? This is for your contemplation please.

    I do stand by my earlier statement about ‘How to study Samskrutham – the language of Vedic documents’.  Traditional schools always have held the position –“ Vedas have a plurality of meanings” ; “ Vedic studies and understanding  needs a specific pedagogy and tools of language for interpretation”. The same passage of Upanishad is treated by Meemaamsa as ‘artha-vaada’ – a technicality which has no relevance for Yajna; but the same passage would be handled in Uttara –meemaamsaa as profound ultimate Truth stated out in a standing way. The application of guidance from  Panini-Patanjali-Yaska  for  understanding  the  Vedic document in the ‘Chandas’ mode for  ‘upaasanaa’ as ‘Mantra’  meditation is different from the ‘Yajnika – Bhashaa’ mode for ‘Application of Veda as   ‘Adhvaryu Veda’ in Yajna’.

    The ‘Yajna- application’ is called the ‘ Sa-svara Paurusheya Bhashaa’  in the Yajnika tradition, or the Samskruth of human construction with accents, specific for Yajna needs. This also explains why the same looking Samskrut word finds three levels of explanation – in Bhashaa (Panini), Chandas (Yaska) and Yoga-Mystic ( Patanjali) model.

    Concluding , I am re wording  and presenting  Dr. Vijaya’s statement : <  Even the so called Hindu ‘scholars’ have erred in not  capturing the real intention and meaning of ‘ Vedic  authentic tradition’ due to loss of < studying Vedas in the prescribed   Shadanga –Vedanga – Voice Primary mode>  and over  following the < Vedanta guidance, giving inadequate attention for the observation of Karma-Kanda>.  Certainly, no Hindu Vedic ritual today employs animal sacrifice.  But it also behooves us to investigate this calumny of our tradition and restore the linguistic culture and continuity of Vedic studies in the frame of Panini-Patanjali –Yaska, which alone can help to understand the Poorvameemaamsaa  ( Karma Kaanda)  and Uttara –meemamsa ( Vedanta) as  unified Vedic tradition of <Karma-Brahma – Yajna –  Sutra. >

    I thank you all and seek your inputs on the above.

    23. From Radha Rajan:

    Dr. Sastry, the etymology of the core words is of immense importance to even begin to understand the rituals they describe. The roots of these words alone will tell us what these rituals were in the beginning, their objective and how they changed over time. Thank you, Sir, for this invaluable input.

    24. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Namaskaram Friends: People have written and asked me how to access our exchanges on the topic of the Gadimai slaughter. I referred them to Bharata Bharati where the editor has placed them at the end of the article on the topic by Pramada Shah (Dec. 3, 2014). Dr. Sastry’s comments are presently there for easy reference.

    Others have asked about Dr. Sastry’s own comments. I have forwarded them to these people. They are going to circulate them amongst their friends and acquaintances.

    Every Hindu should read them slowly and carefully. Now that Dr. Sastry has delinked the Vedic Yagna from the monstrous event at Gadimai we can all continue that process by reflection and whatever theorising and action we can do wherever we are.

    For us Hindus the Veda is the beginning of whatever we can turn to. This is a given.

    And the Devi is always benign and has and will be so. The distortions of this are just that, distortions. She presents her terrible front only to the evil doers. This is clear from the Devi Mahatmyam. To think that for commercial purposes the unfortunate wretches at Gadimai were lured into the unspeakable evil against 200,000 plus helpless beings !

    Radhaji, I hope your sterling work (in stopping the inhumane practice of putting chilly in the eyes of animals, forcing them to drink intoxicating drinks and otherwise maiming them in order to excite the pathetic wretches who then engage in the so called sport of jallikattu) will continue in doing something about the animal sacrifices in Tamil Nadu.

    Yes, your analysis of the Supreme Court order (which mercifully prohibited contemporary jallikattu) was brilliant. But more important was your upholding of Hindu Dharma. May the Devi bless you!

    25. From Vijaya Rajiva:

    Namaskaram Friends: There has been positive response to Dr. Sastry’s etymological history of the core words used in Vedic Yagna and subsequent developments. The clarity that has ensued is invaluable.

    One person wrote to me about Dr. Sastry’s comments: this is wonderful indeed!

    In the context of the Gadimai slaughter it has enabled us to authenticate  the significance of Hindu opposition to the slaughter. He has also thereby managed to maintain the integrity of the Vedic tradition. Far too often one gets Western scholars trying to separate the Upanishads, the Brahmanas and the 4 Vedas, in order to legitimate one or the other. He has provided a unification.

    Let us hope that not only this issue of the Gadimai slaughter but other aspects of the Veda will be illuminated by Dr.Sastry’s ongoing work on Samskrutam studies.

    ‘How to study Samskritam’ (his projected book) may well be the way out of the confusion generated by Western scholars and translators.


    • This writer has attended yagnas that required an animal sacrifice. The priests made an image of the goat out of wheat flour dough and sacrificed it instead of the live animal. This is becoming a common practice in yagnas and at temples that by tradition have offered a blood sacrifice at least once a year, as math acharyas and sadhus strongly oppose live animal sacrifice. There are of course literalists who still insist on a live sacrifice, but they are losing ground except in places like Nepal.

      At Vaishnavi Shrine in Tirumullaivoyal, where this writer lived for twenty years, the Devi was offered red-coloured rice once a year and the offering was then disposed of a some distance from the temple. This represented the blood sacrifice that is a tradition in most Devi temples. The founder of Vaishnavi Shrine, Sadhu Pathasarathy, had studied the various texts and traditions of Devi worship and was an authority on them. He had the full support and blessing of the Kanchi Mahaswami too.

      In 1975-77 this writer served in an ashram on Saptashrungi Hill in the Western Ghats some 40 kms from Nashik. The hill is home to the Saptashrungi Nivasini Devi also known as Tripurasundari, the Devi who blessed Rishi Markandeya with the Devi Mahatmya. The Devi Mahatmya has 700 verses and there were 700 steps leading to the Devi’s temple high on a cliff. During the great festival of Vasant Navaratri, 700 goats were sacrificed, one on each step leading to Devi’s abode. This practice had been going on for many centuries. However in the 20th century a Mangalore Brahmin sadhu arrived on the hill and set up his ashram on the village perimeter. He opened a school and began to feed the Adivasi and Brahmin children together in his ashram. And he began to do propaganda against the sacrifice of goats on the temple steps. He had a difficult time persuading the villagers to stop it as they were desperately poor and the yearly sacrifice brought them wealth. However his protests against the sacrifice eventually reached Bombay where the Devi had many devotees. It also had influence on government officials. When this writer reached the hill in the 1970s, the sacrifice of goats during the Vasant Navaratri mela had already been stopped for some decades and coconuts were substituted instead, one coconut broken on each of the temple steps.

      The practices in many temples today are Purana-based with Tantic elements and local traditions added, not Vedic. Agriculturalists always offer their best farm animals to Devi. It is a very ancient practice deeply embedded in their psyche. It is very difficult to change but it can be reformed. On Saptashrungi today animals are still offered and placed at the Devi’s feet, but they are offered live and at the end of the day’s puja the live, well-fed and watered goats and chickens are given away to the poor in the village.

      The Gadhimai slaughter in Nepal is unconscionable and has to be reformed. If a blood sacrifice is required, it should be limited to the Panchbali sacrifice without cruelty. The devotees can revert to the earlier practice of offering coconuts. But the mela is in the control of a mafia and there are vast profits at stake for the butchers and temple managers. Pramada Shah (who gave the interview in the lead article above) should be given all support for her campaign against the sacrifice. She is a member of the Nepalese royal family which is also devoted to the Devi. She is the right person for this work. The North Indian sadhus should add their voice in support as they have influence on both the government and temple management.

      Sri Rama was a hunter and a meat-eater, as were some of the Rishis (one ate an asura that had been put in his curry). This fact recorded by Valmiki does not lessen Sri Rama’s stature in any way. But his example does not justify meat-eating by us today. We live in a different age under different circumstances from Sri Rama and the Rishis (whose times we can only imagine). We have a vast array of food items to choose from (which Sri Rama and the Rishi’s didn’t have). And we know from medical science that meat-eating is bad for health. There is no excuse today to kill animals for food. The fact that India has become the world leader in beef exports is a national shame. It shows up India’s much vaulted spirituality as hypocrisy. The India that wants to be the world’s guru should note that there are percentage-wise more vegetarians in the US today than in India. What is India going to do about it? Claim copyright on the ‘Hindu’ practice of vegetarianism and leave it at that?

  2. Shouldn”t the same logics apply when musallahs butcher during their eid festival. ? How come no one raises their voices or even an eyebrow then ? Strange are these selective social organizations (NGOs) always ever ready never to let any opportunity go by where they want to involve “international community” with respect to Hindu religious practices but remain mum and even defend the similar practices by abrahamic dogmas. Freedom to practice religion-that’s what they refer to it…

    • Protests are made against the Muslim Eid sacrifice and restrictions placed on it by the authorities, at least in some parts of South India.

      But Hindus are hardly in a position to complain about animal sacrifice by Muslims when they themselves practice it.

      The international NGOs are engaged to bring pressure on the Nepalese government. The same NGOs protest the slaughter of whales and dolphins by the Japanese and slaughter of pilot whales (wrongly called dolphins) by Danish Faroe Islanders. They have some success where governments refuse to listen to their own people.

      Perhaps you have missed the point of the article. It is the utter magnitude of the slaughter and the barbaric way it is carried out that causes so much concern. Had the Gadhimai Temple authorities confined themselves to the Panchbali sacrifice, nobody would have complained (though they may not have approved of it).

  3. Nepalese Hindus are living in a kind of time warp!

    Whatever validity animal sacrifice had in the past, it is not an appropriate mode of worship today.

    Old devotees say that Gadhimai Devi was originally offered coconuts. But some clever entrepreneurs persuaded the temple management and UP-Bihar farmers to offer buffaloes and rats instead, arguing that Gadhimai Devi preferred it. Offering a blood sacrifice would bring special benefits! And it does bring great benefits for the mela organisers as there is a lot of money in the meat and hides produced!

    The sadhus of Nepal and North India are influential and respected by the local people. They surely can persuade the Devi’s devotees to stop this awful sacrifice and return to the original practice of offering coconuts.

    They will certainly gain Gadhimai Devi’s blessings if they do it!

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