Albedil M. F. Ancient Indian Sacrifi cial Rituals: On the Consubstantiality of Man and Animal in Hinduism

Margarita F. Albedil
Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (Kunstkamera) of the Russian Academy of Sciences
Saint Petersburg, Russia 



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ABSTRACT. Starting from the prehistorical period, the relationship between man and animal was one of the major problems in the ideology of archaic and traditional societies. Apparently, this is when the belief that man and animal, like all the elements of the universe, are similar and consubstantial with each other arose among the ancient people. Such archaic ideas about the unity of the essence of man and animal were clearly manifested during the Vedic period and preserved for a long time in Hinduism, echoing in visual arts, mythology and ritual practices. In this article, I intend to illustrate this statement with ancient Indian sacrifi cial rites. My choice is conditioned by the fact that the institution of sacrifi ce has long been deeply rooted in Hinduism and can be considered one of its fundamental categories. In the Vedic period, the main form of ritual activity was yajna sacrifi ce, which was rooted in the archaic magic. According to the texts, man was considered the main sacrifi ce to the gods, while his equal worth substitute in the ritual practices of sacrifi ce was animal that was consubstantial to man. Ancient Indian priests thoroughly worked out procedures to eliminate the possible negative consequences from the killing of animals. Having such deep foundations, animal sacrifi ces still persist in Hinduism, although they are offi cially banned in some states. The idea of the consubstantiality of man and animal helps explain some other characteristic features of Hinduism.


KEYWORDS: archaic thinking, consubstantiality of man and animal, Hinduism, animal sacrifi ce, man as a sacrifi cial animal, animal as a human substitute


УДК 140.8+294.5
DOI 10.31250/2618-8619-2020-3(9)-07-13



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