It is common among many religious traditions to offer animal sacrifice or to kill an innocent animal for the perceived wellbeing and longevity of the supplicant.
The innocent victim could be a sheep, a cow or even a poor chicken or rooster. The idea is that innocent animal life is slaughtered to ensure the dispelling of any misfortune from the supplicant and assure the supplicant’s long, prosperous life.
There is a ritual that sums up the reason behind animal sacrifice in few words of prayer. Supplicants swing a live chicken/rooster around their heads three times while saying a prayer that means: “This is my exchange, this is my substitute, this is my expiation. This chicken/rooster shall go to death and I shall proceed to a good, long life and peace.”
The chicken/rooster is then slaughtered and, traditionally, donated to the poor.
But what does the ancient Prophet Zarathushtra say to animal sacrifice???
We read in the poetic gathas, Yasna 32.12:
ýá rávng.hayen srav.ang.há//vahištát šyaöthanát maretánö
aæibyö mazdáv aká mraôt//ýöi géuš möreñden urváḵš-uḵtî jyötüm
ýáiš geréhmá ašát varatá//karapá ḵšathrem.čá îšanãm drûjem.
With their songs of havoc//they avert mortals from best activity/industry,
For them Mazda, the God of creative mind-power/passion has spoken malediction/damnation//Those who murder the living animal with cries of joy,
Instead of willing virtue, excellence//the ritual priests have chosen greed, desiring the kingdom of lies and trick!
We also read in the 3rd rhymed verse line of Yasna 32.14:
hyat.čá gáûš jaidyái mraôî//ýé düraôšem saôčayat avö
When the living animal is spoken for slaughter, they say the dispeller of misfortune/death is lit up in our favor.
To sum it up, Zoroastrianism believes in personal responsibility. No living being carries the sins of others. Animal sacrifice does not wipe out our sins, obligations or responsibilities. It does NOT erase anything but only brings damnation and malediction. It is just a vile carnival of cruelty.
For Zarathushtra, Godhood is virtue, goodness, wisdom and genuine feeling. The best offering to the divine is light, virtue, goodness and genuineness embodied in holy water and wine.
Only demonic deities demand the killing of innocent animal life instead of virtue and light!
Wonderful. Thanks for posting.
I like this article very much, as a vegetarian/part vegan, this text really appeals to me. Animal sacrifice is disgusting and very cruel.Years ago, I read a book where a vegetarian lady witnessed the Vodoo sacrifice of a goat and the poor animal was actually crying
No form of blood sacrifice, animal or human, can ever benefit one’s spiritual growth. And it is…far more dangerous and self-destructive than most people can imagine.
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Thank you for bringing light to this topic
Then why do we read this in Fargard 18 of the Vendidad?:
“67-68. Zarathushtra asked Ahura Mazda: ‘If a man shall come unto a woman who has the whites or sees blood, and he does so wittingly and knowingly47, and she allows it willfully, wittingly, and knowingly, what is the atonement for it, what is the penalty that he shall pay to atone for the deed they have done?’ 47. [i.e. while menstruating -JHP] ‘Knowing her state and knowing that it is a sin’ (Comm.)
69. Ahura Mazda answered: ‘If a man shall come unto a woman who has the whites or sees blood, and he does so wittingly and knowingly, and she allows it willfully, wittingly, and knowingly;
70. ‘He shall slay a thousand head of small cattle; he shall godly and piously offer up to the fire48 the entrails49 thereof together with Zaothra-libations50; he shall bring the shoulder bones to the Good Waters.”
And in verse 8 of the Yasna ceremony:
“I offer the Myazda (of the) meat-offering with a complete and sacred offering; and I offer Haurvatatat (who guards the water), and Ameretatat (who guards the plants and the wood), and the flesh of the blessed Kine.”
While I agree with your position that animal sacrifice is unacceptable, it seems clearly supported in the Avestan texts. So long as one kills the animal before the sacrifice is presented, and it’s not done with “cries of joy”, I don’t see any part of the Avesta that forbids animal sacrifice, and at times it even seems to demand it.