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Hinduism Vedic period dates back to the pre historic times of the Hindus. Vedic period was well known for the kind of worship and the establishment of Hindu religious beliefs. It was the time when the Hindu religious epics were put into writing together with the Vedas (Hymns). The earliest Vedic period of Hinduism was characterized by four types of sacred activities. These four categories are obtained by putting into consideration the regard toward sacrifice. For the Hindu religion which has no clear identity of the founder, there are three paths that an individual has to go through so as to obtain spiritual deliverance (Elgood 39).
Ritual action is regarded as the first step that one has to go through, the purpose of Hindu rituals is the same for the different groups but how it was carried out was different from one group to the other. During a ritual sacrifice various things are performed depending on the group offering the sacrifice. For example, during the ritual which has the main aim of preserving life, heat is used as a symbol of life. This is because when a person dies it produces no heat. This kind of ritual is referred to as an analogy. Soma which is a drug is grounded and sieved to seem like thunder. The soma is divided between the god of lighting (Indra) and the individual giving the sacrifice. This acts help to give more life to the goddess who will on the other hand sustain the believers in the religion (Rinehart 45).
There are other rituals such as the Parusa’s sacrifice offered for creation of the world. It involves putting up a structure known as the altar which is made up of bricks. All parts of the altar are named then fire is placed at the centre. This act resembles what happened during creation when everything that was being created was named. The main reason for performing these rituals is to link individuals with the divine. It enables people to obtain order in the world they are living in. Rituals of various kinds, serving different purposes depended on the priests during the Vedic period to accomplish the exercise on behalf of the person offering the sacrifice. The sacrificial place has to be a holy place set up in the right manner according to the rules put forward by the priests. It should have all the required materials to be used by the priest during the offering (Renard 65).
Most of the Hindu sacrifices are animals. These animals are chosen according to the type and nature of the sacrifice. For example, during the Gadhimai festival which is carried out in honour of the goddess of power the devotees bring about 20,000 animals of various types to be sacrificed. Among the animals to be sacrificed were rats, pigeon, buffaloes and lambs. The sacrifice can also be in form of the actions of human beings such as sexual relations. This is especially for the Yagna. The organs and the mind can also be the sacrifice in Upanishad which is a form of sacrifice (Robinson 82).
The main reason why Hindus observed the ritual sacrifice was because of the need for liberation. Liberation was the most important thing for an individual as it enables one to achieve the right state of mind and facts which are important in life. This idea is brought out clearly by the sacrifice known as atmarpana. This fact is seen clearly as the careful attitude of an individual towards the divine being. It enables a person to devote himself or herself fully to the divine in their actions and thoughts. This act will ensure that evil acts are evaded in the society. There is the belief that Yoga practice for the Hindus has the main aim of changing an individual. It makes a person to have the urge of the greatest levels of spiritual freedom which is described using varied names. A transformed individual is known by the name jivanmkuta which depicts his or her liberation state though the person is still in the body. The body is not in its ordinary way but it has been made holy by the Yoga. Sacrifices help in creating order in the cosmic world as human beings belief that they are linked with the supernatural and have to work towards pleasing the divine in order to live in peace in the world (Flood 77).
This act of offering sacrifices is not so significant today in other religions. In Christianity for example, the belief that Jesus Christ died for the sins of mankind puts off the need for any other sacrifice.
In Hindu religion the act of rituals and sacrifices was there from the beginning. It is varied both in nature of its practice and the intended function. Rituals were carried out by the priests who were regarded as the specialists. The main aim for the rituals is to link an individual with the divine.