critiques of sacrifice

Benjamin Fleming fleming_b4 at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 20 06:12:37 UTC 2010

Dear List,

It is possible to contrast the various textual examples cited in this thread by pointing to other examples from inscriptional sources? I am familiar with inscriptions wherein Buddhist kings are known to have promoted rather than rejected certain types of Brahmanical sacrifice. This is seen, for example, in Pāla and Candra inscriptions of Bengal where rituals from the Atharvaveda Pariśiṣṭas, at least in name (such as the koṭihoma and the adbhutaśānti of the homacatuṣṭaya), are invoked for the purposes of returning favor for gifts of land. Further, as I recall, even at stūpa sites such as at Nāgārjunakoṇḍa there are inscriptions promoting the aśvamedha sacrifice.

To my mind such inscriptional evidence raises the question of how we receive the Buddhist critiques of sacrifice. Are the textual sources, for example, derived only from a canonical framework?  Is the critique offered in ritual sources such as Tantras? I am curious as, looking to the inscriptional evidence, I wonder if the Buddhist critique of sacrifice is only rendered by Buddhist monks who are themselves in competition with Brahminical ritualists and thus, wishing to discredit their ritual rivals in the hopes of gaining royal favor? 

It would be helpful to understand what is behind the question about Buddhist or Jain rejection of sacrifice. Admittedly, my knowledge of Buddhist canonical literature is not, what it should be! I would appreciate any comments with respect to clarification or otherwise. This is certainly an interesting topic! I am in fact working on two related projects and am happy to receive further references on this general topic. 

Best Wishes,


Benjamin Fleming Visiting Scholar, 
Dept. of Religious Studies, 
University of Pennsylvania 249 S. 36th Street, 
Claudia Cohen Hall, #234 
Philadelphia, PA 19104 U.S.A. 
Telephone - 215-746-7792 

> Date: Tue, 20 Apr 2010 09:41:56 +0900
> From: yanom at CC.KYOTO-SU.AC.JP
> Subject: Re: critiques of sacrifice
> One of the interesting sources is the Buddhist
> text ZaarduulakarNaavadaana (ed. by 
> Mukhopadhyaya, Santiniketan 1954, page 19),
> where Brahmanical sacrifice is critisized as
> being performed by those who want to eat the
> meat of sacrificail animals.
> lines 15-18:
> na prokSaNair na mantraiz ca svargaM gacchanty ajaiDakaaH/
> na hy eSa maargaH svargaaya mithyaaprokSaNam ucyate//
> braahmaNai raudracittais tu paryaayo hy eSa cintitaH/
> maaMsaM khaaditukaamais tu prokSaNaM kalpitaM pazoH//
> Michio Yano
> Kyoto Sangyo University
> >Dear List--
> >Can anyone recommend primary or secondary literature on critiques of Vedic
> >sacrifice and orthopraxy? I am interested in Buddhist & Jain critiques as
> >well as those from within the Brahmanic fold.
> >
> >Thanks
> >
> >Finnian Moore Gerety
> >
> >doctoral student, Dept. of Sanskrit & Indian Studies, Harvard University

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