Well-known is the SB's description of the placing of a tortoise in the first layer of the agnicayana (Eggeling's translation): "He then puts down a (living) tortoise (kUrmaH);--the tortoise means life sap: it is life-sap (blood) he thus bestows on Agni..." (the explanation continues on for about ten sections -- SB ff.)

Herman Tull

On Wed, Jul 31, 2013 at 5:04 PM, George Hart <glhart@berkeley.edu> wrote:
Akanāṉūṟu 361 (probably dating to the first 2 centuries CE) mentions a sacrifice in which a tortoise is placed in a fiery sacrificial pit (tittiyam) for the gods "whose flowers do not fade" to eat.  This is also referred to 5 or 6 centuries later in the Cīvakacintāmaṇi (2878).  I have never heard of such a ritual and am wondering whether it is mentioned in Sanskrit.  The poem uses the image quite beautifully: a man separated from his beloved as he crosses the wilderness to get wealth addresses his heart, telling it that it must not think of her and must not be like the tortoise in the sacrificial pit longing for its cool, shadowed pond.  George Hart
INDOLOGY mailing list

Herman Tull
Princeton, NJ