Sunday, October 04, 2009

#010 DID HARISCHANDRA SACRIFICE HUMANS?

CONTEXT: Part 9, Chapter 7, Verses 7 to 26 (i.e. 20 verses) narrate the story of Harischandra. Briefly: King Harischandra was the great grandfather of Rama. He did not have children. He approached Rain God (Varun`a) for boon of a son. Foolishly he promised the Rain God, that he would offer the tobeborn son in sacrifice to the Rain God. The Rain God okayed.

After the son is born, the Rain God approached the king for the sacrifice of the infant. Name of the baby: Rohita. The king wanted 10 days time stating that an animal becomes fit for sacrifice after 10 days.
Rain God came after 10 days. This time, the king said that the infant will be fit for sacrifice only after it gets its teeth. He asked the Rain God to come after the child gets teeth.

RG came after the child got teeth. This time, the king postponed stating that the teeth should fall. Then only the boy will be fit for sacrifice.

RG came after Rohita's teeth had fallen. This time, the king wanted new teeth to grow. Then only Rohit will be fit for sacrifice.

RG came after Rohit got his teeth. This time king's excuse: A warrior should become fit to defend himself. Then only he will be fit for a sacrifice. The waiting story went on.

Now Rohit understood that his father was postponing the sacrifice deliberately with some excuse or other. Understanding that he should save his life, Rohit went to forests.

Owing to the wrath of the Rain God, the king started suffering from dropsy. Rohit came to know about it. He wanted to return immediately, but the God of Heaven "Indra" persuaded him to go on a pilgrimage and Rohit spent five years on pilgrimages.
VERSE 20, SANSKRIT:
ṣaṣht`̣haam samvatsaram tatra caritvaa rohitahạ puriim
upavrajann Ajiigartaad akriiṇaan
madhyamaḿ sutam s`unaḥs`eephaam
pas`uum pitree pradaaya samavandata.
ENGLISH:
At the end of the sixth year Rohit returned to his father. Rohit bought one youth called "Sunahs`eepha" as the animal for sacrifice, from his father Ajigarta and gave to the king.
VERSE 21, SANSKRIT:
tataha puruṣha-meedheena Haris`candroo mahaa-yas`ahạ
muktoodaroo 'yajad devaan varunạadiin mahat-kathaḥa
ENGLISH: By sacrificing the human, Harischandra (here see the adjective used to describe Harischandra: "Great famed"), pleased the Rain God and freed himself from dropsy.
VERSE 22: SANSKRIT: Vis`vaamitroo abhavat tasmin hootaa ca adhvaryur aatmavaan
Jamadagnir abhuud brahmaa Vasiṣhṭ`hoo Ayasyaḥa saama-gaḥa.
ENGLISH: In the sacrifice, Vis`vaamitra acted as OBLATOR (Priest who pours clarified butter and human flesh into the pyre), Jamadagni acted as CHANTER of Yajurveeda mantras, Vasisht`ha acted as CHIEF PRIEST, and Agastya acted as "SINGER" of Vedic hymns.
CRITICAL REMARKS:
For all sacrifices (whether human or horse or bulls or aquarian or bird or other animals), the four leaders i.e. CHIEF PRIEST, OBLATOR, CHANTER, and SINGER are necessary. PRESUMPTION: When an animal is sacrificed in the fire, the resultant cooked flesh and ash, is taken as divine gift food ("prasaad") eaten by all present. COMMENTs: Now what is the difference between Ikshavaku Kings and Cannibals?
Were sages and priests of those days, cannibals?