God and Sacrifice


The English word ‘God’, the scholars say, derives from the German Gott, from the Proto-Indo-European Gutom, itself sourced in the Sanskrit Huta; ‘to pour’ [as in libation to the fire-altar] and its related word Hotr [the reciter of the ritual-invocation].

Both words derive from Hu: ‘Of the Sacrifice’ [from sacer; ‘to make sacred’], as used in the verses of the Rig Veda.

From the Hindu Yajna to the Hebrew Altar, Sacrifice is the central religious act.

Yajna was the original Hindu Ritual. And the domesticated, ubiquitously observed Pūjā descends from it [I do my own]. The first temples did not arise until well past the 2nd Century CE.

It’s not a good idea to be a goat on the Islamic Eid. Nor a buffalo at a Bengali Durga Pūjā. Nor a turkey at American Thanksgiving.

But you cannot sacrifice by proxy. That is cheating. You have to make your own.


The Hindu and Jewish rituals were not identical in intent. The former contains little of the notion of propitiation, of sin and compensation, so central to the latter. [The words of the invocation reflected the pivotal belief of an inclusive Brahman.]

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