Yagñá: The Central Religious Act

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


The English word ‘God’, the scholars say, derives from the German gott, from the Proto-Indo-European ǵʰu-tó-m, 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 the Latin, sacer: ‘to make sacred’] as used in the verses of the Rig Veda.

Or if you prefer a less severe term, ‘Divinity’, from the Latin: dyēus, later as Deus, Deity; from the Sanskrit: devam, ‘The Exalted Effulgent’

Or even more endearingly, the 8th century mystic-poet Sundarar’s call to Shivam. ‘Pitha’, literally, ‘[You] Delusional Madman’.


Self-Denial is the first order of Moral Code. All Virtue aligns with it. All Vanity scoffs at it. Religions offer their denouement at the limit of self-denial, in the perfection of self-mortification. They vary only in the details.

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.


[Yagñá today stands domesticated as the Puja and ‘Immortality‘ has been toned down to requests for an employable son-in-law. But that is another story.]

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