Kicking the God’s Asses & Killing Animals in Sacrifices

Dakṣa’s Demise

Rudra came before Bhṛgu and declared, “While you poured oblations into the fire, people warned you to dedicate some portion to Śiva. You merely smiled at this advice, and proudly stroked your beard…” Then he grabbed hold of Bhṛgu’s beard and tore it off.

When Rudra came furiously before him, Bhaga fell to the ground in fear. “While Dakṣa ridiculed and cursed me,” Rudra shouted, “you encouraged him with your eyes…” He lifted Bhaga’s head and gouged out his eyes.

Then he announced to Puṣa. “Like Bhaga, you also encouraged my accursed curser. You smiled at him, so…” With that, Rudra knocked out all of Puṣa’s teeth, just as Balarāma did to the King of Kaliṅga.

Rudra’s fury then fell upon Dakṣa, who he forced to the ground and sat on his chest. Rudra sliced Dakṣa’s neck with a cold, bright blade, but Three-Eyed could not decapitate him. He tried many different blades, axes, arrows, and so on – but the Destroyer could not even scratch Dakṣa’s skin. Very perplexed, the Lord of Creatures thought about it carefully. When that lord saw the altar where Dakṣa had been sacrificing creatures, he dragged Dakṣa upon it and successfully tore his head from his body, turning the sacrificer into the sacrificed.

Seeing this, Rudra’s warlocks, ghouls, and monsters exclaimed, “Sādhu! Sādhu! You’ve done a great deed!” But Dakṣa’s followers protested, “This is horrible!”

Furious Rudra ceremoniously offered that head into the southern fire, which then erupted into an inferno consuming the entire sacrificial arena. He left the place in ashes, returning with his minions to the invisible, hidden realm.

Note: Dakṣa was so powerful from all the sacrifices he had performed, not even Rudra could destroy him. I am wondering why he was able to do so on the sacrificial altar, but was unable to do so elsewhere with any weapon. In this section of verses there is a lot of subtle play on the word Paśu (animal), this seems to be the key to understanding Dakṣa’s weakness, which Rudra exploited.

In Vedic culture there is a split of opinion over whether sacrifices should involve the slaughter of animals or not. The ritualistic Brāhmaṇas tend to support the opinion that animal slaughter should be included, and most of the gods support them. But the sādhus and sages tend to support the opinion that animal slaughter should not be included in a Vedic sacrifice.

Dakṣa was undefeatable due to the power gained from executing so many sacrifices, but his weakness was that he had killed many, many animals to gain this power. Rudra is addressed here as Paśupati (“protector of animals”), and by putting Dakṣa himself on the altar of sacrifice – transforming the sacrifier into the sacrificed – he exposed Dakṣa’s weakness (specifically, that he would have to suffer as a result of gaining power by harming other creatures), and utilized that weakness to tear Dakṣa’s head from his body.

— Bhāgavatam 4.5.19 ~ 26 [End]

Vraja Kishor dās

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