Seeing Everyone as God / Slaughtering Animals in Sacrifice

Bhāgavatam 4.12

athāyajata yajñeśaṁ
kratubhir bhūri-dakṣiṇaiḥ
karma karma-phala-pradam (10)

As a king, Dhruva conducted ceremonies to give generous charity as a means to worship the Lord of Sacrifice who is the essence of all wealth, all rituals, all gods, and all endeavors, and who bestows the fruits of all efforts.

sarvātmany acyute ’sarve
tīvraughāṁ bhaktim udvahan
dadarśātmani bhūteṣu
tam evāvasthitaṁ vibhum (11)

By this fiercely powerful devotion he worshipped the Flawless Supreme Soul in all Souls, and was able to actually see the Supreme Soul as the soul of all things.

Dhruva’s version of “sacrifice” (yajña) was not slaughtering animals.

Where does the idea of slaughtering animals as sacrifice even come from anyway? “Sacrifice” means to give up something important. Animals are extremely important because they are our natural “cars” (think Horses, Bulls, Elephants, Camels, Donkeys, etc), ploughs, protectors, and food sources (even for vegetarians, think of milks and eggs, for example). Animals are natural wealth. The idea of killing them in a Sacrifice was a way of saying, “I am giving up what is important to me, because I trust that you (the gods to whom the animal was sacrificed) will take care of me.”

Its a bit of a bad idea though, since the animal is not exactly just an insentient bit of wealth, but is also a living creature who doesn’t want to get killed.

There are far better ways to offer sacrifice (yajña). Dhruva’s way was to give enormous amounts of wealth away to his citizens, on behalf of Viṣṇu. He would hold a huge, delightful festival and ceremony honoring Viṣṇu, with kīrtan and Viṣṇu-kathā. Then he would give fabulous wealth to all the attendees, with utmost respect.

Instead of offering the wealth into a fire, he was offering it to his citizens. What is the point of a fire, anyway? The fire is a way of removing something from our world and transferring it to a different state/world. (Fire transforms matter into energy). So fire is a bridge, symbolically, from humanity to the gods. Sacrificing something into a fire is like giving it in charity to a god. Dhruva’s idea, however, was to give it more directly to god by giving it to people.

Kuvera had previously explained to him (texts 5 and 6) that Viṣṇu is the essence of all beings. So, by offering his service and wealth to his citizens (or whomever happened to attend his festivals) he was directly sacrificing his enormous wealth to Viṣṇu.

So, by serving people, Dhruva was serving Viṣṇu. Do note, that he did so explicitly. He called them to Viṣṇu-kīrtan and kathā and then served them in Viṣṇu’s name, in the “fiercely powerful” (as befitting his warrior personality) consciousness that “these people are, essentially, Viṣṇu.”

The result of this practice, is that he actually was able to see Viṣṇu in everyone.

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