Human Sacrifice In India

(Amrit Pal Singh ‘Amrit’)

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) successfully inserted its Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan into Mars orbit on 24 September 2014. After two days of successful Mars Orbiter Mission, a seven-year-old boy’s tongue was slit and he was killed in an alleged case of human sacrifice in Odisha state’s Balangir district, India on 26 September 2014. (Alleged Human Sacrifice In Odisha, India)

Only two days ago, in Himachal Pradesh state in India the High court refused to lift ban on animal and bird sacrifices in temple. This order by the High Court is being appreciated by many people, though traditionalists are preparing to make appeal in the Supreme Court against this verdict of Himachal’s High Court.

In case of human sacrifice in Odisha state’s Balangir district, the Police arrested Bankane Behera and Hrushikesh Dash and two other persons. Dash was a tantrik (black magician). The police say that Bankae Behera has confessed to having killed the child in order to ward off evil powers. He was suggested by a tantrik to sacrifice a child to get rid of evil power on him.

The practice of human sacrifice is not new in India.

We find a story of Shunashepa in famous Indian epic ‘Ramayana’. According to this story, King Ambarisha undertook a religious ritual, but Indra impounded the horse which was to be sacrificed.

The Brahman performing the ritual for King Ambarisha said to King, “Oh, king, the animal you have fetched for the ritual has gone astray owing to your incautiousness. Oh, king, unguarded items of the ritual will themselves become destructive blemishes for that king who is performing the ritual. Oh, the best man among men, you have to make great amends for the loss of animal as that animal alone which was intended but now missing shall be used in ritual. Or, a man may be fetched as ritual-animal, and only after that the deeds of the ritual can be continued.”

So, King Ambarisha now needed a human being to be sacrificed. He went to Sage Richika and bought his son Shunashepa.

When King Ambrisha was going back to his city taking Shunashepa with him, he stopped to take rest at noontime on the lakeside of a lake. There Shunashepa saw his maternal uncle Sage Vishvamitra. Shunashepa became pitiable and sulky faced by strain and fell in the lap of saint Vishvamitra.

Shunashepa said to his uncle Sage Vishvamitra, “I have no mother or a father to save me. Then wherefore cousins or relatives will be there to protect me. Oh, peaceable saint the eminent, it will be apt of you to protect me according to saintliness. Oh, illustrious sage, you alone are the saviour to each and every one, isn’t it! You alone are the guardian angel, isn’t it! Hence, let the purpose of the king Ambarisha be achieved, and let longevity come to me, and I on becoming imperishable and indeed on performing an unexcelled ascesis, I wish to enjoy in heavenly worlds. You shall be my providence with a providential sentiment as I stand unprotected, and oh, virtue souled one, it will be apt of you to protect me from misfortune, like a father protecting his own son.”

The Ramayana tells us that Sage Vishvamitra said to Shunashepa, “’When you are fastened with sacred fastener to the sacrificial post of Vishnu, smeared with red paste and garlanded with red garlands, you praisefully address the Fire-god with the words I going to impart to you in Vedic hymns. These two divine hymns, oh, son of saint, shall be chanted in the Vedic-ritual of Ambarisha, then you will obtain your aspiration.”

Thus Vishvamitra taught two hymns to the boy.

Shunashepa having taken those two hymns from Vishvamitra went to king Ambarisha and said, “Oh, king the lion, let us go promptly to your ritual place, oh, best king, you may apply yourself to your pledge in completing the ritual, with me as its sacrificial animal,’ thus the boy said. On listening that sentence of the son of sage, the king Ambariisha is gladdened and proceeded to the ritual hall immediately and spiritedly. The king with the permission of officiators of ritual got the boy prepared as a ritual animal with sanctified bodily features and clad him in red clothes and got him securely fastened to the sacrificial post.

The Ramayana says that when Shunashepa was tied to ritual post, he immensely pleased two gods, namely Indra and Upendra (Vishnu) as well, with those two hymns he got from Vishvamitra. Indra was pleased with this and he bestowed longevity to Shunashepa.

(For details, please see ‘Sarga’ 61 and 62, Bala Kaand of Valmiki Ramayana).

Thus, the ritual of human sacrifice is not a new concept in India.

The alleged case of human sacrifice in Odisha state’s Balangir district, India on 26 September 2014 is not the only case of our times. Several cases of human sacrifice are reported by newspapers. For example, read these news items: –

Woman killed in human sacrifice ritual in Nalasopara, 6 arrested

4 sentenced to death in human sacrifice case

Mars Orbiter Mission (Mangalyaan) orbiting Mars does not mean that India has done away with stupid superstitious belief of human as well as animal sacrifices.