Sacrifices are religious rites by which objects are offered to divinity to establish, maintain, or restore the right relationship between humanity and the sacred order. It has been found to be a complex phenomenon in all parts of the world and the earliest forms of worship. This article examines the nature of sacrifice and theories about its origin. In addition, it examines sacrifice in terms of its constituent elements sacrificial rituals such as the material of the offering, the timing and location, and the motive or intention behind the sacrifice. A brief discussion of sacrifice in world religions concludes the article.
An Analysis of The Sacrificial Rite
Six elements make up the rite of sacrifice: the sacrificer, the offering material, the time and place of the rite, the method of sacrifice, the recipient of the sacrifice, and the motive or intention of the sacrifice. It is important to note that these categories do not have equal importance and often overlap. In addition, the rificer must be a member of the same religious community as the offering, but he does not have to be a priest or a prophet. He may be a layperson participating in the rite on his own behalf, or he may act on behalf of a larger group. No rule states that the sacrificer must be male. The offering material offered in sacrifice is called the offering.
What Is Sacrificer?
An individual or a collective group–a family, a clan, a tribe, a nation, a secret society–makes sacrifices in general. Before and sometimes also after the sacrifice, the sacrificer performs special acts. An initiation (Diksha) requires the sacrificer and his wife to undergo ritual bathing, seclusion, fasting, and prayer in order to remove them from the profane world and purify them for contact with the sacred. They bathed after the sacrifice ended to remove any sacred potencies attached to themselves during the sacrifice as a part of the ritual of “desacralization” (Cabarita).
The same cleaning is performed before the initiation of a child by its mother, who would have been bathed after the birth of her son, and of an adult by his father. Sacrifices can be of two kinds:
- Sacrificial, in which the sacrificer makes the sacrifice.
- Non-sacrificial, in which the sacrificer performs a certain action or makes a particular offering to get something he wants from another person or group of persons. An example of a non-sacrificial rite is a funeral.
Sacrificial Ritual of Nature
The concept of religion refers to man’s relationship with the sacred or holy. There are a number of ways in which this relationship can be conceived. A cult or worship is generally seen as one of the religion’s most basic and universal aspects, despite moral conduct, right belief, and participation in religious institutions. Man worships the transcendent reality upon which he feels dependent by giving himself as a response to his experience of the sacred power; it is a giving of self through action, devotion, and service. The fundamental act of worship is sacrifice and prayer, man’s attempt to communicate with the transcendent reality in word or thought.
A sacrifice is, in a sense, the offering of life itself in one form or another. Life is celebrated through sacrifice, which recognizes its divine and imperishable nature. Offerings are liberated as sacred potencies through sacrifice, establishing a bond between the sacrificer and the sacred power. When life is sacrificed, it is returned to its divine source, where it regenerates the power or life of that source.Therefore, the sacrificer to his god says: “Be thou increased (macte) by this offering.” The sacrificer, however, benefits from a greater sense of sacred power in the end. The act of sacrifice is the impetus and guarantee that divine lifeforce flows reciprocally between its source and manifestation.