13. Human Sacrifice in Bible Non-Violence in Vedas



(i) Human beings etc. once offered for sacrifice, will surely be killed

Biblical God gives clear-cut law governing human sacrifice in the Holy Bible saying whatever is offered to God, whether it is human being or animal or field, cannot be sold, reclaimed or recovered, it belongs to God. If an offering of a human being is made to God, the man, who is offered to God for sacrifice, cannot be reclaimed and recovered, i.e. he cannot be redeemed and rescued. He shall surely be sacrificed at the altar. In other words, he shall surely be killed as an offering to God. Read the following two verses :

145. ‘28. Notwithstanding no devoted thing, that a man shall devote unto the Lord of all that he hath, both of man and beast, and of the field of his possession, shall be sold or redeemed, every devoted thing is most holy unto the Lord.’

- Leviticus, 27/28

146. ‘29. None devoted, which shall be devoted of men, shall be redeemed; but shall surely be put to death.’

- Leviticus, 27/29

The blood sacrifice in Bible infuriated George Bernard Shaw, the famous playwright, critic and essayist, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1925, to such an extent that he declared fearlessly that Bible should be buried and Prayer Book should be burnt, because it is saturated with blood sacrifice beyond all possible revision. He states :

_’No longer ago than the end of the nineteenth century Stewart Headlam, a clergyman, got into trouble with his ecclesiastical superiors by saying that what the Church needs is to bury the Bible for a hundred years, and let it then be discovered for what it really is. I cannot agree that we should bury the Bible only; we should burn the Prayer Book also. It is saturated with blood sacrifice beyond all possible revision; and its constant reiteration of ‘through Jesus Christ our Lord’ grows more and more unbearable by its essential falsehood.’_88

- George Bernard Shaw

I earnestly appeal to the educated Christians of the world to ponder over the afore-mentioned divine canon in connection with human sacrifice and give their frank opinion whether the said verses in Bible make them religious or irreligious. George Bernard Shaw has given his frank opinion in this connection as under :

_’The Bible in its canonical aspect is not helping us; it is obstructing us and making us dangerously irreligious.’_89

- George Bernard Shaw

(ii) Offering of all first-born babies into fire

There is a mention of ‘an offering of all first-born, which open the womb, into the fire’ in the following verse of Holy Bible :

147. ‘26. And I polluted them in their own gifts, in that they caused to pass through the fire all that openeth the womb, that I might make them desolate, to the end that they might know that I am the Lord.’

- Ezekiel, 20/26

One shudders to read that all first-born babies were thrown into fire as an offering to Biblical God !

(iii) Offering of calves and first-born human babe

Holy Bible makes mention of ‘burnt offerings’ with calves of a year old, thousands of rams and first-born human babe, as an atonement for ‘the sin of soul’ in the following two verses

148. ‘6. Wherewith shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?’

- Micah, 6/6

149. ‘7. Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?’

- Micah, 6/7

(iv) Jephthah burnt his only daughter, as an offering to God

In obedience to this law of Biblical God, Jephthah, the victorious hero of war, burnt his daughter When Jephthah returned to his home Mizpeh, his daughter came out to receive him by playing timbrel and dancing. She was his only child. When Jephthah saw her, he tore his clothes in agnoy and said to her, ‘Alas ! Oh my daughter ! You have put me to trouble ! I have given a word to God. I cannot go back.’ The daughter replied to her father, ‘If you have given a word to the Lord, do to me in accordance with your word given to God, and fulfil your vow to make an offering of me to your Lord.’ Here are the two verses in this connection

150. ‘35. And it came to pass, when he saw her, that he rent his clothes, and said, Alas, my daughter! thou hast brought me very low, and thou art one of them that trouble me; for I have opened my mouth unto the Lord, and I cannot go back.’

- Judges, 11/35

151. ‘36. And she said unto him, My father, if thou hast opened thy mouth unto the Lord, do to me according to that which bath proceeded out of thy mouth;  ’

- Judges, 11/36

Friedrich Nietzsche, the German philosopher, opines about the Christian religion as depicted in the afore-mentioned verses as under :

_’We shall either die because of our religion, or religion will die because of us.’_90

- Friedrich Nietzsche

(v) David sacrificed seven sons of Saul to stop famine

There was a famine during the regime of king David for three consecutive years. David enquired of the Lord regarding the cause of famine. The Lord answered that none but Saul was responsible for famine, because it was he who slew the Gibeonites. The king David handed over seven children of Saul into the hands of the Gibeonites, and they hanged them on the hill before the Lord   Thereafter God stopped famine and bestowed bliss on the land. In this connection, the readers are requested to peruse all the fourteen verses of chapter 21 of II Samuel. Here I am presenting only three verses as under :

152. ‘1. Then there was a famine in the days of David three years, year after year; and David inquired of the Lord. And the Lord answered, It is for Saul, and for his bloody house, because he slew the Gibeonites.’

- II Samuel, 21/1

153. ‘6. Let seven men of his sons be delivered unto us, and we will hang them up unto the Lord in Gibeah of Saul, whom the Lord did choose. And the king said, I will give them.’

- II Samuel, 21/6

154. ‘9. And he delivered them into the hands of the Gibeonites and they hanged them in the hill before the Lord; and they fell all seven together, and were put to death in the days of harvest, in the first days, in the beginning of barley harvest.’

- II Samuel, 21/9

Here a question arises : What offence did seven innocent children commit that they-were hanged together ? Was it justified to put them to death to stop famine ?

(vi) Biblical God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son

Biblical God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his only son Isaac, and Abraham was ready to take the knife to slay his son. The order was revoked, but the text of Holy Bible led later on hundreds of gullible followers to commit murder of their innocent children. I am presenting here only three relevant verses as under

155. ‘2. And he (God) said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.’

- Genesis, 22/2

156. ‘10. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.’

- Genesis, 22/10

157. ‘13. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son.’

- Genesis, 22/13

Will the sacrifice of the innocent dumb rain at the altar satisfy God, who is kind Father of not only men but also animals ?


Vedic religion (Hindu religion) revolves round the axis of non-violence. AihMsaa parmaao Qama-: (non-violence is the supreme religion) is the motto of Vedic philosophy. Holy Vedas do not approve of violence. Sacrifice of human beings or animals at the altar or in the fire is abhorrent and abominable in Vedic religion. Vedic philosophy is based on compassion and kindness, service and sympathy. The heart of Vedic devotee always throbs with warmth of selfless love and compassion for all fellow-creatures. He cannot dream of killing any one, whether man or animal, as an offering at the altar of God. Vedic God is too compassionate to accept human sacrifice or offering of animals. True prayer lies in love for all fellow-beings, whether men or birds or beasts. He, who loves and serves his fellow-creatures, serves God, because God dwells in the hearts of all creatures. To slay any being who breathes on the earth amounts to slaying Supreme Being, though He is Imperishable and Invincible.

To live is to give - give what ? Love. To live is to love. To love man is to love God. Where there is love and compassion, there God dwells. If you expect mercy and love from God, love His human beings whether they are theists or atheists, black or brown, rich or poor. The mystic poet William Blake expresses the same idea in his poem, ‘The Divine Image’ :

‘And all must love the human form
In heathen, Turk, or Jew
Where Mercy, Love and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.’

- William Blake

According to Hindu (Vedic) philosophy, neither violence nor warfare, but welfare of mankind is the ultimate goal of religion. That is why Hindus pray to Providence for the well-being of all men of the earth - nay, all creatures :

yaid naao gaM hMisa yaVEvaM yaid paUr]Yama\ |
taM tvaa saIsaona ivaGyaamaao yaqaa naao#saao AvaIrha ||
a Aqava-vaod 1o16o4

If thou slayest
Our cows, horses and men,
We shall kill thee
With bullet of lead
So that thou shouldst not be
Slayer of our heroes.
- Atharva Veda, 1/16/4

Butchery of men and animals is strictly prohibited in Vedic religion. It is considered as the most heinous sin and unpardonable crime. That is why a very severe warning is given in Atharva Veda to the butcher of cows, animals and human beings :

yaid naao gaM hMisa yaVEvaM yaid paUr]Yama\ |
taM tvaa saIsaona ivaGyaamaao yaqaa naao#saao AvaIrha ||
a Aqava-vaod 1o16o4

If thou slayest
Our cows, horses and men,
We shall kill thee
With bullet of lead
So that thou shouldst not be
Slayer of our heroes.
- Atharva Veda, 1/16/4

‘Swaraj (self-rule) without cow-protection is meaningless to me.’

- M.K. Gandhi


Footnotes: 88 George Bernard Shaw : ‘Everybody’s Political What’s What?’ Chapter XLIII, ‘Religious Summary’, London, 1950. p. 358

89 Ibid.

90 William Hubben : ‘Four Prophets of Our Destiny’, the Macmillan Company, New York, 1954, p. 104