Does animal sacrifices contradict the grace of God? (Answer: Moral glory of the Biblical sacrifices and embarrassment of Vedic sacrifices compared)
Those sentences which are colored in orange are from Maharishi Dayananda Saraswati book Satyarth Prakash (The Light of Truth) and those which are colored in black are Jerry Thomas’s response.
And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying. If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the Lord for a sin offering. And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock's head, and kill the bullock before the Lord." (4:1, 3, 4.) C. Now look at his atonement for sins! A man commits a sin and in order to atone for its kills useful animals and the (Christian) God sanctions such an act. Well done, Christians! Even such a Being s this you hold to be God and hope to be saved through His Grace.
Answer: It must be noted here that many of these criticisms against the Holy Bible are not based on the text of the Holy Bible but on the erroneous assumptions and biases of Maharishi.
For example, here Maharishi again attacks the God of the Bible in prescribing sacrifices. But for those criticisms to be valid, he must impose the Vedic assumptions on the text of the Holy Bible rather than allow the Holy Bible to speak for itself. I will show these differences in this context.
(A) God of the Bible being the creator and owner has the right to prescribe sacrifices while the Vedic deity has no such rights.
The Vedic deity of Maharishi, neither created the material world nor the life of animals (according to Maharishi material world and souls co-existed eternally with his Vedic deity). Therefore, the Vedic deity has no rights whatsoever to prescribe or proscribe sacrifices because he does not own them.
In the chapter 8 of the Satyarth Prakash, Maharishi writes:
How many entities are eternal or beginningless?
A.- Three – God, the soul, and the prakriti (matter).
Q.What are your authorities for this statement?
A.- "Both God and the soul are eternal, they are alike in consciousness and such other attributes. They are associated together – God pervading the soul – and are mutual companions. The prakriti (matter), which is likened to the trunk of a tree whose branches are the multiform universe which is resolved into tis elementary condition at the time of dissolution is also eternal. The natures, attributes and characters of these three are also eternal. Of the two – God and the soul – the latter alone reaps the fruits of this tree of the universe – good or evil – whilst the former does not. He is the All-glorious Being who shines within, without and all around." RIG VEDA I, 164, 20.
"The Great God – the King – revealed all kinds of knowledge to the human soul – His eternal subjects – through the Veda." YAJUR VEDA, 50, 8.
"The prakriti, the soul and God, all of them, are uncreated. They are the cause of the whole universe. They have no cause of the whole universe. They have no cause and have been existing eternally. The eternal soul enjoys the eternal matter and is wrapped up in it whilst God neither enjoys it, nor, is He wrapped up in it." SHWETA SHWATER UPNISHAD, 4: 5.
The attributes of God and the soul have been described iin the last chapter. Here we shall treat of the properties of prakriti (matter).
"That condition of matter in which the intellect-promoting (satva – high), passion-exciting (rajas – medium) and stupidity producing (tamas – low)qualities are found combined in equal proportions is called prakriti. From prakriti emanated the principle of wisdom (Mahaatava), and from the latter proceeded the principle of Individuality (Ahakaara) from which emanated the five subtle entities and the ten principles of sensation and action, and the manas, i.e., the principle of attention. From the five subtle entities issued forth the five gross entities, such as solids, liquids, etc. These twenty-four entities and the purush, i.e., the spirit – human and Divine – form a group of twenty-five noumena." SANKYA SHASTRA,1: 61.
Of all these twenty-four, the prakriti is uncreated, the principle of wisdom, the principle of Individuality, and the five subtle entities are the products of the prakriti and are in their turn the cause of the ten principles of sensation, and action and of the principle of attention. The purush – i.e., the spirit – is neither the cause (material) nor the effect of anything.
Hence, the Vedic deity of Maharishi can morally neither prescribe nor proscribe anything regarding either animals or any other material or living beings in the world.
However, everything in this world, including the beasts and the birds belong to the One True God- Yahweh. He alone can prescribe or proscribe sacrifices regarding the animals because He alone is the creator of them and He alone owns them.
Now compare the following verse with Maharishi’s citations.
Colossians 1:16 for by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
It was very evident that when God of the Bible prescribes or proscribes anything, He has the moral right to do that as He created and owns them. However, the Vedic deity with whom these things coexisted has NO MORAL RIGHT to neither prescribe nor proscribe anything regarding the creation. Silence is gold for a Vedic follower. Therefore, within the Biblical worldview, these criticisms are irrelevant and invalid.
(B) Reasons for Sacrifices in the Holy Bible and the Vedas Are Different. Scarifices in the Holy Bible are Lofty in Meaning but the Vedic Sacrifices Many Times are Laughable in its Meaning.
The Holy Bible gives the reason for sacrifices in the following terms:
Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”
In other words, it was meant to teach the graveness of sin and also that there is no substitute except another life. This is a reasonable and holy concept which the Christian can present without any embarrassment.
Now, let us see the Vedic reasons for some scarifies which will help us understand partially why the Vedic Maharishis are embarrassed to bring this concept.
Yajur Veda 2: 1: 4 (Taittiriya Sanhita)
“Yonder sun did not shine; the gods desired an atonement for him; for him they offered this offering of ten bulls; verily thereby they restored his brilliance. For him who desires splendour he should offer this offering of ten bulls; verily he has recourse to yonder sun with his own share; verily he bestows on him splendour; he becomes resplendent. He should off
er in the spring in the morning three with spots on the forehead; in the summer at midday  three with white backs; in the autumn in the afternoon three with white tails. Three are the brilliances of the sun, in the spring in the morning; in the summer at midday; in the autumn in the afternoon; verily he wins whatever brilliances there are. They are offered in sets of three; verily in order he bestows brilliance on him. They are offered in the course of the year; the year is the giver of splendour; verily the year gives him splendour; he becomes resplendent. At the end of the year he should offer a reddish brown one to Prajapati  all the gods are Prajapati; verily he rests on all the gods. If he fears, 'I shall become diseased in the skin,' he should offer a dark (beast) to Soma and Pusan; man has Soma as his deity, cattle have Pusan; verily by his own deity, by cattle, he makes a skin for him; be does not become diseased in the skin.
The gods and Yama were at strife over this world; Yama appropriated (ayuvata) the power and strength of the gods; therefore Yama has his name . The gods reflected, 'Yama here has become what we are.' They had recourse to Prajapati. Prajapati from his body fashioned out the bull and the cow; the gods offered a cow to Visnu and to Varuna, a bull to Indra; they caused him to be seized by Varuna and by Visnu, the sacrifice, they drove him away; his power they appropriated by means of that for Indra. He who has foes should in strife offer to Visnu and Varuna a cow , to Indra a bull; verily causing his foe to be seized by Varuna, by Visnu, the sacrifice, he drives him away, he appropriates his power by means of that for Indra, he prospers, his foe is defeated. Indra slew Vrtra; him Vrtra slain bound with sixteen coils; from the head of Vrtra came out cows, they were (cows) of Videha; behind them came the bull. It Indra  perceived; he reflected, 'He who shall offer him shall be freed from this evil'; he offered to Agni one with a black neck, to Indra a bull. Agni, being approached with his own share, burned into sixteen pieces the coils of Vrtra, and by (the offering) to Indra he bestowed power on himself. He who is seized by evil should offer (a beast) with a black neck to Agni, and a bull to Indra; verily Agni, being approached with his own share , burns away his evil, and by (the offering) to Indra he bestows power on himself, he is freed from the evil, he prospers. He who is long in exile should offer a cow to sky and earth; for he is not established in them; verily also he who is long in exile has recourse to sky and earth with their own share; verily they establish them; he is established. It is one which is long in labour, for Iong in labour as it were is the kingdom of him who is long in exile; (verily it serves) for prosperity. To Vayu  he should offer a calf; Vayu is their calf; these worlds are barren for him, the people are barren; verily also he who is long in exile has recourse to Vayu with his own share; verily Vayu causes these worlds and the people to give to him; these worlds drop milk for him; the people wait upon him in service.”
Here we are- the reasons for sacrifices were the strife’s between Vedic deities or some misbehavior of a deity. Bull and cow sacrifices were offered as an appeasement to those deities. If we are in a similar situation, we are told to offer the same sacrifices.
Compared to the moral glory of the Biblical sacrifices, many of the Vedic sacrifices looks like savage trickery- just to adapt Maharishi’s language.
Are not these embarrassments also a reason for many Hindus to reject the Vedic sacrifices in its entirety and view even the sacrifices of other religions with contempt?
Is it also not wrong to blame other faiths without evaluating the reasons presented by them?