Page:History of India Vol 1.djvu/203

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Rail in Gautamiputra Cave - Page 159 - History of India Vol 1 (1906).jpg

RAIL IN THE GAUTAMIPUTRA CAVE, NASIK.

CHAPTER XV

THE SACRIFICIAL RITES OF THE BRAHMANAS

THE main feature which distinguishes the religion of the Brahmanic and Epic Period from that of the preceding age is the great importance which came to be attached to sacrifice. In the earlier portion of the Vedic age, men composed hymns in praise of the most imposing manifestations of nature; they deified these various natural phenomena, and they worshipped these deities under the name of Indra or Varuna, of Agni or the Maruts. And the worship took the shape of sacrifice, the offering of milk or grain, as well as of animals or of libations of Soma-juice to the gods.

A gradual change, however, is perceptible towards the close of the Vedic Age, and in the Brahmanic and Epic Age the sacrifice as such, the mere forms and ceremonials and offerings, had acquired such an abnormal importance that everything else was lost in it. This was inevitable when the priests formed a caste. They multiplied ceremonials, and attached the utmost impor-

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