This paper takes up and develops the ideas of Madeleine Biardeau, Jan Heesterman, Brian Smith and Russian scholar Vsevolod Sementsov on sacrifice as the concept that unites Vedic thought and subsequent tradition. These scholars have approached the issue from different standpoints: Heesterman and Smith concentrate their research on two stages in the conceptual development of sacrifice—classical Vedic sacrifice and the internalized sacrifice of the Åra∫yakas and the Upanißads1—whereas Sementsov focuses on the concept of sacrifice in the Bhagavadgîtå, arguing that Karma-yoga is structurally modelled on Vedic sacrifice. If we bring
these findings together into one sequence, we have three stages in the development of the concept of sacrifice: (1) traditional Vedic sacrifice; (2) internalized sacrifice; and (3) Karma-yoga in the Bhagavadgîtå. These stages are not purely chronological, but every next stage can be seen as a logical outcome of preceding developments, with Karma-yoga representing a synthesis of the two earlier conceptions of sacrifice. Seen in this way, Karma-yoga resolves the problems pointed out by Heesterman and Smith in their analyses
of the concept of sacrifice
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.