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Animal Sacrifice during Durga Puja Navratri and Dashain is Himsa and should not be practiced – Swami Sivananda

Animal sacrifice or Bali or Balidana is practiced in some regions during Durga Puja and Navratri. It is also widely practiced on Durga Ashtami and Navami during Dashain in Nepal. Swami Sivananda says that we are to offer our inner evil traits of passion, greed, anger, ego, avarice etc as Bali and not poor animals.

Worship the Mother of the Universe, the Shakti of Brahman, in her Supreme Form or in her manifested form according to your capacity. I need not stress over the obvious fact that you should strictly practice Ahimsa, Satya and Brahmacharya, if you are to realize Devi, the glorious Divine Power of the Supreme Reality.

I stress upon the moral side and the ethical side of Sadhana, because no valuable achievement is possible with out it. Without it, high-flying idealisms will bring nothing; they will be a waste like oblations thrown on ashes.

Worship of God or Goddess, if it is to result in spiritual illumination, the observance of Yama and Niyama is absolutely necessary. These form the two fold equipment to overcome brute nature and hoist the banner of spiritual victory.

Offer to Goddess Durga the animal, the Pashu, of your inner evil trait of passion, of anger, of greed. Do not kill animals of the external world in the name of Balidana to the Goddess.

She wants your animal-man within. No Himsa should be committed on the excuse that it is for the Devi. You have no right or justification to hurt any living creature for whatever reason.

Ahimsa should be free from all exemptions whether pertaining to class, place, time or circumstances. Ahimsa is a universal vow to be practiced absolutely. No worship, no prayer, no act whatsoever in life can justify injury or harm done to living beings. Even self-protection can not justify murder.

You have to stick to the rule of universal love to the best of your ability, to the utmost extent possible. The offering of the self, the surrender of the ego to the Divinity is the supreme sacrifice. Nothing is superior to it. Nothing can be equal to it. This is the most exalted form of Divine worship.

Worship the Almighty with Atma-bhava, with Sarvatma-bhava. This is the greatest and most glorious thing that can ever be done by any one at any time. May you all imbibe the knowledge of real worship of the Divine Being.

Swami Sivananda

Source: Excerpts from an article published in the October 2007 edition of the magazine published by Divine Life Society.