World Scripture, A Comparative Anthology Of Sacred Texts

Editor, Andrew Wilson



The way begins from the heart, is manifest in deeds, and extends to the entire cosmos. All tasks should be done with an attitude of offering--in other words, doing them for God's sake, not for one's personal gain. People should offer up the thing that is dearest, with a willing and cheerful heart, for an offering expresses a person's very self. Finally, several important Hindu texts describe sacrifice as central to the creation and maintenance of the cosmos.

Lo! We have given you abundance; so pray to your Lord, and sacrifice.

Islam. Qur'an 108.1-2

Let all your deeds be done for the sake of Heaven.

Judaism. Mishnah, Abot 2.17

Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Christianity. 1 Corinthians 10.31

The most excellent action is love for God's sake and hatred for God's sake.

Islam. Hadith of Abu Dawud

Whatever is given should be given with faith, not without faith--with joy, with modesty, with fear, with kindness.

Hinduism. Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.3

Each one must do as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Christianity. 2 Corinthians 9.7

Whether we bring much or little, it matters not, if only we fix our heart upon our Father in heaven.

Judaism. Talmud, Berakot 17a

"Make your offering," said the Master. "As you make it be pleased in mind. Make your mind completely calm and contented. Focus and fill the offering-mind with the giving. From this secure position you can be free from ill will."

Buddhism. Sutta Nipata 506

Abot 2.17: Cf. Abot 2.4, p. 771. 1 Corinthians 10.31: Cf. Matthew 7.21, p. 811. Hadith of Abu Dawud: Cf. Qur'an 5.35, p. 771. Taittiriya Upanishad 1.11.3: Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.22, p. 201; Svetasvatara Upanishad 4.13,21-22, pp. 768f. Berakot 17a: Cf. Berakot 30b, p. 829. But attention to one's personal state of mind may not be all that is required; see Matthew 5.23-24, p. 993. Sutta Nipata 506: See previous note.

Of the saying, The word "sacrifice" is like the word "present"; one should sacrifice to a spirit as though the spirit were present, Confucius said, "If I am not present at the sacrifice, it is as though there were no sacrifice."

Confucianism. Analects 3.12

Rabbi Meir was once asked, "Why do the scriptures tell us in some passages that sacrifice is very pleasant unto the Lord, while in others it is said that God dislikes sacrifices?" He answered, "It depends whether a man's heart is sacrificed at the time he brings the sacrifice."

Judaism. Midrash, Baraita Kallah 8

Whatever I am offered in devotion with a pure heart--a leaf, a flower, fruit, or water--I partake of that love offering. Whatever you do, make it an offering to me--the food that you eat, the sacrifices that you make, the help you give, even your suffering. In this way you will be freed from the bondage of karma, and from its results both pleasant and painful. Then, firm in renunciation and yoga, with your heart free, you will come to me.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 9.26-28

The offering is not of myself, but rather of The heavenly goddess Toyookahime-- It is the offering of her palace, The offering of her palace.

Would that I were an offering, Taken up in the kami's hand, Drawn near to my god, Drawn near to my god.

Shinto. Kagura-Uta, Offerings

The essence of the offering is that it be analogous to the sin, and that a man offer to God his desires and passions, for this is more acceptable than all. Blessed are the righteous, that they bring this offering every day.

Judaism. Zohar, Leviticus 9b

The dedication of the offering is God; that which is offered is God; God offers it on God's fire. God is attained by those who concentrate on God's work.

Some aspirants offer material sacrifices; others offer selfless service upon the altar of God. Some renounce all enjoyment of the senses, sacrificing them in the fire of asceticism. Others partake of sense objects but offer them in service through the fire of the senses. Some offer the workings of the senses and the vital forces through the fire of self- control, kindled in the path of knowledge.

Some offer wealth; others offer asceticism and suffering. Some take vows and offer knowledge and study of the scriptures; and some make the offering of meditation. Some offer the forces of vitality, regulating their inhalation and exhalation, offering their life-breath as they breathe in and breathe out. Others offer the forces of vitality by fasting. All these understand the meaning of sacrifice and will be cleansed of their impurities.

In the offering is true sustenance, and through it a man or woman reaches the eternal Reality. But those who do not seek to serve are without a home in this world. Arjuna, how can they be at home in any world to come?

Thus many kinds of offerings are made, and each guides mankind along a path to God. Know that they are born of action, and understanding this, you will attain liberation.

Hinduism. Bhagavad Gita 4.24-32

So great is the power of sacrifice that it is the Self of the gods. When, out of the essence of sacrifice, the gods had made their own Self, they took their seat in the world of heaven. Similarly, the one who sacrifices now, when out of the essence of sacrifice he has made his own Self, takes his seat in the world of heaven.

Hinduism. Satapatha Brahmana 6.1.10

When with the Supreme Being as the offering the gods performed a sacrifice, spring was the molten butter, summer the fuel, and autumn the oblation.

On the grass they besprinkled Him, the Sacrificed Supreme Being, the first born. With him the gods sacrificed, and those Sadhyas and the sages.

From that sacrifice, fully offered, was gathered mixed milk and butter. And the birds of the air arose, the forest animals and the domestic.

From that sacrifice, fully offered, the Rig and the Saman [Vedas] were born, the Chandas [Atharva Veda] was born of that, and from that were born the Sacrificial formulae.

From that were born horses, and the animals with two rows of teeth; yea, kine were born of that, and of that were born the goat and the sheep....

From his mind was born the moon, and from his eye the sun. From his mouth were Indra and Agni born, and Vayu (wind) was born from his breath.

From his navel came the mid-air, from his head the sky was fashioned, from his feet the earth, and from his ear the quarters. Thus they formed the worlds.

Seven were the sticks of the enclosure, thrice seven the logs of wood prepared, when the gods, performing the rite, bound, as their victim, the Supreme Being.

With sacrifice the gods worshipped the Supreme Sacrifice. Those were the earliest holy ordinances.

Hinduism. Rig Veda 10.90.6-10, 13-16

Analects 3.12: Cf. I Ching 16, p. 855; compare Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi 2, p.721. Baraita Kallah 8: Cf. Berakot 30b, p. 829. Cf. Chandogya Upanishad 7.22, p. 201. Bhagavad Gita 9.26-28: Cf. Bhagavad Gita 7.3,17,28, p. 752. Rig Veda 10.90.6-10,13-16: The theme of this well- known hymn is sacrifice as the method of creation. The world comes into being through the sacrifice and dismemberment of the primordial Person. The fruits of sacrifice were the scriptures: Rig Veda, Saman Veda, 'Chandas' (Atherva Veda) and 'Sacrificial formulae' (Yajur Vedas). Following the Word came the physical world and humankind. Cf. Aitareya Upanishad 1-3, pp. 307f.; Mundaka Upanishad 1.1.7-9, p. 133; also Okanogan Creation, pp. 261f. In the ellipsis go the well-known verses on the origin of the four castes, which are given in another context--see Rig Veda 10.90.11-12, p. 275.


Download entire book in ZIP format
Table of Contents
Copyright Information