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The offering of the soma ( Agnistoma ) -- a nectar obtained by the pressing of some plants -- took place in the spring; the sacrifice lasted an entire day, and was a universal holiday for the people.The triple pressing of the soma , performed at certain intervals during the day, alternated with the offering of sacrificial cakes, libations of milk, and the sacrifice of eleven he-goats to various gods.Inasmuch as, in the old Avesta, the sacred book of the Persians, the war between the good god Ormuzd and the Devil ends eschatologically with the complete victory of the good god, we may designate the earliest Parseeism as Monotheism.However, the theological Dualism taught in the later Avesta, where the wicked anti-god Ahriman is opposed to the good god Ormuzd as an absolute principle, is already foreshadowed and prepared for in many didactic poems ( gâthas ) of the old Avesta.Kluge "Etymologisches Wörterbuch der deutschen Sprache", Strassburg, 1899, p. By sacrifice in the real sense is universally understood the offering of a sense-perceptible gift to the Deity as an outward manifestation of our veneration for Him and with the object of attaining communion with Him. As the meaning and importance of sacrifice cannot be established by a priori methods, every admissible theory of sacrifice must shape itself in accordance with the sacrificial systems of the pagan nations, and especially with those of the revealed religions, Judaism and Christianity.
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The gods thus sank to the level of mere servants of man, while the high-priests or Brahmins entrusted with the complicated rites gradually acquired an almost divine dignity.
In their hands the sacrificial ceremonial, developed to the extremest detail, became an irresistible power over the gods.
For the later Indians had a saying: "At first the gods indeed accepted men as sacrificial victims.
Then the sacrificial efficacy passed from them to the horse. They accepted the horse, but the sacrificial efficacy went to the steer, sheep, goat, and finally to rice and barley: Thus for the instructed a sacrificial cake made of rice and barley is of the same value as these [five] animals" (cf.
The actual offering of the sacrifices, which was never effected without fire, took place either in the houses or in the open air; temples were unknown.