Human sacrifice in the name of ritual is a spell that must be broken

This is not the first time that ritual human sacrifices have taken place in our country, nor is this going to be the last.
Human sacrifice in the name of ritual is a spell that must be broken

The Kerala police uncovered a gruesome crime of ritual human sacrifice and cannibalism in the state. The accused are an elderly Hindu couple and a self-proclaimed Muslim healer with a criminal history. They had used the temptation of quick money from films to lure their victims and murdered them. Gory details like ritual torturing, clinical dissection of the cadaver, and cannibalism are emerging and have led to a media frenzy. The police suspect there are more victims.

This is not the first time that ritual human sacrifices have taken place in our country, nor is this going to be the last. Human sacrifice has been a part of all religions since the dawn of civilisation. In rural India, human sacrifices were prevalent as a part of the culture until recent times, and this was nothing unique to India. From Europe to America, from Africa to Australia, human sacrifices were common until a few hundred years ago.

Modern society started considering this a criminal offence, and this superstition and the need to please god with human blood slowly went out of fashion. Unfortunately, animals and birds were not so lucky. Human sacrifice is no different from other forms of ritual sacrifice. Every year, millions of animals and birds are butchered to please gods or one supreme god. The tantric forms of Buddhism and Hinduism encourage the ritual sacrifice of animals and birds. Many rural deities are propitiated with the blood of goats, chickens and buffaloes. Countless goats, sheep, camels and cows are killed during Eid. All such activities are done in faith and to please some gods.

So when we call human sacrifice a result of superstition, how truthful are we to ourselves? What is
a superstition? What is the thin line that makes it different from faith? If a society believes that the spilling of the blood of beasts is required to please the gods, can a ban on only human sacrifice serve the purpose? The same society had always believed in the power of human sacrifice, so it is natural that at least a few members will be there to risk breaking the law made by mortals to quench the bloodthirst of their immortal gods.

Now, the fakir or tantric, who tempts some naive devotee with better fortunes if he is willing to sacrifice a goat, differs from the one who asks to offer a human only by a few degrees. How is one a matter of faith that can’t be questioned, while the other merely a ridiculous superstition? So do the astrologers, who scare the wits out of the naive believer by talking about angry planets and happy constellations, considered to be spreading faith or superstition? If one can believe that Mars can decide the destiny of one’s married life or that Saturn’s purpose of existence in the vast open space is to plan one’s mundane career, one can hardly call the belief in some bloodthirsty demon a superstition.

If astrology, Vastu or numerology are services rendered after accepting fee, doesn’t it come under the purview of Consumer Act? Though these are like other services where one pays a fee to get advice, there is no law under which a customer can sue them if the predictions go awry. The pastors who claim to cure everything from the common cold to cancer through prayers, the godmen who peddle yantras and tantras for prosperity, success in love or the destruction of one’s enemies or the fakirs and babas who claim to summon the djinns are all taking the cover of faith. Such merchants of bunkum are allowed a free run in our country, despite the Constitution urging us to develop a scientific temper in its Preamble. Why are we surprised when someone takes such blind beliefs to their logical extreme? As long as we allow astrologers, Vastu experts, faith healers etc., to solicit business without the fear of law or facing the ire of the customer when the purported benefits aren’t received, such instances of taking the faith to its extreme are only a few steps away.

A comprehensive law to ban the advertising of magic of all hues and faith healing is the need of the day. The astrologers, gemmologists, Vastu exponents, and paddlers of yantras and tantras, among others, must be brought under the Consumer Protection Act and should be liable to criminal and civil proceedings if the end-user does not obtain their predicted benefits. If not, don’t be surprised when the next charlatan finds his victim to satiate his crazy god.

Anand Neelakantan is the author of Asura, Ajaya series, Vanara and Bahubali trilogy. He can be reached at

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