By Swami Harshananda
Sometimes transliterated as: Bhutayajna, BhutayajJa, Bhutayajya
Bhutayajña literally means ‘sacrifice unto the animals’.
The scriptures emphasize that man is essentially a social being. He is born in this world with ṛṇatraya or three debts on his head, to discharge which, he has to perform pañcayajñas or the five daily sacrifices. These pañcayajñas are a compulsory part of a householder’s life.
The last of these five daily sacrifices is bhutayajña. Bhutas are living beings, especially the animals. Feeding the animals, both the domestic and the stray, according to one’s capacity comprises this yajña. Since the Lord is the indwelling spirit of all the living beings, feeding the hungry souls whether the human beings or the animals will please him. This is one of the best ways to discharge one’s debts. It will also contribute to the awareness that ultimately the whole universe is one and that we are part of that oneness.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore