The symbol of Shiva is the phallus ( linga ); linga stones are indeed met throughout India (especially in the holy places) in extraordinary numbers.The darker shades of this superstition, degenerated into fetichism, are somewhat relieved by the piety and elevation of many Hindu hymns or songs of praise ( stotras ), which surpass even the old Vedic hymns in religious feeling.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.The gods (especially Indra) were eager for the intoxicating soma drink: "As the ox bellows after the rain, so does Indra desire the soma ." The sacrifice of the horse ( açvamedha ), executed at the command of the king and participated in by the whole people, required a whole year's preparation.
Like the modern Mobeds in India, the priests carried portable altars with them, and could thus offer sacrifice everywhere." The Vedic sacrificial prayers express no spirit of humility or submission; even the word "thank" is unknown in the Vedic language.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.It was the acme, "the king of the sacrifices", the solemnities lasting three days and being accompanied by all kinds of public amusements.The idea of this sacrifice was to provide the gods of light with another steed for their heavenly yoke.(Latin sacrificium; Italian sacrificio; French sacrifice .) This term is identical with the English offering (Latin offerre ) and the German Opfer; the latter is derived, not from offerre, but from operari (Old High German opfâron; Middle High German opperu, opparôn ), and thus means "to do zealously, to serve God, to offer sacrifice" (cf.