Whilst forming the central feature of the ritualistic symbolism, this triad - Prajapati, sacrifice (oblation, victim), sacrificer - is extended in various ways.
The necessary elements of a Hindu sacrifice are: (I) the sacrificer, who provides the victim, and is affected, directly or indirectly, by the sacrifice; he may or may not be identical with (2) the officiant, who performs the rite; we have further (3) the place, (4) the instruments of sacrifice and (5) the victim; where the sacrificer enjoys only the secondary results, the direct influence of the sacrifice is directed towards (6) the object; finally, we may distinguish (7) three moments of the rite - (a) the entry, (b) the slaughter, (c) the exit.
In the former case the sacrificer is raised to a higher level; he enters into closer communion with the gods.
The object of the sacrifice being to bridge the gulf between the sacred and profane worlds, the sacrificer had to remain in contact with the victim, either personally, or, to avoid ritual perils, by the intermediary of the priest.
The sacrificer may aim at causing a speedy death or a slow one.
In the most developed forms, such as the offering of soma, they assumed a great importance; (r) the sacrificer had to pass from the world of man into a world of the gods; consequently he was separated from the common herd of mankind and purified; he underwent ceremonies emblematic of rebirth and was then subject to numberless taboos imposed for the purpose of maintaining his ceremonial purity.
And it is also probable that certain persons combined in their own individuality the functions of magician and sacrificer as well as soothsayer.
The building of this altar is spread over a whole year, during which period the sacrificer has to carry about the sacrificial fire in an earthen pan for at least some time each day, until it is finally deposited on the completed altar to serve as the offering-fire for the Soma oblations.
This they did by sacrificing a victim and effecting communion with the god by the application of its blood to the altar; or, more directly, by the sacrifice of the animal-god and the contact of the sacrificer with its blood.
The only permitted method of kindling it, (b) the tracing on the ground of the vedi, or magical circle, to destroy impurities, (c) the digging of the hole which constituted the real altar, (d) the preparation of the post which represented the sacrificer and to which the victim was tied, and other minor details.