“Yudhishthira said, ’When the great king Vasu was so wholly devoted to Narayana, for what reason then did he fall down from heaven and why again had he to sink beneath the surface of the Earth?”
’Bhishma said, ’In this connection is cited an old narrative, O Bharata, of a discourse between the Rishis and the gods. The gods, once on a time, addressing many foremost of Brahmanas, said unto them that sacrifices should be performed by offering up Ajas as victims. By the word Aja should be understood the goat and no other animal.’
The Rishis said, The Vedic Sruti declares that in sacrifices the offerings should consist of (vegetable) seeds. Seeds are called Ajas. It behoveth you not to slay goats. Ye deities, that cannot be the religion of good and righteous people in which slaughter of animals is laid down. This, again, is the Krita age. How can animals be slaughtered in this epoch of righteousness?’
“Bhishma continued, While this discourse was going between the Rishis and the deities, that foremost of kings, viz., Vasu, was seen to come that way. Endued with great prosperity, the king was coming through the welkin, accompanied by his troops and vehicles and animals. Beholding king Vasu coming to that spot through the skies, the Brahmanas addressing the deities, said,—This one will remove our doubts. He performs sacrifices. He is liberal in making gifts. He always seeks the good of all creatures. How, indeed, will the great Vasu, speak otherwise,—Having thus spoken unto each other, the deities and the Rishis quickly approached king Vasu and questioned him, saying,—O king, with what should one perform sacrifices? Should one sacrifice with the goat or with herbs and plants? Do thou dispel this doubt of ours. We constitute thee our judge in this matter.—Thus addressed by them, Vasu joined his hands in humility and said unto them.—Tell me truly, ye foremost of Brahmanas, what opinion is entertained by you in this matter?
“’The Rishis said, The opinion entertained by us, O king, is that sacrifices should be performed with grain. The deities, however, maintain that sacrifices should be performed with animals. Do thou judge between us and tell us which of these opinions is correct.’