As per authentic and reliable Sanskrit Kosh निघंटु, word Sacrifice has many meanings. To be precise, 15.
यज्ञ:| वेन: | अध्वर: | मेघ: | विदथ: | नार्य: | सवनम् | होत्रा | इष्टि: | देवताता| मख: | विष्णु: | इन्दु: | प्रजापति: | धर्म इति यज्ञस्य |
In Sanskrit, all meaning-budleslike above, carry one thing in common i.e. Theme. They all represent similar theme in different situation.
Our focus is on word मेघ: | because it is important word to understand scriptures with right perspective (Scriptures are not only meant for intellectual analysis. By reading them your life should see changes otherwise it is not worth of time spent)
मेघ – मेघृ मेघा हिसनयो |
There are three meanings of word medha.
1) To increase मेधा intellect ( this is very vey important subject but not related to topic on hand). It is Intelligence personified. Wisdom. So if I am working on methods to increase my wisdom, it is sacrifice to increase wisdom and can be called मेघ. And what do you kill here? Ignorance.
2) To offer friendship or मित्रता to sacrifice self for friend’s development and kill his/her ignorance.
3) Literal meaning – to kill
By killing, मेघ means to protect your loved ones. When it is गो-मेध it means to protect and respect cows,अश्व-मेध – protect and respect horses,पितृमेध – respect anscetors,गृह-मेध – protect home.
So, general meaning of sacrifice that I understand is : Advancement of civilization by making fellow travelers on the Earth, realizing power of intellect and power of unity by increasing Association, Friendship, Unity, Firm relation, Knowledge, Love, Purity, Development of Intellect, Power, Respect & Charity, and destroying (हिंसा) disassociation, Enmity, Dis-union, Ignorance, Indifference, Hatred, Impurity, Weakness, Disrespect and destructive forces.
In short, if मेघ represent ‘Killing’, it also represents ‘Friendship ( This is too simple translation – Not exact- using it so that everyone can understand)’ and ‘Development’.
अश्व-मेध = अश्व-संवर्धन = Horse-breeding = Horse-friendship.
Horse-friendship has deep meaning. Some other time. ( Hint: What is Horse in अध्यात्मिक plane? Like गो = Organs of senses)